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BPS Call to Action: Reform of the Work Capability Assessment

17 December 2016

The British Psychological Society has published a Briefing Paper and an official Call to Action asking the Government to commission an end-to-end redesign of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) process – including its outcomes and periods for reassessment.

There is a significant and growing body of evidence that the WCA is failing to assess people’s fitness for work accurately and appropriately, with people who are seriously physically and mentally ill being found fit for work and those with acute, transient episodes being assessed as lacking capacity and treated in the same way as those with a longer term prognosis.

In addition, appeals against the decisions occur in approximately 50 per cent of all cases, with approximately half of those appeals ultimately upheld.

Further details on the format of the assessment, its administration, evaluation, and the significant problems experienced by those being assessed can be found in the Briefing Paper below:

In response to these findings, The Society's Call to Action calls for the introduction of:

  • a reliable, valid and fully researched method of assessment to replace the Limited Capacity for Work Questionnaire (ESA 50) and the face-to-face Work Capability Assessment.
  • appropriate training in assessment, scoring and interpretation for assessors.
  • specialist assessors to assess people with mental, cognitive and intellectual functioning difficulties.
  • supervision for assessors from qualified clinicians with expertise in rehabilitation, assessment and interpretation.
  • appropriate referral routes for those with mental, cognitive and intellectual functioning difficulties, with specialist assessment and support.
  • appropriate periods of reassessment for people with long-term conditions based on specialist advice to accurately reflect the prognosis.

The full document can be accessed below:


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