49 pharmacists (chemists) are now employed by Capita to carry out personal independence payment (PIP) assessments, a Freedom of Information request has revealed. On the other hand, just 3 out of a total of 1,458 assessors are GPs.
As most readers will know, health professionals are employed by Capita to carry out PIP assessments on behalf of the DWP in the Midlands and Wales.
They have to assess a claimant’s ability to carry out 10 daily living activities such as preparing food, washing and bathing, dressing and undressing. They also score their ability to manage 2 mobility activities.
As of June 2023, there were 1,458 health professionals employed by Capita to conduct PIP assessments. They break down as follows:
Occupational Therapist 74
Similar figures were not provided for Atos (IAS).
No one could reasonably doubt that pharmacists are highly qualified professionals. They undertake 5 years of training and have to be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).
However, whilst pharmacists are increasingly being used to treat minor ailments in order to fill the growing gaps in NHS provision, it is questionable whether their training enables them to adequately assess the functional abilities of claimants with mental health conditions or severe physical illnesses or disabilities.
Rather than pharmacists having skills that Capita especially needs, it seems likely that they have begun employing them simply because there is an increasing shortage of other health professionals available to carry out PIP assessments.