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From November ESA claimants are to be forced to have regular meetings with DWP doctors, occupational health nurses or therapists to discuss how they can make themselves well enough to work. Failure to comply will lead to having their benefit stopped. The rules will apply to claimants who are in the work-related activity group and who are expected to be able to return to work in 18 months or more.

Initially the new rules will apply to 3,000 ESA claimants in a pilot scheme running from November 2013 to August 2016.

It will run alongside two other pilot schemes in which claimants will receive additional support from Jobcentre Plus or from work programme providers to see which scheme gets the most claimants off benefits.

The length and frequency of the meetings will be variable, so some claimants will find themselves having more meetings than others. The initiative is being paid for by the European Social Fund but no announcement has been made as to whether it will be Atos, Capita or another company who will provide the health professionals for the pilot.

According to the DWP:

“The regular discussions will focus claimants on how they can improve their view of their readiness for work by taking steps to manage their health issues. They will not replace a person’s GP, but can promote health support and help a claimant to reengage with their GP if they are struggling to adapt to their condition.”

It seems unlikely that DWP appointed health professionals could oblige claimants to undertake specific courses of treatment, but failure to engage with the process may lead to benefits sanctions, so claimants may feel under a great deal of pressure to follow ‘suggestions’ made by DWP funded hath professionals.

According to employment minister Mark Hoban:

“Many people on sickness benefits want to work, so it’s vitally important that we give them the right help to move into a job if they are able. The help we give people at the moment tends to focus on work-related skills, but doesn’t necessarily address health problems. But by giving people regular support from doctors, occupational health nurses and therapists we can do more to help people manage or improve their conditions.”

Benefits and Work will publish more information about the location of the pilot and the company engaged to carry it out as it becomes available.


0 #24 sheilamac 2013-07-26 00:01
My brother has a serious mental health condition and following a DWP medical from a doctor who knew nothing about him. He stopped his medication went back to work and within a week was sent home by his employer as unfit to carry out his duties. He was by then too ill to make sense of how to claim benefits again and when he tried to do so was told he had made himself unemployed by not doing his job properly. He was left without a penny to his name. I live a long distance from him but was concerned when he stopped answering the phone, so travelled to see him. I found him in the most dreadful state, starving, dehydrated and totally confused, he had not eaten for12 days and had no money to buy food. He was in such a state physically and mentally that he had taken a stroke and I found him lying on the floor unable to get up. He could not tell me how long he had been like that, he could not speak and was unable to walk. He was admitted to hospital and when he was stable enough to speak to me again all he kept saying was "they would not help me, I was so hungry and they would not give me enough to buy food". Why are they treating people like this, it is beyond belief. He is currently lying in hospital ill with cancer and he has received a letter telling him his benefits are being stopped as he failed to attend an assessment. A bit difficult when he is lying in hospital being tube fed, he is only 42 years of age and worked from the day he left school until he became ill.
0 #23 sarpat 2013-07-17 13:49
So when are Employers going to be dragged before Government and questioned as to why they treat Disabled People so badly, that they struggle to hang on to work?
-1 #22 TheGodSplinter 2013-07-13 14:18
We should cherish and embrace this idea. It will slaughter DWP and ATOS monies even more than our resistance already is. Keep exhausting them and their resources. Write E Mails! Write letters! Make lots of phone calls! Just, keep on hammering their staff's resolve so that the staff get to know what the opening stages of mental illness are like. Keep blocking their system and destroying their operation against us. Every E Mail, every letter and every phone call will be utterly and completely legal to do.
0 #21 tracey 2013-07-12 12:33
Many people with ME refuse to undergo Graded Exercise Therapy and CBT because their effectiveness is questionable and, in some cases, can make the ME much worse. The danger in this proposal is that such treatments could become effectively compulsory and the idea of patient consent meaningless.
My partner has just injured his leg falling (he has MS) and refuses to go to hospital who will put this on his records. He is worried it may affect his DLA.

