Friday, 23 March 2012

GPs start to speak out against "fit for work" tick-box tests

The government plans to give GPs the power & responsibility for commissioning services, but hasn't afforded them the respect of listening to their concerns about the Health & Social Care Bill. Surely if GPs are responsible enough to take control over their own budgets, they're responsible enough to pay heed to when they warn against a piece of legislation?

The government's Department of Work and Pensions already deems GPs not trustworthy enough to report fairly on the health of their own patients when those patients apply for sickness benefits. Rather than accept reports written by patients' own GPs, people are called in for medicals run by ATOS Origins, medicals that are costly, stressful to the individual, and time and time again, inaccurate!

When Disability Living Allowance is replaced by Personal Independence Payments over the next couple of years, GPs again won't be trusted to provide accurate information on their patients. All people claiming DLA or PIP will be called in for assessment by an externally contracted company.

Tell me, why does the government think GPs are absolutely best placed to commission services, but they're not best placed to comment on the health of their own patients?

 Now, Scottish GPs have spoken out on ATOS Origins, saying their medical assessment services should be ended with immediate effect.

Will the government listen to GPs saying medical tests performed by ATOS origins, the company contracted to provide medical assessment services (and, ironically, sponsors of the Paralympic Games) are not fit for purpose, and are causing harm to their patients?

Press release:

Scotland’s GP’s call for an end to controversial ‘fit for work’ tick-box tests carried out by French IT company ‘with immediate effect’

Scotland’s GP’s have today called to an end to the Government’s controversial computer-based ‘Work Capability Assessments’ carried out by French IT multinational Atos Origin for the DWP with ‘'immediate effect’:

"60 Lothian: That this conference, in respect of Work Capability Assessments (WCA) as performed by ATOS Healthcare, believes that:
i. the inadequate computer-based assessments that are used have little regard to the nature or complexity of the needs of long term sick and disabled persons
ii. the WCA should end with immediate effect and be replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause avoidable harm to some of the weakest and most vulnerable in society"

The Scottish-based disability rights and advocacy group Black Triangle was instrumental in getting the motion tabled at the Scottish Local Medical Committee’s (SLMC) conference at Clydebank.

Dr. Stephen Carty who works as a GP in the Leith area of Edinburgh and who is an active member of the campaign said:

“I welcome the support of the Scottish LMC conference on this matter.
This sends a ray of hope to some of the weakest and most vulnerable in society.
It also sends a clear message to other representative bodies including the General Medical Council (GMC) of the significant concerns shared by many GPs across the country.”

He said that “In my opinion the current contractual arrangements between the DWP and General Practice are unsustainable. The WCA as performed by ATOS is not an effective or safe method of determining "fitness to work" and this must be addressed.”

He continued: “All doctors are duty bound by the GMC to report any system or process that may be harmful to patients. The WCA is a harmful process. Scottish GPs have spoken: the GMC cannot remain silent on this matter any longer”

John McArdle, a founding member of Black Triangle said:
“The scandal of these assessments has gone on far too long. As a grassroots disabled people’s organisation we are over the moon that Scotland’s GP’s have spoken out so clearly and unequivocally in their condemnation. Our GP’s recognise the severe and avoidable damage that is being done to sick and disabled people through this brutal, draconian and profoundly unjust testing regime as they see it every single day. It must be halted now – ‘with immediate effect’.- before any further harm results and whilst the GMC launches a thorough investigation. They can no longer remain silent. They must act. ”