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The DWP have now corrected, at least in part, 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.

Last week we revealed that a revised version of the ESA65B letter went live from 3 June 2019.

Its aim was to correct the previous version, which had been strongly criticised because it no longer told GPs that they should resume providing fit notes if a claimant appealed against a decision that they were fit for work.

Thanks to Daphne at Rightsnet for obtaining a copy of the letter and to Mr B for telling us about it.

The latest revision now states that:

Following your patient’s Work Capability Assessment, we’ve decided they are fit to do some types of work, but this might not be the same as they have done before. This means you no longer need to provide fit notes for their Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claim.

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.

There are concerns that the letter still lacks clarity and that some GPs will not read past the sentence telling them not to provide fit notes.

 The full text of the letter is below.


We no longer need Statements of Fitness for Work (known as fit notes) for 
your patient as they are fit for work 

Dear Doctor 
Patient’s name: 
Date of birth: 
Following your patient’s Work Capability Assessment, we’ve decided they are fit to 
do some types of work, but this might not be the same as they have done before.  
This means you no longer need to provide fit notes for their Employment and 
Support Allowance (ESA) claim.  
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 
Further guidance for GPs on completing fit notes is available at: 


Helping people back into work 
We know most people are better off in work, so we are encouraging your patient to 
find out what type of work they may be able to do with their health condition or 
disability through focused support at their local Jobcentre Plus.  Their work coach will 
take your patient’s illness, health condition, or disability into account when setting 
work requirements. 
Your patient has agreed that we can tell you about the decision. 
We’ve sent your patient a summary of their Work Capability Assessment outcome.   
We may need to contact you again about your patient’s disability, illness or 
health condition in the future.
If you have any questions about this letter or you need it in Braille, large print, or 
audio please call us on the number at the top of this letter. 
Thanks for your help.  
Yours sincerely,