The government has signalled an overhaul of its controversial medical tests to decide whether the seriously ill and disabled can claim long-term sickness benefits after an independent review found they were “impersonal, mechanistic and lacked empathy”, leaving many claimants feeling unjustly treated and distressed.
The review, conducted by the academic Malcolm Harrington, an occupational health specialist, looked at whether the ‘working capability assessment’ was a fair system amid mounting evidence that people with serious illnesses are being judged fit for work when they are not. The tests, first introduced in October 2008, have been expanded to the extent that 53,000 people are assessed a month for ’employment and support allowance’ – which pays £65 a week. This group will be joined next April by another 41,000 incapacity benefit recipients every month.
Harrington found that the assessments, run by a French multinational, Atos Origin, which received £54m from the coalition government for the contract, failed people with mental illnesses and long-term disabilities…. Click for full story