Suggestions that the Government could force cancer patients in the middle of treatment to undergo “back to work” interviews to prove they are too ill to work have been strongly attacked by charities.
The plans, which are being consulted upon, were contained within the second independent review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) programme by Professor Malcolm Harrington.
The proposals could mean that employment and support allowance is withdrawn for patients who pass the WCA.
Macmillan Cancer Support chief executive Ciarán Devane said: “This shows a clear disregard and misunderstanding of what it’s like to undergo punishing treatment.
“Patients who previously had peace of mind would face the stress and practical difficulties of getting assessed for work they are too poorly to do.”
Mental health charity Mind, while welcoming the report as a whole, said that fundamental concerns about the WCA still remained, notably, the worry that the test is too focused on people’s ability to function, “disregarding the question of whether they can cope with the more subjective stresses and strains associated with the workplace”.
But Chris Grayling, employment minister, insisted that the Harrington report would lead to improvements in the process, including better support and communications for people who move onto jobseeker’s allowance and the regular publication of data on performance and quality.