Doctors’ union the British Medical Association has finally agreed to brief every GP in the UK about regulations that campaigners believe could protect disabled people facing the controversial work capability assessment.
The rules state that a claimant should not be found fit for work (regulation 29), or placed in the ESA work-related activity group (regulation 35), if such a decision would pose “a substantial risk” to their “mental or physical health”.
These regulations are well-known to grassroots and social media campaigns, but campaigners including Black Triangle (BT) believed that many GPs were still unaware of them. They have been trying to persuade the BMA to inform GPs about the regulations since August 2012.
The timing of the BMA’s decision is interesting – nearly three years after originally being asked to publicise the regulations, and right before a general election.
As Black Triangle’s John McArdle told the Disability News Service: “A lot of lives could have been saved in that time and a lot of people could have been saved from trauma and destitution.”
He went on to say that the move was “better late than never”.
Dr Mark Porter, chair of the BMA council, said: “The BMA position remains that the work capability assessment process should be scrapped with immediate effect and replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause avoidable harm to the weakest and most vulnerable people in society.
“The BMA has consistently lobbied politicians on this issue in the past few years and will continue to do so.
“We will ensure that our members are informed about the current regulations around work capability assessments, so as to help patients get the best outcome for their needs.”
The work capability assessment has been linked with relapses, self-harm, suicides and other deaths among those who have been assessed.
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