Has the penny finally dropped? Or is this just more madwash? The Mental Health Taskforce report

Today, the report of the independent mental health taskforce, led by Paul Farmer of Mind, was launched. It contains a good summary of the crushing problems faces by people with mental health problems and those in the NHS who try to help us; and there’s been a government commitment to spend ‘£1 billion a year by 2020/21’ (though where the money is coming from, how much of it is new and when and on what it will be spend has so far proven impossible to pin down). Throughout the day, I’ll be uploading links to pieces I spot analysing the report then add my own commentary.

Source: Has the penny finally dropped? Or is this just more madwash? The Mental Health Taskforce report

Terminally Ill Man Left ‘Totally Broken’ By DLA-PIP Transfer

A terminally ill man from Southcote says he feels “totally broken” after the Government decided to slash the benefits which he depends on.

After eight years of suffering from an mysterious illness Jason Henry, of Granville Road, was diagnosed with Castleman’s lymphoma at Royal Berkshire Hospital in 2013.

He was then granted a disability living allowance by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to help him retain his independence while undergoing aggressive chemotherapy.

But according to Jason, after months of intensive treatment he was told that his condition is terminal and on Wednesday, February 3 the DWP announced that his disability living allowance would be cut.

Read more here:

Source: Terminally Ill Man Left ‘Totally Broken’ By DLA-PIP Transfer

Leaked report reveals scale of crisis in England’s mental health services

Damning confidential report reveals suicides are rising and 75% of those needing help are not receiving it

A leaked report by a government taskforce has painted a devastating picture of England’s mental health services, revealing that the number of people killing themselves is soaring, that three-quarters of those with psychiatric conditions are not being helped, and that sick children are being sent “almost anywhere in the country” for treatment.

Details of the damning assessment have come to light just as the prime minister is planning to herald a transformation of mental health services.

The report, due to be published on Monday to coincide with an announcement by the prime minister on funding and new initiatives, lays bare a system that is routinely failing people from every walk of life.

While the prime minister is expected to trumpet his focus on mental health – six years after he pledged to put mental wellbeing at the centre of his government – his own taskforce condemns years of underinvestment and lays a significant portion of the blame on the current administration.

The study, overseen by Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, makes clear that the situation is dire despite promises of reform. “Many people struggle to get the right help at the right time, and evidence-based care is underfunded,” the draft report says. “The human cost is unacceptable and the financial cost is unaffordable.”

The taskforce’s study, A Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, publication of which was delayed for months by ministers, adds that controversial changes introduced in 2012 to the health service may even have made things worse by complicating the way treatment is delivered. It reveals:

Suicide in England is now rising “following many years of decline”, with 4,477 people killing themselves in an average year.

There has been a 10% increase in the number of people sectioned under the Mental Health Act over the past year, suggesting the needs of the sick are not being met early enough.

In some parts of the country, more than 10% of children seeking help are having appointments with specialists cancelled as a result of staff shortages, yet one in 10 children and young people have a diagnosable mental health problem.

A quarter of people with severe mental health problems need more support than is currently on offer and many are at serious risk of self-neglect.

Despite the known impact of untreated postnatal mental health problems, less than 15% of areas provide effective services for women and 40% provide no service at all. One in five women develop a mental health problem during the perinatal period.

Figures from 2013-14 show that the average waiting time for a child seeking a routine appointment with a mental health practitioner was 21 weeks, up from 15 weeks the year before.

The average maximum wait for a community mental health team appointment is 30 weeks and mental health wards are far busier than guidelines allow.

Read more:  http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/13/mental-health-services-crisis-britain-revealed-leaked-report?CMP=share_btn_fb

In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255 FREE. Hotlines in other countries can be found here

250 evictions per day: 2015 saw record number of home repossessions

More than 250 tenants were evicted from their homes for every day in 2015, according to figures released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

The figures, released on Thursday, revealed that 42,728 renting households in England and Wales were evicted by county court bailiffs in 2015, a two percent increase on the previous year and the highest number on record since the MoJ started collecting data on home repossessions in 2000.

London’s Newham borough had the highest rate of repossession in the country. Of the 20 local authorities with the highest rates of repossession, sixteen were boroughs in London.