I am worried about the long term damage to his mobility but is seems we could be in an impossible position. When do the NHS become part of the stasi in a bid to save their own jobs? I am horrified.
0 #20 tracey 2013-07-12 12:27
I am increasingly worried about how many of the 'hardworking' population in this country are openly in favour of this bull----. Are they unable to project the on going result of all this will make it much more difficult for their relatives/desce ndants tol survive if they become ill? Short sighted sheeple voting like turkeys for christmas. Whole thing smacks of fascism.
+1 #19 stuart52 2013-07-10 18:40
the saying 'the lunatics are in control of the asylum' applies here i think!...just exactly how would this help those with a physical disposition where medical help would not help, or indeed as already said those with a mental health condition?
+3 #18 Labrador queen 2013-07-10 17:15
Last night I dreamt that Iain Duncan Smith was a dialect and he was moving around shouting 'exterminate'! Is this so far from the truth - I think not! :-x
+8 #17 Squiz 2013-07-10 10:10
For many claimants even those in the WRAG tyravelling to and from their 'nearest ' testing centre is a nightmare task in itself and could ( in cases of people with ME for example ) cause a relapse in their condition.
My nearest testing centre is in Bristol . It takes an hour or more to get there and an hour or more back plus time spent waiting around before the appointment and then the appointment itself that's a day gone and that is more than enough to put me in bed again for at least a week.....Idiots ....
+4 #16 joanleblond 2013-07-10 10:01
It will be interesting to see if this mainly applies to those in the IR WRAG - and so is a sneaky way of potentially cutting payments - or is also applied to CB WRAG people who are beyond the 365 day payment cut-off point - and so may be a 'well-meaning' attempt to 'help' (cynical PR exercise). I suspect the former as those of us in the CB WRAG seem to be being left to rot as they don't pay us anyway.!
Whatever - if they really want to help then the money would be better spent providing access to occupational therapists through the NHS - appointments are rarer than gold dust.
+3 #15 rollinthunder 2013-07-10 09:22
Where will the socalled healthcare people gain the v.specialized knowledge they will need to deal with the vast no. Of conditions that lie outside a gp experience also I wonder 2hat doctors think about being replace
+8 #14 echo88 2013-07-10 06:25
yet another desperate measure from this uncaring so called government we are saddled with until 2015 , when anybody with any sense will vote them out , they are failing miserably , and picking on the weakest in society , hell has plenty of room for heartless people like IDS and all his cronies....
+5 #13 carruthers 2013-07-10 02:26
The report says, "Failure to comply will lead to having their benefit stopped." Presumably this means failure to turn up at the meetings will be punished - but how long will it be before they decide that failure to comply with the advice will be punished? (And I'll bet that your GP will have no power even to protest - after all they don't understand employment health issues the way the DWP's nurses do.)

Will they recognise that for the mentally ill, even turning up may be a bridge too far? Since the DWP are fighting to overturn a ruling that all the filling in of forms and facing hostile and misleading questioning designed to entrap the interviewee is discriminatory in WCA, I don't suppose that their approach to mandatory "advice sessions" will be much better.

This latest round of intimidation will ensure that even more of the mentally ill and those too physically worn down to cope drop out of the system. Not only will this save the DWP yet more money, but - even more importantly - it will allow them to point out that their "tough love" is driving down the numbers of claimants. "See, we told you lots of these people could manage if necessary!"
+3 #12 LittleBluePenguin 2013-07-10 00:53
This sounds exactly like the 'condition management programme' which didn't work in 2008 and was subsequently dropped. Why do the NHS pay the GPs and consultants whose main concern is the well being of the patient not cutting costs so MPs can have a ten grand payrise.
+2 #11 speedy101 2013-07-10 00:23
Another part of the DWPs 'Heath Work and Wellbeing' program slots into place.
+9 #10 CharlieChuck 2013-07-10 00:18
....I believe that this constant invalidation is supposed to wear us down, but wear us down to the point where we do what I don't care to speculate here...
I agree. I was proud that I had saved enough money for you know the last journey I would ever make. This government scared me enough to not challenge the loss of middle rate care DLA so over the past 18 months I have lost all my saved funeral expenses and they want me to suffer more by making me crawl for ESA payments. It is getting too much!
+17 #9 Alsn 2013-07-09 23:42
In my opinion this is a calculated insult. Continually this is the message we get from the DWP: "We know you don't want to get better, but we will make you". Some of us have lost more than they can possibly imagine and we're being told that we're fine with that, that we are happy to be sick or disabled, that if we had a chance to be well again we would reject it, not grab it with both hands. Revolting. I believe that this constant invalidation is supposed to wear us down, but wear us down to the point where we do what I don't care to speculate here...
+11 #8 David 2013-07-09 23:40
Many people with ME refuse to undergo Graded Exercise Therapy and CBT because their effectiveness is questionable and, in some cases, can make the ME much worse. The danger in this proposal is that such treatments could become effectively compulsory and the idea of patient consent meaningless.
+9 #7 CharlieChuck 2013-07-09 23:37
I have just been migrated off Incap.Benefit onto ESA WRAG [appealing should be in support group]. I am bed-ridden with chronic back pain and have autism. My letter states I will have to undertake face-to-face with a healthcare professional to discuss managing my condition better. How on earth am I going to cure a fractured crumbling spine and at the age of 48 develop the brain of a neurotypical person? I don't even have anyone to help me appeal they are all too overworked [welfare rights].
+5 #6 yak1 2013-07-09 22:54
The emperor's new clothes!
+10 #5 completeboxset 2013-07-09 22:50
This makes me feel sick. The thought of being rail roaded into potentially harmful treatment routes by people who don't know me and have no idea of my health issues on threat of losing the very money that keeps me from becoming even more ill just fills me with dread for the future well being of the sick and disabled of this country.

This also seems to be a way for the government to surreptitiously get around the furore caused when they suggested that Atos sign fit notes instead of doctors. If they can't stop people claiming at the very beginning of the process then miss their chance to find them fit for work at the face to face then they get a second bite of the cherry a few months later. All under the guise of 'helping' us.

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