I do not want to make the same shameful mistake as the Government by tarring the whole of a group with the same unfortunate brush. My comments on HCPs and Decision Makers are based on the ones I have come across – I am sure there are some good ones too.
I am considering a second blog called something like “Government gaff of the day”, but for the time being this will have to do:
From Hansard 23/11/2011, by the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP: (Minister of State (Employment), Work and Pensions; Epsom and Ewell, Conservative)
“Decisions on entitlement to employment and support allowance using the work capability assessment (WCA) rest solely with the Department's decision makers taking into account the medical assessment reports from Atos and any other relevant information.”
No they don’t. They treat the ESA85 from Atos as a recommendation and just translate it into points. Decisions are effectively made by Atos HCPs
“The data on health conditions is based on the information recorded on the medical certificate ('fit-note') provided by a person's GP when they first make a claim for ESA.”
So what starts as a headache diagnosed as a brain tumour stays as a headache. Brilliant.
“The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) has been specifically designed to give people with conditions which fluctuate the opportunity to explain how their condition varies over time. The questionnaire that customers are sent has been redesigned so that people are directly asked if their mental or physical functions vary, and asked to give more details of how this affects them as an individual. The health care professionals who carry out the WCA are trained to ask about and, take account of fluctuation. The assessment is not a snapshot—if a person cannot carry out a function repeatedly and reliably they will be treated as unable to carry out that function at all.”
This is the theory, but NOT the practice as neither Atos HCPs nor DWP Decision Makers give this area any attention.
“The activities and descriptors used in the assessment were developed in consultation with medical experts and representative groups to ensure that they are appropriate for all conditions. The consultation involved considerable discussion about the variability of some conditions and we have now made some changes in this area.”
Contrary to the way this reads, the descriptor changes applied this year are outrageous and not supported by ANY medical evidence, but serve the purpose of making it near impossible to accrue the magic 15 points. In short, by way of examples
· It seems that bending and kneeling is no longer necessary in the “modern workplace” to this element of the WCA has been removed completely. This was initially explained to me by an Atos HCP bending/kneeling to complete my assessment.
· When considering “mobilisation” on level ground (no longer just walking) HCPs & DMs can now legitimately “assign” someone to a wheelchair if they think that will get them over the distances involved, EVEN THOUGH THEY MIGHT NOT NORMALLY USE ONE. If this was not disgraceful enough, they can then legitimately ignore the new wheelchair when it comes to negotiating 2 steps.