Category Archives: Health

Reactions to NHS privatisation Bill scream how bad it is. No comment from Starmer though

Masked like a bandit, not to protect others: it seems Keir Starmer is funded by a private donor who profits from illness and injury and cannot be trusted to safeguard our NHS.

What a strange man Keir Starmer is. His name was on Labour’s amendment calling for the Health and Care Bill to go no further towards becoming an Act of Parliament – but, after it failed, he has nothing to say against the legislation.

This Writer has waited more than 24 hours for Starmer’s considered response to the progress of a Bill that will seriously harm the UK’s greatest institution – and his party’s greatest achievement. Not a dicky bird.

He seems to be almost entirely alone, though. Labour’s MPs had a ‘form’ tweet to send out:

Others had more to say:

The Open Democracy article states that, considering the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has two choices: it can either support the NHS to meet its legal obligations to provide us with the healthcare we need for the years ahead – or it can reduce those obligations; reduce our rights to access healthcare.

It says the Health and Care Bill proposes reducing the government’s obligations to secure NHS care for us all, further than the Tories have gone already – and cutting our ability to get that care. This fits with the conclusions previously put forward by This Site.

Labour’s Jon Trickett highlighted something the Bill doesn’t address:

Well, I did say the Bill would not make it possible to employ a single extra nurse or treat a single extra patient. Perhaps I should have emphasized that medical staff who are already employed by the NHS would find it hard to survive on the meagre pay it provides in the future.

Trickett makes other good points:

Of course, Jeremy Corbyn warned us about the Tory threat to the NHS in the run-up to the 2019 general election, as Cornish Damo reminds us:

How curious that Keir Starmer hasn’t thought to remind anybody of that!

Perhaps he’d rather not be associated with anything said by his immediate forerunner – even though Mr Corbyn was right.

Then again, perhaps there’s a more vulgar explanation:

Is this the answer, then?

Will access to the National Health Service in England be restricted by the Tories – at the demand of their paymasters in private industries that profit from illness and injury – with only token opposition from Labour because Starmer’s paymasters are also in private industries that profit from illness and injury?

Is that why we haven’t heard a word from him about it?

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Law to put private companies at the centre of the NHS passes second reading. Where are the news reports?

Backhander: the new Health and Care Bill will apparently allow private companies to take your tax money – intended to support the NHS – and then use “commercial confidentiality” laws to hide how they spend it.

What a blackout.

The Health and Care Bill – a planned law by the Conservative government that aims to put private, profit-making businesses at the centre of the English NHS – passed by a huge majority just after 7pm today (July 14).

At the time of writing – more than two and a half hours later – I found only one news report about it, in Scottish website The National.

Where’s your report, BBC? Where’s yours, ITV, Channel 4, Sky News? How about you, The GuardianThe Mirror? Anyone else at all?

During the debate, health minister Edward Argar admitted that the Bill would lead to increased private influence in the NHS – but tried to sugar-coat it.

“We are determined to embrace innovative potential wherever we find it,” he said.

Let’s consider what he calls “innovative potential”:

The Bill will break the NHS in England into 42 separate ‘Integrated Care Systems’ (ICS), each with its own – tight – budget that could lead to cuts in care.

These new organisations would be open to the private sector – and the removal of competitive tendering means contracts could be handed straight to asset-stripping profiteers.

Already, 200 firms are connected to the new ICS structure, including at least 30 US-based health insurance companies.

Companies could be given access to confidential patient information, more patient care will be given by less qualified staff who are cheaper, and non-urgent referrals to hospital delayed or refused because of pressure to make savings.

A drive towards cash-saving digital services means face-to-face GP appointments may end.

The long-awaited overhaul of the care system may end up being a demand on already-overworked family carers to take on more unpaid work as unprofitable community services are stripped away altogether.

National agreements on pay, terms and conditions for NHS staff may be swept away with employees ordered to work wherever private-sector employers find it easiest to make a profit – undermining team working, union organisation and continuity of care.

The much-anticipated return of responsibility to the Secretary of State means a politician will be able to make devastating decisions about the NHS without any democratic accountability.

