Chair of the Justice Committee Mervyn Storey has said existing medical evidence must take priority in assessments for the Victims Payment Scheme. He also said the Justice Minister must closely monitor both the assessment and appeals process to ensure it is operating as intended with in-person assessments only required when existing medical information is not readily available.
The DUP MLA said,
“The Victims Payment Scheme has been a very welcome step forward for many who suffered so greatly during the troubles in Northern Ireland. It is vital that confidence in the scheme is upheld, but there are obviously genuine concerns which have been aired in relation to the role of Capita in the process.
It is absolutely vital that the evidence provided from an individual’s own GP records and other existing documentation is the primary foundation upon which these assessments are built. The Minister has been clear that decisions will be made on a paper-based assessment wherever possible so that victims are not subjected to further medical assessment.
I hope that can give reassurance to victims who may be fearful at this time, that it will only be in cases where existing medical information is not readily available that anyone would have to attend for an in-person assessment.
Those who qualify for the Victims Payment by definition have suffered horrendously and it is vital this process does operate as the Justice Minister has outlined. No further suffering or trauma should be inflicted upon victims in our society. Given the serious questions raised by the NIPSO into Personal Independence Payments and Capita’s role in those assessments it is vital the Minister makes monitoring of this scheme a priority. She must also regularly review both the assessment and appeals process to ensure victims can have confidence the scheme is operating properly and as intended.”