How can the government’s new ESA specialist claim he knows nothing about all the deaths?

Dr Paul Litchfield, here pictured giving evidence at another committee meeting, so it's probably another load of tripe.

Dr Paul Litchfield, here pictured giving evidence at another committee meeting – so it’s probably another load of tripe.

An evidence session on Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments was held by the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee on Wednesday – and was notable for the fact that the ‘expert’ hired to review the system claimed to know nothing about the thousands of deaths taking place because of the current system.

Dr Paul Litchfield OBE was hired to take over from Professor Malcolm Harrington to carry out the fourth annual independent review of the assessment process. It seems Prof Harrington was replaced amicably, but evidence has come to light that he was not happy with political decisions that ran against his findings.

A claim that the government was taking “appropriate steps” in areas singled out for improvement by Prof Harrington was disproved when it was revealed that almost two-thirds of the 25 recommendations he made in his year one review were not fully and successfully implemented.

The government also claimed, repeatedly, that Prof Harrington had supported the migration of Incapacity Benefit claimants to ESA. When fellow blogger Sue Marsh contacted him for confirmation, he responded: “I NEVER—repeat–NEVER agreed to the IB migration. I would have preferred that it be delayed but by the time I said that, the political die had been cast. I then said that I would review progress of that during my reviews. The decision was political. I could not influence it. IS THAT CRYSTAL CLEAR?”

The vehemence of his response suggests some friction with his former employers at the very least – and over “political” decisions.

Now we have Dr Litchfield, who claims to have no information about the staggering number of people who have died after going through the assessment system he is being paid to review. Doesn’t that seem – at the very least – a little odd?

He could have, at least, looked up the government’s own statistical release ‘Incapacity Benefits – Deaths of Recipients’ from July 2012. It is long out-of-date and pressure on the government for fresh figures has been stonewalled for two years, but it does show that 10,600 people died between January and November 2011 – including an average of 73 people every week, when the system claimed they were still being assessed or should be getting better. These figures are believed to be inaccurate measures as the government does not monitor deaths of people who have been refused the benefit – the vast majority of claimants.

It seems we are dealing with another Tory yes-man, hired not to improve ESA, but to make it and the government look good.

Dr Litchfield’s attitude is revealed on the video record of the meeting, which is available on the Parliament UK website, starting two hours, 11 minutes and 41 seconds into the recording.

Committee member Debbie Abrahams (Labour) had just received a Tweet stating: “Litchfield doesn’t want to come out and say scrap WCA because 10,600 dead or he’ll be out of a job, slime bag.”

Turning to Litchfield, she said: “I’ve just been contacted by someone who is commenting on the number of people that are dying every week as a result of being found fit for work after an assessment. I don’t know if you’d like to comment on that?”

The response – from the man who is supposed to have every scrap of information about ESA, let us remember – was as follows: “I don’t have any information of that type; I haven’t seen numbers on that. Clearly every case would be a tragedy.”

That is infuriating for campaigners – one of whom contacted Vox Political and stated: “The wicked toad said he had no knowledge of the deaths. What a lie, how evil – it’s common knowledge, it’s DWP’s own figure, it’s been brought up many times in House of Commons debates… They should sack him and not believe a word he says… no impartiality whatsoever.”

It seems the tragedy, in this case, is the hiring of Dr Litchfield.

Thanks to Katy Marchant for flagging this up.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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34 thoughts on “How can the government’s new ESA specialist claim he knows nothing about all the deaths?

    1. Joanna

      The scary thing though Jeff is that mengle got away with what he did, and so is this scumbag!!!

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  4. gfranklinpercival

    I am not altogether certain that a man who appears to be in his early seventies is not dementing. At 64 I can recognise my own cognitive deficit. Why can’t he, or his carers?

    1. Joanna

      Cameron isn’t actually known for his brightness, the coalition don’t care about deaths everyone should have known that by now!

  5. jaypot2012

    He is an absolute liar, the same as all of them. He should be sacked as he is covering up the deaths and the WCA failure. It’s there for people to listen to and is proof that this man is NOT to be trusted.

  6. Martha

    the Select Committee are way out of their depth, they honestly need to get in a lawyer who specialises in the criminally insane.

