Access to justice is a fundamental requirement for the rule of law, by which people have their voice heard, exercise their rights, challenge discrimination, and hold decision makers to account.
We are going to talk about Police Medical Appeal Boards.
The British legal system is often said to be the envy of the World. In the criminal justice system an accused person is assumed to be innocent until proved guilty. The proof of guilt is a high one. Whoever is tasked with deciding guilt is proved must arrive at a finding of guilt beyond all reasonable doubt.
Even when found guilty, a person can usually appeal the decision, providing there are some good grounds for believing the decision was in some way flawed.
These two principles apply to most other forms of hearing, such as disciplinary hearings, employment dismissals, grant of a licence, state benefit decisions and right down to parking fines.
So too with decisions made by a police pension authority and by medical professionals acting for the police pension authority.
Anyone who has been reading the blogs on this site will be under no illusion that police pension authorities and their ‘selected medical practitioners’ (SMPs) have a remarkable talent for making decisions which are unsound and eminently suitable for appeal.
So, how many unsound decisions are being made?
Unfortunately, it is impossible to say with certainty, for decisions made by police pension authorities and their SMPs are not subject to any oversight whatever. Unlike in a court of law there is usually no person present who represents the officer or former officer. Nobody to spot the mistakes, or to make at-the-time objections. Nobody to review the decision once made, to examine it for factual accuracy and legal compliance.
IODPA exists to offer advice and support to any former officer who has concerns over their injury pension and we applaud the good work of all local NARPO’s and the Federation where they are able to guide individuals through the tribulations of ill health retirement or the trauma of a review of degree of disablement.
Worse, where the decisions are being made concern disabled former officers who were injured on duty, the individuals subject of the decisions are, we have good reason to say, almost always totally unaware of the police injury pension regulations and thus have no way of knowing whether the process of decision making, or the decision itself is flawed. What greater disservice could there be to officers injured in the line of duty than to leave them unaware of their pension rights and without any support to help ensure they receive the benefits they are due..
Police Forces themselves universally stay clear of offering any advice or assistance – and we can understand their reasons for doing this, but suspect their reasons are not always grounded in concerns to remain impartial. The best any individual can hope for is a brief few lines mentioning NARPO or the Federation and the availability of appeal to a PMAB.
Despite this sorry situation, some individuals must feel so aggrieved by a decision they decide to appeal.
We should bear in mind that decisions made by a SMP are medical ones. That is, they are nothing more than a medical opinion. In that sense, they can rarely be arrived at beyond all reasonable doubt, for diagnosis is not an exact science. Where the decision contains elements of prognosis we depart rapidly a great distance away from certainty, for prognosis is entirely speculative and uncertain.
A PMAB is composed of a panel of three doctors, one of whom must be a specialist in the field of medicine most relevant to the duty injury or injuries of the appellant. The rationale is that only other doctors can offer an opinion contrary to that of a SMP.
When a disabled former officer arrives at a PMAB hearing they are often as poorly prepared as they were in the earlier stages of life as a disabled person. Only those who have secured assistance from IODPA or from the Federation will have anyone to represent them and to look out for their best interests. Pensioners are at the mercy of the Board, and of the arguably fallible SMP, who will inevitably be at the hearing.
Pensioners will also find that their pension authority is represented by a solicitor, or even a barrister, though sometimes they rely on the cheaper services of a self-styled pensions expert or someone from the force’s HR or Occupational Health Department.
It is a testament to the firmness of purpose of the few pensioners who do have the will and the ability to negotiate the many barriers put in their way to getting justice, that there are any appeals at all. IODPA is all too well aware that for the vast majority of individuals the barriers are too daunting a prospect. They have to accept the decisions made, for their circumstances are such they have no hope whatever of taking matters to appeal. For some, the trauma and stress would do so much harm to their delicate health they fear to seek justice.
So, given that, for now, we don’t know how many decisions made by police pension authorities and SMPs have been flawed, and thus susceptible to challenge, how many PMABs have actually been held in recent times?
A freedom of information request – https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/smp_police_medical_appeal_boards – made by a Lily Nightingale, which may or may not be the same Lily Nightingale who is an SMP, has revealed this:
- In 2014 there were 66 appeals heard, of which 23 were upheld, and 43 rejected.
- In 2015 there were 93 appeals heard, of which 24 were upheld and 69 rejected,
- In 2016 there were 119 appeals heard, of which 94 were upheld and 67 rejected.
- In 2017, there were 94 appeals heard, of which 35 were upheld and 59 rejected.
