Scrap Work Capability Assessments, say GPs
(issued by BMA Scotland Thursday 22 Mar 2012)
GPs at the annual Scottish GP conference have today [Thursday 22 March 2012] voted in favour of a motion calling for the end of the work capability assessment. The doctors, who represent GPs from across Scotland, agreed that the system should be replaced with a more vigorous and safe process which takes into account the needs of long term sick and disabled patients.
Dr Andrew McNutt, a GP in Bathgate, said: “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. These assessments can have a devastating effect on our patients' mental and physical health."
Dr Dean Marshall, Chairman of the BMA’s Scottish General Practitioners Committee, said:
“The BMA welcomes some of the rationale for the government’s reform of welfare. The system of benefits is highly complex and needs to be simplified. We also support the need to provide more opportunities for those people who are able to work.
“However, our patients are very concerned and confused with regards to 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 frequently declared fit for work.”
With regard to the welfare reforms that have recently been passed at Westminster, Dr Marshall added:
“These reforms have the potential to impact greatly on the people of Scotland. It is highly likely that they will have 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 this conference, in respect of Work Capability Assessments (WCA) as performed by ATOS Healthcare, believes that:
i. the 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. the 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