Phoenix Rising tells QMUL: release the PACE trial data
Mark Berry, Acting CEO of Phoenix Rising, presents the Board of Directors’ open letter to Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) urging them to release the PACE trial data, and hopes that other non-UK organisations will join British charities in the same request...
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ESA Work Capability Assessment - Fifth and final Independent Review

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by charles shepherd, Nov 28, 2014.

  1. charles shepherd

    charles shepherd Senior Member

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    Valentijn, alex3619 and Esther12 like this.
  2. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    Thanks for that, and for trying to improve things

    What does this mean? No minor changes could lead to improvement? All the changes people recognise are needed would cost the government more, so an excuse for doing nothing is needed?


    So they've created a system which strips people of a liveable income for an unknowable amount of time, and leaves people feeling unable to appeal decisions which have so often been found to be wrong... and he's surprised that this initiative was not better received?

    Sounds like the DWP really got the right man for the job on this one.
     
  3. worldbackwards

    worldbackwards A unique snowflake

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    Yeah, it's pretty clear that Harrington was shooed away for foolishly taking the government at their word that they genuinely wanted to change things. I think we can take his criticism of the whole business in good faith - it's pretty clear that there was never any intention of changing the WCA so it genuinely worked for claimants.
     
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  4. charles shepherd

    charles shepherd Senior Member

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    As I've made clear in my comments here, and to the DWP, I believe that the WCA is a very blunt tool for assessing fitness for work and it must be replaced by something more acceptable and accurate that also assesses both fluctuation and severity.

    However, it has to be acknowledged from the quarterly DWP statistics (that I read as part of our homework) that there has been a very significant DECREASE over the past 7 years in the percentage of people being judged fit for work and an equally significant INCREASE in the numbers being placed in the support group - and this is mirrored by feedback to The MEA.

    The reasons are complex and partly relate to some of the changes that have been brought about by Malcolm Harrington and reports from the FCG etc. They are also due to the introduction of the key terms 'reliably, repeatedly, safely and in a timely manner' - something that has helped a considerable number of people with ME/CFS to obtain ESA, as I know from assisting with a large number of these applications and disputes over the past 7 years.

    From my website report on the meeting:

    I would also draw attention to the latest quarterly statistics on ESA produced by the DWP:

    www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/352885/esa_wca_summary_Sep14_final.pdf

    In particular, the most striking change that has been taking place between 2008 and 2013 (provisional figures) is in the numbers of people being found:

    FIT FOR WORK: 2008 = 64%; 2013 = 27%

    UNFIT FOR WORK AND PLACED IN THE WRAG: 2008 = 24%; 2013 = 15%

    UNFIT FOR WORK AND PLACED IN THE SUPPORT GROUP: 2008 =12%; 2013 = 58%

    So there has clearly been some effect as a result of the changes that have been made and the work that both Dr Litchfield and the Fluctuating Conditions Group and Mental Health Groups have been doing – especially the emphasis on the need for claimants to be able to do descriptor tasks reliably, repeatedly, safely and in a timely manner. Anecdotal feedback to The MEA also indicates that there ARE more people being placed in the support group and that less people are having to go to appeal.

    But many people with ME/CFS, who have a genuine claim to this benefit, are still having to go to appeal in order to obtain ESA.
     
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  5. charles shepherd

    charles shepherd Senior Member

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    Paul Litchfield, who will shortly be leaving the DWP building and returning to BT, made it very clear that in his view the time had come to follow through the recommendations from independent reviews that have not yet been implemented and then have a period of allowing things to settle down

    As there aren't going to be any more independent reviews under this government, I'm sure the DWP will be happy to follow this advice

    The FCG has written to the DWP to express our concerns about the lack of progress regarding work that follows on from the EBR of our proposals relating to WCA - the introduction of a semi-structured interview and better training for both health assessors and decision makers in particular
     
  6. worldbackwards

    worldbackwards A unique snowflake

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    That is absolutely true (and may I take the opportunity to thank you as a loyal MEA member for all your efforts, as well as the useful guidance on claiming benefits I've had from them over the years). However, I do worry that without fundamental changes to the assessment itself, which have not happened, that this is merely due to the need to clear off the backlog and, once that's done, another attempt at a hard line will be made. This would defy all logic, but the whole business defies all logic.

    There seem to be a lot of reasons for the massive increase in acceptance rates (including, ironically, the fact that it was uneconomic for ATOS to conduct all those assessments and reassessments - the market has spoken and it said 'no'), but acceptance of the fundamental flaws of the policy do not seem to be one of them. There is still a clear agenda on the part of the government to reduce the ESA bill by any means necessary, and a kind of 'one last push' scenario with all previous failures blamed on ATOS doesn't seem outlandish given the highly ideological nature of the leadership at the DWP.

    Further to this, I would say that even if no such push occurs, the real threat of ESA is in the WRAG, the sanctions regime, the wretched 'mandatory reconsideration' situation that forces sick people to sign on and the potential future problems of forced treatments for the mentally ill, which I've no doubt we'll be thrown in with. So you've still got plenty to be getting on with there!
     

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