Dear Ms Doyle-Price,
I am afraid I cannot let Chris Grayling’s disingenuous answer to your question pass without correction – I say this based on experience of three sub-standard Work Capability Assessments and three successful appeals. His answer at best describes the theory, most certainly NOT the practice. Everything I say hear, unlike most DWP claims, is genuinely evidence-based.
· Decision Makers (DMs) often do not consider all of the information they have. The high Tribunal decision reversal rate is attributed to the fact that they have more information than the DM. Perhaps true in some cases, but reports produced by the Justice Dept. prove that frequently DMs do not use all they have – most certainly true in my case. Of course, with an 8 month long Tribunal queue a lot can change, so wonder the situation moves on.
· DMs can request information from GPs etc. but rarely do and the response rate is around only 50%. Needless to say DMs do not chase. Ironic here is that having denigrated the ability of GPs to assess capability to work, they are asked just this question here. There is no point in the GP/consultant returning anything too technical as the DM has no medical training. One has to ask what the point is and the strong inference is that DWP plays lip-service to the process and largely disregards the results.
· We have here an administrator in DWP supposedly evaluating complex and potentially contradictory medical information with no more than a phone call or Google to help. Mmmmmm!
· There are aspects of what takes place in a WCA that are at best surreptitious bordering on dishonest that are NOT explained to claimants in advance. They are therefore in no position to complete the ESA50 as comprehensively as they should.
· Everyone talks about improvement – what has been done to date and what is imminent, but the reality is that it is all speculative. Without doubt right-first-time decision making is the acid test and DWP
o Has never defined an “acceptable” error rate (no process is perfect and there are a variety of techniques that allow totally objective, measurable parameter to be defined).
o Does not know what is now or what it has been historically.
o Has set itself no targets of what must be achieved by when.
o Has nothing in place as we speak to monitor
There is so much more that I could explain to you about the truth of what is going on and would if the opportunity exists. I have no particular political axe to grind – I accept the need for a WCA and even the need to move the line a bit between fit for work and not fit for work, but as I have said several times, delivery to date and the path DWP is on is unnecessarily costly and will not reach the right end point.