Nov 162015

From the WCA, the disability assessment test which was supposed to be the panacea for all ills, helping 1 million disabled people moving into work and thereby reducing the employment gap, supporting financially those not well enough to work, the WCA has turned to be a blunt and lethal instrument. What DPAC has known for years, through the letters sent by thousands of disabled people, has now been confirmed by a scientific study.


The WCA is linked to more suicides, mental ill health and antidepressant use as evidenced by experts from Oxford University and Liverpool University’s study, which found  that after taking account of the impact of baseline deprivation, economic trends, and long-term trends in mental health,  there were around six extra suicides, 2,700 more cases of mental ill health and an extra 7,020 prescriptions for anti-depressants for every 10,000 people reassessed during this period, which equates to 590 additional suicides, 279,000 extra cases of mental ill-health and 725,000 more prescriptions for anti-depressants across the country as a whole between 2010 and 2013.

Linked does not always mean ‘causal’, although several coroners’ inquests into suicides have now shown it to be the case.

Despite mounting evidence, the government has always refused to acknowledge the harm done by the WCA, and keep parroting that work is good for health.


What this study shows is that harm is not only done by benefits loss, but by the fear of it, a testimony to the arbitrary nature of this assessment. Harm is done by giving too short prognosis, in case somebody would spend an extra day on benefits than he/she should have done, leading to endless reassessments. Harm is done by cancelled appointments, and assessors’ lack of sensitivity. Harm is done by having to prove endlessly your impairments or chronic health condition, and by not being believed. Harm is done by mistakes or deliberate and systematic errors. Harm is done by being left destitute after the loss of ESA. Harm is done by the Work Programme and its long litany of sanctions, misery and suffering


As early as 2010, the DWP knew that this test was the direct cause of at least one suicide. Somebody at DWP decided to sit on it. Prior to that, in the last weeks of the Labour government (who introduced the test, the DWP were warned of the harm it would cause

Not only has the time come to scrap the WCA, but also to hold people, from whichever party, accountable for this atrocity.


[suffusion-the-author display='description']
 Posted by at 23:47

  10 Responses to “PRESS RELEASE: WCA linked to more suicides, mental ill health and antidepressant use by study”

  1. If you look at the job description for these positions, NOWHERE does it ask for people with qualifications in neuroscience, psychology or psychiatry. Why????

  2. The scientific study was published in the ‘Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health’.

  3. I am concerned about the complete lack of understanding concerning the assessment of people on the autistic spectrum. The questions on the form , if answered literally, which is what someone with Asperger Syndrome is likely to do, will not elicit the amount of support needed and unless supplementary questions are asked, then they will not volunteer relevant information, Of the last two people I have worked with, one was assessed by an ambulance technician and one by a physiotherapist, neither of whom had any knowledge re autism. Appointments are offered a long way away and attending any appointments is problematic, let alone with a stranger who does not have the communication skills to assess someone with problems with communication skills!The process is abusive and discriminatory as relevant adjustments for those on the autistic spectrum are not made.

  4. Not only is it a lack of sensitiy from the examiners, there is a also a case that they are not qualified for the role, commentas like i am assessing you for mental health and when asked what qualifications they had th eonly reply given was ” I am Qualiifed” this was asked four times and the reply was the same. ATOS who allegdly employs these nurses then refused to give the qualifications, citing worry abouit confidentiallity and passed this onto the dwp, who reply was exactly the same, except to say that they attend 5 weeks of training, so a assessment to judge mental health is carried out by one of there assessors, qualifications, i am qualified, details about qualifications, a refusal, actual qualifications, in both cases,RGN, not mental health , so what do they do, make pathetic excusues in there assessment thinking that i would lie down and say ti is okay, bullshit, tribunal time, how at this time was i feeling, well actually i was recovering, after the tribunal, well i lapsed and then went into relapse, well done atos and that lovely decision maker, enjoy your Careers while you still have them, next are they CRB checked, well that’s questionable, a agency recruits them around, it can take a month or more for crb2 enhanced? and lastly under sova(safeguarding of vunerable adults) all nurses should have training in this, they should also be aware that any deciisons they make that affects a person’s condition, they can be held accountable.

    so here is 4 questions you should ask them at any medical:- dont take no for a answer and i am qualified is a no.

