Fury at BPS ‘influence’ and being assessed as ‘fit to work’

News that the government’s disability employment strategy seems heavily influenced by the discredited BPS disability model has prompted a furious reaction. A quite justifiable one, in my view.

In this column, on Wednesday, I wrote about and commented upon what senior civil servant Tabitha Jay revealed. She had been speaking to MPs in the all-party parliamentary group for disability (APPGD).


My blog of two days ago, that prompted strong reactions.

While doing so, she mentioned the discredited “biopsychosocial” (BPS) model, the Disability News Service (DNS) reported. Further, DNS said Jay appeared to suggest BPS was “running in parallel” to the social model within the strategy.

On Facebook, group administrator Jan Thompson wrote: “Heavily influenced?….that’s a bit of an understatement isn’t it? This why ‘sick note’ was changed to ‘fit note’ …make us believe we are ‘fit’ & not ‘sick’. I’m sick of being used as a guinea pig….when I go to my docs it’s cos I’m unwell…not because I’m fit as a fiddle. Bps psycho babble.”

In the same article, I also wrote about Welfare Weekly‘s report about disability benefit assessments. It said, in just 18 months, upwards of 220,000 people have been awarded zero points when assessed for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Here, too, strongly-held and equally justifiable views came in. Here are a few of them:

On my blog itself, steveu wrote: “Several occupations require you to hold a minimum medical category. As MS is a progressive disease you steadily fall down the medical categories until you no longer meet the minimum and then you are no longer employable, sometimes just the diagnosis is sufficient to move you out.”

Nearly unbearable

On Facebook, Kevin Smith wrote: “My consultant told me I’ll never be able to work again but DWP tries to go against it. Won 2 appeals but the stress was nearly unbearable and made me even worse.”

Marie Grant wrote: “Where are all our healthcare professionals in all this? Why are they allowing their diagnosis to be overturned by nurses, physiotherapists and scores of others who have a vested interest in finding the sick and disabled fit for work. I feel totally let down by them all that they have let this happen.”

Jan Thompson, again, wrote: “The savage cuts have nothing to do with saving money so to speak. It’s social experiments to convince people they’re not really ‘sick’…sadly they don’t care that it’s not working. It costs more to implement than what it actually saves.”

Marie Grant, again, wrote: “It’s nothing short of persecution of the most vulnerable people in our society. I consider myself fortunate in the fact I was able to work for so long so I am reasonably financially secure. Having said that, I have never in my life felt so oppressed by my own government. Feel so sorry for all those who have no option but to depend on benefits, the stress and worry they’re put through is inhuman.”

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.

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