Stop sending letters telling doctors to withhold sick notes from the ill and disabled people seeking Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). It is not for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to interfere with the GP and their patient.
- Significant media interest – see our press tab
- Over 118,000 individuals have signed our petition
- Our hashtag #scraptheletters was trending on Twitter at the end of April 2019
- 11,000 people have written to their MPs on this issue
- Two influential bodies, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and The British Medical Association (BMA), came out in support of our campaign. Both denied agreeing the wording of the letters.
- The letters have now been revised by the DWP for a second time after initial rewording was criticised for failing to explicitly explain to GPs they might still need to issue fit notes for patients appealing a ‘fit for work’ decision
Why is this important?
The department for work and pensions (DWP) are sending doctors misleading letters stating that their patients do not need a “fit note” anymore because they’ve been found fit for work. This letter will leave severely ill and disabled claimants unable to obtain Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to which they are entitled pending appeal.
This threatens the doctor – patient relationship and puts patients at risk of damaging their health further and leaves them in serious financial difficulties.
Like thousands of others, Louis* was too ill to work and needed the vital income ESA provides – but his claim was refused. Louis was blocked from claiming ESA as he awaited his hearing, due to a misleading letter sent from the DWP to his doctor without Louis’ knowledge. Louis had to rely on food-bank vouchers, went into debt, accrued rent arrears and faced an increased risk of eviction. It took moving GPs and relying on new evidence from a clinical psychologist stating how his mental health would deteriorate further if he did not obtain the fit note, and therefore the benefits he needed to survive.
Louis is not alone. And we know these letters are sent to the GP of every person after they have been refused ESA – before they’ve finished the appeal process. 88% of our clients win their appeal and are entitled to ESA again.
It is not for the DWP to interfere with the GP and their patient.