The Health Secretary will be able to deregulate jobs – offering them to candidates who don’t have the right qualifications but are available for the right price, risking harm to patients and interfering with professional judgement and staff development.

The NHS will be exempt from the Public Contract Regulations 2015, meaning it will be impossible to reject bids for contracts on the grounds of non-compliance with environmental, social, or labour laws guaranteeing Freedom of Association and the Right to Strike, or on the basis of a bidder’s previous history.

The Health Secretary will also impose local service reconfigurations, weakening or abolishing the right and power local authorities currently have to scrutinise significant health changes.

The Bill will not treat a single extra patient, nor will it recruit even one more nurse.

That is exactly what I told my Conservative MP, Fay Jones, when I wrote asking her to speak against the Bill, and to vote against it. Of course, she did neither. She’s a Tory drone.

Fortunately, some others had the courage to stand up for their constituents who would be affected (including those in Scotland and Wales, of course).

Dr Philippa Whitford, SNP health spokesperson, said the Bill could mean private companies will be able to take public cash and not have to publish accounts of how it is used.

“It is hard to see this as anything other than a blatant conflict of interest,” she said. “Private companies hide behind commercial confidentiality and don’t publish accounts of how they spend public money.”

Labour’s Zarah Sultana said the Bill “will put on steroids the cronyism we’ve seen in this pandemic, where Tory mates and donors having handed billions of pounds in dodgy Covid Government contracts, and it will implement a healthcare model that incentivises cuts and closures, rationing funding to health boards. This dangerous Bill is another step to privatisation.”

But they were rare voices of reason among the bleating of almost 360 Tory sheep.

A Labour amendment to deny the Bill its second reading was voted down by 359 votes to 218, and the Bill passed to the committee stage of the legislative process by 356 votes to 219.

It seems Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid want to pass this Bill into law before the end of the current Parliamentary session on July 22. With this kind of complicity from their party faithful on the Green Benches, they seem certain to succeed.

And with an apparent news blackout on coverage of this crisis for publicly-provided health care, it seems the NHS will pass into the hands of the asset strippers before most of us even know it could.

Source: Health and Care Bill: NHS ‘takeover’ legislation passes second reading | The National

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The great #HealthAndCareBill LIE: it’s opening the way for MORE privatisation, not less

Not for sale: sadly, this is just an aspiration now – held by those of us who still think healthcare should be based on patient need and not on provider profit.

Services will be cut or rationed and the NHS will become an unregulated market for healthcare firms under Sajid Javid’s contradictorily-named Health and Care Bill which – if enacted – will support neither.

That’s the message from Keep Our NHS Public campaigners.

The Bill will break the NHS into 42 separate ‘Integrated Care Systems’ (ICS), each with its own – tight – budget that could lead to cuts in care.

These new organisations would be open to the private sector – and the removal of competitive tendering means contracts could be handed straight to asset-stripping profiteers.

Already, 200 firms are connected to the new ICS structure, including at least 30 US-based health insurance companies.

Companies could be given access to confidential patient information, more patient care will be given by less qualified staff who are cheaper, and non-urgent referrals to hospital delayed or refused because of pressure to make savings.

A drive towards cash-saving digital services means face-to-face GP appointments may end.

The long-awaited overhaul of the care system may end up being a demand on already-overworked family carers to take on more unpaid work as unprofitable community services are stripped away altogether.

National agreements on pay, terms and conditions for NHS staff may be swept away with employees ordered to work wherever private-sector employers find it easiest to make a profit – undermining team working, union organisation and continuity of care.

Oh, and you remember the much-anticipated return of responsibility to the Secretary of State? It means a politician will be able to make devastating decisions about the NHS without any democratic accountability.

The Health Secretary will be able to deregulate jobs – offering them to candidates who don’t have the right qualifications but are available for the right price, risking harm to patients and interfering with professional judgement and staff development.

The NHS will be exempt from the Public Contract Regulations 2015, meaning it will be impossible to reject bids for contracts on the grounds of non-compliance with environmental, social, or labour laws guaranteeing Freedom of Association and the Right to Strike, or on the basis of a bidder’s previous history.

