GPs should provide information for every fitness for work assessment, urges BMA



Disability Rights Activist Susan Archibald of The Archibald Foundation and Black Triangle with Dr. Alan McDevitt Chair of BMA Scotland’s General Practice Committee (above).

John McArdle handed in a copy of a letter signed by leading doctors, six general secretaries of Britain’s trade unions; medically allied professional bodies and fellow campaign groups in support of Black Triangle’s ESA Regulations 29 and 31 Campaign. Dr. McDevitt was also supplied with a copy of Black Triangle’s recent written submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee  




Friday 28 June 2013 | By Madlen Davies

GPs should be asked to provide factual information for every Work Capability Assessment to enable ‘better-informed decisions’ to be made about their patient’s eligibility for benefits, says the BMA.

Dr Porter
Dr Porter

In a letter to the Government sent this month, BMA chair Dr Mark Porter said the current process is ‘insufficiently rigorous and consistent’ and causes ‘avoidable harm to some of the weakest and most vulnerable in society.’

The news comes as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is planning to pilot a new approach to collecting information from claimants’ GPs, though a spokesperson could not confirm any details about the pilots as ‘options are still being considered’.

Dr Porter expressed disappointment at the lack of progress in implementing the recommendations of a review in 2010 into the DWP scheme to assess claimant’s fitness for work, run by private company Atos.

The review – by House of Lords and House of Commons select committees advisor Professor Malcolm Harrington, recommended further documentary evidence was obtained for every Work Capability Assessment before making a final decision on whether they could seek Employment and Support Allowance. Currently 40% of decisions are overturned at the appeal stage.

Dr Porter said the BMA had ‘continuing concerns’ about the programme and expressed his concern that the recommendations from Professor Harrington had not been implemented.

The letter said: ‘If the recommendation is implemented appropriately, with GPs providing factual information, it should result in better-informed decisions being made about eligibility for ESA by DWP decision makers, earlier in the process.’

This would lead to better-informed decisions, and would save GPs time, he said.

He added: ‘As well as making the system fairer for claimants, this should also significantly reduce the administrative cost of dealing with so many appeals.’

Dr Porter also called for an urgent update on the pilots proposed by the DWP to look into new approaches of collecting evidence to support claims.

A DWP spokesperson said: ’We are considering options for piloting a new approach to collecting further medical evidence in support of a claimant’s application for Employment and Support Allowance. We are not yet in a position to give further details.’

‘As always we are keen to strike the appropriate balance between seeking the right information for making a decision on someone’s benefits, and avoiding placing undue burdens on GPs.’

Pulse Magazine

See also: 

Disability activists ask for 2nd opinion from reneging GPs Posted on June 27, 2013


14 thoughts on “GPs should provide information for every fitness for work assessment, urges BMA

  1. RG says:

    I still can’t believe that these so called HCP are still getting away with fraud and dishonesty with no action being taken against them. There is no doubt that they are trained and pressurised to produce false reports full of lies and distortions. I might be fooling myself but for the life of me I can’t believe members of a caring profession, Drs, Nurses and Physiotherapists are doing people down unless they are forced to do so.

  2. David Calvert says:

    Medical evidence provided by the GP and consultant based on the history and current condition including the possibility of relapse is all that should be required to claim benefits. Doing this would enable ATOS to be scrapped and the money invested back into the NHS and the well-being of the nations population. As we have it at the moment ATOS is expecting claimants with complex medical conditions to provide confirmed medical diagnosis whilst the NHS budget would decline to fund it, this I know from personal experience.

    1. Mo Stewart says:

      This is incorrect David. It has already been decided that Atos WILL NOT access medical history as provided by GPs or Consultants and the so called DWP ‘Decision Makers’ have confirmed that they are incapable of deciphering medical terminology.

      The DWP keep ‘tinkering’ but, in reality, we’re going round in circles and there can be no improvement. DON’T assume that Atos are going anywhere fast…

      Atos founded COHPA and they seem to think they are here to stay. Don’t forget Atos were involved with DSS medicals long BEFORE the WCA was introduced. HH Judge Robert Martin wrote 10 consecutive annual reports that all confirmed that the Atos assessment “failed to coincide with reality.”

      1. David Calvert says:

        With the greatest respect if what I have written is incorrect why would ATOS be asking me for a consultants report?

        1. Sam says:

          For the same reason as the Nazis asked you to bring luggage when they were taking you to the camps…

      2. JEFFREY says:

        in that case atos is useless.
        if they can not understand medical conditions
        how can they make a judgement ???

        tnx jeff lph

  3. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

    GP`s, Doctors, BMA Vs ATOS & DWP

    Who is the real medical professional = A Legal Case to be fought through the courts at the tax payers expense. Will it have to go that far!!!

  4. PAUL says:

    can someone please tell me if this is a ruling that i can now use in support of my current esa appeal?
    had atos interrogation in july 2012.. still waiting to go to tribunal…
    mental health problems including ocd…possable body dysmorphic… the so called nurse that saw me…reported that i was “well groomed and looked well” i argue that since part my problem can be body dysmorphic..(as written down by my psychiatrist)a symptom is over grooming… anyone help me please?

  5. Michael Burdette-Deakin says:

    Atos Healthcare is a private company contracted by the DWP to conduct fitness for work assessments.

    Firstly, to accomplish this they would need access to your medical records which are confidential. To gain access to your medical records Atos would have been required to submit a form of authority signed by you granting access to your private and confidential records.

    Without these records there is no valid and honest way that any legitimate doctor can truthfully assess your fitness to work.

    By this reasoning should be asked to complete a fit for work medical one of the first questions you should ask the examiner is: “Have you read my medical file”

    If the answer to that is yes and you HAVEN’T been asked to sign a release form then the doctor conducting the examination is committing a criminal offence.

    If the answer is ‘No, we do not have access to your medical records and history” then the assessment is invalid and the examining doctor is technically incompetent.

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