- In the first quarter of 2018 there were 20 appeals heard, of which 10 were upheld and 10 rejected.
From those figures we can calculate some percentages.
- In 2014 65.15% of appeals were rejected
- In 2015 74.19% of appeals were rejected
- In 2016 56.30% of appeals were rejected
- In 2017 62.76% of appeals were rejected
- In 2018 50% of appeals were rejected
- Overall, 63.26% of all appeals were rejected
If we are to search for reasons why more appeals are rejected than succeed, then more research would be needed. We can theorise that one reason may be that doctors are reluctant to disagree with an opinion of a fellow medical professional. Another may be that where appeals were rejected the individual was not represented or poorly represented.
Given that we know decisions made by PMABs do get challenged successfully by way of judicial review or by complaint to the Pensions Ombudsman, we can also consider it is possible the medical people who form the Boards may lack the legal knowledge necessary to ensure they arrive at decisions which are not biased or arrived at by consideration of irrelevant factors, or by dismissing or ignoring relevant factors.
Unlike the criminal justice system, the appeals concerning matters arising from the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 are heard by a panel selected by and trained by a for-profit commercial company. The doctors who sit on the PMABs are paid a fee, as are the SMPs who attend and whose decisions are being challenged. Representatives of the police pension authority are likewise paid a fee or are on a salary from their police force.
The appellants, in contrast, have no financial assistance save the few who manage to secure some from the Federation. On those grounds alone, the appeal system is weighted in favour of the police pension authorities, who think nothing of spending public money defending their actions.
Appellants are not accused of any crime, yet they seem to have far fewer rights, and lesser safeguards ensuring fairness, than any common criminal. Far too frequently the system as currently established is effective in denying them their pension rights and blocking any paths to the possibility of redress.
The freedom of information request supplies a list of names, of the SMPs whose decisions were being appealed. Not too much can be read into this, as there are not many doctors willing to debase their profession by taking on SMP work. However, even though the likes of Drs William Cheng, Ralph Sampson, David Bulpitt, Johnathan Broome, and, yes, Lily Nightingale appear frequently on the list of appeals via PMAB, it might be preferable to contemplate which SMPs names are consistently absent from the list.
In a well ordered system there would be no need for appeals. But until there is reform PMABs will remain a stain on the enshrined principles of justice. Until justice can be made freely accessible to vulnerable disabled former officers there is no certainty of justice being found. Until vulnerable disabled former officers can know themselves supported and properly advised and represented throughout all stages of ill health retirement and reviews of degree of disablement then the ill-disposed, the ignorant or misinformed, the lazy and the incompetent who administer the systems within which injustice is allowed to flourish will ensure a steady flow of appeals.
Whilst all those who either do not know they have been victims of injustice and all those who do suspect but are unable to do anything about it will continue to suffer injustice unseen and unheard.
22 thoughts on “Police Medical Appeal Boards”
My husband was luckily successful in his PMAB last year. He did have to wait for nearly a year after being IHR to get the correct level of disablement. The question about if his injury was due to an IOD was never questioned as there was a direct link between his injury and when he eventually got kicked out and seeing the Mets SMP. Sure we all know who he is !
He did receive the correct banding in the end, however he had to fight for it for nearly a year. His PMAB was in December 2017.
He did not go to appeal to get more money, he went to appeal as the SMP lied, stated events at his “medical” interview was incorrect, and failed to mention the important facts. He did not want anything, but the truth !
It was not a nice time, especially with other health issues going on which were not due to his injury. His time, effort and daily life was interrupted by a single person, the Mets SMP.
Anyway, if anyone decides to go to a PMAB, my advise, very strongly, GET A SOLICITOR ASAP !!!!! I cannot stress how important getting proper legal advice is. Not sure if I can mentions names, but he had Cartwright King Solicitors, Mark Lake, BRILLIANT.
Best of luck to anyone else who has had dealings with the same SMP, fingers crossed he has stopped telling lies, which I doubt, but take him to the PMAB and watch him sweat when provided with evidence he was not aware off.
I have posted this comment on behalf of my husband.
The System is flawed. PMABs are a private company which is wrong. PMABs should be administered by the Courts and Tribunals Service and the panel composition should be a mix of Dr’s and Lawyers trained by the Ministry of justice.
The likes of Dr Wallington et al should be disqualified from applying. I think the fact he has attended NAMF conferences shows bias.
By way of comparison look at Benefits assessments administered by a private company majority overturned on appeal.
