Let’s support people who stand up against bad government

A principled stand: Dr Gordon Gancz, of Oxford, is fighting the government's plan to sell his patients' confidential records to private companies for profit.

A principled stand: Dr Gordon Gancz, of Oxford, is fighting the government’s plan to sell his patients’ confidential records to private companies for profit.

A refreshing change seems to be sweeping through local news media here in the UK, with stories starting to appear about people who are fighting unjust behaviour by the government.

The rest of us should support this.

For example: Workington woman Jeanette Johnston, 29, had a job until recently but has been forced to give it up due to congenital health problems which mean she has already had a kidney removed and will need a heart and lung transplant in the future.

She had been receiving Disability Living Allowance but this was stopped last August after aids including bed ladders were fitted at her home, following recommendations from an occupational health expert.

DWP advisors told her that the benefits would stop until she was reassessed for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – and she has now spent half a year waiting for that appointment.

Jeanette’s tale raises several questions. Why does it take so long for anyone to have the now-legally-demanded medical assessment of their disabilities? Could it be because benefits are stopped until those assessments take place, and it is a chance for the government to claim benefit savings? This seems extremely likely.

Also, Jeanette’s benefit was stopped after living aids were installed in her home on the advice of an occupational health expert. The government has just announced a plan to let employers send occupational health experts to advise workers who are off sick for more than four weeks. Does this signify an intention to deprive people of sickness benefits?

Finally, we should note that Jeanette’s condition is serious, involving a heart condition – and it is entirely possible that the stress of trying to make ends meet could worsen her health enough to hospitalise her or even end her life. Is this the government’s intention? If so, then we should all be asking questions about criminal intent.

Elsewhere – in Oxford – a local doctor is defying plans to collect patients’ confidential information and sell it to businesses.

Vox Political has reported on the plan many times in the past, focusing on patients’ right to ‘opt out’ of the scheme, called variously the Health and Social Care Information Centre, the General Patient Extraction Service or simply care.data by the government.

The records are said to be ‘pseudonymised’ by the government – an attempt at hiding patients’ identities that, in fact, allows anyone buying the information to work out the personal details of everybody on the list if they so choose.

Oxford GP Dr Gordon Gancz said: “It removes my right to protect my patients’ confidential information.” He has vowed to take the government to court if it takes action against him.

Both of these stories have been reported in the local press, where the online versions have ‘comment’ columns to which readers can post opinions. It seems likely that the papers involved will also have letters pages.

If you believe that the delays caused by the government disability assessment system are dangerous, you can say so – directly, to the newspaper. If you believe that Dr Gancz is right to protect his patients, you can say so – directly, to the newspaper.

I’m not going to urge you to go and do it because – as we all know – the Department for Work and Pensions took a previous comment of this kind as evidence that I was co-ordinating a campaign of harassment against it (new readers: this is not a joke!) and a future such incident would not help anyone.

But it seems likely that a few words of support for these people, in the pages of their local paper, might help rouse other readers into declaring their own opinions.

It is easy to keep people quiet about controversial changes when they think they are the only ones who are concerned; it’s not so easy when people have evidence that others feel the same way.

What are you going to do?

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18 thoughts on “Let’s support people who stand up against bad government

  1. thelovelywibblywobblyoldlady

    The trouble with this government (that wasn’t elected) is that most of them went to public school, where they are fed the mantra that they are better than anyone else. As a result, they think they can do what they want, when they want and people will be too stupid to object and will just go along with their hare brained schemes.
    So I am glad that this GP is taking the action he is and I bet he won’t be the only one. Maybe people are slowly starting to wake up to the privatisation by the back door of our public services.

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  3. Barry Davies

    This government has adopted the fascist principles from the early 30’s of disposing of the people who are not able to work for the nations benefit, the method chosen is to use the atos brownshirts to deny that people need any help whatsoever then sanctioning them for not working.

  4. marje

    i agree with the sentiments of both of the above. if this were happening in another country, our government would be criticising them. they are a bunch of fascists. i have never know a worse government. they are even worse than margaret thatcher and that is saying something.the sooner they are out the better.

  5. Samuel Miller (@Hephaestus7)

    Hospitals in the U.K. were offered financial incentives to place patients on the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), and their deaths no doubt saved the government a substantial sum of money in benefits provision—the NHS was unable, or perhaps unwilling, to provide me with a guesstimate, and asked me to query the DWP instead.

    Just want to bring to your attention that there are excessive waits in processing claims in the U.S. as well, particularly in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA):
    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/gop-sen-veterans-disability-claims-backlog-a-national-embarrassment/ —but two wrongs don’t make a right.

  6. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    These are two extremely serious issues. In the case of Jeanette Johnston, the fact that her benefits have been stopped for six months or more despite the immense seriousness of her condition should be a case for very grave concern. It looks like the government is flagrantly negligent of her safety, in order to make a few savings on her benefits bill. If nothing else, it shows that the government is entirely unconcerned about the health of their victims, or clients, if they prefer, and indicates that anyone unfortunate enough to suffer from similar life-threatening conditions will be treated with the same callous indifference as to their well-being. If this was a private company, then I would imagine that there could be reasonable grounds for bringing a court action for either criminal negligence or incompetence. As it is the government, and taking people to court requires money that those on benefits simply don’t have, there is absolutely no chance of this.

    Dr Gancz deserves to be praise for his stance against selling his patients’ records. There are a number of privacy issues involved here, and I really do mean to blog about this later. Campaigners against genetic testing and the commercialisation of genetic information have raised a point that also seems relevant here. Their objection is that insurance companies may purchase genetic information to determine, who is susceptible to particular diseases, and then raise their insurance premiums accordingly. So far the legislation makes no mention of genetic testing, though I am in no doubt that, if this becomes more practicable, the government will be keen to sell that to the highest bidder as well. However, it is by no means unlikely that insurance and other companies could purchase people’s medical records in order to assess whether they, or the people in a particular locality, are high or low risk. there is also the problem that it has been known for companies, who have made a scientific discovery based on genetic information, have patented this so that they have intellectual ownership of this part of the person’s genetic makeup. It’s not too far-fetched to imagine similar biotech and pharmaceutical companies also trying to patent the discoveries made from the medical records they have purchased. Your ownership of your genetic heritage is most definitely at stake here.

  7. amnesiaclinic

    Do you have evidence that hospitals were offered incentives for putting patients on the LCP? Something has replaced it because of the outcry – does the replacement have incentives as well?

    Thanks

  8. jaypot2012

    Reblogged on Jay’s Journal.
    I applaud anyone who stands up to this evil coalition and hope that everything that they touch keeps on failing, spectacularly!

Comments are closed.