Work capability assessments for those with NICE/DSM defined mental illness

by Julia Evans on October 27, 2013

Comments on:

‘People with mental illness need help to get back to work – but coercion is wrong. We have to do more to help find jobs, without setting people up to fail’ by Sarah Wollaston : published in  The Guardian : on Sunday 27 October 2013 18.10 GMT : available here

 Work capability assessments are humiliating & tick-box methods of evaluation doomed to failure.


From my clinic, I agree with both these statements. I have found myself alongside those unfortunate to be summoned so they survive this Government initiated invasion.

Tick box assessments miss the point – the beyond of what is presented.  One being assessed had to confront the gap between ticking the box – is able to dress themselves – and because of the anxiety state – takes many hours to dress sometimes days. Similar to the series of child neglect cases where Social Workers are more worried about completing the form to THE standard than looking for what is going on, beyond.  Entirely bonkers! but what do you expect when the July 2010 White Paper promised to implement a Government-held central library of standards which includes NICE & where the government defines wellbeing (see HPO2001) as being gainfully employed.

The use of criminal law, as enshrined in HPO2001, to enforce Government codes of practice and much else, makes criminals of practitioners. This also ensures compliance to the Government’s will rather than skilled practitioners using their nauce.  Fear is the motivating factor.  The defining of those on long-term sickness benefit as criminal-like by using law courts for appeals is disgraceful.

Quotes from the article:

But ministers should also use this breathing space to examine the continuing problems of assessment and appeal for those with other disabilities such as mental illness.

Sadly, I regularly meet constituents who have found the process of work capability assessments – the government’s test to decide if you qualify for employment and support allowance or should rejoin the job market – to be humiliating.

Far too many face an unacceptable delay to their appeals, and the hearings take place in the inappropriate setting of our criminal justice system.

For the variable, subjective but debilitating symptoms of mental illness, a tick-box process is doomed to fail unless it takes account of the fuller picture. 

We should pilot alternative approaches.

Sarah Wollaston is Conservative MP for Totnes since 2010 and a GP. She is a member of the Parliamentary Health Committee.