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Disability assessments pointless says charity

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Patients needlessly put through distressing process despite having an incurable condition

More than £3m is being wasted on "pointless" PIP assessments for Parkinson's disease patients.

Parkinson's UK estimates 1,500 people in Scotland are being assessed for the new benefit needlessly as their health will never improve.

The charity says the assessment caused anguish among people who suffer from the incurable condition.

Almost 700 of the 1,543 Scottish recipients of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) had previously been identified as having the highest level of need and many had been given a lifetime award of the benefit, according to the charity.

However, now the allowance is being replaced by personal independence payments (PIP), everyone has to be reassessed.

Phil Reynolds, senior policy and campaigns adviser at Parkinson's UK, said: "We've even heard of people with Parkinson's being asked by assessors how long they expect to have Parkinson's for," he said.

A quarter of people with Parkinson's have lost some or all of their award - Phil Reynolds

"PIP is designed to help people manage the significant extra costs of their condition and stay independent, but a quarter of people with Parkinson's have lost some or all of their award.

"As a result, people are having their cars taken away, losing their independence and seeing their health deteriorate. This is simply unacceptable."

The charity claims that the flawed assessment process and mixed knowledge of assessors is leading to wrong outcomes for people and leading many to appeal.

When people do appeal official figures show that 65% of these decisions are overturned.

Alan, from central Scotland, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1997 at the age of 49.

He was previously given a lifetime award under the DLA but after reassessment his benefit was cut for more than six months before the decision was overturned at an appeal tribunal.

The award will, however, be reviewed after five years.

He said: "It was an ordeal to go through the reassessment process and when I was told that I'd lost my award it felt like they were adding insult to injury.

"I felt betrayed by the government who after promising to give me a benefit for the rest of my life broke that contract by changing the name of the benefit and using the change as an excuse to cut my entitlement."

Responsibility for PIP will be moved from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to the Scottish Government in 2020.

A DWP spokesman said: "We do not recognise these figures. The fact is over half of claimants with Parkinson's are now getting the highest level of support under PIP – much more than under DLA.

"PIP is a better benefit which takes a much wider look at the way an individual's health condition or disability impacts them on a daily basis, and is tailored to suit each individual's needs.

"Regular reassessments mean we can ensure people with degenerative conditions like Parkinson's get the help they need as their condition changes."