The WCA – GPs are not well enough trained it seems
Requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act can be a useful way of forcing an admission from DWP or any other Government agency.
They can work both ways – an admission that they do something or an admission that they don’t. I sometimes just ask for the evidence (information) to support something a Minister has said on the news the previous day. Quite often (surprise, surprise) there is none and using the Government's own evidence-based philosophy, if there is no clear evidence, whatever it is doesn't exist. There always has to be evidence of existence.
They don’t have a great deal of respect for the letter of the law let alone its spirit, so there is a certain knack to phrasing requests in a way that does not allow them to easily side-step a legitimate question. You also have to be patient and accept that you may have to make several passes at the same issue from slightly different directions to circumvent general prevarication and extract what you are looking for. The final value lies in the fact that the words come from their own mouths and therefore cannot be contested on the basis of supposition, misinterpretation etc.
The Act is about revealing recorded information, so set your expectations accordingly. There is no point in chasing information they say they do not have, even if you think they should have it. They will not simply offer comment nor become involved in anything that looks like a debate or discussion and will not express an opinion. At least in theory, if it has been recorded you can have it, if there is no record that is all they will say. However, this “negative confirmation” can be useful on the basis of assuming that logically if something has not been recorded it cannot be “official” and vice versa.
This particular request can be found in detail at http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/gps_are_not_well_enough_trained
It arose out of the repeated claims by DWP that GPs are not equipped or authorised to perform a WCA correctly. They attempt to attribute this largely to lack of appropriate training and expertise although they have admitted here that they have no basis for saying this. More importantly, the legislation has been deceitfully constructed to exclude them, as explained in my closing annotation. DWP (with the help of Atos and other private companies) has created an artificial new branch of medicine for which it has defined the training and qualifications needed to become a practitioner. This allows them to control the resources as they wish and change the rules as they wish.
Note that Atos is does not fall within the remit of the Care Quality Commission, so there are serious questions about how medical standards can be maintained. As it is, DWP/Atos audit themselves, although they continually say that this is done by independent experts, but as in other areas DWP has its own dictionary allowing it to use words that do not have the meaning you would expect.
This information will not directly help you with your WCA or your ESA claim. However, by giving you a bit of insight into the hidden agenda and the lengths to which DWP will go to fulfil its aims you might just be better prepared for what is ahead of you. Remember, if it smells fishy and looks fishy, it is probably a fish. Within DWP, the end justifies the means, regardless of the collateral damage.