Also being paid for by the decison makers is dubious. HML could become beholden. The system needs to be transferred to the Courts and Tribunals Service, who are independently funded and take a judicial oath.
Lots of good points raised and to say I feel saddened that the powers that be are allowed and able to continue to act in such a manner with such aggression against IODs is nothing less than shameful. It is nothing less than mental cruelty to continually have the threat of massive life changing decisions hanging over you at the fingertips of the Senior Officers all in the name of saving money…this is not fair, not only the IODs but also the close family associated with the IODs. I’m sure I wouldn’t be the first to applaud the love and support given from my wife of over 40 years, however the continual bitterness I feel at not being in any sort of control of the wrongdoings and pressure/anxiety for her has its impact, she didn’t sign up to this ‘God bless her’. That said I look forward to the day that I/we can get on with our lives without this threat of the last 30 plus years (since my IOD) hanging over us. Conversely we should be compensated as a family for the loss of a career I loved and the impact, stress and anxiety of these processes. Like all IODs unless you have gone through or are still going through this daily ritual you will never fully understand the impact on so many lives…all in the name of cost cutting. Ps I am fortunate enough to have the result of only physical injuries (as silly as it sounds to say that) and to those suffering daily mental issues I cannot imagine the impact on your lives and you only have my best wishes. I trust that this whole sorry situation can soon come to an end and PMABs be a thing of the past…
Good luck all…!!!
Have you heard of the cult tv programme of the 60’s The Prisoner. He was known only by his number, a little like those who served in the police force. To the police authorities you were only a number, nothing more. They don’t give a damn that you were injured on duty and your life and health have been ruined. You are just an expense which they need to get rid of. Remember you are not a number, you are a human being, all you and the Iodpa are doing is fighting for your legal rights. Nothing more. Remember your rights, don’t let them treat you with disdain. Together we will beat the unjust, illegal behaviour, which is being aimed at those who through no fault of there own were injured in the course of there duties. You are no longer a number.
Experienced a PMAB. Interesting from the perspective of ‘patient’ and spouse.
Essentially, the board of ‘experts’ is questionable given their ‘ qualifications ‘and observed performance. And I reiterate the term ‘expert’????? . Our PMAB was in 2016. It was an extremely humiliating and degrading experience both for the retired officer and partner. Unfortunately for the members present, it was covertly recorded and a subsequent complaint to the GMC included fabrication of a medical report and unauthorised searching of a patients clothing. We subsequently discovered that one board member was also acting as SMP in the south of England at the same time. This is in direct contravention of the terms of contract with the Home Office. The Board was paid £ 12.500 for the privilege of this behaviour. Apparently, this fee has now risen to nearly £ 14,000. These appointed ‘doctors’ are questionable in terms of their so called ‘expertise’ and experience. Our observation of their performance is that not only are they incompetent but in fact extremely dangerous in terms of patient safety . Some of these Board members work for the NHS. We have had Mid Staffs, Gosport…..who is next????
In a court of law the judge and jury have nothing to gain from making an unjust decision. At a Police Pension Medical Appeal Board, the auditors for justice (doctors) are indirectly being paid handsomely by the same police service who paid the initial Selected Medical Practitioner. It seems obvious that the doctors would not want to upset their paymasters just to provide justice for someone who was foolish enough to get permanently disabled protecting the public.
‘Doctor’s debasing their profession’ is an accurate assessment, perhaps another is ‘police chiefs turning a blind eye to maladministration of police injury pensions’ being done in their name.
Guidance for PMAB’S was put in place to create a level playing field for all, therein is a set although not binding mechanism to calculate earning capacity. In my case the SMP ( CHENG) did not use this method but used his own form of assessment, he indicated that because I had appealed before on two occasions I had what he termed competent capacity and hence a residual earning capacity which he failed to quantify. This was then taken to the PMAB who remarkably did exactly the same as CHENG and came to the same conclusion, it seems quackery over rules guidance. Looks like there is likely to be another appeal on the way….or will competent capacity be thrown back at me again! In my favour it appears the Board, Drs OGUNYEMI, KRISHNAN and RAJPUT made their decision with out legal advice, since when have quacks been lawyers; perhaps the title “Doctor” puts them above it.
Some years ago I had a PMAB hearing. Fortunately I had received Federation help. The reason I had that help is that I knew another IOD pensioner who had needed support and had received Federation help and I spoke to, and was represented by, the same Federation rep who had helped him.
