Social Security Benefits: Medical Examinations

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 15th October 2008.

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Photo of Sarah Teather Sarah Teather Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government) (Housing and Planning)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what professional qualifications are required of doctors who carry out personal capability assessments for his Department; and under what level of oversight they operate.

Photo of Jonathan R Shaw Jonathan R Shaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Disabled People; Minister for the South East), Department for Work and Pensions

Each doctor is required to have full unconditional General Medical Council registration, and at least three years post full registration experience. The doctors carrying out Personal Capability Assessments must also be approved to carry out assessments by the Chief Medical Adviser to the Department on behalf of the Secretary of State. This condition can only be waived, in exceptional cases, at the discretion of the Chief Medical Advisor. In addition, every doctor must complete a course in disability assessment medicine, and undergo training specific to the benefits with which they are dealing.

Approval by the Chief Medical Advisor is dependent upon ongoing demonstration that the work being carried out meets a satisfactory standard. This is done through regular monitoring, prior to approval, for new entrants, and continuing random audits for all doctors to ensure that standards remain high. Approval to carry out assessments will be removed if their work does not continue at the required standard. This monitoring is carried out by the company who are contracted to provide medical services, ATOS Healthcare. The Department also carries out a range of quality checks independently.

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