Campaigners have hailed a welcome victory over controversial ‘fitness for work’ tests.
The doctors union has agreed to alert GPs about legislation which could help prevent disabled people from having to undergo demeaning medical assessments to prove they are unable to work.
The regulations, which form part of the eligibility rules for the sickness and disability benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), state that a person should not be found ‘fit for work’ if their medical condition poses a “substantial risk” to their “mental or physical health”.
Campaigners claim stressful Work Capability Assessments (WCA) can lead to self-harm, a worsening in a benefit claimants health and even suicide.
The British Medical Association (BMA), who represent all of the UK’s General Practitioners, said they would be notifying their members about the little-known-about legislation in newsletters and at its general meetings.
Chair of the BMA Council, Dr Mark Porter, said the position of the BMA is that the WCA should be scrapped and “replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause avoidable harm to the weakest and most vulnerable people in society”.
He added: “The BMA has consistently lobbied politicians on this issue in the past few years and will continue to do so.
“We will ensure that our members are informed about the current regulations around work capability assessments, so as to help patients get the best outcome for their needs.”
Co-founder of the grassroots campaign group Black Triangle, John McArdle, welcomed the announced but criticised the BMA for taking “a hell of a long time” to agree to inform GPs about the legislation.
He added: “A lot of lives could have been saved in that time and a lot of people could have been saved from trauma and destitution.”