Rural sick must not be disadvantaged: Mullan

editorial image

A Sinn Féin MLA has expressed concern the central location of Derry’s medical review centre could make it extremely difficult for people with disabilities from the city’s rural hinterland to attend face-to-face Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments in order to secure income they are legally entitled to and dependant on.

Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has welcomed a proposed review of equality screening processes in relation to the location of PIP medical assessments.

Thousands of Derry people have been scheduled for medical reviews ever since PIP replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) here in June 2016.

The only people with health issues who exempt from assessments are the dying.

Capita, the contractor selected by the Department for Communities (DfC) to carry out the assessments, has seven centres across the North, including one at Timber Quay in Derry.

But DfC’s publication of a screening template for PIP - Capita Consultation Centres, has prompted Ms. Mullan to query how accessible the system is for people living in more remote areas.

“Sinn Féin is concerned that the proposals contained in the PIP - Capita Consultation Centres may lead to a person with a disability/mental health problem being unable to make the journey to their PIP Assessment, especially for those living in a rural areas as it may be too difficult which could result in the loss of benefits,” she said.

“Sinn Féin do not want to see the most vulnerable people in our communities living in increased poverty as a direct result of these proposals.

“Sinn Féin welcome the review of the equality screening processes associated with this consultation being undertaken by the DfC as a direct result of concerns we raised regarding the approach taken,” said Ms. Mullan, who replaced Elisha McCallion as an MLA earlier this year.