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1 Feb 2010 : Column 161W—continued

1 Feb 2010 : Column 162W

Work Capability Assessment: Complaints

Hazel Blears: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many complaints her Department and its agencies have received on the conduct of Atos Healthcare in respect of a work capability assessment; and what percentage of such complaints have been made by claimants with mental health problems. [313316]

Jonathan Shaw: In the quarter September 2009 to November 2009 Atos Healthcare received a total of 702 complaints from employment support allowance claimants who were referred for a medical assessment. Data are not available to identify how many of the complaints were claimants with mental health conditions.

In the same period Atos Healthcare completed 118,084 medical examination assessments.

Work Capability Assessments: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if she will take steps to ensure that the effects of retrovirus and other illnesses associated with myalgic encephalomyelitis are fully taken into account in assessments of claimants' capability to work. [314824]

Jim Knight: Entitlement to employment and support allowance does not depend on a person's diagnosis or on the treatment they are receiving. It depends on the effect their condition has on their ability to work. This is a fairer way than using criteria based on specific conditions or diagnoses, because the same condition can have very different disabling effects in different people.

The Department recognises myalgic encephalomyelitis as a real and potentially very disabling condition. Each person claiming employment and support allowance is assessed on the basis of the way the condition affects them as an individual. The work capability assessment looks at a range of activities relevant to work, and assesses whether or not a person can carry them out reliably and safely, over a period of time.

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