Tag Archives: sick

The Tories have started PIP and ESA video assessment trials. Claimants are terrified

What the claimant sees: benefit assessors carrying out video interviews may think they’re being perfectly reasonable but the Depatment for Work and Pensions has created such a stink around its denial-of-benefits system that people with illnesses and disabilities are likely to be terrified by them. And that’s if they can even afford the equipment to take part in video interviews!

People are being put in fear for their lives because the Johnson government has started work trialling video assessments of disability and sickness benefit claims.

The trial arises from a false premise – that people with long-term illnesses and disabilities are as capable as able-bodied people of taking part in video calls with confidence and coherence.

That is not true and, in many cases, the mere fact of taking part in one of the Tory government’s notoriously-rigged benefits “assessments” will be enough to put them off.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey announced the trials at a meeting of the Commons Work and Pensions committee on September 30, saying, “We did try to get some extra capital on video assessments. We weren’t successful in getting additional money, so we have reprioritised some of our capital budget to get that underway.”

A senior civil servant, John Paul Marks, put flesh on these bones: “For video, CHDA has started trialling how to do fit for work decisions by video, so we’re starting that now.

“For PIP we’re trying to also test doing video assessments for about 500 customers.

“So we can understand, does that improve the health care professionals capacity to ensure a positive experience for the customer and be able to get more evidence to support a recommendation on a functional assessment.”

The website Benefits and Work pointed out that many claimants will be “deeply unhappy” with the principle of video assessment:

Some will find the experience of talking on camera provokes considerable anxiety. Some will have concerns about data protection, given that a copy of the video is likely to be saved on a server by the DWP.

At the moment it is not clear whether claimants will have the option to refuse to have a video assessment and insist on either a telephone or, when they become available and safe, face to face assessment instead.

A commenter to the site said the issue would be particularly acute for those with mental health issues:

“This could breach the Equalty Act 2010… Anxiety would make the assessment inaccessible or [the claimant] would suffer an unreasonable experience if required to be video [or] audio-recorded.”

Not only that, but what happens if the claimant doesn’t have the technology to take part in a video assessment, due – for example – to extreme poverty? After all, why would they be claiming the benefit if they didn’t need the money?

Consider this response to This Site’s story yesterday:

Some have already come to the conclusion that this is a quota-filling exercise; that the DWP isn’t interested in whether people deserve Personal Independence Payment or Employment and Support Allowance – the only concern is ensuring that a certain number of people are pushed off the books:

As with any change in a benefit system, it seems clear that video trials will be open to abuse.

This will have to be monitored closely and I will be keen to hear of any experiences.

Source: PIP and ESA video assessment trials have started

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Tories have wasted £120m in two years trying to tell people they’re not disabled

Habitual cruelty: if you thought the Tories stopped persecuting people with long-term illnesses and disabilities during the Covid-19 crisis, think again.

What a waste of time and money.

Over the last two years, Conservative governments have spent more than £120 million in taxpayers’ money fighting disability benefit claims – despite losing three-quarters of tribunal appeals.

That means automatic wastage of £90 million – but it is likely that the quarter of claimants who lost their appeals also had valid grounds to claim Personal Independence Payment and/or Employment and Support Allowance but were outflanked by a prejudiced system.

The increase in expenditure is far greater than the 13 per cent increase in applications would suggest. And it is happening at a time when the country can ill-afford to waste any cash at all. There can only be one reason for it: sick cruelty – the Tories are enjoying torturing sick and disabled people to death.

And why are there so many applications for disability and sickness benefits in the UK? Do conditions here – especially working conditions – cause illness and disability?

The new figures are further proof that the Tories’ convoluted appeal process has nothing to do with saving money from fraudsters and everything to do with starving people with disabilities – to death, if possible.

It is now well-documented that claimants initially have to go through an internal appeal process within the Department for Work and Pensions called mandatory reconsideration.

The courts only recently ruled that a Tory regulation forcing claimants to go without any benefit payments, and therefore without any income, for the period of a mandatory reconsideration – no matter how long that may be – was illegal.

Only after the DWP rules that a claim should be rejected can the sick or disabled person take their case to a tribunal.

And it is at tribunals that 76 per cent of PIP claims, and 75 per cent of ESA claims, are upheld.

This means the Tories have needlessly and cruelly deprived these people of their means of survival for the number of months – years in some cases – that these claims have been disputed.

