Tag Archives: illness

Universal Credit causes mental illness – but won’t get you a new job, study finds

A study of Universal Credit has found that it increases mental illness in claimants while failing to get them into new employment.

The finding should cause huge concern among the two million people who are said to have signed up for the benefit after the Conservative government imposed its coronavirus-prompted lockdown, forcing them to sign onto the benefit when their incomes disappeared.

The study of able-bodied people (those with disabilities have already been shown to suffer adverse effects due to changes in their benefits) found a 6.57 per cent increase in psychological distress.

This led the study’s authors to estimate that an extra 63,674 people suffered psychological distress between 2013 and 2018, as a result of being put on Universal Credit.

They estimated that 21,760 might reach the diagnostic threshold for depression.

They believe that, although the effect sizes identified are moderate, the potential for psychological impact is substantial owing to the widespread national policy implementation.

Levels of distress remained constant for people who were not put on the new benefit.

The study revealed that there was no increase in the transition into employment amongst those on Universal Credit, compared with those who were not – despite this being the key rationale given for its introduction.

The Tory government has commissioned its own evaluation of Universal Credit – but this will focus on labour market outcomes and not assess the effect on health and wellbeing.

Won’t it be interesting to see whether this study finds an improvement in employment?

Source: Universal Credit mental health problems, but not employment

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Coronavirus doubles deaths in mental health hospitals. How did it get in?

The number of deaths in mental health hospitals has doubled since the same time last year because of the coronavirus. Why?

These are supposed to be very secure facilities.

The number of people visiting them should have fallen because of the lockdown.

And medical professionals should have had the equipment – and the knowledge – to prevent the virus from penetrating as far as the patients.

But out of 106 deaths between March 1 and May 1, 54 were from confirmed or suspected Covid-19 infections.

In the same period last year, 51 people died. So deaths have more than doubled and all but one of the excess deaths were due to the pandemic.

And if you think the problem is limited to mental health hospitals, ask yourself: why is NHS England refusing to admit the number of people with learning disabilities who have died?

The Care Quality Commission has reminded mental health hospital providers that they have a duty of care to vulnerable patients.

It has highlighted its fears over the spread of the virus in secure hospitals and units, and to patients who are under Mental Health Act restrictions in the community.

The CQC will review its information on the deaths to determine what may be driving the deaths and whether other action should be taken.

There are serious human rights questions to be answered:

Deborah Coles, from the charity Inquest, told The Independent: “The refusal to publish the data points to the historical longstanding failure to provide detailed information about deaths of people in the care of the state in mental health and learning disability settings.

“People in closed institutions are completely reliant on others for their care and treatment. At a time of no external scrutiny, because the CQC is not inspecting units and family visits are restricted, there is the ever-present risk of abuse and ill treatment. These organisations have clear human rights obligations and it is unacceptable that there is just no transparency about what is happening.”

She added: “The other key issue is the indirect impact of Covid-19 on therapeutic services, use of restraint, medication and seclusion and self-inflicted deaths. They need to publish more comprehensive data than numbers disaggregated by gender, race, age, provider. Such a dramatic increase in deaths is deeply concerning and we need to understand the context. Data is meaningless without analysis.”

This Writer wants to know if our health providers have a guilty conscience.

Have they deliberately overlooked their duties to ensure that people with mental illnesses and learning disabilities enjoy a decent standard of health?

Let’s be honest with ourselves – if people in authority are trying to hide something, it’s usually because they know they’re responsible.

Lastly: nobody in such a position knowingly fails in their duty of their own accord. Were they acting (or rather, not acting) on orders from the Tory government?

Source: Coronavirus: Deaths in mental health hospitals double as Covid-19 spreads | The Independent

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People with mental illnesses and disabilities may be falling foul of video court hearings

Court: moving hearings to audio/video because of the coronavirus has made them useless for some people, due to their disabilities. (How many of your are going to criticise me over the fact that UK courts don’t use the gavel?)

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission has called for the government to collect information on the effect of video court hearings on people with mental illnesses and other conditions.

It is feared that people with conditions including learning disability, autism spectrum disorders and mental health conditions – who are significantly over-represented in the criminal justic system – are at a disadvantage when cases are conducted without them being present in court.

