§ Mr. Burden
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many cases before the Benefits Agency Medical Services remain outstanding; and when he estimates his Department will have cleared any backlog. 
§ Mr. Burt
The administration of the Benefits Agency Medical Services is a matter for Peter Mathison, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.
Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Richard Burden, dated 31 October 1996:288WThe Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary question asking how many cases for Benefits Agency Medical Services remain outstanding; and when he estimates his Department will have cleared any backlog.At 30 September 1996, Benefits Agency Medical Services have a total of 257,367 cases, of which 219,292 are Incapacity Benefit (IB) references. Of these, 9,522 are requiring specific medical advice from the customer service desk, 34,996 are for scrutiny to see if a medical examination is appropriate, a further 70,160 await an appointment and 104,614 have an appointment scheduled. Of the remaining 38,075 cases, 36,540 are Industrial Injuries, Prescribed Diseases and Respiratory Disease cases, 934 are Independent Tribunal Cases and 601 are cases referred from other Government Departments for medical advice. These figures are provisional and subject to change.BAMS work to a target of clearing cases within 45 days. At the present time, cases are being cleared within 58 days. This gap has been closing in recent months, and is likely to continue to do so. This is because the number of clients in receipt of Invalidity Benefit who are awaiting consideration of the IB All Work Test continues to reduce. If present BAMS productivity holds up, then it is anticipated that the target of 45 days will be reached across the country by January 1997.I hope you find this reply helpful.