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Trouble getting a fit note or medical support information for ESA?

Have you had trouble getting a fit note, or medical support information for ESA claims or appeal?

Recently, we've been approached by people on ESA and welfare rights advisors who have struggled to get fit notes while appealing Atos fit-for-work decisions. We've also seen statements from people who say that their GPs can't supply documents of support.

For example:

For several months now, we've been in regular contact with Steve, a man in Newcastle who was diagnosed with schizophrenia more than 30 years ago.

He struggles with serious depression and has suicidal thoughts. He told us in an interview earlier this year that his mental health was getting worse and that he was struggling to find help as local services were cut and swamped.

“I do hallucinate [especially at night]...I see things like giant squid and things like that…I think I’m being eaten alive…. the drugs, the Sulpiride I take, it’s got quite bad side effects in that my limbs shake every night when I go to bed and keep me up half the night anyway. [But] The community mental health team is overwhelmed…(The full interview with Steve is here).

Fit for work
Steve was recently found fit for work by Atos - he was given no points in his work capability test and told to apply for jobseekers' allowance. He decided to appeal that decision. He needed to get a sick note (now called a fit note) from his doctor, though – a note which essentially signs him off fitness for work while he is waiting for his appeal to be heard.

Unfortunately, a receptionist at Steve's GP surgery rang him to say that the surgery would not issue a fit note, because Atos had found him fit for work. He wrote us this email in horror:

“This is an email to confirm that a receptionist at my GPs' surgery phoned me to say that the doctor had refused to sign any more ESA sicknotes as the DWP, on the basis of an Atos report, had found me fit for work. I was claiming I needed a sicknote on the basis of a chronic psychotic illness – namely schizophrenia, which other GPs were happy to sign before the Atos report. I have not yet seen the disability forum or the local jobcentre on this issue yet as I'm still reeling from the fact that I'll get no more benefit after today. Please help!”

Fortunately, an advisor from a mental health support group in Newcastle sorted the problem out – contact was made with Steve's GP surgery and a doctor there agreed to write the fit note which leaves Steve eligible for some ESA payment, while he waits for his appeal to be heard.

Have you been denied a fit note, or medical support information for your ESA claim or appeal?
We want to follow this up. Let us know in the comments if that has happened to you, or contact us here: http://falseeconomy.org.uk/about/contact if you would rather email.

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