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8 February 2013
Professor Stephen Bevan, director of the Centre for Workforce Effectiveness at The Work Foundation and Chair of the Fit for Work Coalition said today:
“The Public Accounts Committee report on the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) released today highlights yet again the difficulty of measuring ability to work among individuals with chronic and fluctuating health conditions. For such conditions, wellbeing and productivity may vary from day to day. The risk is that some individuals will be found fit for work when they are not able to perform, or that people with multiple (comorbid) conditions will not be assessed accurately. For example, around 30 per cent of people with chronic musculoskeletal conditions (eg back pain, arthritis) also have depression or anxiety.
“An earlier and more inclusive review of ability to work is required to ensure that the chances of those individuals who wish to remain active in the labour market are not undermined by the mismatch between the fluctuating nature of their conditions and the sometimes narrow focus of WCA.”
The Fit for Work UK Coalition has welcomed the government's commitment to introduce a new Independent Assessment Service after four weeks of absence from work following the recommendation of the Sickness Absence Review last month. But the Fit for Work Coalition strongly urges the implementation of such service to be supported by the development of new measures of workability that build on the individual's remaining capacity to work, rather than their incapacity.