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Islington council “actively looking” to drop NowMedical

Islington Law Centre said they have 'always been concerned about the use of NowMedical reports in homelessness cases.'

18 February, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

NowMedical was criticised at a Town Hall meeting last week. 

THE Town Hall is looking to change the way it deals with housing needs for people at risk of homelessness, after the private company that provides medical assessments came under fire this week.

NowMedical (NM) help Islington Council assess whether residents should receive priority housing by investigating their medical needs after an application has been submitted.

NM was criticised in a scrutiny committee meeting on Tuesday night by councillors and one of the borough’s leading housing lawyers.

Cllr Diarmid Ward, Islington Council’s housing chief, confirmed last night that he was “actively looking for alternatives” to NM.

And Stuart Hearne, co-director at the Islington Law Centre, said: “Islington Law Centre would support a decision by the council to find alternative arrangements to NowMedical because we have always been concerned about the use of NowMedical reports in homelessness cases.”

An applicant for housing is considered to be in priority need if he or she is deemed “vulnerable” through a mental illness, learning disability or physical disability.

Applicants can be assessed by their GP or a medical specialist who can then submit a report or write a letter on their behalf to the housing officer.

Housing officers have the option then to send these documents to NowMedical.

NM doctors will then give an opinion to the council on whether the individual is in priority need.

Cllr Sue Lukes, vice-chairwoman of the Housing Scrutiny Committee, said: “Surely a report from the applicant’s GP or a medical professional would be enough.

“I would like to scrutinise the council’s use of NowMedical in future meetings.

“I will be arguing that we revise the way we do our medical assessments in the report and I very much hope the executive will take it up.”

NM advises more than 150 local authorities, housing associations and organisations in the UK.

The Tribune approached NM for comment but had not received a reply at the time of going to press

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