In February 1994 the Royal College of Psychiatrists contacted the Benefits Agency Medical Services (BAMS) to take part in their consultation exercise before bringing in the new Incapacity Benefit (IB) in April 1995. This new benefit was to replace the then existing Invalidity Benefit which was being paid to over 250 000 people with a primary diagnosis of mental illness. The main changes were that a patient's own general practitioner (GP) would certify incapacity for work for the first 29 weeks of sickness and after this the continuation of benefit (IB) would require assessment by a BAMS doctor, with some illness categories being exempt from medical examination. The aim was to create standardised criteria across the UK and to do so in an objective fashion, based on function rather than diagnosis. The test is designed to look at ability to work in any capacity rather than the claimant's own work which is the criterion for the first 29 weeks.
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