An average of 3,500 work capability assessments (WCAs) for employment and support allowance (ESA) have been cancelled by medical assessors every week for the last five years, Labour MP Frank Field has revealed. The two main reasons for cancellations are staff shortages and a lack of recording equipment.
A staggering 2.1 million appointments have been cancelled in the last five years, with medical contractors, formerly Atos and now Maximus, being responsible for 940,000 of those cancellations.
For claimants a cancellation, often at the last minute or even when they have arrived at the assessment centre, is a cause of enormous stress and it can have a serious effect on their physical or mental health.
It is particularly shocking then, that so many cancellations are due to the fact that nowhere near enough dual recorders have been bought to meet the needs of claimants who want to exercise their legal right to have an audio recording of their assessment.
According to Frank Field:
“It’s unbearable for people at the bottom to be left in the lurch at such short notice.
“To have so few pieces of recording equipment available has bestowed on them the status of a holy relic, upon which the well-being of so many vulnerable and disabled people hinges.”
Field has protested the work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb about the delays.
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