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Social Care Minister stands by engagement of ATOS Healthcare

Friday, 30 November 2012

In July this year the Department embarked upon a 6-month trial of a new process for assessing a person’s capability for work, in relation to entitlement to incapacity-related social security benefits.

Generally speaking, the new 'Personal Capability Assessment' or 'PCA' applies to people who have been claiming incapacity benefits for at least 28 weeks. However, it applies to certain people from the outset of their claim, for example the unemployed.

Some concern has been expressed in a number of forums about the Department’s engagement of Atos Healthcare to conduct face to face assessments, as part of the PCA process. Responding to those concerns, Minister for Social Care, Hon Chris Robertshaw MHK said:

'I have been extremely impressed by the professionalism of the Atos Healthcare doctors who are conducting the face to face assessments for my Department. These doctors are eminently qualified to perform the work they have been engaged to do. Both have a diploma in Disability Assessment Medicine and are Mental Function Champions within Atos Healthcare. They have been specially trained to conduct work capability assessments and are approved for that purpose by the Department for Work and Pensions Chief Medical Adviser.

Minister Robertshaw went on to say:

'We are now three-quarters of the way through the 6-month pilot exercise. Of those invited to undertake an assessment 31% signed-off incapacity benefit prior to any assessment being undertaken. The outcomes following face to face assessments to date are proportionately very similar to those in the UK, with 54% of those assessed being found capable of doing some form of work and 46% being found incapable of work. 50 claimants have received a formal decision that they have been found capable of work and not one of them has appealed against that decision. I think that is clear evidence that claimants are generally satisfied with the PCA process.

He added:

'There is a body of evidence that people are better off in work than out of work, not only financially but in terms of their health and well-being, their self-esteem and the future prospects for themselves and their family. People who are long-term unemployed or have never worked are up to three times more likely to be in poor health than those in work. Leaving a person on long-term incapacity benefits without examining whether they might be capable of doing some form of work would be wholly irresponsible of this Government. It would have adverse consequences both for the person claiming benefit and their families, as well as for the economy of the Isle of Man.'

A presentation about the PCA process will be given to Members of Tynwald on 5th December.

Markwell House

Market Street


Isle of Man


Telephone:+44 1624 686202

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