CAS responded to the Litchfield Review, the fourth independent review looking at the work capability assessment, part of Employment Support Allowance (ESA). The final report reflects CAS' key recommendations about the gathering of medical evidence as part of the assessment process.
The report quotes CAS’ submission in relation to medical evidence, and Dr Litchfield has taken up CAS’ key recommendation to review the official DWP form requesting medical information from doctors (form ESA113) (recommendation 26).
We also pointed out for people with mental health problems a wider range of evidence should be taken into account, and this is reflected in Review recommendation 31, which recommends the ESA50 form refers to non-medical sources of evidence, such as community psychiatric nurses, support workers and carers.
CAS contributed to the Review through a written response and a teleconference with Dr Litchfield.
The Review makes a number of recommendations (37 in total), including:
- Sharing information from the WCA with Work Programme providers (so that they know why someone has been assessed as having limited capability for work)
- Reviewing use of scores to place less emphasis on total score achieved, and more on using the assessment to determine whether a threshold for receipt of benefit has been achieved
- Practical changes to the face to face assessment, such as the claimant being able to see what is written during the assessment, inferences not being implied from indirect questioning and guidance on ompanions during the assessment being clarified and adhered to
- DWP should better acknowledge the distress that people go through when things go wrong
- Written communications must be much clearer
- Consideration of minimum period (eg 6 months) between appeal decision and recall for reassessment
- Cutting Atos out of more of the assessment administration process, and assessing the possibility of DWP decision makers sitting with Atos healthcare professionals (HCPs) in the face to face assessment
- All HCPs to have mental health experience and to have better training.
- For those with very severe capacity issues, reassessment periods should be extended to every 5 years
The Government have welcomed the review but have yet to publish their official response. This is the fourth of five Independent Reviews of the WCA, the previous three being carried out by Malcolm Harrington.