SCOTTISH disability rights campaigners are calling on the General Medical Council (GMC) to “step into the breach” over the death of a disabled man who took his own life after being deemed fit for work under Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare regime.

Last week The National exclusively revealed that the UK Government’s reforms had, for the first time, officially been blamed for his death after a coroner found that the “trigger” for his suicide was “his recent assessment by a Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) doctor as being fit for work”.

Michael O’Sullivan, a 60-year-old father with serious mental health problems, killed himself after being hounded back to work by the DWP.

His daughter, Anne-Marie said her father, from north London, should never have been ruled fit to work.

O’Sullivan had been receiving income support relating to his disability for 10 years but this was stopped after he underwent two work capability assessments (WCA) in 2012 and 2013.

He was instead receiving Job Seeker’s Allowance in the six months before he died.

The inquest heard that the Atos Healthcare-employed doctor assessing O’Sullivan for the DWP, a former orthopaedic surgeon, had not taken the views of other doctors treating him that he was not fit for work.

The coroner was told that the doctor had not asked O’Sullivan if he had any suicidal thoughts during the 90-minute assessment, even though he had mentioned them in a DWP questionnaire.

The patient-led Black Triangle disability rights campaign is calling on the GMC to investigate and contact the DWP to demand the doctor’s name.

When The National spoke to the GMC yesterday, we were told that without a name nothing could be done.

Dr Stephen Carty, an Edinburgh GP and medical adviser for Black Triangle, said: “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 advisor and has just what with hindsight is a very ill-informed decision.

“This doctor, in order to be able to continue to practise, has to go through revalidation where a responsible officer, reviews his or her work and whether they have core competencies and also to whom he must report any complaint.

“The GMC has said this is not their jurisdiction because this is not the delivery of healthcare but it is clearly a situation where doctors registered with the GMC are at the very least being complicit in a system which is demonstrably harmful.

“There is a lot of harm being done, which is below the level of suicide, that is very real and when an adverse event occurs there is no reporting mechanism.”

Campaign manager John McArdle said the GMC has a duty to investigate and should contact the DWP to demand the name of the doctor involved.

He added: “In the light of the coroner’s ruling we also demand that the GMC suspend Maximus assessment centres’ approved medical status and that all further assessments be halted pending the outcome of a full investigation by the GMC who state they exist to protect patients.

“Should they fail to do so the GMC itself should come under scrutiny and investigation as it is clearly failing in its stated duty to protect the public and ‘act where there are systems and policies that cause avoidable harm to patients.”

Statistics released by the DWP revealed that during the period December 2011 and February 2014, 2,380 people died after their claim for employment and support allowance (ESA) ended because a work capability assessment (WCA) found they were found fit for work.

The Government said mistakes had been made in this case and say improvements to the system have been made.

A DWP spokesman added: “We take these matters extremely seriously.”

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