The DWP are hoping to end the right to have your ESA medical recorded by not informing claimants that the option exists and then claiming that take-up is too low to be viable. By halting recordings of ESA medicals, the DWP hopes to stifle calls to allow recordings of personal independence payment medicals when they are introduced next year The strategy was made clear this week by employment minister Chris Grayling in response to a written parliamentary question.

On 22 February, Labour MP Tom Greatrex asked Grayling:

“​ . . . whether people undergoing assessment to determine their eligibility for the personal independence payment will have the right to have the session recorded by audio means.”​

In his response Grayling firstly claimed that in the pilot recording of ESA medicals last year “​only a tiny number sought a copy of their recording”​ and then went on to say that:

“​The Department has asked Atos Healthcare to accommodate requests for audio recording where possible, for the purposes of employment and support allowance, when a claimant makes a request in advance of their assessment. This approach began in late 2011 and we will monitor take up during 2012.

“​No decision has yet been taken on whether to record face-to-face consultations carried out for personal independence payment when it is introduced from 2013-14. We want to learn from the experiences of employment and support allowance to ensure that our processes are based on best practice.”​

However, as far as Benefits and Work is aware, there has been absolutely no publicity about the right to record ESA medicals and no change to the standard letters or phone calls from Atos requiring people to attend a medical.

Indeed, it was only via a freedom of information request by campaigner Paul Smith that anyone knows of the introduction of this right at all.

Nonetheless, according to the minister, statistics are being kept on the take-up of a right about which virtually no-one knows. Given that a request for a recording has to be made ‘​in advance of the assessment’​ and that Atos only have to accommodate it ‘​where possible’​, it is a virtual certainty that very few successful requests will be made.

This will allow the DWP to announce in 2013 that, following monitoring of take-up, the recording facility is being ended . . . just in time to prevent it being introduced for PIP.

That this is all happening under the scrutiny of the supposedly independent Professor Harrington only makes it an even more tawdry abuse of claimants and their right to a fair assessment.

Knowledge of the right to have your ESA medical recorded needs to be widely publicised so that people are aware of it well in advance of their assessment. Any ideas on how to achieve this are very welcome.


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