GP Support For ESA Appeals

Many Lothian General Practitioners are under severe pressure to support their patients through the appeals process against a 'fit for work' decision. The letter below comes from a Lothian GP to colleagues in our area:

Work Capability Assessment(WCA) decision - draft appeal letter


Dear Colleague,

As a GP you may be at times inundated with requests for letters to support Employment and Support allowance appeals. I have found that this is an increasing part of my work load and I have patients who are now facing their fourth tribunal appeal.

This is a draft letter which you could amend in order to promptly assist your patients that are requesting supportive information for the purposes of a tribunal appeal for Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

At the recent National BMA Conference a motion was passed calling for the WCA to be scrapped with immediate effect.

The WCA involves the administration of a battery of questions contained in the LIMA computer programme that comprehensively fails to adequately and accurately assess a patient’s ‘fitness for work’.

The operation of the assessment system has been universally condemned for failing to take into account the disproportionate medical, social and other barriers that sick and disabled people face in the job market as a direct result of their disabilities.

The recent GMC publication of Good Medical Practice 2012 states clearly that a Doctor must (overriding duty or principle) “take prompt action if you think that patient safety is or may be seriously compromised by inadequate premises, equipment or other resources, policies or systems.”

This draft letter seek to address some of the failings in the WCA by, when appropriate, invoking exceptional circumstances regulations 29 and 35, whereby an adverse decision may pose a substantial risk to the claimant.

Having sought legal opinion on this matter, if you consider that it is “more likely than not” that the claimants mental or physical health may deteriorate as the result of a WCA decision then it may be appropriate to apply these regulations.

I hope you find this helpful

Lothian GP, MBChB DRCOG MRCGP

General Practitioner

Read this report to understand what Work Capability Assessment means for people who must go through this process.

Warning  The report is a review of the WCA in people's own words. You might find it distressing.

Last Reviewed: 10/07/2013