Resource for GPs
Though this resource has been produced specifically for General Practitioners, it will also be relevant to any medical professional involved in respiratory medicine, with contributions from the National Advisory Group, the Procurator Fiscal’s Office (Glasgow) and the legal profession.
The resource aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the main issues surrounding asbestos-related conditions that are pertinent to GP’s in their everyday practice
- Be familiar with patterns of asbestos-related disease, including those most at risk of developing an asbestos-related disease
- Understand the presenting signs and symptoms and referral protocols for asbestos-related disease
- Have an awareness of the importance of occupational history and the potential for gender bias in attributing the nature of exposure
- Understand the basis for UK government compensation including, the statutory time limits to make a claim and the role of the medical profession in the facilitation of claims
- Know the procedures and statutory requirements regarding the specific categories of deaths that must be reported to, and require investigation by, the Procurator Fiscal
- Be aware of the current legal landscape and statutory time limits that apply to the civil/personal injury claims process and the potential risks of legal action for ‘loss of opportunity’ if failing to notify the Procurator Fiscal of a death that may have been caused by an industrial disease.
Mesothelioma Pro Forma for Reporting Deaths (Scotland)
Changes have been agreed with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) regarding the reporting of certain deaths by the doctor to the Procurator Fiscal (PF), required by legislation, including the reporting of Mesothelioma.
“A Pro Forma has been devised to reduce distress caused to relatives when a person diagnosed with mesothelioma or suspected of having mesothelioma dies.
“It distils information required by the PF through a structured consistent record, and enables PF to make decisions expeditiously without always requiring a post-mortem to establish the facts required for a civil case for compensation to proceed.”
“This not only benefits the bereaved relatives but also the COPFS and the NHS. Importantly, it obviates the need for relatives to be interviewed by the police at a very stressful time and also reduces the medical staff and the police interview time.”
GUIDANCE FOR DOCTORS COMPLETING MEDICAL
CERTIFICATES OF THE CAUSE OF DEATH (MCCD)
Request for Confirmation of Mesothelioma Diagnosis
The majority of individuals who suffer from mesothelioma are entitled to compensation from the government in the form of Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) and a lump sum payment under either the Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers Compensation) Act 1979 or Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme 2008.
Those who cannot show that they were exposed to asbestos at work are not entitled to IIDB but should still qualify for a payment under the Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme 2008.
An application for the Pneumoconiosis Work comp Act must be made within 12 months of receipt of IIDB. An application to the Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme must be made within 12 months of diagnosis. The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) has therefore issued the following guidance for doctors:
The doctor’s role in the 2008 Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme
If your patient is diagnosed with Diffuse Mesothelioma:
- encourage them to claim the appropriate benefit as soon as possible
- provide documentary confirmation of the diagnosis of Diffuse Mesothelioma
The claim will fail if the medical evidence does not clearly say that the claimant has Diffuse Mesothelioma.
In a tiny number of cases, Centre for Health and Disability Assessments may contact you requesting information about or clarification of the evidence submitted by the claimant. This contact may be by phone.
You will be asked to provide Health Assessment Advisory Services with documentary evidence where possible, and in most cases due to the urgency of making a decision on entitlement, you will be requested to supply the information by fax if possible.
Suitable supplementary documentary evidence might include copies of hospital letters, X-ray reports, scans or biopsy results.
If documentary evidence is not available, but the diagnosis of diffuse mesothelioma has been made, verbal confirmation of the diagnosis is acceptable.
There is no longer a requirement for applicants who suffer from lung cancer or mesothelioma to attend a medical examination in connection with their application for benefit/compensation. However, confirmation of diagnosis from a medical professional is still required.
Confirmation of the diagnosis is vital in expediting an application. We would normally request confirmation from a GP, hospital consultant or lung cancer specialist nurse.
Request for DS1500 – Special Rules Provision
Definition of Terminal Illness
For our clients who are terminally ill, as part of their benefit/compensation entitlement review, it is normal practice for our welfare rights officers to contact a client’s GP or hospital consultant for a DS1500 report to allow an application for Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance to be fast-tracked under the ‘special rules’ provision. With regard to those diagnosed with mesothelioma, this request is generally granted. However, on some occasions, the request may be refused.
You count as being terminally ill if at any time you have a progressive disease and your death in consequence of that disease can reasonably be expected within 6 months.
Scotland: changes to the definition of Terminal illness
There will be no limit set on how long a patient has left to live before their condition is considered “terminal”, the Scottish government has announced.
The current rules for disability benefits and Universal Credit state a patient must have six months or less to live (see above definition) before their illness is classed as terminal. The Scottish government will scrap the time limit altogether.
Who is entitled to request a DS1500 Report?
Any individual who is terminally ill is entitled to request this report from any medical professional involved in their care. In practice, however, this is seldom the case and a DS1500 is normally requested by a representative acting on behalf of the individual concerned.
The legislation states that an application can be made without the knowledge of the individual.
On occasion, it may be unclear exactly who is entitled to request a DS1500 or whether consent from the individual concerned is required. In some cases, a medical professional may be concerned about divulging the nature of such a request to their patient. The legislation states that an application can be made without the individual’s knowledge….. ‘where a person purports to make a claim for an attendance allowance by virtue of that subsection on behalf of another, that other shall be regarded as making the claim, notwithstanding that it is made without his knowledge or authority’
In short, it is open to anyone to request a DS1500 Report without the consent of the individual concerned. In practice, however, CAA welfare rights officers will always, where possible, ask an individual to sign a mandate of authority on the first contact with CAA and this mandate will be sent with any request that we make.
Resources for Patients
Self-management Toolkit: Living with an asbestos-related disease
CAA, with funding from Alliance Scotland, has produced a self-management Toolkit for those diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition. The Toolkit aims to address any concerns that individuals may experience following a diagnosis of an asbestos-related condition.
Toolkit is available on request and is widely distributed in GP Practices and hospitals throughout Scotland.
- The Toolkit contains 5 Booklets and a DVD
- Common Investigations
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Managing Breathlessness
- Hints and Tips
- Personal Stories
More information about the Self-management Toolkit
CAA produces a number of booklets that are available to patients who suffer from an asbestos-related illness. The booklets are often used by GP’s and hospital-based medical professionals, who provide them to patients who have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related condition. All booklets are available on request.
Service Booklet: Information on asbestos-related conditions; compensation & benefits; support groups and CAA services
Service Poster: Laminated poster (A3). Details CAA’s service and FREEPHONE helpline number.
Please contact us to request copies of our new service booklet, poster or any of our other publications.
Last reviewed: February 2020