By Andy Worthingtion 10.7.12
Two weeks ago, doctors at the annual conference of the British Medical Association (BMA), which represents 141,000 doctors and trainee doctors in the UK, delivered a resounding rejection of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which is being used by the government to establish that people who have physical and/or mental health disabilities are fit for work.
The inflexible computer-based system, administered by ATOS Healthcare in sessions that last for just 20 to 30 minutes, has been repeatedly condemned by disability campaigners, and/or by those subjected to it, and at the BMA conference, as a press release noted, London GP Louise Irvine said the WCA system “was causing ‘distress’ to thousands of people with long-term health conditions deemed fit for work, as well as subjecting the doctors involved to ‘McDonaldisation’ of their careers.”
She added, “There is no empathy in the system, it is all accusatory.”
Although David Snashall, a London-based consultant in occupational medicine, “urged the meeting not to call for the WCA to be replaced, arguing that there was a scrutiny process in place to improve the system,” the BMA supported a motion to demand that the WCA should be ended “with immediate effect and be replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause unavoidable harm to some of the weakest and vulnerable in society.”
Dr. Irvine also noted that, as well as causing uncalled for “distress” to claimants, “40 per cent of those who appealed WCA decisions were successful and this success rate rose to 70 per cent for those who took up legal representation.” These shocking figures – involving tens of thousands of people appealing successfully against their assessments — ought to be sufficient on their own to demonstrate that, as well as being a cruel assault on the most vulnerable members of society, the system is also broken and useless, but the government, typically, appears not to be listening, even though ministers’ arrogance and idiocy is costing a fortune in defending appeals that are subsequently lost – as well as inflicting pointless suffering on people who should be protected.
The BMA’s vote follows a similar vote by GPs at their annual conference in May, as the Guardian explained at the time, noting that GPs “voted unanimously” in favour of scrapping the WCA, to prevent harming “some of the weakest and most vulnerable in society.” As theGuardian also explained, doctors “backed a motion stating that the computer-based assessments were ‘inadequate’ and ‘have little regard to the nature or complexity of the needs of long-term sick and disabled persons.’ They called for the tests to be replaced with a more ‘rigorous and safe system.’”
Andrew Holden, a GP from Petersfield in Hampshire, who proposed the motion, told the GPs conference that “the system was not able to distinguish between patients who really needed help and those who did not,” as the Guardian put it. As he explained, “Since the system was introduced in 2008, people with terminal cancer have been found fit to work, people with mental health problems have complained their condition is not taken seriously and people with complex illnesses say that the tick-box system is not able to cope with the nuances of their problems.”
Responding to the news, John McArdle of the Black Triangle Campaign — so named because the Nazis forced people with mental and other disabilities to wear black triangles in the extermination camps, describing them as “Arbeitsscheu” (the “workshy”) — noted that the WCA “is a smokescreen for cuts to disabled people’s welfare and nothing else,” and pointed out, in addition, that:
The successor to Disability Living Allowance — the so-called ‘Personal Independence Payment’ to be introduced in April next year — with the express aim of cutting 20% from the budget set aside to ensure that disabled people are able to live with a modicum of dignity in a society that has the right to call itself ‘civilised’ society — is similarly nothing but a full-scale attack on the fundamental human right of disabled people to live with dignity in keeping with the U.K.’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
PLEASE CONTINUE READING ANDY’S ARTICLE ON HIS BLOG: HERE