The Health Secretary will also impose local service reconfigurations, weakening or abolishing the right and power local authorities currently have to scrutinise significant health changes.

According to Dr John Lister, Secretary of Keep Our NHS Public and health policy academic

This Bill will not treat even one extra patient, or recruit one extra nurse

He asked why the new law is being deemed so urgent and important – but isn’t it obvious?

Javid, Johnson and the other Tory parasites want to turn your health into a profit-making industry for their donors as soon as possible.

I’ve just picked out the headline issues. Read more details here: Health and Care Bill means lucrative NHS contracts will be dished out ‘without competition’ | Left Foot Forward: Leading the UK’s progressive debate

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Tories plan to hit people over 60 with prescription charges

Prescription: if you’re over 60 and you need one of these – especially if it’s on a regular basis – then the price is set to skyrocket under a new Tory plan to make money for private healthcare firms.

Is this some of the government policy Lord Bethell has been discussing on his private email account, to keep it away from pesky Freedom of Information requests?

The Conservatives are planning to raise the age at which people may receive free prescriptions in England from 60 to 66, in line with the state pension age.

That’s the wrong yardstick, of course.

Firstly, prescriptions should be free to everybody because we all pay into the National Health Service via our taxes. If you are in England and you pay for prescriptions, you are literally paying twice for your medicine.

Secondly, if free prescriptions must be rationed, then in a country where many people are extremely poor, it makes sense to provide them to those who are most likely to need them – meaning, if they must be pegged to age, that they should become available at the age when most people start to suffer the illnesses associated with age.

The problem is that this is not a matter of medical need; it is about giving more money to the private companies that the Tory government has allowed to flood into the health service in order to make a profit from your pain.

That’s around £300 million per year, according to Lord Bethell – around £46.75 for an average person without need for regular medication – or £130.90 for people who need more than 12 prescriptions a year. And that’s at current prices which are sure to increase.

It’s a typical Tory back-of-a-fag-packet idea, based on a desire to rake in cash for people who don’t need it, from people who desperately do – but aren’t being given a choice about whether to give it up.

In other words: extortion.

Ministers are consulting on raising the age when people become eligible for free prescriptions in England to 66-years-old – but pharmacists branded the plan ‘unacceptable’

Source: People over 60 could be hit by prescription charges under new Government plans – Mirror Online

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Hancock out, Javid in – it seems Boris Johnson has few Tories to choose from

Sajid Javid: the new Health Secretary has been compared with Gollum from JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth fictions.

Hancock had to go, in the end.

Not only had he brought the position of Health Secretary into disrepute by breaking his own “guidelines” (and we all thought they were rules), but he had allowed the Tory government to be ridiculed.

And nobody thought he should stay. This Site’s (admittedly unscientific) poll gave a 100 per cent result in favour of him resigning.

And now he is gone.

(I’m not saying he went just because of my poll’s result, but it does seem to have reflected the mood of the nation at large, meaning it was impossible for him to stay.)

Ironically, that leaves the woman he allegedly hired solely so he could have an affair with her, stuck in a Health Department job that she may not even be qualified to hold. We know nothing of her record as an adviser.

But he’ll probably be back very soon.

Yes – now for the bad news.

You see, Boris Johnson has appointed Sajid Javid as Hancock’s replacement.

Javid was removed from his previous Cabinet job as Chancellor of the Exchequer in February last year, after a row with Johnson and then-prime ministerial adviser Dominic Cummings over his own advisers.

The fact that he is back now – filling the gap left after the first Cabinet change since he left – suggests that Johnson has very few allies in his own party.

This could explain his refusal to sack his ministers; with only the Britannia Unchained mob (Patel, Raab, Truss, Kwarteng) and a few Brexiters to choose from, he can’t afford to lose anybody.

This would also explain the increasing wave of corruption in Johnson’s ranks.

They know he is weak and they are exploiting it.

Further signs of Johnson’s weakness are evident – and likely to become more so after Javid’s appointment.

We have already seen attacks from Dominics Cummings and Grieve, and the defection of John Bercow to Keir Starmer’s Labour (not a huge leap, sadly).

