HC Deb 16 December 1970 vol 808 cc388-9W
Mr. Roger White

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what arrangements are available to him to obtain a second medical opinion where sickness benefit is being claimed, in order to confirm the claimants incapacity for work.

Sir K. Joseph

A request is made by the local social security office to the Regional Medical Service for a second opinion on a claimant's incapacity for work if incapacity lasts longer than might have been expected from the diagnosis shown on the medical certificate. Such a reference is a normal part of the procedures for checking and controlling sickness benefit claims. In addition, especially close scrutiny is made of claims in respect of minor ailments by people who are involved in an industrial dispute, or who claim while on holiday, or who claim repeatedly for short periods. If there is any reason to doubt incapacity an immediate reference is made to the Regional Medical Service.

During 1969 there were 610,000 references to the Regional Medical Service. The medical officers concerned reported that in their opinion 61 per cent. of those referred were incapable of work, that 3 per cent. were incapable of their normal occupation but not incapable of alternative work and that 8 per cent. were not incapable of work. A further 8 per cent. of claimants referred submitted evidence of recovery before examination and 20 per cent. failed to attend. For this last group the regulations provide that they can be disqualified for benefit for up to six weeks if they do not show good cause for their failure to attend for examination.