Flaws exposed in fit for work test
Last updated at 14:11, Monday, 30 July 2012
THE test which assesses whether disabled or sick people are fit to work is “patchy” and needs improvement, an expert has said.
Professor Malcolm Harrington, the man appointed by the Government to review the Work Capability Assessment, told BBC’s Panorama that as a result people who are genuinely unable to work will suffer.
Prof Harrington said: “There are certainly areas where it’s still not working and I am sorry there are people going through a system which I think still needs improvement.”
The programme, which airs tonight, features the story of one man who suffered from heart failure and died 39 days after being declared fit for work.
Stephen Hill was sent to his first Work Capability Assessment in 2010 when he gave up his job as a sandwich delivery man after being referred for tests on his heart.
His wife Denise, who was with him at the assessment, said: “She checked him out. She did his blood pressure and his heart and said to see a doctor as soon as possible.”
Despite the assessor telling Mr Hill to seek urgent medical advice, he was still found fit for work. In the meantime doctors had diagnosed him with heart failure.
He won his appeal but he was ordered to attend another assessment.
"He got a letter for another medical and I couldn't believe it," said Mrs Hill.
"He'd got to go for a medical when he was waiting for a heart operation."
But he was again declared fit for work, with the assessor declaring: "Significant disability due to cardiovascular problems seems unlikely."
Mr Hill died of a heart attack five weeks later.
The assessments are carried out by Atos Healthcare on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions.
According to the programme, two and a half million people in the UK take the test because they are too ill to work.
But more than 176,000 cases go to appeal tribunals each year, costing the taxpayer an additional £50 million, a programme spokesman said.
Atos was not available for comment, but in a statement to Panorama, it said that their staff "carry out thousands of assessments every month in accordance with detailed guidelines as set by the Department of Work and Pensions".
Minister for Employment Chris Grayling said: "The Work Capability Assessment was introduced by the last government and we have made real efforts to improve it. Our independent adviser Professor Malcolm Harrington has made several recommendations to us for improvements, all of which have been implemented. Even though no system is ever perfect, his most recent recommendations reconfirmed that the assessment is the right process.
"The reason why we reassess people who are on sickness benefits is that all the evidence is that a substantial proportion can return to some form of work.
"We have no financial targets for this. We simply believe that people who can work are better off being helped to do so, even if it can be a difficult and stressful process, rather than simply being abandoned on benefits for the rest of their lives. It's about saving lives, not saving money."
First published at 11:11, Monday, 30 July 2012
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
Have your say
I totally disagree with Dickys' post on the 30th July where seem to be under the impression that this Tory government will give benefits to people to stay at home rather than look for work.
Then, Dicky how do you explain that on average that there is six people chasing after one job????.
How do you Dicky, explain that last year 800 jobs were advertised for Sellafield--and got 6,500 applications????.
Dicky, this is a crass statement!
But there is worse to follow........
You seem to be blaming so-called mass immigration to the UK & you perpetuate the big fat lie that immigrants take British jobs by doing it cheaper.
You are under the impression that they are flooding the UK.........
All lie after lie after lie!!!!
Though with the presence of the Daily Mail & Daily Express it is hardly supprising.
Dicky take note.
Migration to the UK over the years has brought benefits to the economy & immigrants have built roads, railways, buildings & cities.
They have also played-and still do-an important roll in the NHS.
Go to any big hotel in the land & you will find that the staff are all from overseas.
In most cases immigrants HAVE to travel to obtain some employment for example the fruit pickers in East Anglia who supply Tesco.
So with those statements in mind, immigrants are welcome & I do NOT agree with border controls because if large amounts of capital can cross its borders unhindered then so can people!
One final fact......
In the 1930s migration to the UK was a few thousands, not a lot, but the was mass unemploment here!!!
The predicted and expected response from a person who insists the debate is not about the royals,but jumps to defend them when they are compared to scroungers at the bottom of the pile.No,I didn't watch the jubilee,there is a lot more interesting things happening in my life than to sit down and watch these royal scroungers waving to the masses.Ah yes,the masses,so intoxicated by the frenzied media coverage of these legalised parasites,what one might call-the opium of the people.And yes,I am in the minority,not in Barrow Gareth but Ulverston,for the reasons stated above.
Now lets take your main thrust,and I'll come up with some hard facts and figures unlike yourself Gareth who in defence of your royal family either couldn't do so,or dare not do so.
You see Gareth,David Cameron's latest assault on benefits wrests on the idea that there is a distinct group of people living on the fringes of society.According to Cameron,Grayling and the like,these "feckless"people live an easy life on benefits at the expense of people who work.This certainly is not true.There is no separate class in society made up of people who claim benefits and never work.Many of those who receive income related benefits-such as housing benefit,council tax benefit and income support-are employed.In 2010,more than 14 percent of housing benefit recipients were in work,and 93 percent of new claims for housing benefit in 2011 were made by people in jobs.this is because people in work are often on low pay,and underemployment means they are working fewer hours than they would like.Most working class people spend at least part of their lives working,if not most of it.When most people find themselves unemployed it isn't by choice.whether they are working or not Gareth largely depends on the state of the economy,not some fixed "feckless" nature.Of course some people are out of work for long periods of time,but mostly,its not their fault.Just look at the growing unemployment figures,how are people supposed to find jobs that aren't there!.Many people,like my two mates who I mentioned in an earlier post, are also unable to work because of disability and other factors,why should they be punished for these things!.The fiction that there is an underclass is very useful for Cameron and his cabinet full of millionaires.They would have us believe that unemployment and poverty are caused by immoral individuals-not by their rotten system.They also want us to believe that their attacks on the welfare state will only affect a small number who deserve no better,they want to divide the working class to weaken us,precisely so they can get on with attacking our class(yes your class Gareth)as a whole.Cameron claims to be on the side of hard working people,but he does nothing to stop bosses throwing them on the dole or paying low wages.Again,Cameron is threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs with his assaults on the public sector,he even wants to throw thousands of disabled workers out of work by closing Remploy factories.He and his cabinet talk about the importance of making work pay,but this is the same man who is forcing unemployed people to work for free with his beloved workfare schemes.The government,and certainly not the royal family Gareth are not one iota on the side of any working class person,whether in work or not.As far as I am concerned,we should all share the same interests in uniting against this rabid right wing anti working class cabinet.Yes,Revolutionary talk indeed Gareth though I very much doubt whether you would know what a revolutionary or a reformist is!.PS,Don't forget your figures.
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