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Appeal Tribunals

Volume 167: debated on Wednesday 14 February 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what are the maximum delays occurring in cases where hospital medical reports are required for consideration by social security appeal tribunals, resulting in adjournments for appellants; and what is being done to reduce such delays.

Figures showing the delays caused to social security appeal tribunal cases while awaiting hospital medical reports are not collected centrally. We are, however, aware of the delays that these reports can create. Provision of the reports is not part of hospital doctors' terms of service and the Department is entirely dependent on the good will of consultants.In 1988 my noble Friend Lord Skelmersdale wrote to the chairmen of all regional health authorities explaining the problem to them and asking them to encourage consultants to provide reports when requested and to do so with the least possible delay. We know from the replies that subsequently came to the Department that this request was widely disseminated to consultants. In addition, medical and lay staff in the Department's regional offices take every opportunity to remind consultants and their secretaries of the problems caused for claimants by these delays.