The Ministry of Justice has switched magistrates’ hearings to video sessions in response to the coronavirus lockdown, with 85 per cent of cases heard in England and Wales this month carried out using audio and video technology.

Defendants have complained that they did not have enough time to discuss their cases with lawyers, and that they could not hear or understand what was going on during their hearing.

The EHRC has said that everyone should be equal before the law, and this means nobody defending themselves before a court should be at a disadvantage because they are disabled.

Will the government pay attention? It seems unlikely.

Tories have victimised people with disabilities since the moment they got back into office in 2010 – imposing harsh restrictions on who could receive state benefits, and demonising people claiming those benefits as shirkers and scroungers.

They have already made it hard for people to take a benefit case through to a legal tribunal; but the majority of cases that then succeed suggest that it is only logical that they would want to make it harder for a disabled person to achieve a victory, in any court situation.

Perhaps my opinion is over-judgemental.

So we shall have to judge the government by what it does.

If we never hear about this issue again, we’ll have our answer – and it won’t be good.

Source: Court hearings via video ‘risk unfairness for disabled people’ | UK news | The Guardian

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Coronavirus: Medical groups unite to condemn bulk ‘Do Not Revive’ plan for sick and disabled people


This should be seen as absolute proof that it has been a policy to deny coronavirus care to people with long-term illnesses and disabilities.

This Writer has noted some scepticism in the responses to yesterday’s article about the GP practice in Wales that wrote to people with ongoing medical conditions, telling them that equipment used to treat coronavirus is being rationed and they were not likely to be treated if they contracted the disease. Instead, the letter asked them to sign a form directing medical staff not to attempt to resuscitate them if they succumbed to the virus.

My own attitude to this is clear: as we have all paid into the National Health Service, throughout our lives, we all deserve the best possible care available from it. I asked: do politicians and royalty get preferential treatment? If so, why?

Also, just because a person has an underlying condition, that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to shrug off the virus, given the same help that is provided to everybody else.

Now the British Medical Association, the Care Provider Alliance, the Care Quality Commission and the Royal College of General Practitioners have released a joint statement, saying more or less the same.

Here’s the statement:

It reads [boldings mine]:

The importance of having a personalised care plan in place, especially for older people, people who are frail or have other serious conditions has never been more important than it is now during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Where a person has capacit, as defined by the Mental Capacity Act, this advance care plan should always be discussed with them directly. Where a person lacks the capacity to engage with this process then it is reasonable to produce such a plan following best interest guidelines with the involvement of family members or other appropriate individuals.

Such advance care plans may result in the consideration and completion of a Do Not Attempt Resuscitation (DNAR) or ReSPECT form. It remains essential that these decisions are made on an individual basis. The General Practitioner continues to have a central role in the consideration, completion and signing of DNAR forms for people in community settings.

It is unacceptable for advance care plans, with or without DNAR form completion to be applied to groups of people of any description. These decisions must continue to be made on an individual basis according to need.

It’s saying that any policy requiring medical staff to write off any individual – of any age and condition – as untreatable without discussing their situation with them is wrong.

If the government has handed that down to healthcare providers as a requirement, then it is wrong.

If anybody has already died as a result of such a policy, then those responsible must be identified and must pay the appropriate penalty.

This is real. It is important. It could be deadly. Don’t let the Tories get away with it.

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Coronavirus discrimination: surgery asks chronically sick and disabled patients to refuse treatment

People with serious health conditions and disabilities who are registered with a GP surgery in Wales had a nasty surprise in the post.

The surgery sent them a letter saying if they caught the coronavirus, the best thing for them to do would be to reject treatment and wait for death – and it asked them to sign a form confirming it.

Llynfi Surgery, in Llynfi Road, Maesteg, sent the letter to patients with serious health conditions such as incurable cancer, motor neurone disease, and untreatable heart and lung conditions, on March 27.

It comes as further confirmation that people with disabilities will suffer adverse discrimination in the coronavirus crisis – that government guidance is to abandon them.

The letter states that people with these conditions are “unlikely to be offered hospital admission” if they become unwell with coronavirus and “certainly will not be offered a ventilator bed”.

It continued: “We would therefore like to complete a DNACPR form for you which we can share with the OOH [out of hours] GP services and which will mean that in the event of a sudden deterioration in your condition because of a Covid-19 infection or disease progression the emergency services will not be called and resuscitation attempts to restart your heart or breathing will not be attempted.”

