Oct 302012

We do not believe that any individual or group who claims to represent the disabled people’s protest movement should engage with DWP/Atos/Capita without insisting upon an end to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) with immediate effect as a prerequisite to any discussion.

 We regard any such engagement with DWP/Atos /Capita without this insistence on the above as a prerequisite to be nothing less than collusion in policies and systems that have been irrefutably shown to be harmful and, in many cases, lethal to the sick and/or disabled person being ‘assessed’.

 The WCA has no empirical, scientific medical evidence-base and the process has never been risk assessed.

 There remains no feedback or reporting mechanism.

 The discharge of both a statutory and ethical duty of care – owed by professionals, citizens and public authorities – to others in a vulnerable situation depends upon the existence of a reporting mechanism whereby any potential or actual risk to the life and well-being of a patient or to those around them may be reported and adequately addressed.

 This is precisely why the entire British medical profession has demanded that WCA end ‘with immediate effect to be replaced by a rigorous and safe system whereby avoidable harm’ may be prevented.

 That the General Medical Council (GMC) continues to accredit Atos assessment centres with ‘approved medical environment’ status is an utter disgrace.

 The Work Capability Assessment has caused death, suicide, homelessness, and left people without income dependent on family and friends. The WCA also causes an increase in mental health issues and a worsening of impairments. The latest figures show 73 deaths and suicides per week amongst those subject to this brutal process.

 The WCA is based on the discredited UNUM manufactured bio-psychosocial model. The   Centre for Psychosocial & Disability Research at Cardiff University literature has provided the academic foundation for the increasingly notorious WCA administered by Atos Healthcare in the UK, and without it is unlikely that the WCA would exist in its present form. The volume of incriminating evidence against the WCA has grown phenomenally, as people with serious, incapacitating illnesses continue to be found ‘fit for work’.

 When Freud set out his vision of welfare reform for disabled people he used a number of references to back up the plans for reforms.  No less than 170 of these references came from a group of academics based at or connected to the Cardiff University Department:. This centre originally led by ex Chief medical Officer at the Department for Work and Pensions Sir Mansel Alyward was funded by Unum to the tune of 1.6 million pounds from 2004 to 2009 to add academic credibility to the bio-psychosocial model: a model used by Atos to identify that if someone can press a button they are ‘fit for work’ and ineligible for any disability support.

 The connection between the WCA and the Cardiff Centre are only too obvious. The latter seeks to locate the source of incapacity in the individual’s psyche/attitude, promoting a form of ‘positive thinking’ as being curative, while the WCA claims to focus on what sick/disabled people can do as an argument that they have even the merest work capacity. But there is a more important connection. The Centre’s funder, Unum Insurance, employed tactics of ‘disability denial’ in the U.S. to avoid paying out on legitimate health claims. And since founding the CPDR Unum have sought to promote their ‘Income Protection’ product, marketing it upon the fact that the British public can no longer rely upon the state to support them if they become sick or disabled. Are we really to believe this is a coincidence?

 For more see: http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2012/09/14/private-firms-role-in-creation-of-disability-assessment-regime-black-triangles-letter-published-in-the-guardian/

 DPAC and BT want to state categorically:

 1. We reject all ideas that ‘tinkering’ with WCA descriptors will serve any positive purpose. We call for the complete removal of the WCA with immediate effect and we have remained unwavering and constant on that position.

 2. We reject the bio-psychosocial model as having any purpose but to cut state support and replace it with private insurance and other company profits.

 3.We work from the social model philosophy and this means a pan impairment approach with no hierarchy of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ groups or individuals; this is in complete contrast to this government, or any set of groups intent on taking us back to medical model terminologies or helpless victim approaches

 4. We will work with any group who we believe genuinely opposes the government’s attacks on disabled people. However we are seriously concerned with those organisations who believe that they can work with the government to lessen the effects of these attacks. We believe that there is no alternative to outright opposition to the government if we are to stop the impoverishment and destruction of the lives of millions of disabled people in the UK. We are particularly disturbed that some of the large disability charities seem willing to work with the government effectively giving cover to their attacks on disabled people. We call on all disability charities and other groups to immediately withdraw from any work that lends credibility to the government’s so called welfare reforms.

