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GPs call for work capability assessment to be scrapped

28th May 2012
At the annual GP’s conference in Liverpool, doctors voted unanimously in favour of scrapping the controversial work capability assessment (WCA).

The WCA is the computer based test which determines who is eligible for sickness benefits.  The 30 minute assessment, carried out by Atos Healthcare, was introduced in 2008. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have appealed against decisions to refuse benefits. Around 40% of appeals have been successful.

The motion to scrap the WCA was based on feelings that the assessments were "inadequate" and "have little regard to the nature or complexity of the needs of long-term sick and disabled persons". Doctors voiced that the current method should be replaced with a more "rigorous and safe system" to prevent harming "some of the weakest and most vulnerable in society".

Andrew Holden, a GP from Petersfield in Hampshire, said the system was not able to distinguish between patients who really needed help and those who did not.

"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."

"The computer-based assessments are carried out by a healthcare professional but one not necessarily trained in the field of the patient's disability, which is particularly important when it comes to mental health issues."

Laurence Buckman, chair of the BMA's GPs' committee, said: "When 40% of appeals against the assessments are successful at tribunal hearings, something is clearly very wrong with the system."

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Comments

Than Nguyen

Monday 18th June 2012 @ 1:47

Computer-based assessments can be very effective as long they are carried out by a healthcare professional that are well trained in the field of the patient's disability. The human factor needs to be a component of the assessment.

Than Nguyen


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