Work Capability Assessments and Fit Notes

Roy Bard made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

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The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

I refer to the statement from your department at the end of this article (

Your spokesperson is claimed to have stated to the Daily Record that:

" ‘The GP would have been notified so they know the outcome of the assessment.

‘And as the letter says, there’s no longer any requirement to provide a fit note unless the claimant appeals the decision, or their medical condition worsens or they have a new medical condition.’"

I read this as saying that the GP should not issue any FITnote for specified condition unless there is an appeal, new medical condition or a worsening of said condition. But I also understand that the DWP has specifically stated that WCAs are not medical assessments - being instead 'functionality assessments' conducted by a qualified Health Care Professional. The DWP will be aware that many such decisions are overturned following Mandatory Reviews or Tribunals and therefore are not always correct at the time they are made. I am concerned that overworked GPs are being encouraged not to issue Fitnotes unless certain conditions imposed by the DWP are met - in effect this does seem to be interfering with the GP/patient relationship.

Please let me know the following:

1) Are GPs free to issue a Fitnote, even if there is no appeal in place and the condition hasn't worsened?

1a) If GPs are free to issue a Fitnote even though there is no appeal and the condition remains the same, are they made aware of this?

2) Will the DWP be prepared to take responsibility if no Fitnote is issued by the GP following recept of an ESA65B from your Department and something tragic happens to the patient (as seems to have occurred in the case of James Harrison cited in the article)

2b) IF the answer to 2 is no, then does the DWP believe that the GP should be held responsibile?

Yours faithfully,

Roy Bard

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Frank Zola left an annotation ()

ICO tells DWP to "stop" issuing the #ESA65B 'fit-note' letters

Frank Zola left an annotation ()

"we are now aiming to have the ESA1 and
ESA50 live from mid-August and can share copies with you once they have been published. "
21/7/20 update