 5. We do not support in any shape or form what this government is doing to disabled people: we classify disabled people as those who have to endure the negative attitudes of others, and those disabled by the ways this so called society treats us as less deserving than non-disabled people. We support an assessment that truely establishes a person’s ability to assess their capability to work, not based on a tick box approach.  















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  16 Responses to “Joint Statement on Work Capability Assessment (WCA) by DPAC and Black Triangle”

  1. You’re so awesome! I don’t suppose I’ve truly read through something like this before. So wonderful to discover another person with a few original thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is needed on the web, someone with some originality!

  2. I too was assessed by a proper DWP Doctor back in 1996 when aged 34 and in his report declared to be ‘severely and profoundly disabled’ with a reccomendation that an award for life be given as my condition would never improve and would continually deteriorate.
    And next year? Despite having had both knees and a hip replaced along with other surgery on my feet, Multiple heart attacks and a stroke, I will with a stroke of an ATOS miraculous healing pen magically become fully mobile again because I can shuffle 200 yards in severe pain.

  3. Where to start…

    I understand where this statement is coming from, even while I disagree with the essential thesis. Yes, the BPS is a huge problem, the WCA is flawed, all of those things, but that doesn’t mean one should refuse any engagement with the DWP or others while it continues.

    Consider it practically, first. It is a classic case of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. If everyone opposed to the WCA refuse to engage, then our voices cannot be heard.

    More to the point, what about engagement on issues not directly related to the WCA? We should refuse to engage on PIP while the WCA persists

    How is the WCA going to get replaced by a better assessment? An all-in-one change is only one possibility. It can evolve, though several small ‘tinkering’ changes, to still be called the WCA but actually fix all the problems we see with it. The name ‘WCA’ is not the problem.

    Engagement is a valid way to affect change. What we have to do is engage, while refusing to endorse.

  4. That’s a brilliant statement, DPAC and Black Triangle, which deserves a wider audience – if only the public understood about the immoral and corrupt tangle of DWP/ATOS/UNUM, if only it was all over the mainstream news….but these are such enormously powerful companies it seems they can do what they want, and have so far been successful in their use of ruthless propaganda against claimants. Channel 4 News have tried hard to lay into the ridiculous and cruel farce of the Work Pogrom, sorry, Programme…. is there any chance they would take this up?
    Meanwhile, more scary stuff about ATOS:


    Thank you, as ever, for your tireless and intelligent campaigning.

  5. I’d be lying if I said I found this statement to be anything other than deeply problematical.

    Let’s clarify what I agree with first:
    DWP is an institutionally disablist organisation currently dedicated to demonising disabled people in order to legitimise deep cuts and IDS’s ‘tough love’ strategy
    ATOS is not a suitable organisation to execute the WCA or PIP testing
    Evidence is mounting (interpreters contract), that Capita will be just as bad, possibly worse
    Supposed DPOs engaging in secret negotiations with government or contractors forfeit any right to trust.
    Disability charities are deeply compromised by their dependence on government contracts.
    The Social Model should drive all our aims.
    The BioPsychoSocial Model is a bought and paid for perversion that demonises disabled people for the profit of the insurance industry.

    But here’s the problem, we are dealing with a fait accompli; ESA and the WCA are operational, the Work Programme is operational, it is overwhelmingly unlikely we will be able to force a stop to the implementation of PIP, or to Universal Credit. These are the realities we must address, these are the realities within which we must strive to protect disabled people, and we must do whatever it takes in order to get those protections in place as soon as possible. Not even an election and a Labour government will change this reality because Labour policy on ESA is no different, which makes it unlikely they will flinch from PIP either.

    In considering how we change this, it’s useful to consider the widespread government policy of not negotiating with terrorists as an analogy (with DWP and ATOS taking the part of the terrorist). The policy says no negotiation will happen in response to threats or terrorist acts, but it is tacitly recognised that a long term solution generally depends on negotiation with the terrorists, no matter how unpalatable that may be. It brought the Provisional IRA to the table and eventually into conventional politics, it appears to be doing the same for ETA and others. A policy that works is one we cannot ignore. Yet from the opposite side another analogy also speaks to the situation: if you would sup with the devil, use a long spoon.

    We have seen mounting evidence of ATOS lies in tender document claims of engagement with organisations such as DPAC itself, they demonstrably cannot be expected to behave as a trusted party in any negotiations, similar concerns may apply to Capita, and the DWP. However this in itself does not mean that they cannot be engaged with, it simply means people engaging with them need to systematically record and publish those contacts in order to deny ATOS, Capita or DWP any opportunity to misrepresent what went on.

