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The Medical Independent (MI) has been told that the three responses all came from private companies, and that a decision is expected by the DSP this month.
In April, MI reported that agency MAs working for the DSP will be subject to the same performance targets as those directly employed by the DSP.
The deadline passed in late March for applications from outside agencies to provide MAs to the DSP.
“Three responses were received and these are currently being evaluated,” a DSP spokesperson told MI.
“All were private companies. It is expected that a decision will be made in the next week or so.”
Medical assessments take place in the cases of illness benefit claims. Illness benefits include disability and carer’s allowances, among other payments.
Last year saw a drop in the total number of social welfare medical assessments compared to 2013, according to figures provided to MI.
There was a total number of 92,786 assessments last year, compared to 102,395 in 2013, 120,285 in 2012 and 143,488 in 2011.
“The fall in the amount of medical assessments has been mainly caused by a lack of MA resources due to retirements,” a DSP spokesperson told MI in April.
“This has resulted in backlogs and delays.”
Including the posts of Chief Medical Advisor and Deputy Chief Medical Advisor, there are currently 23.4 (WTE) MAs employed by the Department.
Following this current recruitment of agency workers, it is envisaged that a core of “at least five whole-time equivalent, on-site, suitably-skilled agency MAs” will supplement the Department’s Medical Review and Assessment Service.