PIP is not part of GPs contractual work – neither the initial application for assessment nor the appeals process.
Initial application for assessment:
The process appears to be sub-contracted to a company called ATOS and if ATOS believes receiving a GP report would be helpful for them in making the decision. Then ATOS should request any report directly from the GP practice and, as this is over and above normal GMS contracted work, ATOS would have to pay a fee.
Appeals Process following refusal:
1. There is nothing within the appeal process whereby doctors are contacted by the Appeals Panel team in contrast to the initial panel, the onus is on the patient to provide evidence that the DWP came to an incorrect decision
2. There are websites such as the Citizens Advice Bureau which provides an easy to read guide as to how to approach the appeal/ make your appeal – with examples – they do not include approaching the GP in those suggestions https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-andcarers/pip/appeals/apply-to-tribunal/ - the main things they emphasize is that the panel understands how their condition affects their ability to live their life
3. If you wish to support them you can charge any fee that you think reasonable:the guide below was funded by the MOJ – they do highlight how useful a GP report might be but warn patients that you are allowed to charge and that fees of £60 or more are normal, so yours is currently low – they do then say (helpfully!) that “if they know you cannot afford it they may be willing to do it for free”. I think however that you can quite legitimately say that due to the high numbers that are being requested you do need to charge as they, as a combined number, are taking up considerable amounts of time. The guides also say that the most useful input is from those that really know the claimant. In the guide there is a suggested report template (set of questions and guide for professionals (1 page long), page 28-32) which the patient fills out and then asks you to confirm – these are the things the panel will use to make their decision – given that many of the questions and answers that they are keen about are about activities of daily living (eating, toileting, dressing) and how far they can walk etc – I’m not convinced that many GPs would know this about many of their patients other than what they tell you – so hand on heart would you know exactly how they eat or wash or toilet themselves? Therefore is your report, if it if it does not include these things which you do not actually know, actually going to make any real difference to their case?
4. These patients may well be better off making sure that they opt for a face to face hearing (much higher chances of success but many opt for paper as it sounds less scary) and following the advice in the guides around answering questions honestly in a thought out level of detail and thinking how what other things they include in their evidence etc. They may also be able to get other people around them to write reports corroborating their actual levels of need which will be far more successful than a truthful but minimal letter from you? You could also direct them to the advisers mentioned in the guide below who might be able to help them get their approach organised for the best decision.
5. If you are getting such high volumes of these requests it may be worth your practice investing some time in a poster or short leaflet that lays out your policy to people and guides them to other sources of help to maximise their chances of success. There are for example debt charities which may offer assistance.
This advice will hopefully allow you to feel more comfortable whatever decision you choose to make going forward.