A new survey by Citizens Advice of GP surgeries shows the financial cost people face when appealing ‘fit for work’ decisions, with many hit by fees for medical evidence. {jcomments on}

The Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, says the results highlight the obstacles people face when appealing against Work Capability Assessments (WCA) decisions, which determine an individual’s eligibility for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

The WCA has come under fire for unreliable assessments, expensive appeals procedures and long waits for applicants.

During 2012/13, 43 per cent of WCA decisions were overturned in favour of claimants after an appeal.

As part of the appeals processes against refused applications, people can include medical evidence provided by GPs or other health professionals to support their claim.

Despite the importance of medical evidence in supporting appeals, the charity’s research highlights the difficulties many people have in accessing their records.

The most common reasons for GPs to turn down requests for medical evidence were a lack of time and that they did not feel it was their job to do so.

The results of the survey show that amongst the GP surgeries surveyed:

•15 per cent turn down requests from all patients for evidence

•14 per cent only act on requests for evidence from some patients

•50 per cent which provide evidence charge patients for doing so

•61 per cent which ask for payment for medical evidence charge between £10 and £50

Gillian Guy, says:

"The Work Capability system is not fit for work. The odds are stacked against sick and disabled people, who are paying a heavy health, emotional and financial price for ministers' failure to get support right.

“The WCA process is putting pressure on GPs, charities and most importantly, ordinary people in need of a helping hand. The buck stops with ministers, who need to urgently fix this system.”

Read the full report on The Citizens Advice website here



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