Parliamentary Question, WHO classification and Atos medical assessments, 14 November 2011

The Countess of Mar tabled a Written Question asking the Government why, in view of the fact that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is classified by the World Health Organisation’s mandatory International Categorisation of Diseases as a neurological disease, and that the Government’s contract with Atos Healthcare requires a qualified doctor to assess employment and support allowance claimants for CFS/ME, the Department for Work and Pensions stated, in response to a Freedom of Information request of 23 March 2011, that any healthcare professional can undertake such assessments.

In a Written Answer on 14 November 2011, Lord Freud (Minister for Welfare Reform at the Department for Work and Pensions), replied:

The Government’s contract with Atos Healthcare requires that doctors are used to assess claimants with conditions that are likely to have complex central nervous system examination findings.

The majority of claimants with CFS/ME do not exhibit such signs and therefore CFS/ME is not on the list of conditions that are required to be assessed by a doctor. However, if a claimant with CFS/ME has neurological signs, they will be passed to a healthcare professional with the requisite expertise.

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