GPs Warn: Fitness-To-Work Test Is Driving Patients Towards Self-Harm And Suicide.
As cited by The Independent, a survey by ICM indicates that “Six per cent of doctors have experienced a patient who has attempted – or committed – suicide as a result of “undergoing, or fear of undergoing” the Government’s fitness to work test”. It also found that “14 per cent had patients who had self-harmed as a result of the test”.
The mental health charity, Mind, issued a statement on these findings a month beforehand:
Rethink Mental Illness commissioned Vitaris Research Consultancy (part of the ICM Research Group) to poll over 1,000 GPs about their views on the WCA. The results of the polling were published on September 4th 2012. It was clear from the results that GPs believe the experience of going through the WCA process is having a substantial negative impact on some of their patients with mental health problems:
84% of GPs say they have patients who have presented with mental health problems such as stress, anxiety or depression as a result of undergoing, or fear of undergoing, the Work Capability Assessment
21% of GPs say they have patients who have had suicidal thoughts as a result of undergoing, or fear of undergoing, the Work Capability Assessment
14% of GPs have patients who self-harmed as a result of undergoing, or fear of undergoing, the Work Capability Assessment
6% of GPs have patients who have attempted or committed suicide as a result of undergoing, or fear of undergoing, the Work Capability Assessment
75% of GPs said that patients who are negatively affected by undergoing, or fear of undergoing, the Work Capability Assessment for Employment and Support Allowance, need increased support from their GP It was also clear that GPs do not believe enough is being done to ensure that their knowledge of their patients with mental health problems is being utilised to inform the WCA process:
61% of GPs say that Jobcentre Plus (via Atos Healthcare) does not makes enough use of their knowledge of the mental health of your patients during the Work Capability Assessment process
67% of GPs think that the assessors should seek information from GPs directly for those patients with mental health problems who are too unwell or vulnerable to arrange this themselves The high percentage of GPs who were both aware of the WCA and the impact it is having on their patients with mental health problems, and those who had strong views about the assessment, clearly demonstrates that the process is still not working fairly and effectively, that it is placing costs on other parts of the health and welfare system, and is in need of substantial further reform.