Statements submitted to MPs have provided further evidence of widespread dishonesty among healthcare professionals who carry out disability benefit assessments, but their inquiry has had to be abandoned because of the prime minister’s decision to call a general election.Despite its inquiry into the personal independence payment (PIP) assessment process having to be scrapped, the Commons work and pensions select committee has published written evidence it has received from PIP claimants and disability organisations.The committee held an urgent evidence session about the assessment process in March, a hearing partly triggered by a Disability News Service (DNS) investigation, before seeking further written evidence.DNS had provided the committee with substantial evidence of widespread dishonesty among PIP assessors in the reports they prepare for government decision-makers.The DNS investigation revealed that assessors working for the outsourcing companies Capita and Atos – most of them nurses – had repeatedly lied, ignored written evidence and dishonestly reported the results of physical examinations.DNS has now collected nearly 200 examples of cases in which PIP claimants have said that healthcare professionals working for Capita and Atos produced dishonest assessment reports.DWP has consistently claimed that there is no dishonesty at all among its outsourced healthcare assessors.Inclusion London, the pan-London disabled people’s organisation, provided the most detailed written evidence of all the individuals and groups that contributed to the committee’s inquiry.It said in its evidence: “Again and again Disabled people are reporting that assessors have ignored written and verbal evidence and that reports do not reflect what occurred in the assessment.”Inclusion London quoted widely from evidence compiled by DNS, and concluded: “The extent to which false information is included in assessment reports cannot be attributed to one or two negligent assessors but indicates systemic failings with the current PIP assessment process.”It called for all assessments to be recorded, and for “a clear and accessible system for Disabled people to file complaints against assessors with an independent body and for complaint statistics to be made public”.It also called for a new PIP assessment, based on the social model of disability and created in co-production with disabled people, which focuses on “barriers and the impact of impairment on daily life rather than functionality”.Other written evidence submitted to the committee appears to confirm the conclusions of the DNS investigation.Among those who responded to a survey by Disability Rights UK (DR UK) was a healthcare professional with a first-class degree in physiotherapy.They said they had been “shocked by the level of errors, inaccuracies, omissions and, quite possibly, lies” in the assessment report compiled for their PIP claim, according to DR UK’s evidence to the committee.The respondent concluded that “the musculoskeletal assessment conducted was appalling and could not have provided sufficient information upon which a decision regarding my physical capabilities to carry out work for any period of time could be made.“Lies were also told about the content of the musculoskeletal assessment – data was recorded for tests which were not conducted.”Another DR UK survey respondent described how PIP decisions were often overturned on appeal due to “assessors making inaccurate statements, assessors making false statements, assessors incorrectly interpreting things the claimant said or did”.In its evidence to the committee, the mental health charity Rethink said that respondents to its own survey on PIP “felt that there was a discrepancy between what was discussed at the assessment and the content of the subsequent written report.“We received several examples of PIP applicants claiming that assessors had deliberately misinterpreted them and in… some cases included complete fabrications in their reports.”But the evidence compiled by the committee may now end up being discarded because the decision by Theresa May to call a general election on 8 June means that parliament was dissolved this week, leading to some committee inquiries having to be abandoned.Mark Lucas, a PIP claimant who has spoken out repeatedly about the “shockingly poor and dishonest” assessment system, and has given evidence to an inquiry into PIP assessments set up by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said the decision to call an election was “another set back at the end of many set backs”.He said: “Clearly the health professionals have been dishonest and the government has gone to great lengths to ensure the PIP scam is kept quiet for as long as possible.“Everyone knows what has gone on is wrong but only few have voiced their concerns.“I am sure if we continue to have the same government the rights of persons with disabilities will be further abused.”A spokeswoman for the committee said the PIP investigation was “one of the inquiries that fell with the announcement of the election”.When the committee is reformed in the new parliament – probably in September – it could choose to relaunch the inquiry, but will be under no obligation to do so, but if it does it could choose to “keep and use the evidence they have now”, she said.
