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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Covid-19 issues  →  Thread

Feedback wanted on health and disability easements during COVID-19

Daphne
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At the next stakeholder forum meeting - which is on Tuesday 20th - we are being asked to provide feedback on some of the health and disability easements during COVID - in particular the questions on the attached document. Please put any views here or direct message me. Sorry about the short notice - only just received the email.

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Helen Rogers
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Welfare rights officer - Stockport MBC

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I think the lack of clarity over whether WCAs were going to be done by telephone is an issue. Officially we were told they were, but anecdotally we were told that WCAs weren’t happening at all.  Most of mine clients (with mental health conditions) aren’t asked to attend a medical for a WCA - paper reports are produced by talking to Care Co-ordinators instead.  This could have carried on during the easement, but didn’t seem to.  WCAs have just been delayed instead.

While telephone assessments are helpful for some clients with mental health conditions because they can’t travel to an assessment centre, for others it is a big problem that they can’t have a Support Worker or Care Co-ordinator with them for support at a telephone assessment.  I think paper based assessments could have been used a lot more for both PIP and WCAs during the coronavirus restrictions.  After all, it was found that not collecting medical evidence indirectly discriminated against those with mental health conditions.  (I can’t remember the details of the case off the top of my head.)

Ros
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Helen Rogers - 17 July 2020 08:55 AM

After all, it was found that not collecting medical evidence indirectly discriminated against those with mental health conditions.  (I can’t remember the details of the case off the top of my head.)

Think case you mention is Court of Appeal decision in [2013] EWCA Civ 1565 - here’s rightsnet summary - Claimants with mental health problems put at ‘substantial disadvantage’ by WCA

Mike Hughes
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Isn’t it Tuesday the 21st Daphne? Not the 20th?

Been asked to get some feedback from our service on this so that may come in separately via the LGA route. In the meantime, a personal view.

• How do you think telephone assessments are working?

Certain groups of claimants have approached them with trepidation e.g. those with social phobias but overall that number is much lower than those who struggled with face to face assessments. Certain groups remain insistent that they would prefer to be seen face to face. This is based on an assumption that all will be so obvious that there is no way the HCP could possibly recommend zero points etc. No idea why this idea persists after years of a significant minority (as the Work and Pensions Committee put it) producing reports which demonstrate repeatedly that the exact opposite is true.

In almost all cases the claimant has been pleasantly surprised and the outcomes have either been in line with the expectations of the claimant or their WRO or have exceeded them.

HCPs are largely better prepared and the telephone process instantly removes much of the prejudiced, judgemental nonsense largely pulled to pieces in seconds at tribunals e.g. “they walked across the car park”; “did not appear to be anxious”; “made good eye contact”’; “well presented”; “responded to the sound of my calling their name” and so on. The removal of these “opportunities” has been the biggest single positive outcome of both telephone assessments and telephone tribunal hearings.

• What changes can be made to enhance the system/experience?

I have been disturbed to come across several instances of trainee HCPs on calls being supported by a “manager” who frequently interrupted and with the claimant left bewildered as to who was who and who was doing what. Equally disturbed to hear of an NI case where the DWP appeared to be on the call.

• Have you had any feedback to suggest whether telephone or face to face assessments are most welcomed by claimants and why?

As above, claimants prior to the experience have had major doubts. Post the experience they have no issue. I include in that many people with severe and enduring mental health issues and learning disabilities.

• Are there groups of claimants for whom a telephone or face-to-face assessment might be most beneficial for?

Possibly only social phobia related to phone contact.

• Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share?

The success of telephone assessments is by inference an absolute condemnation of the non-medical/professional subjectivity present in face to face assessments.

Daphne
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Thanks all - and you’re right it’s 21st Mike - sorry about that!

Any more feedback welcome - meeting at 12.30 tomorrow…

Mike Hughes
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Daphne - 20 July 2020 01:30 PM

Thanks all - and you’re right it’s 21st Mike - sorry about that!

Any more feedback welcome - meeting at 12.30 tomorrow…

Have given some feedback from staff in our service to Gary Vaux directly. Just realised it includes my comments above also. So, if something gets said which sounds familiar…

EJ
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Benefits advice line - Coventry City Council

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On the most part, clients are expressing a positive experience, but one new client has been referred for help after losing her PIP.  Significant and enduring paranoia and anxiety issues which she says she expressed in her telephone assessment, but there was no available supporting documentation, and she says her difficulties were all dismissed in the assessor’s report.  If the GP and/or psychiatrist had been consulted, the assessment and the ensuing report could well have been very different. Client said she’d been so relieved to have a telephone assessment, but the outcome has been devastating.

I don’t have any feedback for the WCA, or Access to Work or the new routes of application.

Elaine