WCA reviewer condemns claimants to five more years of misery – Benefits and Work

WCAcartoon

How do we feel about this, from Benefits and Work?

The fifth and final review of the work capability assessment (WCA) published yesterday, appears to conclude that the WCA is perceived as being so unfair that it cannot survive into the next decade. The report’s author, Dr Paul Litchfield, favours a period of stability for the present test whilst a completely different system is brought in to replace it by around 2020.

Past its prime
In his report, Dr Litchfield points out that the WCA has been in operation for six years and has been in a state of constant change throughout that period. And yet ‘despite these changes and some undoubted improvements, there remains an overwhelming negative perception of the WCA’s effectiveness amongst people undergoing an assessment and individuals or organisations providing support to them.’

The author questions ‘whether an assessment designed in the early part of this century will best meet society’s needs in its third decade.’

If a new test is designed, he goes on to say, ‘then sufficient time must be allowed and suitable expertise must be deployed to create and test a tool which is both robust and meets the requirement for perceived fairness. In the meantime, my counsel would be to let the current WCA have a period of stability – it is by no means perfect but there is no better replacement that can be pulled off the shelf.’

Sadly, for current claimants, this means at least another five years of unfair and ineffective assessments.

Support group mystery
Dr Litchfield also points out the increasing number of claimants being placed in the support group – up from 10% to 47% – and the fact that the most common justification for support group entry is now regulation 35 (2) (b): that there would be a risk of harm to the claimant or someone else if they were not placed in the support group.

In many cases the claimant has a mental health condition which is judged to mean that they may be at risk of harming themselves or others.

Litchfield goes on to point out, disapprovingly, that two thirds of the claimants who are placed in the support group because of regulation 35 are not subject to a face-to-face assessment, the recommendation is made on the papers only. Dr Litchfield comments that:

‘The Reviewer understands from personal clinical experience how difficult it is to arrive at a sound judgement in this type of situation and is surprised that so many colleagues feel able to offer a professional opinion without the benefit of a face-to-face assessment. This would appear to be an area that warrants early further investigation by the Department and its provider.’

The preponderance of paper-based recommendations could be due to the fact that they are quicker and cheaper than face to face assessments. It might be because many Atos health professionals do not have the experience and confidence in their skills to carry out face to face assessments of people with more severe mental health conditions. It might be due to prejudice. Or there may be some other explanation entirely.

Whatever the reason, Dr Litchfield’s comments are as close to open criticism of Atos as you are likely to find in any formal review of the WCA.

You can download the final independent review of the WCA from this link.

When Dr Litchfield was appointed to replace the openly-critical Professor Malcolm Harrington, the mood in the social media was that the DWP had hired a yes-man. Now we have proof that he was nothing of the kind – and this is great news. His criticism of the benefit system isn’t a moment too soon.

But he reckons the current system should continue for around five more years while the government cooks up another scheme – and we have no guarantee that anything better will result (in fact, if we get another Tory Parliament, you can bet that it’ll be a lot worse)!

Also important is the fact that support group membership has rocketed because there would be a risk of harm to the claimant or someone else if they weren’t put there. Is this a tacit response to the appalling number of deaths the DWP still won’t admit have been taking place?

What’s the solution? Sack the people in the backroom (U know who they are – *n*m) who are providing all the bad advice?

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18 Thoughts to “WCA reviewer condemns claimants to five more years of misery – Benefits and Work”

  1. George Berger

    I took a very quick look at that report, yesterday. Unless I am mistaken, there is not one word, or details, about the WCA’s computer system LIMA, Logic Integrated Medical Assessment. LIMA has an interesting history and is one key to the assessment regime’s dangerous failings. Why it does not feature in the report is a mystery to me.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Yes, we’re very familiar with LIMA here at VP.

  2. tommaz Jay

    The reason that regulation 35 (2) (b): is used so often is because at the start of the laughingly call “Claimant Journey” so much pressure is placed upon a ill or disabled person that they become traumatised and develop depression through the constant cat and mouse game that the DWP choose to play.
    Many, and I include myself who were not mentally ill at the start of the “Journey” certainly are at the end. Not everyone has the mental resilience to cope with the mind games that this non-elected assembly of sycophants propped up by a fawning tabloid press play out in the name of politics.
    The problem we have as a nation is that no one wants to take ownership of the hurt and genocide that is being inflicted upon the weakest and most vulnerable in our society least of all the DWP and every political party. To take ownership of the problem in the eyes of politicians is to admit that they are killing the vulnerable and I have yet to hear any politician admit to this atrocity.

