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Scottish GPs call for Government to axe work assessment programme

GPs at the annual Scottish LMCs conference have backed a motion calling for the Government's work capability assessment programme to be scrapped with immediate effect.

LMC leaders in Clydebank said the current system should be replaced with a better system as it could have a ‘devastating impact' on patients' health.

The call to scrap the scheme – run by private firm Atos - comes just weeks after Pulse reported that the GPC was seeking talks with the Department of Work and Pensions over the tests and appeals process being used in the drive to get patients off benefits.

Proposing the motion, Dr Andrew McNutt, a GP in Bathgate and member of Lothian LMC, said there had been a ‘massive number' of appeals against decisions made on the scheme.

He said: ‘These assessments can have a devastating effect on our patients' mental and physical health.'

Dr Dean Marshall, chair of the Scottish GPC, agreed, but stressed the BMA was supportive of the rationale for the Government's welfare reforms.

‘The system of benefits is highly complex and needs to be simplified. However, our patients are very concerned and confused with regards to 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 frequently declared fit for work.'

Atos declined to comment on this story.