The Cystic Fibrosis Trust has taken on the DWP and won in a fight to stop a risky procedure being carried out during personal independence payment (PIP) assessments. The relatively small organisation’s victory over the DWP should be an inspiration to other condition-specific charities with much greater campaigning resources at their disposal.
Claimants with conditions such as cystic fibrosis are routinely required to undertake a peak flow meter test which measures respiratory function.
Cystic Fibrosis Trust member Carrie Griffen told the Trust:
“During the medical exam I was shocked when I was asked to prove my lung function by way of a peak flow test. I was hesitant as the bag containing the mouth piece was not sealed so I'm not sure it was sterile and no nose peg was provided so didn't really see that this test was accurate or relevant. At no point did the assessor make me aware that I was not under obligation to do the test. I was worried if I didn't take the test my PIP decision would be affected so I did it.”
Carrie was further concerned that the assessor used bad language, seemed mostly interested in talking about her dog and ended the assessment by announcing that she was going to pop out for a smoke before her next client.
Benefits and Work members will not be surprised to learn that Carrie ended up with her award being cut by 40%.
The Cystic Fibrosis Trust made a complaint to the DWP who have now confirmed that:
“We appreciate that this is an area of significant concern to the cystic fibrosis community and can confirm that healthcare professionals will not be undertaking any peak flow assessments or other respiratory function tests on claimants who have cystic fibrosis.”
Carrie is now being supported in her appeal against the PIP decision by the Trust’s welfare rights advisor, Sangeeta Enright – a former Benefits and Work staffer whose name will be familiar to many readers.
We wish Carrie and Sangeeta the best of luck with their appeal and applaud the Cystic Fibrosis Trust for being prepared to take on the DWP. There are undoubtedly many other claimants affected by similar issues who deserve the same level of support from the charities that represent them.