The Government is to provide new Occupational Health services for any business that needs them, with the aim of cutting down absence in the workplace due to sickness.
It is claimed that the new ‘advisory and assessments service’ is about preventing people ending up on what’s left of sickness benefits. In truth it is about giving employers the chance to over-ride GP’s decisions on whether someone is too ill to work.
In an announcement today the DWP claim: “Under the current system, the vast majority of fit notes declare employees to be unfit for work.”
‘Fit notes’ are what used to be called ‘sick notes’, but the term was changed recently in yet more Orwellian language mangling by the DWP. The reason for this change is now clear. An announcement that the vast majority of sick notes declare employees to be unfit for work would sound a bit silly after all.
Lord Fraud seems to want to be to force people to work even when their own doctor says they are too ill. Far from stopping people ending up on sickness benefits, the outcome is likely to be yet more dismissals and more unemployment. People who are ill are likely to be dragged into the work place after a quick chat with an assessor, or presumably they will face the sack.
It is unclear so far who will carry out these new state funded Occupational Health services, but no doubt Atos – who carry out the desperately flawed Work Capability benefit assessments – will be chomping at the bit at the thought of yet more tax payer’s cash.
Every week people die of their conditions shortly after being declared ‘fit for work’ by Atos. The stressful process had led to a tragically increasing number of suicides. Lord Fraud’s announcement means it will no longer be sick and disabled claimants forced into these kind of demeaning and crude health checks, but anyone with the cheek to take a couple of days off with the flu.
Atos already carry out occupational health already for hundreds of thousands of both public and private sector employers. In yet another corporate subsidy, it now seems that firms who can’t afford a company like Atos to bully staff will have one subsidised by the tax payer.
Atos also offer consultancy in ‘headcount reduction’. Some people have even been found unfit for work and sacked on the company’s recommendation, and then found ‘fit for work’ at their benefit assessment.
Lord Fraud’s announcement is yet another attack on the working conditions of everyone and viciously undermines the autonomy of doctors. Anyone left who thinks the war on welfare is just about attacking so called ‘benefit scroungers’ should pay careful attention.
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