HISTORY will be made on Saturday October 19 when England and Italy play their first ever Rugby League international in a friendly fixture at Salford.The match will take place just seven days before England kick-off Rugby League World Cup 2013 against Australia in the opening fixture of the 14-nation tournament at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, where Italy face Wales on the same day in an eagerly-anticipated double-header.Italy are scheduled to fly in to England three days before the friendly which will provide both nations with a perfect opportunity to hone their preparations for the biggest sporting tournament the UK has hosted since the London Olympics and Paralympics in 2012.The RFL has agreed terms with Salford City Reds to host the historic fixture at Salford City Stadium and details of ticket availability will be announced shortly.England coach Steve McNamara said: “I am really excited by this opportunity, the match against Italy represents the final piece in the jigsaw for England and will allow us to put the finishing touches to our extensive preparations for Rugby League World Cup 2013.“We will go into the match on the back of an intensive warm-weather training camp in South Africa and the run out will be just what many of the players need.“It’s important that we hit the ground running come the World Cup and this game gives us the best chance to do just that.“Rugby League in Italy has made great strides in the last few years and I know they have strong ambitions themselves for the World Cup. It promises to be a memorable game for everyone.”Italy are coached by former Salford City Reds player Carlo Napolitano whose selection options were boosted last week when an Italian team comprised entirely of players from their domestic competition defeat Russia 38-18 in Este.Salford-born Napolitano said: “Playing England is the perfect preparation for Italy’s debut entry into the Rugby League World Cup.“The experience of playing one of the game’s top nations eight days before the World Cup kick off will be invaluable for the Azzurri.“It will provide me with a realistic gauge on how we are looking leading into our opening Cup clash with Wales in Cardiff.“Both Stave McNamara and I are good friends and we have been discussing such a game for a number of years. It is wonderful to have the game in my home town of Salford.“I hope the local Salford community support Italy as their second team and I would encourage all Italians in England to wear the Azzurri and attend the game.”The match will be played with unlimited interchange, allowing both nations to select every member of the RLWC2013 squads.
Saints saw off a stubborn Halifax team 26-2 at the University of Bolton Stadium to reach the Coral Challenge Cup Final at Wembley where we will face Warrington Wolves.And Roby is thrilled to be back at Wembley.“It feels fantastic to be back at Wembley. It’s great for us as a team, as a town, for the supporters, for the families and everybody involved, the staff at the club, everything. It’s just great to come here and get the job done today because obviously losing here last year, we wanted to right that wrong and luckily we did, and what a tough game it was.“I definitely think they’re a credit to the championship. I think it was two all after 32 minutes or something like that and we only went in at half time one try up and it’s a bit of a tough scenario going into a game like this where everyone expects you to win and rightly so we should do but Halifax, they didn’t half give it a dig today and I thought they just hung in there and carried on defending and defending and ultimately in the second half we improved a little bit the way we played and the amount of field position that we had and the amount of defending that they’d done probably took it out of them. But yeah, I thought they were fantastic.“I was just glad to be back in the team to be honest. I’ve been sat in the stands watching the lads put all the hard work in and I appreciate it so much from a team point of view and I just wanna go out there and do my bit. It was good to get back on the field with the lads today but there was some great performances, I think our outside backs, the way they carried the ball continuously all day got us out of a bit of trouble at times and obviously good to be back, and a happy memory this time around.“I think Saints vs Warrington are always massive games, a local derby and I am sure we will both take lots of fans. It is a fierce rivalry and the lads will be up for it, don’t worry about that. We are going to Wembley which is fantastic but at the back of my mind we are going there for a reason, we are not just going there to make up the numbers.”Tickets for Saints’ Coral Challenge Cup Final vs the Warrington Wolves, Saturday 24 August (KO 3pm) at Wembley Stadium, London, are now on General sale!