  7. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Mike here presents evidence that suggests that Prof Malcolm Harrington was removed from carrying out the independent review of the assessment process because of his disagreements with the government, including his opposition to the transferral of Incapacity Benefit claimants to ESA. His replacement, Dr Paul Litchfield, has aroused anger from disability campaigners, as he claims that he doesn’t know the numbers of who have died after being assessed. This is despite the fact that the figures for 2012 have been published, and as the independent reviewer he is supposed to have this information. Mike concludes that he is another Tory yes-man. It’s hard to disagree with this, although there is another possibility: he is, in fact, a man of integrity, but massively incompetent. In neither case does he deserve public confidence.

    1. Mike Sivier

      It’s more accurate to say that, rather than making any suggestion, I’m just putting the information before readers and allowing them to make their own judgement. The published figures were for January to November 2011, by the way – not even a full year’s data.

  8. Nick

    indeed Martha
    it will take someone like the Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire on 17 December 2010, in protest otherwise the above will just carry on not knowing anything and on that basis you could go on to kill all sick and disabled everyone of them’ exterminate the lot and then tell a judge sorry your honour i wasn’t aware and get off Scott free if your lucky

  9. stewilko

    Reblogged this on stewilko's Blog and commented:
    Unbelievable, if he had any creditability, integrity or were to speak an once of truth. Moreover, a Christian he would tell it as it is. Although, these words often escape the coalition government

  10. pointydog

    At the end of the session.

    Anne Begg
    (shortened version)
    Regarding the 2012 changes to time limited to wrag group benefits of one year. Claimants didn’t know they were on contributary ESA because of way letter was worded that claims would end after one year and only found out when ESA benefit stopped.

    Dr Paul Litchfield OBE
    It’s not something I ‘ve looked at.

    Anne Begg
    Is it something you might look at?

    Dr Paul Litchfield OBE
    I will think about how that fits within the terms of reference. I’m always alive (?) to not straying too far from the terms of reference.

    In other words he’s *not* been given reference to look at that so it’s not within the remit given by his masters.

    HoC Work and Pensions Committee Wednesday
    Grimond Room
    Meeting started on Wednesday 14 May at 9.34am. Ended at 11.45am
    Employment and Support Allowance and Work Capability Assessments

    Prof Malcolm Harrington; Dr Paul Litchfield OBE

  11. kiwi

    I have said this before and will say again, our welfare system has passed over to the dark side and its getting warmer and warmer whilst DC and his cronies stoke the ovens. God help us now and our children in the future

  12. casalealex

    Member of ‘Fit For Work Coalition’ Brought in to Scrutinise Atos
    Posted on February 27, 2013 by johnny void

    Litchfield has long been working behind the scenes with both the current and the last government in a bid to dismantle the welfare state.  Way back in 2006 he was a member of the Mental Health Technical Group who were involved in proposals to ‘transform’ the old Personal Capability Assessment (PCA) – the previous assessment regime for Incapacity Benefit.
    He then went on to sit on the Technical and Consultative Working Group involved in the creation of the Work Capability Assessment, along with Angela Graham of Atos Origin and Sue Godby of Unum.
    He will now prepare a review on the shambolic Work Capability Assessment which is seeing more seriously unwell or disabled people than ever successfully appealing Fit for Work decisions.
    Litchfield has already given an early indication of his true role at the DWP , which appears to be that of a glorified spin doctor.  He claims in a statement on the DWP website that:  “Any assessment not only has to be fair but must be perceived as being fair.”
    He’s not there to change the assessments, but to change people’s minds about the assessments.

  13. Peter Mcdade

    Fit for work Uk. Dame Carol Black is another absolute belter .. Fit uk Fuk for short. Harrington was a whitewasher too. I read all his reports and he was responsible for mandatory reconsiderations and he actually suggested that the appeals tribunals should be looking into their judgements in finding so many people to be not fit for work.Anyone with any medical knowledge & insight into assessment procedures knows that the WCA is completely & rigged against the “claimant”. It is not actually an assessment in a healthcare context. Any health care professional who carries out these assessments should really be reflecting upon their motivations and reasons for doing this.

  14. Paul

    Someone else in denial just like the rest of this unelected government. The Nazis and most of the population of Germany said they didn’t know about The Holocaust either after ww2.

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  16. aussieeh

    All of it is a SHAM, the words Pigs and Trough come to mind. Every single one of them involved in this gross injustice should be held to account for crimes against humanity.

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