Benefit claimants face tests as GPs fail to provide information

Herald and Sunday Scotland

Magnus Gardham Political Editor

THOUSANDS of benefit claimants are being subjected to stressful fitness-for-work tests because GPs are failing to provide the the Department for Work and Pensions with medical information on time. 

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show family doctors provided information requested by the DWP in only 60% of cases – despite it being required under their contracts.

Medical information supplied by GPs is taken into account when the DWP considers claims for employment support allowance, a key benefit for people unable to work on health grounds.

In cases where the information is supplied on time, more than half of claimants were not required to undergo a test, known as Work Capability Assessments, which are carried out by private contractor ATOS.

Michael MacMahon, the convener of Holyrood’s welfare reform committee, said:

“This shows that the whole work capability assessment process has been ill thought-out and simply isn’t working. It is important that everyone remembers that we’re talking about dealing with some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

“We need to ask questions about whether the process is right, whether it meets the needs of applicants and whether there are ways of simplifying it for everyone involved.

“It’s time for people to stop passing the buck, stop trying to avoid responsibility and we need to bring government, GPs and ATOS together to sort out this mess.”

DWP figures released in response to an FoI request from Mr MacMahon show there were 71,023 requests for medical information across Scotland in the 12 months to the end of February.

Doctors responded within the 14-day deadline in 58.9% of cases. Later responses were received in a further 22.9% of cases, but it is unclear whether they arrived in time to allow a decision on scrapping a medical examination.

Where doctors supplied the requested information, the medical test was dropped in 52.6% of cases. The tests, part of the Government’s drive to move people off sickness benefits, have been blamed for causing stress.

Dr Alan McDevitt, chairman of the BMA’s Scottish General Practitioners Committee, said:

“There are a number of possible explanations for information requests not being returned by GPs in time. These include the request being sent to the wrong GP, incorrect information being requested or short timescales in which to provide the information requested.”

He added:

“The BMA is very concerned about the impact that UK welfare reform legislation is having on the people of Scotland.

“There has been a significant impact on general practices, especially those who have a high population of patients in receipt of incapacity benefits.”

The Herald Scotland

See also: 

‘GPs unaware they can flag up patients at risk’ ~ The Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening News Posted on May 15, 2013

Leading doctors protest at ‘cruel’ disability assessments ~ Letter Posted on May 5, 2013

Doctors’ leaders could face protests over ‘fitness for work’ campaign snub Posted on May 11, 2013

GPs say benefits tests causing ‘enormous suffering’ ~ Edinburgh Evening News Posted on May 8, 2013

Leading doctors protest at ‘cruel’ disability tribunals Posted on May 5, 2013

9 thoughts on “Benefit claimants face tests as GPs fail to provide information

  1. steve davies says:

    I believe it has all been said about this onslaught of the sick, the disabled and the poor. We have become the lowest caste and social stratus, ” those with no hope ” and who God has abandoned. A different course of action must be taken but buggered if I know what.

  2. owen meharry says:

    My partners Doc. told them he had never heard of her and had no records to boot, even tho he saw her about a week before it

  3. tony says:

    Attention all. Another GP Camborne area refusing to help their patient. Everyone affected ring this number with this reference, get them struck off or found culpable of professional misconduct and financial mismanagement. ( Conflict of interest for monetary gain.) Do not let them getaway with making you suffer more than you already do.

    NHS service department 03003112233 or,

    Ref 75140

    Attention all,just discoverd NHS service department 03003112233, if complaint is in volume or has a serious implication ie gp not passing relevant medical evidence for medical reasons and the person has accident or dies then corporate manslaughter would be the charge. If you had this problem with GP anywhere they want to here about it including being charged.This is ATOS,DLA and PIP related.

  4. hugosmum70 says:

    just for the record this is happening all over Britain not just in Scotland. seem to be a number of articles lately where Scotland has been singled out in articles making it seem that only Scotland is getting all the bad results of this governments hair brained schemes, but ALL British poor and disabled are being hit time after time with first one ,then another and another, onslaught on their meagre benefits.

  5. John Lanigan says:

    It’s all very well that GP’s are concerned about the impact on their patients regarding the misnomer that is the ATOS medical assessment. The problem is that the BMA will not support a campaign to scrap the work capability assessment and are blowing hot air.
    Maybe it’s time that Health Centres and GP surgeries had campaigning groups on their doorstep to further highlight the plight of those having to go through a so called assessment by ATOS.

    1. JJ says:

      Yes. It is time, John. If we poor souls have any fight left in us! It is a disgrace that it should be left to chronically ill and/or disabled people to campaign so very hard alone. Shame on the BMA!

  6. jeffrey davies says:

    atos sers don’t normaly read doctors reports anyway p[ushed aside at grilling to be told yo uhere to see whot you can do and they are not realy read by the hcp,has for the doctors reports to the dwp well these also pushed to one side until tribiunel stage were they cut and paste onto a new page making it look like your doctors report is saying some thing else they all at it lying but to wonder and pounder on this if atos had read the report in the beginning and done their job from this then how come the dwp gets this new evidence its all to do with ids figures there are no disabled there are no sick people so behold the figures are lets say he manipulates these and to beleave the dwp or atos well ones living in cuckoo land if you do jeff3

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