Psychologists’ association calls for reform of WCA

Back in 2012, it was the GPs who called for the WCA to be scrapped. Now it’s the turn of the Psychologists, who earlier this week said that “The government should commission an ‘end-to-end redesign’ of the WCA process”. 

The call comes from the British Psychological Society, the professional body – and learned society -for psychologists in the UK. (Note that psychologists are often confused with psychiatrists, but they do quite different jobs).

Their press release is linked to a new eight-page briefing paper on the WCA. It’s helpful and generally up-to-date (barring its now outdated references to WCA appeal rates), though obviously it sees the WCA from the perspective of those with psychological expertise. This means that they stress the general importance of using people with more psychological expertise, e.g.:

  • “The Society strongly recommends that only appropriately qualified assessors should administer, score and interpret psychometric assessments”
  • “The Society is concerned that the current system relies too heavily on the provision of input from GPs, when it is often the individual’s psychologist, consultant, allied healthcare professional or social worker that is best placed to provide specialised input in relation to their physical and mental, neurological and cognitive functioning.”
  • “The Society therefore calls for…the introduction of specialist assessors to assess people with mental, cognitive and intellectual functioning difficulties.”

These calls all seem reasonable and well-thought however (and are backed by both Rethink Mental Illness and the excellent brain injury charity Headway). And they also cover a variety of related issues, including the need to better take account of functional limitations due to mental, cognitive and intellectual functioning difficulties, and more appropriate time periods for reassessment.

All-in-all, this is a welcome addition to the debate, and it’s great to see professional groups such as the BPS getting engaged with issues like this, which have such a major impact on the people that their members deal with.