WELCOME TO ALL FELLOW CAMPAIGNERS for DISABILITY RIGHTS - a pan disability blog connecting my work with, EQUAL LIVES, the National Survivor User Network (NSUN) and the Survivor History Group.

Protest, Norwich Job Centre

Protest, Norwich Job Centre
Fatso Gets Militant!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013




The Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) welcomes the judgement
handed down today by judges in the Upper Tribunal in the case of the
two claimants with mental health problems who have challenged the
manner in which people with mental health difficulties are assessed
for their fitness for work through the Work Capability Assessment

The court held that the WCA process disadvantages people with mental
health problems because they have greater difficulty than others in
explaining to the Atos assessor how their condition affects their
fitness to work. The solution is for Atos and the DWP to seek
evidence from the claimant´s doctors and others in the community that
know what they can do. But the DWP have consistently refused to take
this step.

Those who have been claiming that the WCA significantly disadvantages
people with mental health problems have been vindicated by today´s
judgment. The court has ordered the DWP to put forward proposals for
how they will go about ensuring that they have obtained further
medical evidence from claimants´ own health care professionals to
ensure that any difficulties people have with self reporting are
properly taken into account. It is also vital that no one´s health is
put at risk by any decision made by the DWP due to failure to obtain
appropriate evidence.

In order to assess a person with mental health problems fitness for
work it is necessary to obtain such evidence and this has not been
the practice of the DWP and Atos in most cases. The judgment is
clear: to routinely fail to consider evidence put forward by their
own health care practitioners (the DWP current practice) places
people with MHPs at a significant disadvantage which means that the
current practice has been - and remains - discriminatory. We believe
that many people would be spared needless distress if the DWP and
ATOS sought and understood the medical histories of the individuals
they seek to assess, rather than simply assessing a person´s short
term functioning without taking into account the myriad of handicaps
and difficulties they face in surviving on a daily basis.

The MHRN has supported the claimants´ case throughout as we believe
that the WCA is not fit for the purpose of correctly identifying
those people who should receive benefits. ATOS have not shown itself
to be capable of fairly assessing people who are signicantly
disadvantaged and subject to high levels of trauma and distress.
Following on from the court´s decision, it is imperative that Atos
assessors cease making inappropriate assessments, and put into
immediate effect significant changes to their practices, to prevent
further avoidable distress, trauma and suicides, and we call on
people to continue to work together to fight against subjecting
vulnerable people to this cruel process.

We are concerned at the language which has come to dominate this
debate, and are outraged that unfounded DWP claims about levels of
fraudulent claims are often simply parroted, resulting in claimants
being increasingly viewed as scroungers. Time and time again the DWP
has been shown to be misusing statistics in order to advance their
ideological assault on the services that have been integral to making
society in Britain fairer and more civilised. The misinformation that
has surrounded the so-called `reforms´ to welfare undermines our
democracy in so far as the public are agreeing to huge changes based
of false perceptions.

We call on journalists to challenge this ideological assault and to
ensure that those who are in genuine need are not subject to further
trauma and distress as we all seek a way of making things bearable.

We do not believe that these so-called welfare reforms were ever
intended to help disabled people back into work, or could ever
achieve such an outcome when they are implemented so harshly and
callously. Rather it is increasingly clear to us that these `reforms´
are part of a drive to bring down wages by creating a pool of
desperate impoverished people who will be forced to accept the
unacceptable in order to survive. In addition they are trying to
boost the interests of the business owners and corporations such as
the insurance company UNUM who have been instrumental in designing
the WCA.

The MHRN intends now to focus on setting up a local centre where
those who are affected by the myriad of cuts to services and benefits
can come together to offer mutual support and to find ways of
resisting the Tory onslaught together.

We remember those of our friends who have been driven to despair and
suicide by the actions of this government, the DWP and Atos. We will
continue to struggle in their memory in order to try and prevent
needless deaths and trauma in the future.


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