A disability activist group has described a decision by a local GP representative body to negotiate on a row over benefits as a “massive breakthrough”.
Earlier this month, grass-roots disability movement, The Black Triangle Campaign, threatened to protest outside Dundee GP surgeries after learning that Tayside Local Medical Committee had advised doctors to no longer draw up letters of support for benefit claimants ordered to attend assessment centres
John McArdle, co-founder of the campaign, insisted that doctors had a “moral, ethical and professional duty” to provide support information when they feel patients are not fit for work.
However Tayside LMC chair Dr Andrew Cowie argued that Tayside’s long running problems with recruiting and retaining GPs could be increased if doctors are expected to provide paperwork for claimants.
That stance was in turn described as scandalous by the campaigners.
Now it’s emerged that the LMC may be willing to listen to the concerns expressed by John and his team after all.
As a result, both John and Dr Cowie will work with Black Triangle medical advisor Dr Stephen Carty in an attempt to resolve the dispute.
John said: “We’re hoping that this can be replicated throughout the rest of the UK.
“Dr Cowie deserves to be applauded for listening to our concerns and for acting on them.
“It’s a huge thing for them to come round like this.
“It will be a breakthrough and will have a massive impact for the better.”
John continued: “We appreciate the efforts of The Courier in exposing these issues.
“We’re overjoyed that we seem to be reaching a satisfactory conclusion.”
Despite being over the moon with the LMC’s willingness to take his concerns on board, John is still determined to go further to ensure that out of work disabled people are not left exposed by benefit assessments
The group has lodged complaints with police in the past over the role the government has played in the treatment of unemployed people and has helped occupy the Houses of Parliament during a protest on benefit cuts.
“We believe that the system has been designed to exclude any mechanism to enable people to flag up any risk of harm,” said John.
“People have taken their own lives because of this. There’s got to be so much more done.”