I’m willing to predict more backstabbings from what we might call more “traditional” Conservatives, as they realise an 80-seat Parliamentary majority doesn’t mean more than 360 supporters for Johnson’s fascism.

They have plenty of attack options – the fact that Johnson allowed Hancock to make so many mistakes, break so many rules (all right, “guidelines”), and generally corrupt his office shows that the prime minister’s judgement is highly questionable.

The fact that Johnson refused to sack Hancock in the face of the public outcry also raises serious questions. Other PMs have sacked ministers who brought their administration into disrepute, even though it meant hiring MPs less sympathetic to their own politics, but Johnson didn’t.  That could be a valuable pressure point in the future.

In fact, there’s really only one ray of hope for Johnson amid this political and public relations disaster:

Hancock’s personal life brought him down, not his utter failure at his job.

This is a man whose three years as Health Secretary were characterised by rampant corruption – the appointment of an adviser purely so he could have an affair with her is just one example – and incompetence.

He gave contracts to provide the NHS with personal protective equipment (PPE) to Tory donors and friends who failed to do so. In the time he wasted this way, tens of thousands of people died.

He wasted £37 billion on a privatised “track and trace” system that still doesn’t work after a year. That organisation was run by Dido Harding, who now wants a job running NHS England – and if she gets it, she’ll ruin it as well.

He lied to us repeatedly about the seriousness of the Covid-19 threat, about the effectiveness of the government’s opposition to it, and about the incompetence of his own decisions (covering up his uselessness).

He failed to provide appropriate guidance to protect care home residents from Covid-19 – most especially from fellow residents returning from hospital but also from staff who worked in multiple homes.

I’m listing these examples off the top of my head, by the way – they are so obvious I don’t even have to research them.

But those failures aren’t what brought him down.

Johnson can take heart from this. It shows that the mindless mass of tribal Tory voters is still right behind him – convinced that his government is doing what’s right for the UK, even as it drags us into the cess pit of fascism and exploitation.

It’s a very small gleam of sunlight through the clouds surrounding him, though.

He has surrounded himself with corrupt incompetents just like Hancock, whose rampant self-interest will bring them before the court of public opinion again – very soon.

What will Johnson do when the mob is baying for the next one’s head?

Source: Matt Hancock quits as health secretary after breaking social distance guidance – BBC News

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Nadine ‘window lickers’ Dorries patient-shames women in car-crash interview

This woman is a health minister: Nadine Dorries once used a derogatory description of people with mental disabilities to describe her critics on Twitter. Now she has appeared on the radio, telling women that they can expect no help from her if they suffer sexism from doctors [Image: The Prole Star.]

Nadine Dorris is a perfect example of the Tory government having to promote people beyond their abilities.

The health minister who once used the description “window lickers” (an insult against people with mental disabilities)…

… appeared on the BBC’s Woman’s Hour where she tried to shame female NHS patients while denying responsibility for any of their problems.

You can hear the interview for yourself:

Those who have already heard the car-crash interview had nothing but derision for Dorries…

…and praise for her interviewer Emma Barnett:

The message is starkly clear: if you are a woman and you are being failed by the Tory-run health service, you will get no help from the Tories who are running it into the ground.

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If you’re in England, the government is planning to hand your private health records to people you don’t know – again

Readers in England: are you happy that the Tory government is about to pass private details of your mental and sexual health, criminal records, smoking and drinking habits to profiteers?

Tory-run NHS Digital will hand over the medical histories of more than 55 million patients to “third parties” to “support the planning and commissioning of health and care services, the development of health and care policy, public health monitoring and interventions (including COVID-19) and enable many different areas of research.”

The announcement is carefully worded to avoid suggesting that your details are going to people who plan to make money out of them, but the simple fact is that, before privatisation was introduced in 2012, nobody but the NHS would have needed your records for the reasons given.

You can opt out of the scheme before June 23 by providing this online form to your GP – or by using this website. I strongly urge you to do so – and to ignore the “mythbusting” section of the website in which the Tories say it’s all perfectly innocent. They would, wouldn’t they?

