‘Biopsychosocial’ basis for benefit cuts is ‘cavalier, unevidenced and misleading’

Mansel Aylward.

Mansel Aylward.

The research that successive governments have relied on to justify slashing disability benefits over more than a decade is riddled with inconsistencies, misleading statements and “unevidenced” claims, according to three disabled academics.

A new article by Professor Tom Shakespeare and Professor Nicholas Watson, and fellow academic Ola Abu Alghaib, concludes that the biopsychosocial model of health (BPS) “does not represent evidence-based policy”.

The BPS under-pinned Labour’s out-of-work disability benefit employment and support allowance (ESA) and the work capability assessment (WCA), which has since been linked repeatedly to relapses, episodes of self-harm, and even suicides and other deaths, among those who have been assessed and found fit for work.

BPS has also “played a key role” in the tightening of eligibility criteria for ESA and other disability benefits by the subsequent coalition and Tory governments, including the new personal independence payment and universal credit, even though there is “no coherent theory or evidence” behind it, say the three authors.

The BPS was developed by Dr Gordon Waddell, an orthopaedic surgeon, and Professor Sir Mansel Aylward (pictured), who was chief medical officer for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) from 1995 to 2005.

Their article, Blaming The Victim, All Over Again: Waddell And Aylward’s Biopsychosocial (BPS) Model Of Disability, is published by the journal Critical Social Policy.

Source: ‘Biopsychosocial’ basis for benefit cuts is ‘cavalier, unevidenced and misleading’


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8 thoughts on “‘Biopsychosocial’ basis for benefit cuts is ‘cavalier, unevidenced and misleading’

  1. jeffrey davies

    Professor Sir Mansel Aylward another unum employee under blair started the downfall of benefits to the poor ops

  2. rockingbass

    Like any useful tool in the social science world it was so easily misused by governments and insurance firms… and the politicians knowingly went along with it ..

  3. lanzalaco

    not only that it does not follow the scientific method, practitioners can pick bio, psychological or social aspects to suit their needs.. but note not many biologists bother with it. I mean its good as a general systems model but until methods are added its not considered to be scientific, and there are previous papers published in journals which already critiqued it as being tyrannical and non science. Mostly what happens is people who like authority and power with simple ideas pick and choose the social and psychological aspects

  4. Brian

    Since when did Tories require evidence backed research to enact policy. This type of sudo science has been used by them in loads of area’s to force through policy & cuts. It’s another reason governments have lost trust among the voters. If governments are ever to regain that trust an overarching culture change is needed, but one that is impossible with the self serving hypocrites we have now.

  5. Justin Greenwood

    the problem with the wca assessment is that they have a physiotherapist doing a mh assessment, you query the qualification and get told they done five weeks training, wow, that it something five weeks to create a mental health specialist, what do we need doctors and training for mental health for the dwp can chuck them out in five weeks, then you look deeply into the training and apart from being able to fillout a tick box form you actually find out that who has done your assessment for mental health is indeed a physiotherapist, then you try to work out the link between a mental health assessment and a sports physiotherapist, in the end you appeal and win the appeal because the report is wrong because it has been carried out by a sports physiotherapist who has seen pounds signs for failing someone who they think is a easy target and due to there condition may not be able to fight back until a expert comes and looks at the paperwork and realisies that the person has been assessed by a clown, so is this policy wrong, yes, how do you adress the balance of when it is wrong, i think the first port of call is to report the clown to the regulator for a fitness to work tribunal, i f there is strong enough belief that the decison maker was a pen pushing yes person they should also be reported, eventually the clowns that do these assessments will not be there as they will be struck of, suspended or under suspervision orders, so any future clowns that then work for these companies will then need to think about there decisions, there are other rules safeguarding of vunerable adults, some other things that have possibly not been done, the bottom line is that are they saving money, they maybe on the welfare bill once the tribunal costs and such have been recovered eventually, in terms ogf to the nhs well if a person relapses here is some figures minimum 650 week bed stay dependant on condition,if full blown relapse then long term intervention 3 months to a year at least.

    so therefore this is something that our wonderfull chancellor fo the exchequer with his 2:1 in history and his mathematical logic can add up, ar eyou savign any money within the nhs, within the dwp or within the tribunal process and that includes fitness to practice hearings and also maybe think about the fact that no-one has sued you for negligence over your decisons, trust me that is coming, then we see what saving you make then, especially in cases of self harm where it has been pointed out your policy has caused this and is backed up by coroner’s reports.

    end of the day this is a bullying policy and the only thing i know about being bullied is that it get to much and when a victim fo a bully fights back, the perpetrators find out the hard way they gone to far, it is coming start to get religin and deal with this undfair policy before you get bitten

  6. Bill Kruse

    How should one punish the people behind so-called ‘studies’, in reality works of fiction created entirely to seemingly justify punitive and wholly cruel government policies? The cost of the so-called welfare reforms, in reality just an excuse to remove social security and replace it with private insurance to make vast profits, the cost in terms of human degradation and misery is incalculable. How do we make these people pay?

    1. lanzalaco

      I dont think this model was generated for tory welfare policy..its a response by psychologists to have science fit their behavior models and bring them back in the current game for a while. Psychologists absolutely must have behaviorism in their approaches, without that they are completely cobbled in their ability offer treatments. But a psychologist will tell you that they will emphasize the biological aspects of the model if for example a patient requiring cognitive treatment had a physical cause, such as heart attack. But the problem is the model is easily abused, because it leaves open to judgement when to bring in biological, social or psychological.

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