GPs call for work capability assessments to be scrapped
(issued by BMA Scotland Wednesday 23 May 2012)
GPs at their annual conference in Liverpool, have today [Wednesday 23 May 2012] voted in favour of a motion calling for the end of the work capability assessment. The doctors, who represent GPs from across the UK, agreed that the system should be replaced with a more rigorous and safe process which takes into account the needs of long term sick and disabled patients.
Dr Dean Marshall, Chairman of the BMA’s Scottish General Practitioners Committee, said:
“These assessments can have a devastating effect on our patients' mental and physical health. There has been a dramatic increase in the numbers being assessed as fit to work and a massive number of appeals have been made against these decisions. The frequency of successful appeals seems to us to demonstrate the mechanism‘s shortcomings."
“Our patients are very concerned and confused about these assessments. Many are in fear of how they will cope with the removal of, or cuts to, their benefits. Evidence appears to suggest that people with serious health conditions are sometimes being declared fit for work.”
With reference to the Stage 1 debate on the Welfare Reform (Further Provision) (Scotland) Bill that will take place in the Scottish Parliament today, Dr Marshall added:
“The BMA is concerned about the impact that UK welfare reform legislation will have on the people of Scotland. It is highly likely that there will be a significant impact on general practices, especially those who have a high population of patients in receipt of incapacity benefits. But, more importantly, we must keep an eye on the wider implications of these reforms. A reduction in income may lead to poorer quality of health for individuals and increased health inequalities for our nation as a whole.
The motion that was passed is as follows:
That conference, in respect of work capability assessments (WCA) as performed
by ATOS Healthcare, believes that the:
(i) inadequate computer based assessments that are used have little regard to the nature or complexity of the
needs of long term sick and disabled persons
(ii) WCA should end with immediate effect and be replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause
avoidable harm to some of the weakest and most vulnerable in society.
For further information please contact:
BMA Scotland Public Affairs Office (Telephone: 0131 247 3050)
14 Queen Street
Evenings and Weekends:
07768 005 850