It was unfortunate that I had been to a review with an SMP who had not completed his report to the level of choosing a job he figured I could do, when my Force decided to dispense with that agencies services and used a new agency. This meant that I had to be reviewed again. I attended for that review but it seems that my paperwork had not, and I was not expected there!! So the second SMP, who was there dealing with another review, agreed to review me and then used a report from the first SMP (which my Force had supplied to them) and just repeated in her own report what the first SMP had said and agreed with his finding. It was obvious that neither had bothered to read the Consultant’s reports.
Neither of those SMP’s were at the PMAB hearing! Why is that I wonder? The only medical one there was the Force FMA, who, after being asked his opinion by the HR department, had submitted a report totally annihilating the last Consultant’s report and at the hearing suggested frequently that I had not been hit hard enough to have caused such injuries.
I was doubly fortunate that the PMAB lead was a Psychiatrist who fully valued each and every point made by that Consultant and the PMAB took me from the Band 1 award I had received some 25 years earlier to Band 4, which I should have received from the start.
As I say, I had been doubly fortunate to have been, finally, dealt with justifiably. I know now, after discovering and being a member of IODPA.org, just how many other IOD pensioners have been mistreated and just how much maladministration goes on with Forces. I would love for NARPO to publish this edition of IODPA blogs and see how many more IOD pensioners have been robbed of their legitimate entitlement and who have not yet discovered it!
Sussex Police Pensions over the 30 years since I was injured on duty continue to destroy any affection I had for a job I loved.
When I hear the PM and Home Secretary’s talk of the debt they owe those who stand between danger and the public, I want to vomit!
They know what is going on and what they say is merely propaganda.
I enjoyed my time as a cop but they have made me wish I’d never joined.
I’m not alone in my thoughts either, otherwise IODPA would not exist.
Police pensions over a 30 year period and continuing ruined any affection or memories I had of a job I loved. Although
I enjoyed my time as a cop what I have endured since at the hands of Sussex Police Pensions makes me wish I’d never had any connection
with the Police.
The whole system is a shambles and always has been. Even when you win at PMAB the ‘Doctors’ are some how able to mess up their decision!
I was reduced from 100% to 50% on review when the SMP reopened causation. Went to Appeal and was reinstated at 100% but the Doctor still reopened causation and threw out another medical condition that was listed on my original H1. (An unlawful action)
The Fed’s solicitors wouldn’t take it any further as they said I had not lost out financially although their view of the official side is unprintable. My view is even worse!!!
The whole system needs an overhaul as it’s so one sided, officers aren’t receiving proper representation or advice, which is where the Fed and NARPO should step up, without the IODPA it would be a lot worse
A difficult report to read as the injustice vulnerable disabled injured police officers face is so obvious.
After serving 22 years in the police and having to be medically retired I was not even aware of injury in duty awards, they just are not talked about.
The police federations do not make rank and file aware of the financial help to officers facing a very stressful and uncertain future.Thankfulky I found IODPA after a search on google and found amazing advice and support.
I take it that the reason rank and file injured officers are not told about awards is the fear from Police Forces is that the more officers who know the more claims will be made resulting in a greater amount paid out by the PPA.
As an injured Police Officer I thought colleagues and my force would have bent over backwards to assist me however It seems that I have had to justify my injuriesvtime and time again as if I was bleeding the police force of monies.
The way injured officers are treat is appalling thankfully there is help out there if you look hard enough.
The process is flawed from the outset.
In my mind an SMP should only make medical opinion in the absence of clinical supporting evidence surrounding the injury.
If an officer is presenting unfit to complete their employment and has medical reports and sufficient evidence of cause exists then the SMP should only act to provide the PPA with collation of such evidence by report .
Anything beyond this is a fraudulent attempt to deprive the pensioner of their income.
It can’t be seen as anything else as an SMP isn’t the doctor of all doctors able to contradict all before them.
It is clearly an outrage, that those who were injured on duty, fighting for justice and in protection of life and property, are those that are actually treated so badly by those they were seeking to protect!
Why is this allowed, especially as there are seven principles of public life service, namely
Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openess, Honesty & Leadership?
How many of these do Chief Constables, acting as PPA’s, or there HR/OH staff, actually aspire to, or apply? You would like to think that in such a responsible public office, that it was “all of them”!
I would like to think that too, but my experience and that of many other IOD’s, is that the real answer is “very few, or in some cases none”., as saving cash is their bible and even then, the saved cash, is often wasted on perks for the Snr managers.
That’s why they don’t want the curtains opened onto the current biased and unfair PMAB process. Why they don’t want change.
