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BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 05 February 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:386

BMA criticises benefits agency work

The BMA criticised the way that the Benefits Agency Medical Services are working for patients and doctors when it gave oral evidence to the House of Commons social security select committee.

Dr Peter Holden, chairman of the BMA's professional fees committee, told the committee that since the services had been contractorised pressure had been put on doctors to increase the number of claimants examined in each session.

There has been no increase in the fees paid to doctors who work for the agency since 1992, and since 1998 the firms which took over the work have been named in the Importance Notice in the BMJ. This means that doctors who want to apply for the jobs advertised should contact the BMA for information.

Dr Holden told the committee that the production of high quality medical reports required experienced doctors. Many claimants appealed (47%) and 80% of appeals succeeded. “The ‘get it wrong’ rate is unacceptable and is a function of inexperienced doctors because of the effects of poor pay and inadequate time.”

The BMA believes that medical examinations are required to ensure that people who receive benefits are entitled to them, and …

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