Campaigner who embarrassed DWP was forced into 15-month benefit battle – with DWP

The worst aspect of this is that there probably isn’t a connection. Gail Ward caused serious embarrassment to the Department for Work and Pensions in 2018 when in response to a Freedom of Information request, the government department had to admit 111,000 people had died while claiming Employment and Support Allowance. Then Ms Ward, 63, was told by the same organisation that she didn’t qualify for Personal Independence Payments. For clarity, she has Prinzmetal’s angina, a rare form of angina where attacks can occur even when resting. The rare heart condition means…

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If it’s fear-mongering to say people will die because of Brexit, why is the government stockpiling body-bags?

The Minister for the 18th Century, Jacob Rees-Mogg, caused a bit of a stir this week when he attacked a doctor who advised the government on “no deal” Brexit – in flagrant contradiction of the evidence. Consultant neurologist Dr David Nicholl helped draft the Project Yellowhammer document that predicted shortages of medicines, food and fuel if “no deal” Brexit happens. Dr Nicholl asked Mr Rees-Mogg, now Leader of the House of Commons, in an exchange on LBC radio, “What level of mortality rate are you willing to accept in the…

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Jeremy Hunt has talked himself into a hole – and is digging for all he’s worth

Everybody reading this will be familiar with the expression, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” If only Jeremy Hunt would take that advice! In the latest round of his ongoing dispute with Professor Stephen Hawking, Mr Hunt has tried to defend his claims about NHS spending – and failed. He has also tried to defend his claims about falling numbers of people taking out private medical insurance – and failed. Worst of all, he has tried to say he has not cherry-picked evidence in order to make…

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After Hunt attacked over NHS privatisation, we all knew Hawking wouldn’t let it lie

Picture the scene if you can: Professor Stephen Hawking reading Jeremy Hunt’s smear piece against his concerns about the NHS and then, in calm, voice-synthesized tones, uttering: “So he wants to play hardball, does he? Fine.” Professor Hawking has written a response in The Guardian, expanding on his original points: That Mr Hunt misrepresented scientific research in order to claim that poorer hospital care and staffing at weekends cause excess deaths. That Mr Hunt’s claim of record NHS funding is a distraction as it does not show that funding is adequate.…

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Jeremy Hunt challenged to take part in TV debate with Stephen Hawking over the NHS

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been challenged to appear in a televised debate on NHS statistics and the future of the service. He would be opposed by Professor Stephen Hawking, whose claims about the Conservative minority government’s plans for the NHS were attacked by Mr Hunt on Twitter over the weekend. Here’s the challenge: Dear media, The public of country kindly request that you invite Jeremy Hunt on national tv to debate NHS statistics with Stephen Hawking. — Dr Lauren Gavaghan (@DancingTheMind) August 19, 2017 This Writer is particularly…

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Hunt v Hawking on the future of the NHS: Who do you believe?

You’ve got to believe Jeremy Hunt, right? He is the Health Secretary, after all. He’s the man responsible for planning the future of the National Health Service. He should know whether the NHS is being run down to make way for a US-style health insurance system. And we all know he takes his responsibility as a Conservative cabinet minister extremely seriously and would never lie to the public – right? So when he says more money is being spent on the NHS than ever before, we believe him – right? When…

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FOI? Or just FU?

It seems Yr Obdt Srvt has become the victim of DWP game-playing that shows contempt for sick and disabled benefit claimants whose lives are threatened by poor decision-making. You may be familiar with the following saying (or at least with the fact that George W Bush wasn’t): “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” I mention this as a precursor to the following story, for reasons that should become clear. Back in May, I sent another Freedom of Information request to the Department for Work and…

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

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…

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Have 230,000 sick and disabled people been wrongly knocked off-benefit and forgotten?

After all the government’s efforts to kick people off long-term sickness benefits, the number of claimants has risen – but statistics seem unable to account for nearly a quarter of a million people. Even though Atos and now other private assessors are working hard to meet increased reassessment targets for Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance, the government is paying out more money on these benefits – to around two million claimants. This is a surprise for an administration that has been merrily throwing people off-benefit since it came…

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New threat to UK economy as Calamity George vows to give it “110 per cent”

According to the Telegraph, George Osborne has promised that the Coalition will give “110 per cent attention” to boosting the economy after the Bank of England admitted there will be no growth at all this year. He’s like a child trying to appease Mum and Dad: “I’m sorry we’ve got nothing to show for the last two years but we’ll give it 110 per cent from now on!” I have a doubt about that. Not about his sincerity; about his ability. He says he’s got the deficit down – but…

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