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Mansel Aylward, former chief medical officer at the Department of Work and Pensions: Architect of misery?

Mansel Aylward, former chief medical officer at the Department of Work and Pensions: Architect of misery?

The Disabled Activists’ Network Cymru (DAN Cymru) is organising a vigil and protest against a decision by the Socialist Health Association to give a platform to Sir Mansel Aylward, the man behind the Department of Work and Pensions’ Work Capability Assessment.

Data released by the DWP last month show that thousands of people have died after being found “fit to work” by the deeply flawed WCA, which was introduced by Sir Mansel while he was Chief Medical Officer of the DWP.

A statement by DAN Cymru declared: “As disabled people we are dismayed at the lack of solidarity shown to us by Socialist Health Association through their decision to give legitimacy to Sir Mansel and the discredited ‘biopsychosocial model’ of disability on which the WCA is based.”

The biopsychosocial model on which the WCA is based is a brainchild of the US medical insurance industry, particularly Unum, which funds Sir Mansel. Unum Provident Insurance were fined $31.7 million in 2003 in a class action law suit in California for running ‘disability denial factories’ in which they use the pseudoscientific and discredited biopsychosocial model to deny medical insurance payouts to thousands of ill and disabled Americans.

Dr Liza van Zyl, a disabled member of DAN Cymru, said: “A lot of disabled people who become involved in DAN Cymru initially found us when they were searching the internet for ways to commit suicide because the DWP stopped their income after the WCA found them fit to work.

“The WCA has been the cause of so much suffering and destitution of disabled people in Wales. It is staggering beyond belief that the Welsh Government has appointed the man responsible for the WCA to chair Public Health Wales.”

Rob Marsh, convenor of DAN Cymru said: “The biopsychosocial model is a cargo-cult science with no credibility in the medical and scientific establishment.

“The British Medical Association has condemned the WCA and called for it to be scrapped. The BMA has found that eight out of 10 GPs report that their patients find the WCA and the DWP-administered benefits system so stressful that it causes mental ill-health in those patients who did not previously have mental health conditions.

“And over half of WCA assessments are overturned on appeal, at huge cost to the taxpayer. It is staggering that Aylward is considered an appropriate person to advise the Welsh Government on public health and disability matters”.

A summary of the Work Capability Assessment, the Biopsychosocial model of disability, and its introduction into the UK welfare system by Sir Mansel Aylward can be found here.

The protest will take place at 6.30pm today (Tuesday, September 8) outside the Unison Wales offices on Custom House Street, Cardiff CF10 1AP.

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