We all know that there is hardly any fraud in disability benefit claims – the last recorded number This Writer saw was somewhere in the region of one or two per cent of claims.

So the huge proportion that the Tories refuse – and the amount of time and money wasted in the appeal process – can only mean one thing:

The Tories hate disabled people and want them to die.

Why isn’t this a national – if not international – scandal?

Source: Government spends £120m in taxpayer money fighting disability benefit claims in two years, figures show | The Independent | Independent

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MP of the Year award attacked over harmful corporate sponsor. Time for a campaign to remove it?

KPMG: this corporation, part of the Atos group that has done so much harm to sick and disabled people, sponsors the Patchwork Foundation’s MP of the Year awards, Should it?

It seems the only element likely to stop Jeremy Corbyn from winning the Patchwork Foundation’s MP of the Year award is the fact that it is sponsored by corporations that have contributed to the oppression of the poor and vulnerable.

Mr Corbyn is on the shortlist of MPs for whom the public is asked to vote.

But some supporters of the former Labour leader – including his own former Shadow Chancellor – are having nothing to do with it because it is sponsored by firms including KPMG.

The controversy sprang up on This Writer’s Twitter feed overnight, springing from discussion over whether certain vested interests would allow Mr Corbyn to win, after their success in ousting last year’s popular left-wing candidate, Chris Williamson.

Paula Peters, a popular campaigner for people with disabilities and friend of This Site, raised the alarm:

It was confirmed by others:

Atos is the company that – now under an alias – carries out assessments of benefit claimants’ ability to work, when they claim sickness and/or disability benefits. It took over KPMG in 2002, and it seems some have little to say in its favour.

The firm’s record for refusing benefits to people who genuinely deserve them – who have then gone on to suffer extreme hardship and, in many cases, death – is well-documented on This Site and elsewhere.

It reflects extremely poorly on the Patchwork Foundation that it would seek – or allow – sponsorship of any of its work by a firm of such character.

KPMG’s sponsorship of the award is not well-signposted; it appears as one of many on a tickertape at the bottom of the awards’ web page.

Paula’s tweet sparked strong responses:

For This writer, the most telling comment in the discussion is Paula’s below:

So perhaps that is what should be done.

Obviously I am too busy with annoying distractions like my two court cases to take on another campaign, but would anybody like to launch one calling on the Patchwork Foundation to decline sponsorship from organisations that are known to cause harm to people?

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Parents are having to re-use ventilator parts for their sick children because of Tory Covid-19 failures

No ventilator for you: the government is continuing to ensure that only able-bodied people with coronavirus can have access to a ventilator. The rest can die as a result of the Tories’ refusal to make proper preparations at the appropriate time.

Children are suffering again because the Conservative government is incompetent.

Back at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis we learned that, despite having been warned that a flu or flu-like pandemic was on its way and they should stock up on ventilator equipment, successive Tory governments under David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson ignored the advice.

They didn’t buy ventilators, causing a crippling shortage of equipment when the inevitable happened and the virus hit us.

Then, when the EU generously offered Boris Johnson a chance to join a bulk-buying scheme that would have brought much-needed ventilators into the UK, he refused. His reason? “We are not in the EU.”

Pathetic.

Here’s the result:

(The Dyson ventilators never happened; the Tory government told the company its services were not required.)

Johnson was then able to treat the lack of ventilators as a golden opportunity to rid the UK of some of the “useless eaters” (as I’m sure the Tories call them, picking up on Nazi terminology). So people with disabilities were told they would be denied ventilators if they caught Covid-19, the excuse being that their disabilities mean their chances of survival are less.

Senior citizens faced the same discrimination.

Now the Tory decision is making children suffer as well.

Child malnutrition has already at least doubled since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK. Now this:

Parents of children reliant upon ventilators are being asked to reuse vital parts after the demand caused by COVID-19 created a shortage.

Maisie Lossau, 15, has needed the equipment day and night following surgery to remove a brainstem tumour four years ago.

But when her mother, Dawn, put in an order for supplies she was told there were none to send.

“We have a very small piece of equipment which is called an HME, which is a humidification valve, changed every day.

“When we went into lockdown we were told there was a shortage of those and we would have to change them on a less regular basis… once a week maybe or twice a week if we could.

