Parliamentary Question: the LIMA technical manual to be placed in Library of House of Lords, 30 November 2011

December 1, 2011

The Countess of Mar tabled a written question asking the Government whether,in the light of the holding of Commissioner Williams in tribunal case CIB/664/2005, the Department for Work and Pensions will make available to all appeal tribunals, claimants and representatives the Logic Integrated Medical Treatment (LIMA) Technical Manual 2011; and whether they will place a copy in the Library of the House together with a copy of the LIMA software questionnaire used for assessment of claimants by healthcare professionals.

In a reply supplied on 30 November 2011, Lord Freud (Minister for Welfare Reform) answered:

Commercial Management of Medical Services will arrange for a copy of the Logic Integrated Medical Assessment Technical Manual 2011 and the LIMA software questionnaires which are contained in appendices 3 & 4 of the Employment and Support Allowance Handbook to be placed in the Library of the House.

The Logic Integrated Medical Assessment Technical Manual 2011 and the LIMA software questionnaire (ESA 85) are currently available to tribunals, claimants and representatives through the submission of a written request under the Freedom of Information Act to Commercial Management of Medical Services, Room 306, Block 3, Norcross, FY5 3TA or by email @ DWP.MEDICALSERVICESCORRESPONDENCE@DWP.GSI.GOV.UK

Commissioner Williams' ruling CIB/664/2005 can be downloaded as a Word.doc HERE.

3 thoughts on “Parliamentary Question: the LIMA technical manual to be placed in Library of House of Lords, 30 November 2011”

  1. The Logic Integrated Medical Assessment Technical Manual 2011 makes truly shocking reading as it reveals how utterly trivial the whole process is!
    Can the Countess of Mar get a peak at LiMA software itself? DWP are so far refusing to release it to the rest of us who have asked. I suspect it is akin to the empty loom that the Emperor’s new clothes were made on.

  2. I think that we – the entire community of the sick, the disabled and their advocates – should lobby hard for the decision-making “tree” in LiMA to be made public as a matter of natural justice.

    At present we can be facing a court of law – the Appeals Tribunal – with one “expert witness”, LiMA whose conclusions can neither be challenged or inspected. I think this is an abuse of the right to face one’s accuser.

    At the moment we can challenge the accuracy of the data entered into the LiMA software by the ATOS operative. We can challenge the weight given to that data by the DWP decision maker. But we cannot challenge what is in the software.

    Here is part of an invaluable piece from the Brighton and Hove Benefits Campaign

    “Last, but not least, nobody can know the logic that connects the computer-generated sentences to the scoring system. In fact the computer program is protected by commercial confidentiality – it’s Atos’s private property. A judge complained that Atos refused publishing its handbook because of commercial confidentiality [CIB/664/2005]. For this reason, one of our clients will never know why LiMA decided that he can walk 100 metres, pick things from the floor and sit on a chair for 30 minutes on the basis that he is ‘usually able to use a microwave’ [BHUWC].

    The publication of the handbook is not nearly enough – that merely tells us how the staff are supposed to use the program. It does tell us that staff are urged to avoid using the “free text” box. If they stick to the check boxes then the program will draw all the conclusions for them – thus saving the operatives time and effort.

    It does not tell us what’s inside it.

    Take one issue. At the moment the software has internal decision-making routines which determine what questions the operative has to ask. Let’s suppose that when the operative enters, “Primary diagnosis: CFS” the program immediately puts in several questions designed to show that the claimant is suffering from depression. Note: I’m not saying it does that – it might not. But we don’t know what medical judgements are being made by the software. And so we can’t challenge them.

    The same thing arises with the example quoted the software is designed draw inferences from what is said. One example is quoted in a number of places. It is believed that LiMA “says” that

    “Claimant is capable of :visiting a supermarket
    Shows claimant has: ability to walk unaided, without pain or exhaustion for 800m+

    I say that such a situation is contrary to natural justice, and that we should demand that the “decision tree” – in other words the medical assumptions and conclusions upon which LiMA rests.

  3. Yes this is truly awful. Given that currently (and in the past) Private Eye is covering the UNUM and alleged links with DWP issue, perhaps these details about the Lima software should be shared with them. And what about Channel 4 news? they seem about the only independent voice left.

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