The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment process, which rules whether people are handed benefits to help them live independently, has been described as “chaotic and unfair” by a former nurse.
The nurse, who remains anonymous, was a disability assessor who said she left her job because she thought PIP claimants were being treated unfairly.
There were major inconsistencies in the feedback to assessors and staff writing paper-based reports, which made assessment guidelines “blurred and confusing”, according to the former staff member.
She told the Belfast Telegraph, which produced the report: “I knew from the start there would be problems. I did not feel that the initial training course for the PBR writing role properly prepared me for my new role.”
As well as saying reports were not fit for purpose she claimed departments were inconsistent in their assessments.
“In my experience, each practitioner interpreted the PIP guide in their own way and it caused significant problems for practitioners across the board. The lack of consistency made everyday work very difficult for many of us and in many instances had a negative impact on many analysts. It made working life very difficult.”
Capita rejected the claims, according to the newspaper, saying that the PIP assessment was about gathering factual information rather than a medical process.
A spokesperson said: “Our disability assessors are healthcare professionals with the required skills and knowledge to carry out functional-based PIP assessments across Northern Ireland, in line with guidance set by the Department for Communities.
“We are committed to delivering accurate and high-quality reports and conduct our assessments in a professional and empathetic manner and have a strong continuous professional development programme to support our healthcare professionals.”