Statistics Request: The Distribution of Occupational Classifications across claimants on health-related benefits.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

In March 2011 amendments to the ESA regulations resulted in the modification of WCA descriptors and the deletion of some of these as no longer relevant. As these descriptors are claimed to relate to actual work environments I am requesting the following employment-related data.

1. Does the DWP keep records of the various Occupational Classification categories which those claiming a health-related benefit (such as ESA or DLA) fell into prior to them giving up work.

2. If so, can you please release figures to date for this?

3. If possible a further breakdown into the numbered sections of those categories would be requested, so as to identify more closely the distribution of occupations amongst claimants, demonstrating type of work that is most/least prevalent etc.

Yours faithfully,

Gill Thorburn

DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

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DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Thorburn

Please see attached response to your FoI request.

Kind regards

DWP Central FoI Team

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P. Wilkinson left an annotation ()

How come this FOI states as:
"as experienced medical or nursing practitioners, the HCPs will have detailed knowledge of the principles and practice of diagnostic techniques and therefore such information is not contained in this document."

Yet a letter I received states that " A GP or specialist is not usually trained in disability assessment medicine therefore will not have specific experience in assessing the disabling effects of medical conditions and the way in which a customers illnes or disability affects them in carrying out of a range of everyday work-related activities" But they clim their nurses and docs are!

They have an answer for everything but often they contradict each other. A GP would have knowledge of any adaptations their patients have to their homes, because they have to give evidence to local councils when an OT has put in an assessment of clients needs. They would also need to share information with social workers when they are putting in place a care plan, identifying patient/client needs. Therefore it is arrogant to suggest that Atos HCP are more 'qualified to identify "the disabling effects of medical conditions" than GPs and specialists who regularly see patients and will discuss their limitations.
A nurse is limited to the area they are trained in and Atos nurse or Doc could not have more specialist knowledge than the patients own GPs/OTs/Specialists. Atos training is only on how to remove the client from benefit.

Gill Thorburn left an annotation ()

Basically the response is that they do not collect any information to do with people's occupations. Which is quite an ommission for a department that professes to be evaluating claimants as to their alleged fitness for work. Obviously *actual* work does not figure in the governments perceptions of a person's capacity to do any!

My purpose in asking this was that I had been made aware that certain 'capabilities' had been removed from the ESA descriptors. Stephen Timms, MP noted how the Citizens Advice Bureau had objected to the removal from the list of the requirement to 'bend or kneel'. In his words "apparently because we do not need to do that anymore in a modern workplace".

I am certain that, had the DWP bothered to record people's occupations this idea would have been exposed for the absurdity it is. Further I feel the data would have provided valuable evidence of the kinds of work that contributed to the deterioration in claimant's health if grouped into classifications. Most certainly I would predict a prevalence of those in the lower end of the scale, subject to lower pay and harsher conditions.

Gill Thorburn left an annotation ()

To P. Wilkinson,
I totally agree with everything you say there. The contradictions and challenges to common sense inherent in this process (WCA) are evident. When you request information from the DWP about it they just regurgitate the same old statements, whether it was relevant to what you asked or not!!

I am sick of being told that I may not understand/may not be able to get a full picture of the process because I am not a 'healthcare professional' who is *specially* trained. So the nurse who conducted my WCA, who couldn't even use a basic biological term in the right context has superior training to my GP? And lets not even get into the ethics of her withholding details that substantiate my claim, such as underplaying the length and severity of my hospital admissions.

I have been trying to get to the supposed 'medical research' conducted by Atos for the WCA, but it is strangely always just out of reach.

P. Wilkinson left an annotation ()

Hi Gill,
I know exactly where you are coming from, if students of medicine/nursing had to answer questions on functional ability using the same tactics that the alleged HCP they would fail their course. The Atos WCA is an example of the only thing that the HCPs are trained in; -word manipulation, and they are pretty rubbish at that too.
The fact that the DWP are removing descriptors from their assessments proves what we have all been saying that this is only about moving us from benefit, nothing else. I am surprised they even bother calling us in, as our presence is not needed when they could write exactly the same lies in our absence.
It is about time the DWP just cut to the chase, and ban all benefits, it is what they are heading towards anyway and it would be the only honest action they have made in many years. Mind you Atos wouldn't be able to make money without us, would they and that would never do!

Gill Thorburn left an annotation ()

Exactly! The work is shoddy. When I properly analysed what the nurse who conducted my WCA put I was appalled. Spelling mistakes, no punctuation, badly worded, omissions, misrepresentaions, irrelevant statements, inconsistencies. But far worse was that neither the Decision Maker, nor the person who 'looked again' at it on my initiating an appeal saw anything wrong with it. That's scary :(
Am wondering what I will encounter at the tribunal, because if it is more of the same I think my mental health will be damaged beyond repair.

It looks like you are right, and it is just a ploy to get rid of benefits altogether. The government don't care about Atos, they're just a useful tool.

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