More than 19,000 evictions in England were carried out by social landlords, including housing associations, while 6,000 were performed by private landlords.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the housing charity Shelter, said: “Today’s figures are clear proof of the devastating impact that welfare cuts and the chronic shortage of affordable homes are having on hundreds of renters every day.”

“Successive governments have failed to build enough genuinely affordable homes, and short-sighted welfare cuts are only making things tougher. The only way to fix this crisis for good is for the government to commit to building homes that people on ordinary incomes can actually afford to rent or buy.

read more here:


Compliance interview

This was posted at cinnamonplace.com

I had a visit from a ‘ Compliance officer’ someone had made an allegation against me, that I’m able bodied, that I’m up and about, doing my own housework, walking my dog. Those who have firstly, read my previous blog know this is far from the truth, in fact impossible.

I have friends who voted Tory, for which I do not judge them ( it’s part of the ‘ human condition ‘ to do so ) but those who know me in real life please put aside your images of what people who are in receipt of National insurance claims are like. I’m the true face of ‘ benefits street ‘. Not those you see on Television or read about in the press. I and many others like me. We’re the True face. I would ask you to look at what the government that you voted for is doing to those like me. Lives are being lost, it was very close to me becoming one of those. Fortunately I had 1) Sufficient medical evidence to disprove the malicious report 2) My very appearance was testimony to the fact I that I’m seriously ill. The police have accepted this as a hate crime. The DWP have instantly dropped the case as being ‘ no case’. The person who made such a horrendous allegation will be receiving a cease and desist order. My daughter ( currently studying Law) has a influential contact within prestigious Law chambers in London. The Barrister she contacted on my behalf will sign the cease and desist order.

This was s Hate Crime. I value my privacy, but I’m prepared to take this to the press and become a ‘ true face of ‘ real ‘ benefits street. Send out a strong message to those who contact the Government much loved ‘ fraud’ hotline, that if they do so maliciously then the Law will be used against them.

I’m now feeling worse, my condition worsened by the stress and trauma of such a dreadful act, from a person who doesn’t even know me. Yes, reports to the the Fraud line are ‘Anonymous ‘ but as it’s a Crime, the police can find out who you are. You may find yourself homeless, not permitted to live in close vicinity to me.

Read more here:

Source: Compliance interview

Phil Brehaut has Parkinson’s. Threatening to cut his benefits won’t help him back to work

‘How long are you likely to have Parkinson’s?’ asked the woman assessing his claim. No wonder he is scared for his future

Until five years ago, Phil Brehaut was healthy and earning a decent wage working in the warehouse at his local Morrisons in Stockport. But in the spring of 2011, the 57-year-old was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and found himself in a position that any of us could: physically unable to work. With bills still coming in, he applied for sickness benefits.

It gives an insight into how successful the Conservatives’ benefit-shaming has become that, as he describes his assessment, Brehaut – who has excruciating pain in his legs and can’t keep his balance – is concerned to assure me he has “never signed on before” and has worked since he was 15.

“It was very daunting, like being in court,” he says. “The lady on the panel actually asked me, ‘How long are you likely to have Parkinson’s?’” He pauses. “The person next to her quickly whispered in her ear … You would think they’d know a little bit about it.”

Brehaut was granted employment and support allowance (ESA) but put in the “work-related activity group”, or Wrag. This second-tier ESA group receives lower benefits than the “support group” and requires disabled claimants to undertake “work-related activities” or risk being sanctioned and left to get by on £67.50 a week.

In order to receive his money, his local jobcentre told him, he would have to bring them a weekly “sick note” – leaving Brehaut to visit his GP every Monday and hand-deliver the note to a DWP adviser by 10.30am. This went on every week for nine months.

“It was awful,” he says. “Some days I couldn’t get up – because mornings are tough for me – but I had to or I wouldn’t have any money.”

The jobcentre “did nothing” to help, he says.

“They made it very clear that if they found what [they thought was] a suitable job, they’d have stopped my benefits. They asked what sort of work I could do but I can’t do anything physical because of my tremors … I can’t hold the wardrobe handles to get my clothes out in the morning.”