Going on, it suggested that the “best option” for patients is to stay at home to be cared for by their family with “ongoing support from ourselves and community nursing services”.

It listed “benefits” to signing the DNACPR form:

  • “Your GP and more importantly your friends and family will know not to call 999”;
  • “Scarce ambulance resources can be targeted to the young and fit who have chance of surviving the infection”, and;
  • “The risk of transmitting the virus to friends, family and emergency responders from CPR (even chest compression alone) is very high. By having a DNACPR form in place you protect your family and emergency responders from this additional risk”.

The final line reads: “We will not abandon you but we need to be frank and realistic about what the next few months holds for all of us.”

Wales Online reported on this scandalous correspondence, saying that the local health board had contacted patients who were upset by the letter, to apologise and “answer any concerns”.

And both the Welsh Assembly member and MP have issued a joint statement saying this was “not a standard letter” and the board is working with the surgery “to offer compassionate and sound advice in the very best traditions of our health service”.

You’ll notice that there isn’t a single line in these comments that contradicts the suggestions in the letter.

If anything, it seems the authorities have simply been embarrassed that it has stated the facts about government guidance on long-term sick and disabled patients who contract the coronavirus in a blunt way.

The affair seems to be confirmation that the government is indeed using the coronavirus to cull “useless eaters”, in line with the eugenics beliefs of Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings, and the Nazi-style persecution of people with long-term health issues that has been carried out by successive Conservative governments over the last decade.

Source: Surgery asks sickest patients to sign ‘do not attempt CPR’ form if they get Covid-19 – Wales Online

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Pregnant mum with jaw-eating bug nearly lost unborn child because of Tory benefit cruelty

Can you believe the Tory-run Department for Work and Pensions denied Personal Independence Payments to a woman for two years, even though she obviously deserved it?

Sara Pollard-Dambach nearly lost an unborn child because of the stress of being reassessed for PIP – after which the benefit was denied her again. She had a haemorrhage and thought she had miscarried.

Luckily a hospital scan showed a heartbeat.

She has been wheelchair-bound for two years, in extreme pain, after contracting severe conditions.

She fell and fractured her coccyx at a play area in March 2017. Later on in July of the same year she had a tooth abscess and, according to doctors’ notes, her inferior alveolar nerve was damaged and 10 months later she was diagnosed with osteomyelitis – a serious bone infection.

This infection invaded her jaw and started eating the bone there. It also went into her coccyx.

In May this year she had her coccyx removed while also suffering with a painful pilonidal sinus (a small hole or tunnel in the skin that fills with pus) around the top of her buttocks.

Her husband Oliver runs a restaurant, and she usually runs the social media aspect of it – but both he and daughter Chloe had to take care of Sara.

This meant a huge drop in income, and PIP would have done exactly what it is supposed to do – help cover the extra costs incurred by disability.

She applied for the benefit in October 2017 – and never received it.

And now, it seems, she never will. At least, not while there’s a Conservative government telling the DWP to pretend that disabled people are fit and healthy.

Sara has said that she will not be pursuing her claim for PIP – for the sake of her unborn child.

Now that she is slightly better, her husband is working at the restaurant and she is also back at work, so the need isn’t as great.

But she and her family were forced to resort to food banks after the DWP made its original decision, and the local community raised cash for them as well.

So we have a case in which a woman was forced to resort to food banks because the DWP would not acknowledge her condition.

And then she nearly lost her unborn child because of the stress of a reassessment that should never have been necessary.

Cases like Sara’s are happening all the time.

People have suffered much worse – up to and including their own death.

And there’s only one way to stop it.

Regime change. You can bring it about on Thursday, simply by voting the Conservatives out.

Source: Pregnant mum from Hayling Island with jaw-eating bug nearly lost her unborn child during two-year fight to get PIP payments – The News

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Psychiatrists try to defend failure to speak out on ‘abusive’ Universal Credit project

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has tried to explain its reasons for failing to object to a pilot project in Cornwall in which Job Centre advisors – with no training – decide whether claimants need mental health care.