If that gets too wet, too damp, and we don’t change it, it becomes a breeding ground for germs.”

The danger then is infection.

There are more than 3,000 seriously ill children like Maisie across the country and the charity WellChild says supplies must be ring-fenced for them.

The government has dissembled; it won’t address the subject directly.

So a statement merely says: “We have put in place a range of measures to address these challenges, including making it easier for clinicians to report shortages and identifying opportunities to open up new supply options and using additional brands.”

The Tories said nothing about actually supplying the equipment. We must conclude that they have no intention to do so.

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Try telling Errol Graham that ‘Black Lives Matter’. Oh you can’t – he’s dead

Errol Graham.

What? You think Errol Graham only died because he was ill? Your Conservative government is multiply-prejudiced and can ensure that people die for any number of trumped-up and ridiculous reasons.

Consider this:

Fair point?

Errol Graham was starved to death by a prejudiced Conservative-run benefit system.

My report on Mr Graham states:

He had been receiving incapacity benefit, and then ESA, for many years as a result of enduring mental distress that had led to him being sectioned.

The DWP stopped Mr Graham’s Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) entitlement – and backdated that decision to the previous month – after making two unsuccessful visits to his home to ask why he had not attended a face-to-face Work Capability Assessment (WCA) on August 31, 2017.

He had not been asked to fill in an ESA50 questionnaire, though. Why not?

The government department managed to stop an ESA payment that had been due to be credited to his bank account on October 17, the same day it made the second unsuccessful safeguarding visit.

Its own rules state that it should have made both safeguarding visits before stopping the benefits of a vulnerable claimant.

So the Tories cut off his benefits early, after a botched benefit reassessment procedure.

Here’s the clincher:

On an ESA form years before, he had told the DWP he could not cope with “unexpected changes”, adding: “Upsets my life completely. Feel under threat and upset…”

He said: “Cannot deal with social situations. Keep myself to myself. Do not engage with strangers. Have no social life. Feel anxiety and panic in new situations.”

The DWP had needed – but failed – to seek further medical evidence from Mr Graham’s GP, in order to make an informed decision about him.

In fact, it seems this would not have made much difference as Mr Graham’s GP had not seen him since 2013, or recalled him for vital blood tests or issued prescriptions since 2015, despite medical conditions including significant, long-term mental distress and hypothyroidism.

It was known that Mr Graham’s condition made him fear contact with people he did not know – like benefit assessors who turned up on his doorstep unannounced. But they still did it. And they still demanded that he attend a work capability assessment in a place full of people he did not know, without even having sent him a benefit claim form first.

They treated him unfairly. Isn’t that the whole point of the Black Lives Matter movement – that people of colour are treated unfairly?

As a result, he starved to death.

And the only reason we know this is his Housing Benefit was cut off at the same time as ESA, so he stopped paying rent. His body was found by bailiffs entering the house to repossess it.

The Tory-run Department for Work and Pensions would never have checked up on his well-being.

We already knew this. When I submitted a Freedom of Information request to find out how many people had died after the Tory government had cancelled their sickness benefit claims, the Department for Work and Pensions said it was unable to provide information for anyone whose claims had been cancelled more than two weeks before their deaths. It is government policy to leave these people to fend for themselves with no support at all.

Of course, leaving someone to starve to death in their home is not as dramatic as beating them to death on the street (or asphyxiating them, in the case of George Floyd).

But it is still prejudicial treatment.

So, what is the current outcry saying, if it does not include sick/disabled people like Errol Graham in its outrage?

Is it really saying some black lives matter more than others?

Let’s change that.

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Coronavirus: Government’s lockdown decision ‘deliberately puts disabled people at risk’

 

Remember: the Conservative government was victimising people with long-term illnesses and disabilities, long before Covid-19 came along.

The crisis just gives them another opportunity to shift such people into the grave.

Researchers from University College London said in a study published in the Lancet that easing the lockdown too soon could lead to thousands of avoidable deaths among people with underlying health conditions such as heart and kidney disease, diabetes and severe obesity.

Three days before Johnson’s speech, disabled activist Ellen Clifford, a member of the national steering group of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC)told an online rally held by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity that if the lockdown ended too soon, many more disabled people would lose their lives.

Clifford told the online rally: “If lockdown ends too soon, we will lose many, many more, either through the virus or through over-stretched NHS resources, not being able to respond to the illnesses or pre-existing impairments that disabled people have.”

