It is probably the genuinely sick and disabled who suffer most from the government’s policies on work capability assessments. The constant barrage of not-so-thinly-veiled threats: “you must attend an assessment interview; if you don’t get enough points you will not be entitled; you will be assessed for work capability; you may be expected to do work-related activities” (all delivered at rapid speed on a crackling phone line) -begins immediately on the very first phone call to make a claim. No matter if your medical certificate is for two weeks or two months. The people most likely to be put off by this approach are in fact the genuinely sick. The impression given is that the default assumption is that everyone is pulling a fast one. The process is humiliating, intimidating and degrading, adding insult to injury, and piling on a few more reasons to be terrified, on top of whatever affliction you are already struggling with. When you are ill, this is exactly the kind of thing that is so difficult to cope with, and exactly the kind of stress you don’t need. There is ironically a danger of people actually being sick for longer than they would have, because of the pressure they are under. Stress has a major impact on health. That is one of the reasons people need time off-not just because they can’t physically manage their job, but because illness and disability can profoundly affect mental and emotional capacity. The irony is that those who are mentally and emotionally incapacitated are the least able to articulate their difficulties and defend themselves. This becomes a vicious cycle: persecuting them for not recovering, preventing recovery, ad infinitum. Who knows where it ends? Perhaps shortened life-span? Eugenics anyone?
© Janey Colbourne 2017