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No benefit if you don't "look mental"

2 March 2006

Citizens Advice have called for a quantum leap in the quality of DWP medical assessments in a new report out today. The 16 page report lists a catalogue of shameful failures by Atos Origin doctors carrying out disability and incapacity medicals.

In one case a woman with severe mental health problems lost her benefit after an examining doctor told her she didn’t "look mental”.

In another case a doctor who was expected to visit early in the afternoon did not arrive until 8.45pm. The doctor brought his wife with him and the claimant had to discuss their personal details in front of her.

The mother of a man with learning disabilities and a mental age of 10-12 years was not allowed to sit in on her son's medical assessment. As a result of the medical the son's DLA was reduced and the mother lost her carer's allowance.

A claimant's benefits were stopped twice because he was unable to attend for a personal capability medical assessment due to his very poor mobility. Finally, with his GP's help, the claimant arranged for his medical to take place at his home. When the doctor called it took the claimant three minutes to walk to the door, by which time the doctor had gone and the claimant's benefits were stopped yet again.

The Citizens Advice report makes a number of recommendations, including a review of the use of computers in medical assessments and a system whereby claimants who were found capable of work would receive a week's notice for every year they had been on incapacity benefit.

You can download a full copy of the report, What the doctor ordered? in .pdf format