The role of incapacity benefit reassessment in helping claimants into employment - Work and Pensions Committee Contents

Written evidence submitted by Helena Cairns

—  In October 2010, an initial letter was received by Mr G (my patient), requiring that he make contact, or risk his benefits being stopped. Mr G who has an extensive history of Paranoid Schizophrenic Illness, became very anxious about the process from this point, until its eventual resolution in January 2011.

—  By 5 November 2010, he and I had completed the form, and posted them off. In the form, we made explicit that:

—  (i)  his illness means that he requires assistance to communicate with people he doesn't know well;

—  (ii)  his illness and its treatment mean that his day starts around mid-to-late morning; and

—  (iii)  I would attend any appointment with him.

—  He received an appointment for 08.50am on 23 November.

—  Mr G contacted me, and I contacted the relevant agency on his behalf to reschedule the appointment with reference to the previously described information. A new date could not be arranged at that time because of their diary constraints. I was advised to call back on 21-22 November.

—  I called back on the 22 November, and was informed that any rescheduling information could not be shared with me because of the Data Protection Act. Eventually, and following an impasse, this was resolved and a new appointment agreed for the 16 December at 11.00am.

—  Arrived with Mr G at Atos Aberdeen at 10.45am—(we'd been told to arrive 10 minutes ahead of the appointment time)—in blizzard conditions. The waiting area was full of others who'd been there for more than an hour. We were finally seen at 12.15pm having had no explanation for the delay, and having to request that the heating be increased in the waiting area.

—  The medical assessment lasted for one hour, and appeared to consist predominantly of the doctor transcribing information from the original assessment form, onto the computer.

—  Mr G was contacted in January 2011 and informed that he'd transferred from Incapacity Benefit to Employment and Support Allowance (Support Group)—much to everyone's relief.

April 2011

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Prepared 26 July 2011