Daughter of man who committed suicide after being found fit to work takes human rights case to UN

Reposted from The National

Anne-Marie Sullivan is making a complaint to the General Medical Council about its handling of her late father's work capabilty assessment

THE grieving daughter of a disabled man who took his own life after being wrongly declared fit for work is getting help from Scottish disability rights campaigners to take his case to the United Nations over human rights violations and also make an official complaint to the General Medical Council (GMC).

Medical adviser Dr Stephen Carty, an Edinburgh GP and medical adviser for the Black Triangle campaign group, is helping Michael O’Sullivan’s daughter Anne-Marie compile a complaint against the GMC’s handling of her father’s assessment and their failure to act.

As part of the UN’s investigation into Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms, they are putting together a dossier of information about the 60-year-old’s tragic case.

Details of a coroner’s report, which ruled that father-of-two O’Sullivan died as a direct result of being found fit for work by the UK Government’s disability assessors, was exposed by the Disability News Service investigative journalist John Pring last week and it’s the first time the UK Government’s ruthless welfare cuts have been blamed for the death of a claimant.

In the report to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the coroner for inner north London demanded it take action to prevent further deaths after concluding the “trigger” for O’Sullivan’s suicide was his fit-for-work assessment.

The north London man was moved from Employment Support on to Jobseeker’s Allowance after 10 years despite providing reports from three doctors, including his GP, stating that he had long-term depression and agoraphobia and was unable to work. He killed himself at his home on September 24, 2013.

Anne-Marie insisted her father should never have been ruled fit to work and plans to explore very avenue in her fight for justice.

John McArdle, Black Triangle campaign manager, said: “We are helping Anne-Marie to compile a complaint against the GMC and their lack of action against the doctor, employed by Atos, who ignored all other medical advice and found her dad fit for work.

“We have had a meeting with our campaign medical advisor Dr Carty and we are preparing the paperwork as we speak. This is a complaint against the doctor who carried out the assessment and, more importantly, about the failures in the systems and policies that we believe are to blame.

“We are also putting together a dossier to make a submission to the United Nation’s human rights rapporteur who are doing an investigation into the alleged grave and systemic violations of disabled people’s fundamental human rights and we will send a copy to the UK Government.”

Last week Black Triangle campaigners urged the GMC to “step into the breach” over O’Sullivan’s death after an Atos Healthcare-employed doctor, a former orthopaedic surgeon, assessing him for the DWP had not taken the same view as other doctors treating him that he was not fit for work.

Carty said it was “incumbent” upon the GMC to look into the case.

He told The National: “This is a very serious case, for a coroner to say that the patient committed suicide because of decision that was made, it really is incumbent on the GMC to take some leadership here.

“The GMC publishes good medical practice which advises that a doctor must act where there are systems and policies that may cause avoidable harm.

“If you take this doctor who has not done an adequate risk assessment, ignored further medical evidence and when the information is provided by the claimant not asked about suicide risk, not passed it up the chain to the medical adviser and has just made what with hindsight is a very ill-informed decision.”

Campaigners also called on the Scottish Government to get involved and put the GMC’s chairman Professor Terrence Stephenson before the Scottish Parliament’s health and reform committee for questioning.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government has made its views clear on the UK Government Work Capability Assessment. We believe it is a process that is not fit for purpose and at times can penalise vulnerable people, as this case has highlighted.

“We have established a range of programmes and services, underpinned with significant investment, to mitigate against the worst of the UK Government’s cuts.

“We support the calls for a full Department for Work and Pensions review of this case and the wider system, and we would also encourage anyone that is concerned about a Work Capability Assessment to seek advice and support.”

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