Positive changes

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I am responding to a letter in the Star, December 18, regarding work capability assessments, (so-called “fit for work” tests). Centre for Health and Disability Assessments, a MAXIMUS company, operates this service on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Our responsibility is to deliver functional assessments for Employment and Support Allowance claimants that are respectful, fair and based on all available medical evidence, which includes evidence from any attending medical practitioners. Our report is then sent to DWP and ultimately they decide eligibility for benefit.

We know an assessment can be daunting, so since taking over the contract last March, one of our priorities has been to improve the customer experience. Since then we have already made some important changes.

We have hired more healthcare professionals, helping us to reduce waiting times.

We have expanded the number of mental health experts, to ensure all of our assessors have access to specialist support.

We have simplified the forms that people submit pre-assessment and have introduced a dedicated helpline for anyone who has questions about filling in the main ESA50 form.

Most recently, we launched an SMS service, which sends reminders to customers before assessments. Our website chdauk.co.uk has a series of videos informing people what to expect when they come in for an assessment.

It will take time to completely transform the service we inherited, but we have made real progress and are looking to make more positive changes in 2016.

Vikki Atkinson

Regional Service Delivery Manager – Sheffield, CHDA (MAXIMUS)