    Let’s consider a hypothetical situation. If we could engage with ATOS sufficiently to force them to shift to an open complaints/quality system (which I think is one of their weaknesses), if we could get DPO representatives into that system as independent auditors, then would we be justified in refusing to do that in favour of hoping for the big win of killing the WCA at some unforeseen point down the road? Should we insist on a big win, when we might have a far better chance of a series of smaller wins taking us slowly but surely towards our ultimate goal?

    Or let’s consider a very real possibility, we already have condemnation of the WCA from the GPs, that creates the opportunity for us to ally ourselves with them and use that link to gradually manipulate the GMC itself – if you want to kill the WCA, what better way to do it than to persuade the GMC to declare it as incompatible with a doctor’s professional duties? But to do that we have to acknowledge that the GMC, as a part of the establishment, will never accept a negotiation strategy that imposes preconditions on their participation, while talk of collusion will simply alienate them. The strategy will only work with a policy of engagement.

    We didn’t get all the way from being locked in the attic to the Equality Act in one single move, there were a whole series of steps involved in getting us there. In the past couple of years we have seen pretty much all of the progress we have made in the past 30 years rolled back on a tide of media manipulation and disability hatred, we’re in this for the long haul, it is going to take years to regain everything we have lost and anyone who refuses to acknowledge that reality needs to stop and take a long, hard look at what our situation actually is.

    And one of the realities is that it is deeply unlikely we can overturn ESA, or WCA, or PIP, or the disability provisions of the Work Programme, in one fell swoop. However it is far more likely that we can incrementally chip away at the overwhelming negativity of these programmes, and as soon as we achieve one concession, we just start agitating for the next.

    Ultimately we have a choice, is it better to aim for one big win, lots of little wins, or both? DPAC and Black Triangle can dedicate themselves to the big win, but does that necessarily mean another DPO aiming for the little wins is working against us? As long as that DPO is open about its engagement and does not allow that engagement to be misconstrued, then can’t the two strategies be complementary?

  6. Jane, this is appeasement I had written a three paragraph reply which has been deleted because I forgot to complete the captcha. I find this system very annoying and frustrating. Is there no way that information can be stored do that if a mistake is made the info is not deleted as happens on loads of blogs?

    • Hi Jed we have removed Captcha from comments for a trial period- already had a number of posts about football

  7. It is quite possible to want the WCA etc stopped but also work to make it more fit for purpose. It is unlikely we will ever get the public support necessary to persuade the politicians to change their minds on the necessity for a test such as the WCA. Therefore, if we only ask for its abolition, we are most likely to end up with no change from the current situation, which is not acceptable and will not assist the millions of disabled and sick people who are relying on us to do all we can to achieve change.

    Any engagement with Government or its allies must, I agree, be on the basis that we do not believe the WCA is fit for purpose and are convinced it is causing avoidable harm to disabled and sick people. But with that proviso, it is better to engage and seek constructive change than to take a stance which prevents us from making any difference at all. The WCA in its current form amounts to state-sponsored abuse and it needs to be changed, if we cannot get it abolished. We have to be pragmatic, distasteful as that seems.

    By the way, I too reject entirely the BPS model and all policies which depend on it, don’t get me wrong!

    • Jane, I see your point, but look how the DWP and ATOS have already lied about their engagement and dialogue with disability organisations. It’s only about cuts and profit-making for the comapnies who help the DWP cut. In the days long ago, when the DWP were reasonably civilised, they employed real, normal doctors to do the assessment; I saw one for IB and another for DLA, and it was poles apart from the nighmare that is being visited on people now. So it’s a total myth that people weren’t assessed before wretched ATOS was hired. They were assessed, and by proper doctors, not indoctrinated automatons trying to reach their DWP-impose targets to cut claimants. This is what the public don’t realise, because they’ve been lied, lied and lied to.

      • The problem is not opposition to ATOS, but that DPAC are trying to insist how other DPOs and individuals do it, and threatening to demonise them if they do not obey.

        Do we really want to see Sue Marsh and Kaliya Franklin demonized by DPAC for ‘collusion’, because they have used the influence they have built up through campaigning in order to deliver their message directly to Lord Fraud and IDS?

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