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The DWP claim that they have now corrected a misleading letter which deliberately discouraged GPs from issuing fit notes to employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants who need them in order to claim benefits.

Back in March we revealed that the text of a standard letter to GPs had been quietly altered by the DWP.

In the past, when a claimant was found capable of work, the DWP sent out a letter to their GP stating that there was no need to issue further fit notes.

But the letter went on to say that the doctor would have to give their patient a new fit note if they appealed against the decision:

“. . . you may have to give your patient new medical statements if:

they decide to appeal against our decision

their condition gets significantly worse

they have a new medical condition."

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) subsequently called for urgent changes to be made because the letter risked endangering the health of claimants.

At the time the DWP denied that the changes posed any risk to claimants and insisted that they had consulted the RCGP and the British Medical Association about the revised wording of the letter.

Both organisations deny that this is the case.

However, last week Justin Tomlinson, minister for disabled people, responded to a written question from an MP about the issue by claiming:

"The revised version of the ESA65B letter went live from 3rd June 2019. The revised letter states clearly the circumstances in which fit notes are required including to support Employment and Support Allowance appeals, where a claimant’s condition has worsened or if the claimant has developed a new health condition or disability."

It seems then that, after being caught out, the DWP have changed the wording back to that of the original letter, although Benefits and Work has yet to see a copy of the latest document.


#1 Mr B 2019-07-02 00:36
Hi all

I have just seen a copy of the revised DWP letter obtained by Daphne Hall, a Rightsnet official, in response to her Freedom of Information request. Quote from letter:

"Providing fit notes in the future for their ESA claim
Subject to your clinical discretion you may issue further fit notes in the future to your patient if:their condition gets worse

 they develop a new disability or health condition

 they ask you for evidence for a reconsideration or appeal against our decision."

To me at least this does not seem to be a completely clear amendment to their letter to GPs To read the full FOI and the DWP's response please click https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/revised_version_of_esa65b_from_3?nocache=incoming-1390670

Kind regards

Mr B

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