I propose to take Questions Nos. 141 and 142 together.
Medical Assessors are all fully qualified medical practitioners with several years of experience in a variety of medical fields. The majority of Medical Assessors have additional postgraduate specialist qualifications. All are registered with the Irish Medical Council (IMC).
They are employed by the DSP to provide independent, impartial medical opinions regarding the medical eligibility of customers to the DSP’s various illness-related schemes, for the guidance of the Deciding Officers in the scheme areas.
Their opinions are based on international evidence-based medical guidelines and protocols and informed by clinical experience and clinical judgement, recognising the bio-psycho-social model of disability.
Various relevant factors are considered in performing their assessments, including those involving a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, including:
1. The customer’s impairment i.e. the illness or accident. What symptoms they currently have. What investigations, treatments (medical or surgical), they have received and what the prognosis of the condition is.
2. The customer’s account as to how they consider themselves to be adversely affected by their condition with special emphasis on how it affects their ability to cope with the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and work related activities. Consideration is also given to any restriction in social participation. This information is gained directly from the customer in an in-person assessment or via a questionnaire issued to the customer for a desk assessment.
3. All additional medical evidence is considered e.g. medical reports completed by the customer’s GP, any specialist reports, results of investigations, X-rays, CT and MRI scans, and blood tests etc.
4. Any co-morbidity which might exist, in addition to their primary condition, is also taken into consideration.
5. The customer’s vocational and educational experience is also taken into consideration.