That image might be one for George Osborne to pause on as he talks of cutting sickness benefits as an “incentive” for people such as Brehaut to get a job.

read more: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/04/sickness-benefit-cuts-incentive-work-parkinsons-disease?CMP=fb_gu

DWP “evasive” and “selective” with information on Universal Credit programme

DWP “evasive” and “selective” with information on Universal Credit programme –

Has the Department for Work and Pensions put itself, to some extent, beyond the scrutiny of Parliament on the Universal Credit IT programme?

Today’s report of the Public Accounts Committee Universal Credit progress update was drafted by the National Audit Office. All of the committee’s reports are effectively more strongly-worded NAO reports.

If the Department for Work and Pensions cannot be open with its own auditors – the National Audit Office audits the department’s annual accounts – are the DWP’s most senior officials in the happy position of being accountable to nobody on the Universal Credit IT programme?

The National Audit Office and the committee found the Department for Work and Pensions “selective or even inaccurate” when giving some information to the committee.

In answering some questions, the committee found officials “evasive”.

Source: Shared from WordPress

Nearly 14,000 disabled people have mobility cars taken away

Nearly 14,000 disabled people who rely on a specialist motoring allowance have had their cars taken away from them following government welfare changes.

Figures seen by the BBC show almost half of those having to be reassessed for this support under the changes lost their Motability vehicle. Many had been adapted to meet their owners’ needs and campaigners warn it could lead to a loss of independence.

But the government says the new process is fairer and people can appeal.

More than 650,000 people currently use the Motability Scheme, which allows disabled people to lease a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair using their government-funded mobility allowance. The scheme also helps towards the cost of adaptations – such as a hoist for a wheelchair or hand controls – that the individual requires.

Until recently, anyone receiving the highest rate of the “mobility component” of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) was eligible for the scheme. However, as part of Department for Work and Pensions welfare changes, the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) began replacing DLA from April 2013.

Under DLA, most people completed their own application form and did not have to reapply once entered into the scheme. With PIPs, everyone – new applicants and those already in receipt of DLA – will have to attend a face-to-face assessment by government-hired private companies, and only those scoring 12 points or more will qualify for support – currently £57.45 per week.

To date, Motability has seen around 51,200 people join the scheme using PIP. Of those previously on higher rate DLA, 31,200 people have so far been reassessed for PIP, and of those, 55% – or 17,300 – have kept their car. But the remaining 45% – 13,900 people – have lost the higher rate and therefore their car as well.

Despite being an amputee with spina bifida, who is only able to take a few steps, Christine Mitchell did not score the points she needed to keep her Motability car. She appealed and eventually won, but is extremely critical of the reassessment process.

“I explained to the lady in detail that I wasn’t able to walk. She asked me how far I could walk, and there was a filing cabinet that was maybe 3ft away, and I said I could possibly walk that far. It was so frustrating. I looked at my husband and I was near enough in tears because I couldn’t make her understand. She hadn’t got a clue what spina bifida was.”


Liz Sayce, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, told the BBC “being disabled costs money. The Personal Independence Payment is supposed to help with those costs, but many people are being denied the benefit because they are not assessed properly. Sometimes that means people lose their cars; a massive blow which impacts on their ability to remain independent, take part in their communities or get and keep a job.”

Read more here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35476904

Significant decline’ in UK life expectancy, health officials warned

Public Health England confirms there has been a fall in life expectancy, particularly among older women. Critics blame unhealthy lifestyles, government cuts to social care budgets and worsening GP and hospital care.

Health officials are currently investigating a “significant decline” in life expectancy across the country.

An email sent to Public Health England by Darwen Council’s director of public health, Dominic Harrison, said: “The council had seen a sustained reduction in life expectancy.”

He said reductions in life expectancy such as this are “extremely unusual.”

Figures suggest a women’s life expectancy, which stood at 85, has fallen in recent years.

The email, sent before Christmas and seen by the Health Service Journal, said: “In Blackburn and Darwen there have been reductions for both men and women, as well as some signs of a reduction in life expectancy for men at 65.”

The email was described as an “alert” and calls for a national review to analyse “the causes and developing local/national recovery plans.”

read more: https://www.rt.com/uk/222159-fall-life-expectancy-nhs/