Work Capability Assessment independent reviews | meeting with Dr Paul Litchfield | 6 August 2013

August 4, 2013


I will be meeting Dr Paul Litchfield – the occupational health physician who has taken over the role of independent asessment of the Work Capability Assessment from Professor Malcom Harrington – along with other members of the Fluctating Conditions Group at DWP HQ on Tuesday afternoon this coming week

The agenda will focus on:

* How effectively the WCA identifies people who are fit for work, who have limited capability for work, or who have limited capability for work-related activity;

* The impact of earlier Independent Reviews;

* The way mental health conditions are considered in the WCA;

* Biopsychosocial factors that influence capability for work; and

* Whether the system needs improving and what changes are required.

Issues relating to DWP benefits are of major importance to people with ME/CFS. So if anyone has any comments or observations please post them here, or contact me directly via ME Connect ( if more appropriate.

Thank you

Dr Charles Shepherd
Hon Medical Adviser, ME Association

4 thoughts on “Work Capability Assessment independent reviews | meeting with Dr Paul Litchfield | 6 August 2013”

  1. I recently won my ESA tribunal.

    The tribunal maintained that legally if I could do any of the physical descriptors just once, then I could not score any points for them. The repetition of activity argument seems not to carry any weight in this area.

    However they then transferred my inability to repeat physical activities to Regulation 29 and thus ruled in my favour. Worth noting then when filling out the ESA assessment form.

  2. I’m doing this year’s set of ESA forms now – it’s hard to pick just a couple of things out when the whole thing is so utterly wrong.

    I don’t feel like the descriptors fit my illness or how it affects my ability to work. Being able to walk for a set length, sit or stand for half an hour etc is of little relevance to someone who can’t get through a whole day without taking prolonged rests of over an hour at a time. I should qualify on the 50m mobility descriptor (I think that’s what I was awarded it on last year), but if it was just mobility that was a problem I could work from home. I don’t feel that exhaustion and cognitive problems are suitably covered in the current descriptors. The physical/mental+cognitive split in the current form is particularly unhelpful for anyone with neurological illnesses (not just M.E.).

    But I think the worst thing is the lack of cumulative totals in the points system for the support group. You have to score 15 points on ONE descriptor, whereas really it’s the cumulative impact of problems in lots of areas that make me unable to work or fit for work-related activities. One more thing (sorry this is such a long comment) – I’ve actually got to the point now that if I have a good day where I can, say, get to the shops, albeit with a lot of stopping and sitting down etc, that someone will think I’m a fraud,even though they don’t see me on subsequent days when I can barely move.

    1. This is a good point. You can score over 200 points and still not meet the criteria for the Support Group and whilst that is an extreme, I do know of several people who have actually scored 60 points but still been placed in the WRAG, because they did not meet the right descriptors.

  3. Is there any evidence that “biopsychosocial factors” even exist?
    Even if they do, they are of no relevance to ME.

    But discrimmination against folk with mental health problems really does seriously need to be addressed, (despite its non relevance to ME.)

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