The disability service I used to work in had a template letter that we
disability advisers were able to complete and print/sign for students to
take to GPs and hospitals. On occasion I would also write something
custom on headed paper and again signed. If anyone has an updated
document they may be able to share it here or with you privately.
Our service's template letter outlined the Equality Act definition of
disability including impact and duration and explained how evidencing
this was important to enable the student to access appropriate support
and adjustments at university and for DSA. We had some example common
impacts of impairment or indeed medication/treatment on students to give
the clinicians ideas for what to complete.
Sadly documentation of impairment (or random medical stuff) is *not* an
NHS funded service, so GPs are entitled to charge for the time taken to
check records and draft a letter. However I'd argue the charge should be
proportionate and if practices are charging the service needs to be
good. I know of people who have challenged unsuitable medical letters
using consumer rights arguments.
If the student feels the GP has not completed the proforma properly or
the letter is unsuitable then the first port of call for a complaint is
the Practice Manager who should be accustomed to handling this sort of
I think some of the reason proforma evidence forms are not properly
completed or letters can be unsuitable is that some GPs and clinicians
get very worried about "labelling" students as disabled, something they
may see as a bad word. Hopefully explaining the context will encourage
practices to provide what is needed and realise the D word isn't too
Some students may be better asking a different clinician than their GP
for evidence. In my anecdotal experience specialist nurses and physios
are the best authors of letters which tend to cover impact and duration
really well. Hospital doctors are usually willing to write letters for
free (especially if the patient can give them a brief note of what it
needs to cover). If the student has a helpful hospital department that
can be better and quicker (and cheaper).
I also advise students to ask clinicians to send them letters
documenting conditions, appointments, treatments, impacts etc as they go
even if they don't (yet) have a specific needs. Many medics are
sympathetic to the repeated demands that we disabled folk have about
documenting out impairments. I have done DSA, Access to Work, employer
stuff and PIP in the last 3 years alone.
Another option if the the student can't get letters from GP or hospital
is to use the GDPR article right of access to personal data. This is
best done in writing to their GP asking for copies of their entire
medical record under the GDPR. This may give students access to doctor
to doctor letters which combined may cover Equality Act definition. This
should not incur a cost for the first request and a response should be
provided within one calendar month e.g. 3rd of month 1 should get data
by 4th of month 2.
Hopefully some of these ideas will help you to advise your students.
On 29/08/18 15:41, Helen Stocker wrote:
> Dear All
> Over the last week or so, I have had a couple students who have had
> problems in applying for DSA using the medical evidence form;
> Issues include; GP Surgery's taking ages to fill out the form, charging
> to fill out the form or providing insufficient evidence for students.
> Has anyone else had students who have experienced similar problems? Does
> anyone have suggestions for how I can help students with this? Perhaps
> other professionals I could direct students to?
> I know a lot of GPs are under strain at the moment, but I am not sure
> how to advise students on this one.
> I hope that preparations for the new academic year are going well for
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