This Site reported on the project in August:

The department… is trying to cut doctors working on mental health out of the benefit system by claiming that rank-and-file Job Centre advisers are just as able to spot mental health problems – and recommend the best treatment.

They aren’t; they can’t. It’s just a cynical bid to stop people with mental health problems from claiming Employment and Support Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

The Tory government’s press release stated: “The initiative means work coaches can continue to refer people with mental health conditions to specialist one to one support, without the need for a GP or clinical assessment.”

I responded:

“Without the need”? Translation: “Without the support of evidence from a qualified doctor who can bring their expertise to a benefit tribunal.”

The press release said: “The support is also designed to help people find their way back into the workplace when they’re ready.”

I responded:

Translation: “The intention is to ensure that people with mental illnesses must continue to seek employment, whether they are ready or not.”

Disability News Service is now reporting that the Royal College of Psychiatrists has responded to this insult against its practitioners – after being nudged to do so by no fewer than five disability groups.

RCP states, according to the article, that:

RCP’s social inclusion lead has “continued to raise concerns and provide expert advice about the impact of welfare reform on people with mental illness and those with learning disabilities”.

[It says] it is “clear that anyone undertaking a mental health assessment needs to be sufficiently qualified to do so and, as part of the assessment, should engage with clinicians involved in providing care to the person concerned”.

[It also says] RCP believes that a jobcentre would not be “a suitable therapeutic environment to assess and discuss an individual’s mental health”.

[It adds:] “Having to do so would likely increase the stress and pressure on people with a mental illness when seeking support, and the possibility of them seeing the receipt of benefits as being conditional on them agreeing to mental health treatment.

“In addition, there is a risk that being referred to the wrong type of treatment may reduce the likelihood of seeking help in the future, make their illness worse and increase the likelihood of experiencing a future crisis.”

The disability groups are not happy with this response – and rightly so.

Why the delay in responding? Were these psychiatrists hoping the issue would go away?

Is the RCP going to talk to the Department for Work and Pensions about its concerns? Or were its comments just a sop to the disabled people’s representatives?

And what about the people of Cornwall?

What have they experienced while the RCP stood by in silence?

Source: Dismay over psychiatrists’ failure to speak out on ‘abusive’ universal credit project – Disability News Service

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Study shows Tory policies are keeping homeless people from social housing

You see the way the Conservatives manipulate housing associations and local authorities to victimise the people they want to target?

By cutting the amount of social housing available – via the sale of council housing and strictures on the number of new houses that can be built – the Tories can ensure that nobody who is considered a financial risk can get a place.

Replacing perfectly workable benefits with Universal Credit – which is now known to further impoverish those in need – allowed the Tories to spread their net further.

People without families have been ruled out because of the Bedroom Tax – social landlords don’t want to rent out two-or-three-bedroom homes to single occupants who would lose money merely by living there.

But large families may also be a risk, due to the benefit cap.

And the Tories starve other services of funds – such as the NHS and local authority housing support – in order to prevent people with mental illnesses or other problems from qualifying.

Why?

One reason might be to “gentrify” certain areas – pushing up housing prices. Could it be that some Conservative Party members – or even MPs – are landlords in such housing zones?

Another may be more sinister: it is easy to let homeless people drop off government statistics. Then who cares if a tramp dies on the streets?

Or, indeed, if many do so.

Homeless people are being denied access to affordable housing because social landlords are routinely excluding prospective tenants who are deemed too poor or vulnerable to pay the rent, a study has revealed.

Research by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) found that “screening out” of homeless applicants nominated for newly available lets was widespread, as housing associations and local authorities increasingly ration their shrinking stocks of social homes.

In many cases nominees were refused a home because of the likelihood they would accrue major rent arrears after moving on to universal credit, because of the probability they would be hit by the bedroom tax or because the benefit cap had made them a financial risk.

Others were rejected after social landlords identified they had unmet mental health or addiction problems, often because of cuts to local NHS and housing support services. Individuals with unmet support needs were regarded as “too high a risk to tenancy sustainment”, the CIH said.

Toryism – what a disgusting, gangrenous, poisonous form of government.

Source: Homeless denied social housing for being too poor, study says | Society | The Guardian

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Almost three-quarters of people hit by the Bedroom Tax are sick or disabled

Iain Duncan Smith was the architect of the hated Bedroom Tax.

