John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS)

a ministry of the British government in existence for twenty years from 1968 until 1988, headed by the Secretary of State for Social Services. Until 1968 the social security responsibilities had been dealt with by the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance, and the health responsibilities by the Ministry of Health. In 1988 the department was split again into a separate Department of Health and the Department of Social Security. In 2001 the Department for Work and Pensions was formed from the Department of Social Security, absorbing the employment functions which had previously been the responsibility of the Department for Education and Employment since 1995.
 I worked for DHSS, Dec. 1970–Oct. 1972, mostly at Blackpool Central Office, Norcross, as a Clerical Assistant in one of the War Pensions sections, collating and despatching the Department’s “Statements of Case”
[1] to the independent Pensions Appeal Tribunal (PAT). There were two types of appeals: assessment appeals and entitlement appeals. In the first, the appellant had applied for an increase in War Pension but had been refused; there was a risk to the appellant that the PAT would not increase the entitlement but reduce it. In the second, the application for a War Pension had been refused on the grounds that the applicant’s medical condition or disability was not directly attributable to, or aggravated by, service in the British armed forces. In support of DHSS’s position in the appeal the Statement of Case contained typewritten copies of hospital case-notes, some of which I found highly amusing. I remember one case where the appellant believed that the voice on Bing Crosby recordings was his own voice. He didn’t believe that he was Bing Crosby, just that the voice on the records was his. “His wife came to see me,” the psychiatric consultant wrote. “He has been up at 3am singing and tap-dancing. This is annoying the neighbours.” Appellants also received a copy of the Statement of Case; but in cases like the foregoing, “Rule 22”[2] was applied. The more sensitive parts of the typewritten case-notes would be underlined in red, and an appellant’s copy typed omitting the underlined parts. To the case-notes, there would often be attached a standard document describing the medical condition; in “Rule 22” cases a different document might be sent to the appellant, e.g. if the PAT document was headed “Schizophrenia”, the appellant copy would be headed “Mental illness” and have a much toned-down content.
[1] Rule 5 of the Pensions Appeal Tribunal Acts required the Secretary of State to prepare a statement of case containing the relevant facts relating to the appellant's case as known to the Secretary of State. This statement of case consisted of a chronological compendium of the appellant's relevant medical history. The relevant medical history might include service medical records, reports from General Practitioners and Specialists, hospital case notes, audiograms and War Pension medical examinations. The appellant's claims and submissions, previous Tribunal and Secretary of State decisions were also included, along with the Secretary of Sstate's reasons for decision in entitlement appeals and terms of reference to the Tribunal. [Hansard HC vol 281 col 339 (12 July 1996)]

[2] If the appellant's medical history contained relevant information which in the opinion of the Secretary of State would be harmful to the appellant, it was handled under Rule 22 of the PAT Acts and excluded from the appellant's copy of the statement of case. The appellant's representative, the Tribunal and the DHSS had copies of the full statement of case with the evidence excluded from the appellant's copy under Rule 22 underlined. The DHSS Medical Advisers provided guidance in this matter to the Secretary of State. Ultimately it was for the Tribunal to decide whether, in the interests of the appellant, the evidence excluded from his/her statement of case should or should not be disclosed. [Hansard HC vol 281 col 339 (12 July 1996)]

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