If you think the Tories can be trusted on this, bear in mind that NHS Digital said the data could not be used “solely for commercial purposes”, which means that it will be used partly for commercial purposes.

Digital rights campaign group Foxglove has written to health secretary Matt Hancock suggesting that this plan is illegal.

And campaigners have also raised concerns that the scheme has not been sufficiently publicised. Did you know about it before reading this?

Healthcare IT News quoted Phil Booth of privacy organisation MedConfidential as follows:

“For the Government to rush out a data grab like this, with only a few weeks’ notice for patients and for GPs, is not only corrosive of trust – it’s deeply irresponsible. GPs are the busiest they’ve ever been and dumping this on them without time to prepare and the resources to handle patients’ opt-outs is the very worst sort of digital disruption.”

Absolutely.

NHS Digital is desperate to convince us that the data could only be used by “organisations which can show they have an appropriate legal basis and a legitimate need to use it”.

But recent experiences of health secretary Matt Hancock’s dealings with the private sector suggest that the database will go to anybody who has bunged the Tory Party a few quid over the last 10 or 20 years.

And, let’s face it, the Tories have a very poor record of trying to sell off your NHS records for a quick buck.

It’s one of the stories that has kept repeating over the last (nearly) 10 years, and This Site has reported on its progress:

The Tories tried to put GP records in a central database in 2013 under the Care.data programme, but it was abandoned in 2016 after confidentiality complaints.

My report of the time shows that the Tories are still using the same weak excuse for exploiting your private data, that failed to convince anyone eight years ago:

[Then-Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt] thinks this gross abuse of patient confidentiality is a good idea. But then, he’s a Tory and therefore thinks he has a God-given right to take anything, from anyone, if they have less filthy lucre than himself.

According to the Daily Mail – and you know the Tories have lost the plot when even the Heil weighs in against them – the *unt wants us to believe that the information will be valuable for medical research and screening for common diseases.

Doctors say Mr *unt and NHS England have failed in their duty to publicise the plan in a proper and reasonable way, that patients are not getting an “informed” choice about the matter, and that patients could be identified from the data with any information other than that on common conditions – which, we’ve already established, becomes public knowledge anyway.

Same excuses, same failure to publicise the plan… so we have all the same reasons to withdraw our permission. Don’t we?

I reported on it again in 2014.

And in 2016, after a review into care.data recommended that the scheme be scrapped, the Tories tried to sell your information anyway, but just without telling you.

Again, This Site reported on it:

The government’s review proposes to allow medical records from your family doctor, (possibly including NHS Numbers, diagnoses, referrals, prescriptions along with postcodes and dates of birth) to be uploaded to a giant national database – but this time without telling us or asking for our consent.

One of the schemes to replace care.data is called the “Single GP dataset”. The government’s review into care.data proposes to send all patient records from family GPs to the central database without the express consent of patients. Once in the system, it can be “sold” to any customers of the ‘Health and Social Care Information centre”, including private companies.

The government buried this announcement on the day of the report into the Iraq War. It is hoping no one will notice this new land grab on our medical records.

But people did notice.

And now I’m reporting on it again, so you will notice it again. I hope you will put a stop to it again, too.

And then I’ll look forward to reporting on another Tory bid to sell this information.

Judging by experience, we’ll be back here again in 2025.

Source: Privacy fears over NHS plans to share GP medical records with third parties | Healthcare IT News

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Are you reducing the risk of ingesting toxic microplastics at home?

This is a political issue – politicians could have prevented the spread of microplastics over many decades but they couldn’t be bothered. Out of sight, out of mind – right?

Well, now these almost-invisible substances are very much on people’s minds, and a study in Sydney, Australia, showed that we could be ingesting carcinogenic and mutagenic chemicals (causing cancer or harming our DNA) without knowing it.

The study found 39 per cent of deposited dust particles in participating homes were microplastics; 42 per cent were natural fibres such as cotton, hair and wool; and 18 per cent were transformed natural-based fibres such as viscose and cellophane.

The remaining one per cent were film and fragments consisting of various materials.

