The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced significant changes to its guidance for health professionals carrying out Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments across the UK.
The updated guidelines published on GOV.UK include details on the capability of assessment providers to audio record face-to-face and telephone consultations plus changes in the section on covert recordings by claimants.
However, Benefits and Work, has spotted that it also includes improved guidance for assessors on the significance of whether or not a claimant with a mental health condition is receiving medication.
Assessors may incorrectly interpret the fact that a claimant with, for example depression, is not receiving any medication as evidence that their condition has very little effect on their daily living or mobility needs.
However, the updated guidance now points out that the severity of a mental health condition “does not necessarily correspond with the type or dosage of medication that the claimant is receiving”.
The guidance highlights that factors such as side effects, problems complying with a medication regimen or the medication not being effective for that individual may all result in someone with a severe condition not receiving medication.
The guidance also goes on to say that assessors should take into account the use of treatments such as psychological therapies instead of medication.
The updated guidance on mental health medication states: “When considering mental health medication HPs [Health Professionals] should remember that not all claimants with a mental health condition will be on medication or receiving therapy.
“Severity of a mental health condition does not necessarily correspond with the type or dosage of medication that the claimant is receiving.”
The guidance goes on to list a number of reasons why a claimant may be “unable or choose not to take mental health medication”.
- poor compliance due to the nature of mental health condition
- side effects or difficulty tolerating medication
- lack of efficacy
- preference for psychological therapy instead of medication
- complicating factors, for example excessive alcohol consumption
The guidance continues: “Absence of medication does not automatically mean that the health condition is not severe. However, HPs should consider the type and context of certain medications, for example use of depot antipsychotic injections in psychotic disorders.
“HPs should also take into account that some medications are used to treat different conditions, for example some antidepressants are also licensed to treat anxiety. HPs must also consider the use of other treatments such as psychological therapies.”
You can read the updated PIP assessment guide for assessment providers on the GOV.UK website here.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.