The grassroots disabled people’s organisation Bristol Reclaiming Independent Living (BRIL) said it believed that easing the lockdown rules would put disabled and chronically-ill people at further risk.

BRIL questioned how any disabled person could feel safe when, in March, the government said it “was unlikely that people receiving care in a care home or in the community will become infected”, but this week it had been shown that the number of deaths in care homes in England and Wales linked to coronavirus was likely to be more than 22,000.

Source: Coronavirus: Government’s lockdown decision ‘deliberately puts disabled people at risk’ – Disability News Service

DWP accused of ‘discriminating’ against ESA-claiming disabled people in coronavirus pandemic

This is probably what the UN poverty rapporteur, Philip Alston, has been talking about recently.

He said the Tories spent 10 years insisting that austerity was vital when it only harmed the poor, but when the coronavirus put the country into lockdown they suddenly turned on the taps and had cash flowing like water.

But he said countries like the UK were still finding ways to harm the poorest – and this seems to be one of them:

Tory ministers raised Universal Credit by £20 a week in 2020/21 to help people cope with the costs of the virus. Tax Credits were due to rise too.

But the same rise was not applied to “legacy” benefits Jobseekers’ Allowance, Income Support and Employment Support Allowance.

Now a campaign by 100 organisations, including charities, argues this is discrimination against the disabled.

The most recent official figures last August show there were still 1.98million people on ESA, which is worth £74.35 a week for the sick and disabled.

Mrs Mike is on ESA. I think she’ll be writing to our MP about this in the very near future.

Source: DWP accused of ‘discriminating’ against disabled people in coronavirus pandemic – Mirror Online

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Coronavirus: Tories don’t know number of NHS deaths but are BLAMING the health workers they are working into the grave

Hancock: he doesn’t know how many people have died of coronavirus but is happy to encourage the spread of the disease by failing to follow his own rules.

Matt Hancock and his team should resign in disgrace, if only that wouldn’t upset the government’s handling of coronavirus – what little there is!

At the latest press conference, Hancock was asked if he knew how many NHS staff have died of the coronavirus. To his everlasting shame, he didn’t:

The refusal to provide figures is based on a lie – it won’t affect or upset anybody to provide numbers.

In any case, we know the number now. It’s 31:

And this number includes 10 doctors – all of whom are from Black And Minority Ethnic backgrounds.

Isn’t it a little odd that they should all be from minorities?

Here’s The Guardian:

Dr Fayez Ayache had retired as a Suffolk GP but had been working part-time in North Clacton, Essex, until three weeks ago. He had also volunteered to help refugees from his native Syria. He died on Wednesday after being diagnosed with pneumonia and Covid-19.

Interesting to note that he received a tribute from the president of the Syrian British Medical Society.

Here are the others:

Like Ayache, all the other nine doctors to have been named as victims of coronavirus have been from BAME backgrounds. They are:

  • Abdul Mabud Chowdhury, a consultant urologist at Homerton hospital in Hackney, east London, who had pleaded with the prime minister for more PPE.
  • Sami Shousha, a British-Egyptian doctor who specialised in histopathology, and had worked for more than 40 years at Charing Cross hospital in west London.
  • Dr Edmond Adedeji, an A&E doctor at the Great Western hospital in Swindon.
  • Syed Haider, a British Pakistani retired GP, who had worked at the Valence medical centre in Dagenham, east London.
  • Anton Sebastianpillai, a consultant geriatrician who trained in Sri Lanka and died in Kingston hospital, south-west London, just over two weeks after completing his last shift there.
  • Dr Alfa Saadu, a retired medical director born in Nigeria, who had been volunteering at his local hospital in Welwyn, Hertfordshire.
  • Amged el-Hawrani, an ear, nose and throat consultant of Sudanese descent who was working at Burton hospital near Derby.
  • Adil El Tayar, a surgeon from Sudan, who died after volunteering in A&E departments in the Midlands.
  • Habib Zaidi, 76, a GP with Pakistani origins, who died after showing “textbook symptoms” of the virus.

It seems clear that the NHS is being held together by professionals from outside the UK. Didn’t this country leave the EU in order to close our borders to such people?

The blank stupidity of the Tories seems to know no bounds. And 17 million people voted for Brexit – many of whom were probably among the 14 million who voted for Boris Johnson in December last year – so it seems stupidity is a worse contagion than the coronavirus in the modern UK.

