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Solid grounds for appeal or irresponsible GP?

(21 Posts)
blimeyblimey Wed 24-Apr-19 08:32:24

A mum I know is a long term sufferer of depression. Her DS missed out on first choice school, which has brought on a relapse. She has obtained a letter from her GP saying it would help the family if the child was to get the school place, and she's going to use it at the appeal.

Surely her GP should be offering therapies that can help her to cope with life's disappointments, not helping her to game the school admissions system? There must be thousands of other families in the same boat.

OP’s posts: |
prh47bridge Wed 24-Apr-19 08:39:18

The GP isn't necessarily being irresponsible. I certainly hope that they are offering treatment as well as writing this letter. However, if the letter is primarily about the effect on her if the child doesn't get a place it is unlikely to carry much weight, if any, with the appeal panel. They need to see that the child will be disadvantaged if he is not admitted. Problems for other members of the family are not generally relevant.

This may well feel to the panel like an attempt to bully them - "you must give me the school I want or I'll be depressed". So it could make them less inclined to give the mother the benefit of any doubt.

If she wins her appeal I suspect it will be in spite of this letter, not because of it.

moonrises Wed 24-Apr-19 18:09:07

A GP letter will more often than not are very vague and non-commital. They often say 'Mrs Smith says reason X is having an effect on situation Y' or 'Mrs Smith would benefit from Z'

Sometimes a GP will write a concise letter with full medical history, prognosis and current effects but not as often as the above.

I am not sure it will be as effective as she hopes.

peteneras Wed 24-Apr-19 19:53:01

"Sometimes a GP will write a concise letter with full medical history, prognosis and current effects. . ."

It will take a very, very brave GP to write such a letter even if the Data Protection Act doesn't exist!

moonrises Wed 24-Apr-19 20:33:54

The DPA has been replaced by the GDPR, but that's by the by.

If someone has asked for supporting information in a letter then the GP will write it, they will also provide it to other professionals if a consent form is provided.

prh47bridge Wed 24-Apr-19 23:14:40

It will take a very, very brave GP to write such a letter even if the Data Protection Act doesn't exist!

Really?! What a strange idea. If the patient asks the GP to write such a letter there are no data protection concerns, so I don't know why you think the GP would be brave.

PCohle Wed 24-Apr-19 23:22:07

It's not really any of your business OP.
You sound pretty judgmental - I assume you feel this may have an impact on your child's chances of admission.

Medical and social need are perfectly normal criteria and it is up to the GP as a medical professional to play their role in assessing that need. I'm not sure why you feel better qualified than your friend's GP to offer that assessment?

prh47bridge Thu 25-Apr-19 00:01:38

Medical and social need are perfectly normal criteria

Some, but by no means all, schools have this as an admissions category. However, the vast majority of schools that have it are only interested in the medical/social needs of the pupil. The needs of a parent are not relevant.

At appeal, the admission criteria are not relevant unless the appellant is arguing that a mistake has been made. It is very unlikely that an appeal would be won on the basis of a parent's depression.

I haven't seen the letter so I can't be certain but if the OP's description is correct, it is unlikely to help the mother and could hinder her. The GP is perfectly entitled to write the letter but it probably isn't a good idea for the mother to base her appeal on this.

PCohle Thu 25-Apr-19 01:01:33

I didn't say it was a universal criteria, just a perfectly normal one. Nor did I offer any view as to whether the letter would be of any assistance to the mother in question. I don't think any of us have enough information to make that assessment.

However I certainly don't think the OP is in a better position than the GP in question to decide whether writing the letter was appropriate in all the circumstances.

blimeyblimey Thu 25-Apr-19 08:02:26

PCohle, actually it is my business, and it is you that is being judgemental - you don't have all the facts (because I deliberately didn't post them) and so are making innacurate assumptions.

Prh, thanks for your replies - very helpful.

OP’s posts: |
PCohle Thu 25-Apr-19 09:58:52

If you're going to post a reverse people will reply based on the information as you've given it.

peteneras Thu 25-Apr-19 10:22:02

"If the patient asks the GP to write such a letter there are no data protection concerns, so I don't know why you think the GP would be brave."

