Press Release: Revised DWP letter to GPs continues to be misleading and put barriers between patients and their doctor.
From June 3rd 2019, the department for work and pensions began sending out a revised version of their much contended letter to GPs. This is the second time the letter has now been revised due to outrage by Z2K, other charities, MPs, claimants, doctors and patients.
The revised letter begins We no longer need Statements of Fitness for Work (known as Fit Notes) for your patient as they are fit for work
The letter then repeats this same statement and then bullet points three ways in which doctors may still issue fit notes subject to their ‘clinical discretion’. This letter either assumes expert benefit knowledge or relies on the GP researching the links provided.
From 2017 to June 2nd 2019, the department for work and pensions sent doctors misleading letters stating that their patients do not need a “fit note” anymore because they’ve been found fit for work. This letter left severely ill and disabled claimants unable to obtain Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to which they are entitled pending appeal.
This threatened the doctor – patient relationship and put patients at risk of damaging their health further and leaving them in serious financial difficulties.
During a 13 month period, the letter was sent to over 146,500 GPs, leaving thousands vulnerable to having their benefits taken away or being forced onto Universal Credit because they cannot afford to live on little to no income waiting for their appeal.
Raji Hunjan, CEO of Z2K: ‘The revised letters continue to be actively misleading and ultimately lead to people being denied benefits that they are entitled to. The letters actively dissuades or stops GPs from making decisions that they should be able to make without interference from the DWP. Why do GPs need to know the DWP have declared the person fit for work, and then be told that they can still provide fit notes in some circumstances?’
Hunjan continues, ‘We are really disappointed with this outcome. Although the revised letter is a little less confusing, the DWP should have consulted with specialist advice charities like ours and directly with the disabled and ill people that they are affecting. Simply withdrawing these letters altogether would prevent the harm we’ve seen from happening again and the 117,000 people who signed our petition agree with us.’
Notes to Editors
- Scrap the Letters campaign and petition with over 117,000 signatures
- 2017 – 3rd June 2019 Letters
- Justin Tomlinson response which further puts into question the need of the letter. Further, claimants are not told where to ‘opt out’ raising issues of transparency and data protection
- Pre 2017 Letters
For campaign or press enquiries, contact Ella Abraham on firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel: 020 7259 0801 Ext 210 (press 1 and extension 210).