    1 What are you examining me for and what are your qualifications in relation to this? I am qualified is not a sufficient answer make them aware of this.
    2. are you CRB2 Enhanced and if so when from and what is your registration number. Again I AM crb Enhanced is not a answer, you need specific dates and registration number? Also they have to be crb2 cleared for vunerable adults so a refusal to answer this can be implied as they have not been checked.
    3. What is your British Midwifery Council PIN Number, they should know this, if they dont then you need further details, full name, where they registered, when they are registered, ATOS will supply this if asked, this is also important if you need to check a nurses qualifications and for complaint purposes.
    4. Have you had any SOVA Training? if so where and when, very important question, they should all have had sova training if there are involved with people with mental health capacity, drug, alcohol and disabilities of any kind.
    5. bring a witness/advocate and get them to ask the questions if necessary, if you cant have a witness then make sure that you ask for a recorded medical

    if after the medical you feel worse of, ill or anything make sure your careteam,GP, keyworker and everyone involved with your care and dwp are aware of this, in writing if necessary and also talk to your local MP, if you have capability issues seek help(citizens advice, advocacy services)

    hope this is of some use to you all

    I also do agree that all should be held accountable, especially the nurse in the medical if they have made errors in the assessment, or are just looking for easy excuses, ie they made it to the assessment centre on there own and unaided, they dont know the criteria and this is not a observation about everyday life? or th e other classic they dont suffer anxiety they dont rock back and forth in a chair and then state later that they may/may not have anxiety but cant give a yes no answer.

    this should be something the decision maker should be looking into more deeply, they very rarely do until the tribunal ruling is upheld and there almost is a level of arrogance in there letter writing that will certainly upset the balance of a vunerable adult!

    hope this helps anyone


  5. He Of course the imapct was showing by 2010. I understand why charities who were in line for government contracts kept quiet but I’ll never understand why the medical community wasn’t reporting cases.

  6. I was just thinking about whether anyone could do a legal challenge about the issue of whether a nurse should be allowed to overrule a doctor’s medical assessment. Especially if the doctor has known you for years and is paid by the Government and is more qualified than a nurse.

    If there are any members here who are not suffering from anxiety related issues and want to pursue this with a lawyer who is willing to take it on for free, it might be possible to try and challange the Government on this issue. I dont know about all the other WCAs but mine was conducted by a nurse who only saw me briefly.

    If anyone would like to see whether they can challenge the Government, they could start by finding a pro bono lawyer. You could use this link as a starting point:

    There may even be a lawyer out there who can do this without having to be pro bono if they consider it comes under their remit. This might be a Human Rights or Equality lawyer.

    If any disabled person needs to make a challenge to their appeal, it might be worth having a word with a Human Rights lawyer anyway. You never know.

  7. I had a WCA a few weeks ago and the assessor made up 3 pages of muscoskeletal results based on what I am not sure, she did not exam me physically and could not possibly have obtained the results from anywhere else. This included heart rate and other physical issues. I asked for a Mandatory Reconsideration which ignored all the points I mentioned. I have tried to lodge an appeal but not heard anything. It’s been 2 weeks. Chasing people all the time is difficult when you have agoraphobia and anxiety. Now Jobcentre want me to sign on daily as I have not found a job after completing the Work Program. It’s so distressing. Everything you say above is true and the fact that a nurse can overrule a doctor’s medical assessment is beyond my understanding. My doctor has known me for years, the nurse has seen me once and lied. The doctor is paid well by the NHS so they must think he is capable of doing his job and yet his opinion does not count for DWP. If I was working, my boss would accept a sick note from the doctor and not get his own nurse to make a decision on whether I am fit for work. For every other purpose, the doctor’s opinion is regarded as a competent medical assessment but DWP know better. Their assessor is clearly more qualified to know my state of health in the Government’s opinion. If they hadnt closed down all the local CABx and law centres, I might be tempted to go and ask someone for their opinion about the legality of this process. Why is a nurse allowed to overrule a doctor’s medical assessment. I am not familiar with hospital environments but would this happen in a hospital? Would a nurse be allowed to decide to offer alternative treatment based on her own diagnosis and go against a NHS doctor? If not then why is allowed to happen here?

    • they aren’t assessing your medical condition
      they asses whether you are capable of any form of work
      This is purely an exercise in benefit reduction nothing more nothing less

    • whilst your doctor as your gp would class you unwell therefore unfit to work
      as an assessor using the tick box assessment he would have no option but to class you as ” capable “

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