Requests for medical letters and reports
Doctors often receive requests for medical letters and reports to support a number of applications or requests to the local authority, schools and other non-NHS services. Many of these request fall outside of the role and responsibilities of your Doctor and impact on the time and resources available to us to run the practice.
In many cases we may refer you back to the person or organisation who has asked you to contact your GP. This is because they can often accept information directly from the patient and many requests can be resolved through further dialogue. There may be some occasions when a report from your Doctor is still required. This will be factual report and subject to your written consent. As these reports are not covered by the NHS a private fee will apply which should be paid in advance.
The following guidance may help you resolve some of your requests:-
Department of Work and Pensions appeals
Appeals against Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) decisions, including PIP (Personal Independent Payments), are becoming more common. This work falls outside of your Doctor’s contracted work. It can be very time consuming and patients often book appointments to discuss this.
Patients appealing against DWP decisions are asked to respond to the DWP stating what evidence in the original decision they disagree with. They are also advised to provide medical evidence to support their comments. As this work falls outside of the GP contracted work, the patient should respond directly to the DWP. If the DWP requests further information from your Doctor they will contact us directly.
Social Housing requests
Information in support of an application based on health grounds should be supplied by the patient or applicant using a form provided by the Housing Department (self- assessment). This should not require any input from your Doctor or the practice.
Only if additional information is required, will the Housing Department Medical Officer need to obtain it from the your Doctor using a standard Form and following written consent from the patient. The Medical Officer should seek information which is only available to the GP, eg: the diagnosis; severity of the illness; medication; likely effect of appropriate rehousing.
A fee is payable when the Housing Department requests a report from your doctor.
School Sickness Absence Requests
Increasingly, GPs receive requests from parents who have been misdirected by their school or the local education authority to provide medical certificates, letters or evidence to present to a school to verify a pupil’s absence from school due to illness or to excuse them from exams or other activities.
GPs do not provide short term sickness certification for periods of less than 7 days. A parent’s explanation of the absence is generally sufficient.
GPs are unable to issue medical certificates for longer periods of sickness absence unless the patient was seen by the GP at the time of the illness.
GPs are not obliged to provide a view on a pupil who has missed a higher than average (10%) number of school days. It is the responsibility of the parent and school to ensure that this absence is legitimate. GP input into this process should not be necessary.
GPs are not obliged to provide sickness certification for pupils who may miss an external examination (eg, GCSEs or A levels).
Patients with Dental Problems
Patients often attend GP practices because they have a dental problem. GPs are not able to fully assess and treat dental problems. Treating patients with dental problems is not a GP responsibility, even if a patient is not registered with a dentist because:
- GPs are not trained to deal with dental issues, and
- Dental treatment is not a contractual requirement.
If a patient presents with a toothache or other dental issue they should be advised to contact their local dentist or access 111 if their usual dental surgery is closed or they are not registered with a dentist. The practice team should know of local in-hours and out-of-hours dental services that manage urgent and emergency dental conditions so that they can direct patients accordingly. This includes:
- NHS website
- NHS 111
- Local dental access centres
- Local NHS dentists