Doctors are to be alerted to two crucial regulations which could protect disabled people facing controversial “fitness for work” tests.
Campaign group Black Triangle – a disabled person led organisation – has managed to convince the British Medical Association (BMA) to alert GPs about two regulations which state that a person should not be found fit for work if such it would pose “a substantial risk” to their “mental or physical health.”
Black Triangle believes doctors are not fully aware about regulations relating to controversial Work Capability Assessments, meaning many people are passed fit for work erroneously.
It will now mean the BMA will be notifying all members about the two regulations by including the information in newsletters published by its general practitioners committee – which represents all NHS GPs in the UK – and the committee’s chair.
However John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said the BMA had taken “a hell of a long time” to agree to inform GPs.
The BMA has taken a hell of a long time - John McArdle
He said: “A lot of lives could have been saved in that time and a lot of people could have been saved from trauma and destitution.”
He said such a move was “better late than never”, although he wanted to see the detail of the information BMA planned to send out, to check that it was “sound and unambiguous”.
Dr Mark Porter, chair of the BMA council, said: “The BMA position remains that the work capability assessment process should be scrapped with immediate effect and replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause avoidable harm to the weakest and most vulnerable people in society.
“The BMA has consistently lobbied politicians on this issue in the past few years and will continue to do so.
“We will ensure that our members are informed about the current regulations around work capability assessments, so as to help patients get the best outcome for their needs.”
Meanwhile, the controversial US outsourcing giant which has been awarded the contract to administer the capability assessments this month from Atos has now succeeded in its bid to take over Remploy – the former government organisation which employed disabled people.
The new business will still be known as Remploy and will transfer from the government to Maximus early next month, with Remploy employees owning 30% of the business, which will focus on finding jobs for disabled people in mainstream employment.