§ Mr. Dobbin
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to ensure that (1) training 433W for Benefits Agency doctors draws attention to the need for sensitivity in their dealings with vulnerable claimants; 
(2) benefit claimants doctors receive appropriate training in the working of the benefit system. 
§ Mr. Bayley
Training for Benefit Agency doctors is a matter for Peter Mathison, the Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to my hon. Friend.
Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Jim Dobbin, dated 11 February 2000:The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions about what plans he has to ensure that training for Benefits Agency doctors draws attention to the need for sensitivity in their dealings with vulnerable claimants, and that they receive appropriate training in the working of the benefit system.All examining doctors, employed by Sema Group and engaged by Nestor Disability Analysis (NDA), receive training in the Professional Standards of Medical Services. These standards include a requirement for doctors to be accessible, punctual, reliable, presentable, approachable, courteous, and friendly. Other specified standards include the requirement for the doctor to introduce him or herself to the person to be examined; to allow the claimant time to give their history, asking any questions in a non-adversarial manner; to explain the purpose of the examination; and to carry out the examination gently to avoid any unnecessary discomfort to the claimant.The Chief Medical Advisor to the Department is responsible for setting the standards which all doctors, undertaking medical examinations, must achieve, and approves all training material.The subject of professional standards is discussed during initial training and the standards are listed in full in the guidance notes that are given to each doctor. The training currently in place, ensures that all examining doctors are fully aware of the need for sensitivity whilst carrying out medical assessments on vulnerable claimants with disabilities.As part of their training doctors are made aware of how their role fits into the overall benefit process. However, they do not make decisions on benefit claims nor do they offer advice on the technical details of the benefit concerned, these are matters for the Benefits Agency Local Offices.I hope this is helpful.