Was the so-called Bedroom Tax a tool to attack people with long-term illnesses and disabilities?

That seems to be the conclusion we reach from an answer to a Parliamentary question by minister for welfare delivery Will Quince.

He said by April 2019, 240,350 households had been affected by the State Under-Occupation Charge – the penalty inflicted on Housing Benefit claimants who have a spare bedroom.

Of these, a staggering 170,360 households – 71 per cent of the total – included a person in receipt of sickness or disability benefit.

Figures for Universal Credit claimants – whose Housing Benefit is included in the amount they receive under this benefit – were not available.

It seems clear that the penalty disproportionately affects people with long-term illnesses and/or disabilities, and we may speculate that this is what it was intended to do.

We know the United Nations has ruled that this discrimination is a “grave and systematic violation” of the human rights of those affected.

And we know that the government has had to re-write the laws governing the bedroom tax, to exempt couples who cannot share a bedroom due to a physical disability and families who need an extra room for a disabled child’s carer.

We are told that the Bedroom Tax, together with other changes to benefits, has left sick and disabled people four times worse-off than their able-bodied equivalents.

And the hardship caused by the withdrawal of 14 per cent of their housing benefit (for one “spare” room; 25 per cent for two) has forced some disabled people to go without food while others went without medicine.

This Site, and others like it, have reported the deaths of a large number of disabled people that may be directly connected to this withdrawal of funds.

The Department for Work and Pensions refuses to admit that there is anything wrong.

But the evidence mounts up further every day.

Source: Disabled people still disproportionally affected by the ‘bedroom tax’

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When did Job Centre advisers gain their doctorates in mental health care?

It seems the Department for Work and Pensions is on a mission to discredit the medical profession in its entirety.

The department has already done its best to deny the professionalism of doctors by disregarding their evidence in favour of the results of a “yes/no” multiple choice test administered by “health care professionals” who often know nothing about the health issue suffered by a claimant.

Now it is trying to cut doctors working on mental health out of the benefit system by claiming that rank-and-file Job Centre advisers are just as able to spot mental health problems – and recommend the best treatment.

They aren’t; they can’t. It’s just a cynical bid to stop people with mental health problems from claiming Employment and Support Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

One would have thought the fact that mental health issues are routinely disregarded by decision-makers would be enough to discourage the mentally-ill from claiming these benefits; apparently not.

The government press release, announcing funds for a pilot project in Cornwall to continue, is transparent in its nonsense doublespeak:

Hundreds of residents from Bude to Penzance are set to benefit from improved mental health support as Amber Rudd announces £100,000 funding for a life-changing project.

The initiative means work coaches can continue to refer people with mental health conditions to specialist one to one support, without the need for a GP or clinical assessment.

“Without the need”? Translation: “Without the support of evidence from a qualified doctor who can bring their expertise to a benefit tribunal.”

The support is also designed to help people find their way back into the workplace when they’re ready.

Translation: “The intention is to ensure that people with mental illnesses must continue to seek employment, whether they are ready or not.”

In fact, this treatment seems more likely to worsen their mental health and force them towards suicide – a “positive benefit outcome” as far as the DWP is concerned (as This Site has mentioned many times before).

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd showed her lack of any integrity at all by backing up the baloney to the hilt:

Amber Rudd, Work and Pensions Secretary, said:

“The pilot proved that work coaches are well placed to make sure people get help quickly and are supported to get their lives back on track so I’m delighted that it can continue.

“Importantly it has also shown that people trust their work coach to help them during their toughest times – and I’m very proud of that.”

Is that right?

I’d like to see independent evidence of that, from somebody who has been through the system.

Of course, that would be someone who is not still a part of the system – a person who could not be subjected to any coercion to say what Ms Rudd wanted; someone not living in fear of the cancellation of benefits.

Is there such a person?

And will they dare come forward?

In any case, if anybody in the DWP discovers what they consider to be a mental illness in a benefit claimant, they have a duty to report it to the NHS. Anything else is negligence and – if any harm comes to that claimant – could lead to serious allegations against the DWP.

Suppose somebody dies after the DWP decides to handle that person’s mental illness itself. Won’t it be opening itself to a charge of corporate manslaughter, at the very least?

Source: £100,000 fund to boost mental health support across Cornwall – GOV.UK

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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