A phone call appointment with my GP confirms they simply do not understand the benefit system, specifically with regard to ESA. My GP is absolutely adamant that, even if I fail a tribunal she can somehow intervene so that I don’t end up with nothing. Oh how I tried; tried to explain that if you fail a tribunal that’s it. At least that’s my understanding. Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps the medical community does have some power in this situation but the tribunal is the last port of call; appeals do not get a further chance. This is the highest authority.
You see the CAB had asked the GP to write a simple letter (wouldn’t even take 2 pages) underlining what I had told them. My GP had previously said she can’t verify those issues and so couldn’t write a letter. I tried again today to explain this is what is necessary – because this is what is necessary. Unfortunately she doesn’t want to write a letter. Ironically she had no problem digging up a ton of information, none of it particularly helpful or relevant to the CAB’s request, way more than a letter would require.
This whole situation is bizarre to the point of insanity: what would really help is if the CAB could directly explain this to the GP. Instead I’m going to have to contact the CAB again and ask for further advice; maybe there is something they can do to explain to GP’s that don’t get it just how things work. It is ridiculous to suggest that, after failing a tribunal (should that happen), the GP can then intervene. Surely the question then becomes: why could you not simply write that letter in the first place? That is what the tribunal people would argue if the GP then decided to contact the DWP regarding a stoppage of ESA as a result. I suspect this is what the CAB will say also.
In her own weird way the GP is trying to be helpful, which is nice of course, but it is completely hobbled by her wilfulness in refusing to understand how this actually works. It is no more her fault than mine; blame the Tories. This is their mess. This is the product of welfare reform and the minutiae of which she ignores or doesn’t understand – why should she, I suppose, she is a doctor not a welfare advisor. Unfortunately a lot of people are now being forced to be welfare experts in having to help clients and patients untangle the mess created. It is not the patients’ fault either, but abandoning them is not an option.
She advised me to chase up the mental health people re: Aspergers diagnosis. Unfortunately if she had done this herself she might have found another reason to change her mind. It seems the waiting list for an appointment, despite new facilities being set up closer to home (which of course is great), is at least a year. I can’t see the tribunal people deigning to wait that long so as to facilitate a diagnosis. In fact they couldn’t even find a record on the system of her request for an appointment! Meanwhile she offered, as a compromise, that she’d write a letter if I got a diagnosis. Well that’s going to take a very long time, meanwhile I have to deal with the ESA system as is. Unfortunately, again, if she thinks she can help should I fail that tribunal I think she is in for a rude awakening: any subsequent ESA claims would fall under the new appeal system. This is the system (assuming it’s still on track) whereby appeals are effectively shut down pending a second decision maker’s assessment, which can be made without recourse to a time limit. These are the kinds of details that go beyond her understanding. Not only that, but I don’t think you can just go back to your GP and get a new sick note for a fresh claim; I think there is a waiting period at least wherein new claims will only be considered if the symptoms/problems differ. Again, she doesn’t understand it; this is what I mean by minutiae.
Fundamentally there needs to be a holistic approach. Why can the GP not be the one who processes a claim. Why do I need to see different people each with autonomy over a particular part of the process with no ability to connect or communicate? Why can’t the CAB explain things to my GP? Why aren’t GP’s made aware of or trained in these systems? Isn’t this important for them to know?