Paula Peters is exactly right. Doctors are not DWP employees; their only duty is to look after patients’ health – not to behave as stoolpigeons for ministers who want to clear the sick off the benefit books.
That’s all this scheme is, you see. It’s a bid to push sickness benefit claimants back into the job market by claiming (yet again) that they really aren’t ill at all.
Iain Duncan Smith has ‘form’ when it comes to this. He became Work and Pensions Secretary in the belief that a majority of sickness benefit claimants were malingerers who were fully capable of working – and was proved wrong in very short order.
Ever since, the Gentleman Ranker has been trying to find plausible ways to cut people off, and the death toll wreaked by his disastrous ideas has mounted up.
Look at his draconian ‘work capability assessments’: When the DWP suspended repeat tests, the number of claimant deaths fell.
You would think that would tell him something, but he’s not interested.
Doctors in the six pilot surgeries need to throw out this scheme. A message should go to the relevant CCG, never to let the DWP dabble in matters that don’t concern it – and Iain Duncan Smith needs a slap in the face.
Disabled people and benefit claimants are to protest in London against a scheme to embed job coaches with family doctors, which they say will contaminate healthcare with the punitive culture of the government’s work programme.
Critics warn that the scheme jeopardises doctor-patient confidentiality, risks alienating patients from their doctors and perverts the primary role and ethical mission of the healthcare system, which is to help people to recover from illnesses.
Paula Peters, an activist with Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), said: “There is a blurring of the lines between healthcare and the [Department for Work and Pensions] and it’s wrong. We are already having to watch everything we say to doctors, we treat every appointment as a work capability assessment in case it’s used against us.
“We need that money to live. We became unwell through no fault of our own. We need the healthcare support.”
Activists will march on an Islington GP surgery on Friday, one of six that is part of the pilot scheme that officials see as “an opportunity to embed employment into the ‘wiring’ of the healthcare system” by making it part of the clinical outcomes doctors seek for patients.
Funded in part by the local clinical commissioning group (CCG), but with the bulk of the money coming from the DWP, Islington’s Working Better scheme is as yet the only one of its kind in the country.
It offers patients at the six participating practices who are unemployed and have a long-term health condition access to one-to-one employment support with Remploy job coaches.
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