Worse than all though, though – the crowning disgrace – is this:

Hancock has tried to blame the high number of deaths on NHS staff.

Watch:

What a piece of filth – supported by the gutter-rag Tory press, of course:

Would you like to know the real reason NHS workers – and so many patients – are dying?

You won’t like it.

It’s apparently because Tories like Hancock are insisting that staff who have caught the coronavirus must return to work before they have recovered:

I’m waiting for proof of this but I don’t think it’s going to be controversial.

The message is clear.

Rich, privileged, secure Hancock is blaming his failures on cash-poor, unwell NHS staff who have been told to get back to work too soon or lose their jobs, and that is the reason people are losing their lives.

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Do Tories think disabled people are cannon fodder in the fight against coronavirus?

Will sick/disabled people be denied the care they need if they get coronavirus, simply because the Tories aren’t bothering to ensure it will be available to them?

Can we really say the Tories are taking coronavirus seriously when their chief advice to stop its spread is “Now Wash Your Hands”?

And stopping its spread seems to be the Tories’ only policy – which is strange because contagions like this tend to sidestep such measures with ease.

What can we deduce from this, if not that the Tories’ health system simply isn’t capable of handling the increased care needs of people who are more susceptible to the disease?

In other words: are we to consider people with underlying health conditions, that make them more vulnerable, to be collateral damage in the fight against COVID-19?

Disability Rights UK is seeking evidence that hospitals will be able to cope with the most vulnerable cases – which indicates that no such evidence has been forthcoming.

The other advice currently issuing from the Tories is that people who think they have the disease should isolate themselves.

Wouldn’t that be a route to certain disaster for vulnerable sick and/or disabled people who can’t look after themselves properly under normal circumstances?

Most worrying of all is the fact that the Conservatives cannot be said to have shown proper concern for sick and disabled people in normal circumstances.

Their benefit assessors alone have doctored thousands of applications to deny claimants the money that was due to them – placing their lives in danger by doing so.

And many, many thousands of sick and/or disabled people have died, either through the worsening of their conditions or by taking their own lives, due to the hostile environment that the Tories have made for them.

So it seems reasonable to suggest that the outbreak of coronavirus in the UK may be seen by the Tories as a handy way of culling the millions of “useless eaters”, as the Nazis used to describe disabled people in 1930s Germany.

Do they want to increase coronavirus-related deaths, simply by ignoring the possible effect on people who are sick/disabled?

Source: Coronavirus: ‘Disabled people must not be seen as inevitable cannon fodder’ – Disability News Service

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Huge rise in homelessness among ill and disabled people is no accident

The Tories have been stepping up their hate campaign against sick and disabled people, with a 53 per cent increase in homelessness over the last year.

People with long-term illnesses who can’t work can claim Employment and Support Allowance, but the government has tightened criteria to the point at which assessments might as well start with an official telling the claimant they are lying – or deluded – about being ill.

Disabled people can claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP), even if they can work – but the Tories have tightened criteria for that benefit too, meaning the chances of receiving the benefit are equally remote.

With PIP, 56 per cent of new claims, together with 28 per cent of claims by people who have been transferred from Disability Living Allowance, are refused.

Only 10 per cent of rejected claims go to appeal, which means 1,585,000 rejections have gone uncontested since the benefit – if you can call it that – was introduced.

With so many benefit claims rejected, sick and disabled people find it hard to make ends meet – especially if they have been housed in dwellings with more bedrooms than they need, laying them open to the Conservative government’s Bedroom Tax.

With all these Tory policies stacked up against them, it’s no surprise so many sick and disabled people end up presenting as homeless.

The Tories have made it the responsibility of local authorities to ensure that these people have a place to live, but – oh! That’s right – councils don’t get enough funding from Westminster to provide that service.

The upshot of all this is that, under the Conservatives, long-term illness or disability has become a fast-track to a life on the street.

short life on the street; while Tory communities secretary Robert Jenrick says the number of people sleeping rough has fallen by two per cent in the last year, the reason for that is probably that a rough sleeper days every 19 hours in the UK.

It’s all part of the Tory plan.

The Nazis went after the sick and disabled first, too.

Source: Homelessness among ill and disabled people rises 53% in a year, figures show | The Independent

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