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Contracted-out Health Assessments

Volume 633: debated on Monday 18 December 2017

12. What recent assessment he has made of the (a) accuracy and (b) efficiency of contracted-out health assessments for (i) employment and support allowance and (ii) personal independence payments. (902989)

We are committed to ensuring that claimants receive high-quality, accurate assessments. We monitor assessment quality through independent audit. Decision makers can return reports for rework or additional advice. A range of measures, including provider improvement plans, address performance failings when we experience standards below what we want. We continually look to improve the assessment process.

Forty people in Wakefield have written to me with their concerns that, at their employment and support allowance or PIP assessment, they were not seen by an appropriate person. That includes one person with mental health problems, who was assessed by a paramedic. The Work and Pensions Committee recently heard that Atos and Capita employ only four doctors between them, and statistics released by the Minister’s Department today show that those contractors have consistently failed to meet their targets for the number of unacceptable assessments, so how can sick and disabled people in Wakefield have any confidence in the assessment process?

I am looking forward to discussing this matter in more depth with the Select Committee when I come before it on Wednesday. However, I can absolutely assure the hon. Lady that all the assessors receive absolutely appropriate training for what they are there to do. These are functional assessments, and people are properly trained to make those assessments—there are doctors, nurses, paramedics and physiotherapists. We constantly keep the accuracy of the process under review, and that includes the experience of the claimants themselves.