Between 22 and 6,169 microfibres were deposited as dust per square metre, each day.

We spend 90 per cent of our time at home – habitually. During the Covid-19 lockdowns, it is likely that we have spent even more of our time there. So it makes sense to do what we can to reduce any harm that might be lurking there – in our carpets, for example.

Most at risk of ingesting these substances are children aged under six, because they are smaller, have a lower relative body size, and breathe more quickly than adults. Kids aged five were likely to ingest microplastics equivalent to the size of a garden pea each year.

It may not seem much, but there is no established safe level of exposure.

But here’s the good news:

Having hard floors, using more natural fibres in clothing, furnishings and homewares, along with vacuuming at least weekly can reduce your exposure.

So the advice is: Get cleaning!

Source: We’re all ingesting microplastics at home, and these might be toxic for our health. Here are some tips to reduce your risk

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Every new MP receives briefing on how Tory social security reforms have harmed us – so they can’t say they don’t know

Long-term readers of This Site will remember Mo Stewart, the researcher into the harm being caused to claimants of sickness and disability benefits by successive Conservative governments’ determination to convert the social security system to a for-profit insurance scheme.

Mo spent 10 years researching and writing a book on this subject: Cash Not Care – The Planned Demolition of the UK Welfare State.

After the 2019 general election, she became concerned that the huge new influx of Conservative MPs – along with those from other political parties – were ignorant of the harm that government policies had caused.

So she wrote a briefing paper specifically addressing the issue and sent it to all of them.

Labour’s John McDonnell has apparently offered to arrange a debate on the subject, if possible.

Whether or not that happens, Mo has provided me with a copy of the document so we all have a record of what these MPs should know – and so they won’t be able to plead ignorance.

And here it is:

Social Policy Abused:
The Creation Of Preventable Harm

Executive Summary

The Preventable Harm Project (the Project) ran for ten years and closed in November 2019, with the evidence identified within the Project findings widely promoted during 2019/20. The Project identified the bipartisan political ambition to eventually remove the UK welfare state, to be replaced by private income replacement health insurance. In order to remove the welfare state, it was first necessary to remove the psychological security provided by the welfare state. This was achieved by the adoption of a flawed disability assessment model, and the manipulation of the general public aided by the tabloid press, that successfully demonised claimants of disability benefit(s). Large numbers of suicides linked to the adoption of the Work Capability Assessment are overlooked by the Department for Work and Pensions, and successive Rule 43 ‘prevention of future deaths’ Coroners’ reports, highlighting the link between the Work Capability Assessment and suicides, have also been disregarded. The Work Capability Assessment was fatally flawed by design and should be abolished, and the departmental intimidation of disability benefit claimants should be outlawed.

Introduction: The Creation of Preventable Harm

1. Introduced in 2008 to restrict access to the new Employment and Support Allowance long-term out-of-work disability benefit, the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is a ‘non-medical functional assessment’ that disregards all clinical opinion. Since 2010, the WCA has been linked to the deaths of thousands of chronically ill and disabled benefit claimants who applied for state financial support when unable to work, yet were deemed to be ‘fit for work’ by the fatally flawed WCA.

2. Twelve years since the adoption of the WCA there is an identified and growing mental health crisis within the UK linked to claimants of disability benefit(s), and a disturbing increase in suicides directly linked to the WCA, as identified by published academic research but dismissed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

“The worst thing, I find, is realising that I am forced into looking for a life that I want but have no chance of having. I seriously feel I may kill myself because being sick, having next to no money, no life, no future, no cure, constant pain and constant disapproval defeats me.”

An extract from the ‘Fulfilling Potential? ESA and the fate of the Work-Related Activity Group’ project, conducted by Catherine Hale and published by MIND and the Centre for Welfare Reform.

3. In both 2006 and 2007 the government’s own expert medical panel warned the administration not to adopt the WCA, advising that it was ‘not fit for purpose’ due to the predictable negative impact on public mental health. The expert panel’s clinical opinion was disregarded by the DWP. The removal of clinical opinion from disability assessment using the WCA guaranteed that many of those in greatest need were destined to die, as the state removed the financial and the psychological security of a guaranteed income when unfit to work.