If they allowed innocent, but naive IOD’s to become better informed, then more appeals would be won, less ‘stolen’ cash would be available for ‘pet’ projects and maybe, just maybe, the ‘company cars’ provided, might have to be Fords, rather than Jaguar 4×4’s. Nb these days, there is nothing wrong with a Ford.
Only when certain bloated Snr Officers insist on something less grand, will we start to see the seven principles, properly applied. Till then IODPA’s task and mine as a member, will be to spread the message to as many naive IOD’s as we can. Only when a majority of IOD’s are aware of their true rights will the pressure of cash wasted start to appear on the desks of these PPA’s and there political masters. At this point we might see justice, but I won’t hold my breath!
Most forces like to say that they look after officers on the front line!! The appeals statistics proves that is far from the truth. Budgets come well before the welfare of those injured in the line of duty and well before humanity and ethics. Police HR depts just being lawful would be a start?!?!
I went through the trauma of a PMAB and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. The SMP was and is a regular at PMABs, how he can keep getting away with his lies is beyond me.
I am told he regularly denies IOD awards citing the officer is an alcoholic and that we only claim a pension for the money. Oh the irony of it. These SMPs are getting paid twice for doing injured cops out of their injury awards. It pays for them to deny pensions when they can get paid another lump sum for attending PMABs.
Notice how the same SMPs are listed year in year out. The usual suspects.
How they have never been brought to task for the way they treat us is beyond my comprehension. These people are doctors, trained to care and look after the sick in society. Yet, they are single-handedly causing more mental damage to cops than anyone.
The whole lot needs to get their act together before someone takes their life.
SMPs, police forces and the PMAB panels need to start thinking o their injured cops who gave their all and who would have given up their lives to the public.
I take it things have changed a great deal. I was retired as a result of an injury on duty and the Metropolitan Police Chief Medical Officer granted me a 30% disability pension on top of the service pension which as I had done over 26 1/2 years service was a full 30 year pension index linked immediately at the age of 45. He told me to appeal that award as it was the most he could grant under the circumstances. I appealed on the grounds that while my disability was not very severe my ability to earn money in any job had been greatly reduced as the only reference I had was a piece of paper saying “dismissed as a result of an injury on duty, his conduct was exemplary”. The medical board accepted my argument that they were there to assess the degree the injury had affected my earning potential not my % of disability although of course the two were linked. I produced the last two years pay sheets and argued that actually I was virtually unemployable (who wants someone else’s injured worker). I was then awarded a 60% disability pension tax free on the basis I could possibly earn 40% of what I had been receiving. ie my earning potential had been reduced by 60%. The actual pension was not a factor in that as I would receive that anyway. The board commented they could not understand why it needed Drs to sit and assess that. The Police were not represented and neither was I. That decision can’t be appealed by the Police so I have been receiving it ever since.
The ‘problem’ of officers being retired on medical or medical and injury grounds and being ignorant of the process involved in arriving at that retirement goes right back to the initial course at training school.
On that training course there is mention of Police Regulations in class, to the extent that officers are told about promotion opportunities and encouraged to believe in there glorious future.
There was absolutely no mention whatever about the potential for termination of service through injury. And why should there be? There certainly should have been.
I think it was always policy to avoid such matters and if it arose they were doing the injured officer a favour for which he should be truly grateful.
The law society’s comments about justice are quite profound. Unfortunately all aspects of the PIBR are weighted heavily against the disabled former officer. It beggars belief that a society which puts so much support for our injured armed service personnel haven’t realised that our disabled civilian service personnel are suffering so much discrimination and trauma through no fault of their own. It’s also perverse that the Justice system would appear to be weighed heavily against our disabled former colleagues when those who were dealt with by them for criminal offences were entitled quite correctly to the highest level of legal support. It’s high time for the scales of Justice to become balanced in respect of all aspects of PIBR but we all know that this can only happen with full Home Office and Justice Department support, and in an era of shrinking budgets it is the individual PPA’s who can make a real difference.
All we want is Justice and consistency. Nothing more. Nothing less.
do we know what percentage of medically retired officers are getting reviews?
I have been retired for 16 years on 100% injury award after an injury on duty and being only 53 years of age and unable to work it is obviously a worry for me as i could face financial hardship if my award were to be reduced.
I live a life purely through medication and my only option should i get a review would be to stop taking my medication before the review so that the board can see me as I am in my natural state rather than in my ‘healthy’ looking medicated state. that in itself is a worry as going cold turkey on 26 tablets a day will be a horrible messy process, but one i feel i would have no option but to endure.
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