Man died 39 days after being found ‘fit for work’ by Government assessors

Published by Ross Macmillan for in Housing and also in Central GovernmentCommunitiesLocal Government

Sub-Fuhrer Grayling told the BBC 'there are no targets anywhere in the system'.

Asked about the 30% success rate in appeals, he (Grayling) added: “I think you have to look at why the appeals are successful. I wish the judges sometime looked beyond the first impression and thought – is it really the case that these people could not return to any form of work?”

A man diagnosed with heart failure died 39 days after being found ‘fit for work’ for a second time by Government assessors, it emerged tonight.

In a damning report by the BBC’s Panorama, the Government was forced to defend the work capability assessments it is using to reassess disability claimants’ entitlement to Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and stress that it, and the French healthcare firm running the assessments, Atos, is not setting targets for moving people back into work.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)’ own estimate is that fewer than 0.5% of incapacity claims are fraudulent.

Following reassessments – which include a point-based system determining your fitness for work – claimants will be deemed either fit for work and moved onto Job Seekers Allowance; will receive support while claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) or will be assessed as unfit for work.

However, Panorama uncovered a number of claimants – including an emphysema sufferer given two days to live by his doctor – passed fit for work but who later successfully appealed the decision.

The case of Steven Hill, however, proved to be much more shocking. He was passed ‘fit for work’ despite being diagnosed with heart failure. After winning an appeal he was again passed fit for work – this time while awaiting the operation. Just 39 days after, he died of a heart attack.

Ministry of Justice figures highlighted by Panorama show that more than 176,000 cases go to appeal tribunals every year costing the taxpayer a further £50m. DWP figures show around 30% of those cases are being overturned, leading to calls the system is “flawed.”

Two years ago the Government appointed professor Malcolm Harrington to independently review the system.

After making recommendations he said the testing system is “better than it was, but only if done properly”. 

He had previously warned it wouldn’t work if the decisions about claimants’ fitness were based solely upon a questionnaire – a computer programme – and that human involvement was needed to look at all the information available.

Two years on he said: “If it is done properly along the recommendations I’ve made it will be fit for purpose. Right across the country it is patchy, I have to say that. There will be people, who, because we’re in this interim period, will suffer and I don’t like that.”

The Government strenuously denies it or Atos was working to targets for reassessments.

Employment minister Chris Grayling said: “We do not have a financial target for the reassessment of people on incapacity benefit or for the level of new applications for ESA which are successful. Absolutely, categorically, unequivocally there is no financial target.”

Asked about the 30% success rate in appeals, he added: “I think you have to look at why the appeals are successful. I wish the judges sometime looked beyond the first impression and thought – is it really the case that these people could not return to any form of work?”

News 24 Dash

  • paul barnard August 1, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    i have sent this message to my MP today:

    Dear Rehman Chishti,

    having seen proof on TV tonight that the WCA system is totally corrupted, being proved that it is not in any way a fair assessment, but a numbers game to remove 7 out of 8 people from their benefit, and to keep reassessing and stressing beyond endurance, those that are passed fir, or win appeals.
    this is now proof that the system is designed to harm all who pass through it. i am asking you to support me and all the other members of your constituency who are being treated to this gross unfairness, and support our refusal to take part in any way with this system until there is a public enquiry:i would also demand the following, as acts of faith from yourself, and your party.

    immediate cessation of the WCAatos banned from trading in this country for 30 yearscriminaL CHARGES AGAINST GRaYLING, SMITH AND CAMERONcriminal charges against the HCP’s and directors/management of atos,and the DWP – ranging from manslaughter to criminal negligence.collective prosecution of the government for crimes against humanity, fraud and illegal trading ( giving public money to firms that they are involved with)immediate reinstatement of all full benefits to anyone who has been through the WCAcompensation for the families of anyone who has died since assessed by atosan immediate public enquiry into the workings of the DWP and atos

    immediate termination of all private companies involved in healthcare and government contractsimmediate cessation of privatisation of the NHSreinstatement of any staff lost through the cuts

    public enquiries into corporations who have lobbied parliament during the last 15 yearsnationalisation of all public services.

    removal of the government forthwith due to their dishonesty, exampled by their lies over the WCA/atos

    removal of the banks trading licenses or to be nationalised.

    removal of any corporation involved in any armed services training.

    creation of real training schemes to help people to get back to work, if they truly are able.complete restructuring of the education system

    i would also strongly recommend to yourself and any of your colleagues who have not taken part directly in the atos crimes, that you immediately and publicly sever all connections with these activities. i believe that there will be criminal charges brought as a result of this abuse. you will also be showing your concern and use of your position to be in the public interest.i have been booked for one of these “examinations” for the 9th august, and request that you step in and ensure that mine and all other “examinations2 be suspended until such time as the process can be properly adjusted to make sure that it is “helping those that can work”

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