Dr John H Greensmith
ME Free For All.org:
Re: New disability test 'is a complete mess', says the man who designed it, Guardian, 23 February 2011
Cc: Professor Paul Gregg; Stephen Timms; Shadow Employment Secretary; Chris Grayling, Employment Minister; Amelia Gentleman, or any other journalist, or their nominated representatives, to accept as an invitation, RSVP.
At last, a national newspaper as respected and influential as yours says it out loud and clear: The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) test is completely untrustworthy in respect of the two essentials required, validity and reliability, that is measuring what it purports to measure and consistently within and amongst claimants. In simple terms, whether one scores high, low, or medium on this test is no proper way to decide whether a person is able to go to work today, tomorrow, the day after ... (New disability test 'is a complete mess', says the man who designed it, Guardian, 23 February 2011).
It takes no account of invisible, unpredictable, randomly fluctuating, symptoms in illnesses such as M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) from which I have suffered for 23 years and there is no follow up, say 24 or 48 hours later, to take account of any deterioration in health that has been caused. When claimants have erroneously been found unfit for work, they are left without any money at all for months, sparking a vicious spiral of debt, embarrassment and despair, including suicide attempts. The amount of effort they are required to expend in merely seeking work - travelling to and attending Jobcentre advisers meetings, taking voluntary placements, etc - is equivalent to that needed to do a job they are unlikely to get. It is likely to make them relapse and start the process again.
I have invited Professor Malcolm Harrington, who is leading pilot tests in Aberdeen and Burnley - or an appointed representative in the Bristol area, if that would be more convenient - to accompany me, as a "silent observer", when I am called for a medical assessment, to witness it first-hand in order to get a more accurate picture. I now extend this invitation to everyone mentioned in this article - Professor Paul Gregg; Stephen Timms; Shadow Employment Secretary; Chris Grayling, Employment Minister; Amelia Gentleman, or any other journalist, or their nominated representatives -, so that each has an opportunity to judge for themselves. I hope that no one will decline but continue to believe that they have a full measure of understanding of this process that is causing so much consternation.
Dr John H Greensmith
ME Free For All.org