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Personal Capability Assessments

Volume 455: debated on Wednesday 10 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of personal capability assessments were finalised using LiMA software in 2006-07; and if he will make a statement. (113516)

Between January and 22 December 2006, 88 per cent. of all personal capability reports were finalised by the LiMA software.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of personal capability assessments have been overturned on appeal; and if he will make a statement. (113517)

In 2005-06, there were around one million personal capability assessments and around 23,000, or two per cent., were overturned on appeal.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what monitoring there has been of the LiMA system's efficiency; and what proposals there are for audits of the LiMA system. (113518)

Since its inception, LiMA has, and continues to be, under constant review and improvement.

A steering group considers feedback from a number of sources, including users, medical quality auditors and the Department for Work and Pensions. All system changes and improvements are made in consultation with the Department and are thoroughly tested through a documented process before being released. There have been six system updates during 2006 and the process of system development will continue throughout 2007.

Medical Services has a robust externally validated audit system. The work of every doctor is regularly audited to ensure that medical reports produced using LiMA meet defined quality and professional standards.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the impact of the integration of LiMA into the personal capability assessment on the efficient provision of benefits; and if he will make a statement. (113519)

LiMA is a tool used by assessing doctors that checks on the completeness and consistency of their advice. LiMA does not have an impact other than to provide consistent, legible reports.

The assessment of impact is on the quality of the medical report, and is, therefore, a function of medical quality audit.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what effect the LiMA system has had on the revised personal capability assessment in relation to the (a) suggested changes to the increase in mental health descriptors and activities and (b) suggested changes to the physical health descriptors and activities. (113520)

LiMA is programmed on the basis of the current personal capability assessment (PCA) and descriptors. Before the revised PCA is implemented, the LiMA system will be completely reprogrammed to take into account the changes to both the physical and mental function assessments. This reprogramming cannot start until the regulations governing the revised PCA have been laid.

Reports based on the revised PCA, which are being used for evaluation purposes, are completed manually by Atos Origin healthcare professionals. But in justifying their choice of revised descriptors, the healthcare professionals are drawing on their expertise as disability analysts and on their familiarity with the up-to-date consensus of medical opinion that underpins the LiMA system.