If you had read my message carefully I did say even if the Data Protection Act doesn't exist - which means there are other concerns perhaps even more important than Iinfringing the DPA.

Firstly, the GP has no obligations to his patients on any other matters other than treating them on medical issues and/or referring them to specialists or other medical professionals or similar interested parties with a view to treating and restoring good health to the patients. School appeal panels which predominantly consist of ordinary laymen and women - in other words, any Tom, Dick and Harry - do not fall into this group of medical professionals.

Secondly, GPs won't write any references or letters without first having received a payment (fee) from the requesting parties (usually the recipient of the letter).

Thirdly, a patient's consent and/or request to a doctor to perform a task, irrespective of the DPA, does not necessarily mean the consent/request is legitimate and legal. Think euthanasia!

Yes, if would take an extremely brave GP to write a concise letter with full medical history, prognosis and current effects to any Tom, Dick and Harry just because the patient requested it.

blimeyblimey Thu 25-Apr-19 11:52:53

PCohle - yes, I wanted (and have got from others) opinions based on the facts I have given. In contrast, you have embelished the facts with additional circumstances from your own imagination, which are wrong.

OP’s posts: |
PCohle Thu 25-Apr-19 12:13:49

Then what exactly is your interest in the situation you've outlined? From the information you have given it has absolutely no impact on you or your life whatsoever. Surely "a mum you know"'s treatment from her GP is really nothing to do with you at all.

TheRugbyValkyrie Thu 25-Apr-19 13:10:00

OP, based on the information you have given us, I'm failing to see what business it is if yours.
The mother's mental health issues would be taken into consideration, but whether that would lead to a successful appeal, who knows.
One of the many reasons my son attends his particular secondary school, is the access he has to student support and the Young Carers group. The systems put in place for students like him, mean that he has continuity when I am ill and if I'm very ill, his school attendance isn't affected.
Depression isn't one size fits all and its effects vary a great deal from person to person.
Unless you live with this family and full access to the facts, I would suggest that any letters are of relevance only to the GP, the mother and the local authority.

blimeyblimey Thu 25-Apr-19 13:24:13

Actually I do have full access to the facts. I have given as much information as is needed for the question to be answered. This is an Education thread not an AIBU thread so I don't consider my motivations to be relevant.

For what it's worth, my opinion is that the mum has been given false hope by a well-meaning GP who has done what was asked of him and written the letter. Rather than getting on with coming to terms with the alternative school offer, the mum's mental health will now be put at further risk by exposure to a stressful appeals process that (if Prh47bridge is right, and he usually is) she is destined to lose. That's why I'm concerned.

OP’s posts: |
PCohle Thu 25-Apr-19 13:34:23

Just because you don't consider your motivations relevant doesn't mean that other posters won't.

ElectricDreamz Thu 25-Apr-19 13:52:03

Your concern in your original post was her being helped to game the system when lots of other people are in the same position as her without their top choice school.

TheGrey1houndSpeaks Thu 25-Apr-19 13:55:39

Unless he’s prepared to explain exactly why it would “help the family” I’m not sure it would hold much sway, really.
Any appeals are centred round the child’s needs; any family issues or the wider family dynamics aren’t usually taken into account.

blimeyblimey Thu 25-Apr-19 14:28:16

ElectricDreamz, no, you completely misinterpreted me. I meant that there are many thousands of mums suffering from depression, and if it were solid grounds for a school admissions appeal then many more would be visiting their GP's and requesting similar letters, rather than seeking therapies to help them cope.

OP’s posts: |
PCohle Thu 25-Apr-19 14:54:18

I also think regardless of whether it helps her win at appeal (which is a decision for the admissions panel, not the GP), the GP's willingness to write the letter will let the mum in question know that the difficulties she is facing are understood by her MH team and that they support her and are on her side. She will also know that she has done everything possible to get her child into the right school for them, even if she is ultimately unsuccessful.

It isn't the GP's job to play gatekeeper for school admissions, that's why the admissions panel exist.

I agree that your use of "game the system" is telling.

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