    1. Well said, Tommaz Jay! A system that kills off its target clients, should be abolished and the old system put back in place and tweeked where there were shortcomings. Keeping a bad system that is destroying lives and actually costing the country more money than it saves, should be cast out. We need to re-evaluate our social conscience and bring back care and compassion for your most vulnerable people in society, who, there but for luck and the love of a good family go we.imho.

  3. Dr. Litchfield is the sooth sayer. A balm against the rising pus of the system as it tortures and murders claimants everywhere. I know more how to fix this system than anyone. He is skirting around the issue. That issue is insurance claimants with no medical training are making medical decisions in capability and fitness. Let me ask you this. If I sat in a room with three other men. I have Chronic Pain and a brain injury. Another has diabetes. Another has heart and bowel trouble. Can you as a completely untrained person decide if we are disabled or not over the phone or in writing or even if we all sit in your offices? It is absurd to think so. Basically government is running an insurance fraud. Doctor’s such as Litchfield are more politically motivated to water down the truth to the point there isn’t any. Every day an injured worker dies from neglect. pain, poverty, and stress. Robbed of their benefits by insurance agents. The whole Commonwealth guilty. We are promised compensation for injuries at work which consists of medical care and lost wages. All we get is a bit of welfare, no medical care, and often suffering in severe pain so bad many commit suicide. Oh yes it is murder for money.

    1. I exposed this back in 2010: Atos Healthcare or Disability Denial Factories
      http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveteranssummary.html

  4. Section 35 ‘eh? A particularly nasty bit of torture whereby the victim who are being tormented with pain and robbed of his or her money by government agents become suicidal or murderous as a direct result of this mistreatment. Usually a bit of both. Why ? Because a terrible injustice has been done to them and they have lost control of their lives and are bullied, intimidated, threatened, and cannot get justice.

  5. ‘The Reviewer understands from personal clinical experience how difficult it is to arrive at a sound judgement in this type of situation and is surprised that so many colleagues feel able to offer a professional opinion without the benefit of a face-to-face assessment. This would appear to be an area that warrants early further investigation by the Department and its provider.’

    Might it be because it is blindingly obvious that the patient is at substantial risk?

    And Yes. Litchfield is a Yes Man – On the side of the Government.

  6. Thomas

    Whilst I have not yet been directly bothered by this, if I end up having to survive on my savings, it is because of this government. I have Asperger’s syndrome and the only people who would want me for a job are money launderers.

  7. Surely the problem is the WRAG – not the WCA. It is in the WRAG that the harm would occur.

    If they made the WRAG safe and helpful – no harm in being in it.

    If they want to set up an unhelpful, unsafe, nasty, vengeful group – then it will harm everyone in it.

    1. Mike Sivier

      The WCA is the means by which any decision to put people into the Work-Related Activity Group is made, though.

    2. Stunned by this comment from Carerwatch.

      The WCA causes preventable harm to most who endure it, not least via psychological torment.

      Research demonstrated years ago that the WCA is an entirely bogus assessment designed for as many as possible to fail the assessment i.e. to be found fit for work, regardless of diagnosis or prognosis.

      http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html

    3. “If they want to set up an unhelpful, unsafe, nasty, vengeful group”

      There already is one of those groups…
      The Conseratives.

  8. Keith Jackson

    I really cant take another 5 years of this as I am already shot to pieces.

    1. Michele Witchy Eve

      Rapidly arriving at the same conclusion, Keith.

  9. We really are going to have to come up with a plan, a pack, something that is going to help all those who do feel like this.

    Ideas???

    We have to help ourselves and others by sharing and supporting each other.

    x

  10. Joan Edington

    “create and test a tool which is both robust and meets the requirement for perceived fairness”.
    The word “perceived” could be the clue to the extra 5 years. They have to think up a way to make the public think it is fair while making sure it is anything but.

    1. Mike Sivier

      I fear that may be a very perceptive interpretation.

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