Professor Malcolm Harrington, the Government's independent reviewer of the Work Capability Assessment, has just launched a call for more evidence at the start of Year 3 of his review.
He particularly wants to receive views and evidence about the implementation of recommendations made so far and about any changes required to communications, face-to-face assessment and decision-making.
This is particularly relevant to people with ME/CFS who are being transferred from Incapacity Benefit to Employment and Support Allowance, and to new claimants, who want to see the procedure for recording assessment interviews beefed up in order to obtain a reliable record of what is said in case they have to appeal against their assessments.
Quite often, assessors compile inaccurate and misleading reports of the interviews which are then sent to DWP decision-makers and people with ME/CFS then struggle to remember exactly what was said when they appeal the decisions.
Some claimants are also being told either that recording equipment is not available or they cannot record the interviews themselves.
In Parliament last week, Employment Minister Chris Grayling provided a Written Answer which set out the Government's latest position on the recording of these interviews, in which he said: “… departmental officials have asked Atos Healthcare to accommodate requests for recordings where the claimant requests in advance of their assessment.”
The Countess of Mar's Forward ME Group, which meets in the House of Lords, has been intimately involved with the review process – through MEA medical adviser Dr Charles Shepherd's membership of the working party set up by Professor Harrington to examine the descriptors used by people with chronic fluctuating conditions. This working party reported last year, making a number of recommendations.
For details of Professor Harrington's latest call for evidence – issued by the Department for work and Pensions yesterday (12 July 2012) – please click HERE. Please do get involved, particularly if you have relevant experience or evidence that you want to bring forward.