4. There have been two official Rule 43 ‘prevention of future deaths’ Coroners’ reports linking the WCA to suicides, with other Coroners expressing concern at inquests due to the identified enforced suffering of the deceased by the DWP. Coroners’ official Rule 43 reports and identified concerns are disregarded by the DWP, whose social policy reforms since 2010 created preventable harm to those in greatest need linked to intimidation. The constant threat of sanctions, which removes all disability benefit income, leaves the chronically ill and disabled community in need of state financial support living in fear of the DWP.

5. Regardless of the Jobcentre being advised that a claimant is unable to attend an interview due to ill health, disabled claimants are routinely met with an ‘institutional reluctance’ to meet their needs, as identified in Coroner’s reports. Jobcentre staff’s decisions to sanction a claimant can cause death by starvation, in C21st UK, when all income is removed for a period of weeks or months. No-one is held to account when some of those in greatest need are starved to death by the state.

6. The WCA is used to limit access to all state disability funding including the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Universal Credit and the War Pensions for older working-age disabled veterans, which is a military medical pension not an out-of-work benefit.

7. The WCA is regularly and inappropriately referred to as a ‘medical assessment’ by the DWP, MPs, academics, policy advisers and journalists. The WCA is not a medical assessment and is totally unrelated to clinical opinion. The adoption of the WCA is identified as being attributed to psychocoercion by successive administrations, to remove what once was the psychological security of the welfare state for anyone who is unfit to work.

8. Identified in 2008 by the American Association of Justice as being the second worst insurance company in America, the corporate insurance giant Unum (Provident) Insurance have been advisers to the UK government since 1992, and were appointed as the official UK government consultants for ‘welfare claims management’ from 1994. Concerned by the increase in various conditions that could not be confirmed by blood tests or x-rays, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, Unum Insurance adopted a biopsychosocial (BPS) model of disability assessment, which disregards all clinical opinion.

9. Unum advised the UK government as to how to adopt a similar BPS assessment model in the UK, and funded an assessment centre at Cardiff University for this purpose. The DWP adopted the discredited Waddell-Aylward BPS model of assessment for the WCA, which disregards diagnosis, prognosis, past medical history and prescribed medicines. The human consequences of using the WCA is that many of those in greatest need would die, with many driven to suicide with a common perception that anyone claiming to be unfit to work, and in need of state financial support, will be persecuted by the DWP. The Waddell-Aylward BPS model of assessment failed all academic scrutiny.

Policy recommendations

• Since 2009 every clinical authority in the UK have demanded that the WCA should be abolished. This includes the British Medical Association, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Nurses and the British Psychological Society. Introduced by the private health insurance industry, disregarding clinical opinion was always dangerous. The WCA is fatally flawed and should be abolished without further delay, to be replaced with a disability assessment that considers clinical opinion, with many assessments being paper-based, so that the chronically ill and disabled community are no longer intimidated by the DWP.

Research findings
• In order to remove the past psychological security provided by the welfare state it was necessary to discredit vast numbers of disability benefit claimants, aided by the tabloid press, which helped to manipulate the British public.
• Social policies were adopted with a fiscal priority whilst disregarding health and wellbeing, which policymakers failed to take into account when recommending policies which were harmful.
• Since 2010 the social policy reforms, and the additional austerity measures, were destined to have a catastrophic and often fatal consequence for many of those in greatest need. Thousands of chronically ill and disabled benefit claimants have died when ‘killed by the state,’ with a 2014 NHS Digital Adult Psychiatry Morbidity Survey report that identified that almost 50 percent of ESA disability benefit claimants had attempted suicide at some point.
• Prosecuted disability hate crimes, including murder, increased by 213 percent between 2010-2016, during the coalition government’s term in office.
• The relationship between physical health and mental health is well documented. The numbers of benefit claimants who have perished due to social policies since 2010 will never be known.
• Published in September 2016 ‘Cash Not Care: the planned demolition of the UK welfare state’ provides the results of the first six years of independent disability studies research for the Preventable Harm Project. The book is now recommended reading for various social policy, health and legal courses at universities in the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Nothing for you if you’re sick, disabled, at school or in care: reaction to the Tory budget

They all do this: but the way Rishi Sunak held the red box indicated there wasn’t much in it. And there wasn’t.

