Shortly before Christmas the highly recommended Black Triangle Campaign published information on two little known regulations that could bring an end to the tragic number of deaths related to the Atos benefits assessment process.
Atos carry out the Government’s Work Capability Assessment, the crude computer based test which is used to strip benefits from sick and disabled people by declaring them ‘fit for work’. Evidence from claimant’s GPs is often ignored at these assessments and over 40% of decisions made by Atos are over-turned on appeal.
The endless re-testing, combined with the stress of the appeal process, the demeaning nature of the assessments and the very real poverty many sick and disabled people find themselves after having benefits slashed, have led to an increasing number of tragic suicides. Health professionals have warned of claimant’s health conditions being made significantly worse due to the process.
The regulations identified by Black Triangle show a way forward for all GPs who have concerns about how their patients are treated by Atos and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Regulation 29 states that claimants should not be found ‘fit for work’ if: “the claimant suffers from some specific disease or bodily or mental disablement and, by reasons of such disease or disablement, there would be a substantial risk to the mental or physical health of any person if the claimant were found not to have limited capability for work.”
Regulation 35 states that: “the claimant suffers from some specific disease or bodily or mental disablement; (b) and by reasons of such disease or disablement, there would be a substantial risk to the mental or physical health of any person if the claimant were found not to have limited capability for work-related activity.”
(Claimants and GPs should read the full guidance on the Black Triangle website which also contains important legal information)
Already these regulations have been successfully used in the appeals process and benefits have been re-instated.
Few claimants and even fewer GPs are aware of these regulations. It is vital that this information is circulated as widely as possible. GPs have a medical and moral responsibility to intervene if they believe their patients health may be made worse by being judged fit for work. These two regulations mean that GPs can, and must intervene in the process if they truly support the long established medical tradition of ‘first do no harm’.
Black Triangle have also published draft letters which claimants can use to request support from their GP using these regulations: http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2012/11/21/important-black-triangle-dpac-regs-2935-campaign-failed-your-dwpatos-wca-intend-to-appeal-download-these-documents-for-your-gp/
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