Updated guidance issued to PIP health professionals (HPs) today should improve the chances of success for claimants who are managing chronic pain whilst trying to avoid becoming dependent on painkillers or who have other reasons for using only limited amounts of painkillers.
The latest update of the PIP Assessment Guide warns HPs that the level of analgesia ( pain relief medication) used by a claimant is not necessarily a reliable indication of how much pain they actually experience.
The guidance points out that GPs are encouraged not to prescribe strong painkillers for long-term pain because of the harm they can do the patient.
In addition, some patients may be intolerant to analgesics or they may be using other methods of controlling pain.
HPs are told that instead of relying solely on the amount of medication as evidence, they should expect the claimant to be able to describe:
- the location,
- severity and
of the pain they experience and the impact it has on their daily life.
If you experience chronic pain, whether you are using strong painkillers or not, it is important that you give as much information as possible about your pain and how it affects you.
If you give detailed evidence about your pain, preferably in writing throughout your ‘PIP 2 How Your Disability Affects You’ claim form, then it should now be harder for a HP to dismiss your pain on the grounds that you have not been prescribed strong pain killers.
The result should be, in theory at least, more claimants getting the correct award without having to go to an appeal tribunal.
The full, text at paragraph 1.6 on page 26 of part one of the PIP Assessment Guide reads:
HPs must also take into consideration the invisible nature of some symptoms such as fatigue and pain which may be less easy to identify and explore through observation of the claimant. HPs should be mindful that the level of analgesia used does not necessarily correlate with the level of pain. GPs are encouraged to avoid prescribing strong painkillers for long-term pain as the harms usually outweigh the benefits and there could also be specific reasons why painkillers are not prescribed e.g. intolerance, or the use of other methods of pain relief. When pain is a significant symptom we would expect the claimant to be able to describe the location, type, severity and variability of the pain they experience and the impact it has on their daily life. The HP can assess the disabling effect of the pain by considering such description (where applicable) along with all other aspects of the case, e.g. disease activity/severity, effect on daily activities, treatment, pain relief, pain management strategies, examination findings and informal observations.