We do not believe that any individual or group who claims to represent the disabled people’s protest movement should engage with DWP/Atos/Capita without insisting upon an end to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) with immediate effect as a prerequisite to any discussion.
We regard any such engagement with DWP/Atos /Capita without this insistence on the above as a prerequisite to be nothing less than collusion in policies and systems that have been irrefutably shown to be harmful and, in many cases, lethal to the sick and/or disabled person being ‘assessed’.
The WCA has no empirical, scientific medical evidence-base and the process has never been risk assessed.
There remains no feedback or reporting mechanism.
The discharge of both a statutory and ethical duty of care – owed by professionals, citizens and public authorities – to others in a vulnerable situation depends upon the existence of a reporting mechanism whereby any potential or actual risk to the life and well-being of a patient or to those around them may be reported and adequately addressed.
This is precisely why the entire British medical profession has demanded that WCA end ‘with immediate effect to be replaced by a rigorous and safe system whereby avoidable harm’ may be prevented.
That the General Medical Council (GMC) continues to accredit Atos assessment centres with ‘approved medical environment’ status is an utter disgrace.
The Work Capability Assessment has caused death, suicide, homelessness, and left people without income dependent on family and friends. The WCA also causes an increase in mental health issues and a worsening of impairments. The latest figures show 73 deaths and suicides per week amongst those subject to this brutal process.
The WCA is based on the discredited UNUM manufactured bio-psychosocial model. The Centre for Psychosocial & Disability Research at Cardiff University literature has provided the academic foundation for the increasingly notorious WCA administered by Atos Healthcare in the UK, and without it is unlikely that the WCA would exist in its present form. The volume of incriminating evidence against the WCA has grown phenomenally, as people with serious, incapacitating illnesses continue to be found ‘fit for work’.
When Freud set out his vision of welfare reform for disabled people he used a number of references to back up the plans for reforms. No less than 170 of these references came from a group of academics based at or connected to the Cardiff University Department:. This centre originally led by ex Chief medical Officer at the Department for Work and Pensions Sir Mansel Alyward was funded by Unum to the tune of 1.6 million pounds from 2004 to 2009 to add academic credibility to the bio-psychosocial model: a model used by Atos to identify that if someone can press a button they are ‘fit for work’ and ineligible for any disability support.
The connection between the WCA and the Cardiff Centre are only too obvious. The latter seeks to locate the source of incapacity in the individual’s psyche/attitude, promoting a form of ‘positive thinking’ as being curative, while the WCA claims to focus on what sick/disabled people can do as an argument that they have even the merest work capacity. But there is a more important connection. The Centre’s funder, Unum Insurance, employed tactics of ‘disability denial’ in the U.S. to avoid paying out on legitimate health claims. And since founding the CPDR Unum have sought to promote their ‘Income Protection’ product, marketing it upon the fact that the British public can no longer rely upon the state to support them if they become sick or disabled. Are we really to believe this is a coincidence?
DPAC and BT want to state categorically:
1. We reject all ideas that ‘tinkering’ with WCA descriptors will serve any positive purpose. We call for the complete removal of the WCA with immediate effect and we have remained unwavering and constant on that position.
2. We reject the bio-psychosocial model as having any purpose but to cut state support and replace it with private insurance and other company profits.
3.We work from the social model philosophy and this means a pan impairment approach with no hierarchy of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ groups or individuals; this is in complete contrast to this government, or any set of groups intent on taking us back to medical model terminologies or helpless victim approaches
4. We will work with any group who we believe genuinely opposes the government’s attacks on disabled people. However we are seriously concerned with those organisations who believe that they can work with the government to lessen the effects of these attacks. We believe that there is no alternative to outright opposition to the government if we are to stop the impoverishment and destruction of the lives of millions of disabled people in the UK. We are particularly disturbed that some of the large disability charities seem willing to work with the government effectively giving cover to their attacks on disabled people. We call on all disability charities and other groups to immediately withdraw from any work that lends credibility to the government’s so called welfare reforms.
5. We do not support in any shape or form what this government is doing to disabled people: we classify disabled people as those who have to endure the negative attitudes of others, and those disabled by the ways this so called society treats us as less deserving than non-disabled people. We support all people going through the WCA, going through the forthcoming DLA to PIP transition, losing ILF, being rejected for support by their local authorities-we will not identify false divisions of deserving and undeserving individuals within this Tory cuts agenda.
Black Triangle Campaign and our sister organisation Disabled People Against Cuts
October 30th 2012