Rishi Sunak’s budget has shown he is a diehard Tory, with concessions for businesses while those of us in need can go whistle.

He has claimed his hands are tied by huge Covid-19-related debts – but we all know that he has already paid them off, by the simple means of creating the money needed to do so.

And his big plans for the future were pathetic: new ‘free ports’ that have always been a bad idea, and an investment bank to replace the one a previous Tory government sold off a few years ago.

We are ruled by intellectual pygmies – and that is being harsh on the pygmies.

I watched the budget speech and commentated on it on Twitter, so I can provide a first-hand account of the announcements – but first, I’d like to go straight to what wasn’t announced, with comments from people who were reading at the time:

So the people who did all the hard work during the Covid-19 crisis will receive no reward for their sacrifices at all – even though many of them sacrificed their lives, contracting the virus and dying because Matt Hancock couldn’t be bothered to supply proper personal protective equipment (PPE) at the right time.

However:

People with disabilities who did not receive the £20 benefit uplift because they are on so-called “legacy” benefits will still receive nothing more, even though the uplift will remain in place until September. After then, it seems people who lost their jobs because of Covid-19 will fall over a so-called “cliff edge”, with the uplift cancelled, forcing them to live on much less.

The Tories have made a major issue of education in the crisis, demanding that our children must go back to school as soon as possible in order to catch up on what they have missed – but Rishi Sunak has provided no extra facilities for this in his budget. It seems it was all talk and – in fact – the plan is to reopen a major vector for transmission of Covid and hope that the increase in infections – and deaths – won’t be noticed amid the falling numbers triggered by the vaccination programme.

And after years of promising to fix problems in the social care system – that became hugely pronounced when 30,000 people died in care homes because of Tory stupidity – Sunak is breaking that promise by offering nothing.

Meanwhile, those who profited hugely from the pandemic – either by being perfectly situated to continue selling goods to people in lockdown or by receiving government Covid-related contracts to provide services at hugely-inflated costs (many of which were not actually provided because the contractors were not qualified to do so) are to get off scot-free because Sunak has backed away from calls to impose a wealth tax.

So, what has he done?

Well, he carped on a lot about borrowing a huge amount of money to pay for Covid-19. That was a stream of lies from start to finish, as I pointed out:

So we were led to expect tax hikes a-go-go. But this didn’t happen:

The refers to income tax, National Insurance and VAT. However – and this is indeed a ‘however’:

This is the amount you earn before you start paying tax, or before you start paying it at a higher rate. Because these thresholds are frozen, it seems more people will pay at a higher rate due to wage inflation, so there will be a de facto increase in taxes. But this depends on people receiving pay rises to cover their costs and Tory policy over the last 11 years has been to discourage that – it’s the reason real take-home pay has fallen by thousands of pounds per year since 2010.

This was the only increase in taxation, and it is only on a tax on profits. So firms that pay corporation tax can avoid it by ensuring that they make no profit from 2023. The best way to do that is to invest in infrastructure and wages (by employing more people, perhaps).

It would be wrong to say that Sunak’s budget does nothing for ordinary people – but it’s all based around existing Covid-related schemes:

Sunak went on to announce plans for government investment. The main points were:

But “free ports” are not new, nor are they likely to help:

Here’s an interesting point:

Mr McDonnell himself promptly answered it:

There was also some muttering about policies that give a nod to the environment but if you blinked, you missed them – and This Writer blinked. They certainly don’t constitute a “Green Industrial Revolution”!

As Tory budgets go, this is not the disaster for working-class people that it could have been – although the main hits have been offset, so it may be a few months or years until we can know the effects for sure.

The lack of any hard taxes or austerity measures suggests a tacit admission that Covid-19 really is bought and paid-for, and there won’t be any real need to pay for it again.

So This Writer is left with a huge sense of anticlimax. I was expecting to be fearful after today; instead I feel let down.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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