GPs at their annual conference in Liverpool yesterday voted in favour of a motion calling for the end of the work capability assessment.
The doctors, who represent GPs from across the UK, agreed that the system should be replaced with a more rigorous and safe process which takes into account the needs of long term sick and disabled patients.
Dr Dean Marshall, Chairman of the BMA’s Scottish General Practitioners Committee, said: ‘These assessments can have a devastating affect on our patients’ mental and physical health.
‘There has been a dramatic increase in the numbers being assessed as fit to work and a massive number of appeals have been made against these decisions.
‘The frequency of successful appeals seems to us to demonstrate the mechanism’s shortcomings.
‘Our patients are very concerned and confused about these assessments.
‘Many are in fear of how they will cope with the removal of, or cuts to, their benefits.
‘Evidence appears to suggest that people with serious health conditions are sometimes being declared fit for work.’
On Tuesday 22nd May, a resolution from Newcastle and North Tyneside stated that core general practice was under threat.
Dr Gerrard Reissman moved that ‘At the heart of general practice, is our relationship with patients. As the Bill is enacted and becomes what we do in our everyday lives, patients will never trust us again. That is the US experience in the 1980s as doctors embrace the market.
‘With that loss of trust goes core general practice. Patients will see it, that we are cutting services.’
This part of the motion was passed.
The issue of boycotting commissioning work came up yesterday in the debate on pensions, when the conference voted for industrial action against pension cuts, and called for GPs to withdraw from clinical commissioning groups as part of industrial action.
• Disabled activists are urging a boycott of the Paralympic Games over links between the International Paralympic Committee and Atos, the company that tests disabled people’s ‘fitness to work’ for the government.
Atos, which is sponsor and IT partner of the Paralympics, tests around 11,000 incapacity benefit claimants a week under a £100m a year contract with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).
John McArdle, co-founder of the Black Triangle disability rights pressure group said: ‘The government is using them and the Paralympics to make propaganda for their ill-conceived welfare cuts programme.’
In a statement yesterday the British Paralympic Association (BPA) said it was ‘aware’ that Atos Healthcare’s involvement with the DWP was garnering attention.