Doctors and nurses have united in condemning the work capability assessment (WCA), saying that the test is "discriminatory and unfit for purpose" and that it "should be scrapped".  The comments from the Royal College of Nursing and the British Medical Association were made in written responses to the Work and Pensions Committee's inquiry into employment and support allowance (ESA) and the WCA.

Submissions to the inquiry from organisations as diverse as the RCN, charities such as Scope and Sense and campaigning groups including Black Triangle and DPAC were published online by the committee yesterday.  {jcomments on}

The Royal College of Nursing, which provides expert welfare support services to its members, stated:

“At a meeting of the RCN Congress in April 2013, RCN members overwhelmingly voted in favour of a motion which labelled the current process of disability assessments as discriminatory and unfit for purpose. The motion was tabled by RCN members, and subsequently supported, as a result of personal and professional experiences of members of the inadequacy of the WCA. As a result of this motion, the RCN has since been campaigning for a change in the assessment process.”

The British Medical Association submitted:

“The BMA has had concerns about ESA and the WCA process since its introduction and has raised them both with our members and the Government. Our position remains that the process should be scrapped and replaced with a system that delivers the Government’s aim in helping those who can return to work to do so while avoiding harm to the weakest and most vulnerable in society.

“The BMA is concerned that the current process does not adequately assess claimants in a fair and proper manner, and as a result causes unnecessary distress. We believe that the computer-based systems used make it very difficult for the health care professionals carrying out the assessments to exercise professional judgement.

“We are concerned that these factors lead to some of the most vulnerable and weakest in our society not receiving the support that they need through the Employment Support Allowance.”

We have not yet had time to read through all the submissions ourselves, but if readers would like to share any specific extracts, please share them using the comments facility.

You can read the written submissions here.



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