A report in The Independent highlights the link between the work capability assessment (WCA) for employment and support allowance (ESA) and claimants attempting or committing suicide, or having suicidal thoughts.
A survey commissioned by Rethink Mental Illness, reported here on 24 September 2012, revealed that 6% of GPs had experience of patients attempting or committing suicide because of the WCA, and 14% had patients who had self-harmed as a result of either going through the test or through fear of undergoing the test. The survey also showed that the impact of the WCA on claimants’ mental health extends beyond claimants with mental health problems to physically disabled claimants with no previous history of mental illness.
To illustrate the psychological damage being caused by the WCA the Independent reports the case of Ursula Sinclair who attempted suicide days after undergoing the assessment for ESA. She said “I was devastated when I was initially told that I did not qualify for ESA because I know that I am not fit for work at all. I became extremely distressed.”
The Independent also reports that Tom Greatrex, MP told Exaro, an investigative website “There is clearly a problem when an assessment that is designed to help people back into work ends up having the opposite effect. Ministers need to reform the test urgently so that those who can work are supported to do so, but those not healthy enough to work are helped, not hounded.”
The report can be found on the Independent website.