People on Universal Credit are being refused prescriptions and dental care

GPs and dental practices can’t tell who is eligible for free treatment under Universal Credit – meaning some claimants are going without, Left Foot Forward can reveal.

People are being denied prescriptions and dental care because practices do not know whether Universal Credit claimants are eligible for free treatment, according to evidence seen by Left Foot Forward.  

Under the current welfare regime, those on certain benefits – such as Jobseekers’ Allowance – receive free NHS prescriptions and dental treatment, Healthy Start vouchers and other government-funded support.

But the Conservatives’ Universal Credit scheme wraps several benefits into one. While the principle has broad cross-party support, dental practices and GPs are now unsure who is eligible to receive free treatment.

Those on working tax credits, for example, are not eligible for free treatment – but practices have no information on whether UC claimants are receiving the tax credits element of UC, in which case they’re ineligible, or the JSA element.

The confusion is leaving people already on the margins either having to fork out for dental care and prescriptions themselves – leaving them out of pocket – or going without treatment altogether, according to reports from the single parents charity Gingerbread and seen by Left Foot Forward.

The problem stems from the fact that the administration system hasn’t caught up. There is no way on NHS forms to make it clear how to declare that individuals are on UC – whereas for existing benefits, such as income support or JSA, there are specific boxes to confirm eligibility.

One single mum in touch with Gingerbread has incurred fines because of the changes in health assistance under UC. She has received a letter from the NHS informing her that she owes money for dental treatment and a prescription, explaining that they have fined her as a result. She says she was never fully informed how UC would affect her NHS support – and is currently unable to pick up a prescription given to her GP because she can’t afford to pay. She says she will only be able to get this essential prescription when she receives her next payment.

Daisy Srblin, Policy Officer at Gingerbread, told Left Foot Forward:

“The arbitrary waits built into the system clearly cause significant problems when a parent transitions onto UC. But the challenges people face don’t end there – day-to-day financial difficulties are made worse by unexpected costs such as dental fees and prescriptions.

“The official advice is pay first and claim later – but for many this is a cost they simply can’t afford. The aim has been a simplified benefits system; the reality is that the NHS and DWP systems (like so many other government departments) don’t work together, creating confusion, complexity and often additional costs for single parents.

“We want to see the administrative challenges resolved, and for Universal Credit claimants to be supported as they are entitled to be so that they are not pushed further into debt.”

Another single mum Gingerbread has spoken to has received a letter notifying her of prescription charges. The NHS informed her that she needs to provide them with a full breakdown of her UC award so they can assess her eligibility for support.

However, her Job Centre are telling her that the information they have provided her to date is enough – despite it being different to the documents requested by the NHS. With no consistent guidance and no money to pay the charges herself, she doesn’t know how to resolve the issue.

read more here: https://leftfootforward.org/2017/10/exclusive-people-on-universal-credit-are-being-refused-prescriptions-and-dental-care

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For the third time since 2010, the government is planning to sell off NHS Professionals, the NHS in-house temporary staffing agency.

The most foolish NHS privatisation yet?

If private staffing agency fees are damaging the NHS so much, why on earth does the government keep trying to privatise the in-house agency set up to help the NHS avoid the problem?

For the third time since 2010, the government is planning to sell off NHS Professionals, the NHS in-house temporary staffing agency. This is the latest in a long series of gradual and covert moves to privatise our NHS. The obscurity in the privatisation process is no surprise. 84% of us want a publicly owned NHS. Those who want to place it in private hands know they can’t do so transparently.

Plans for the sale of NHS Professionals in 2010 and 2014 were shelved. This time around, the government’s schedule has been disrupted by the election, and now Eleanor Smith, Labour MP for Wolverhampton South West, has tabled an Early Day Motion (number 152) for concerned MPs to sign, calling on the government to halt the sell-off, co sponsored by the SNP health spokeswoman Dr Philippa Whitford MP and Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas MP.

Lucas has also tabled written questions to the Department of Health in an effort to find out more information about the sale process. Through parliamentary pressure and a wider campaign by We Own It, this move to privatise yet another part of the NHS can be stopped.

read more here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/michael-thorne/most-foolish-nhs-privatisation-yet

NHS spending per person will be cut next year, ministers confirm

The funding constraints come despite the unfolding ‘humanitarian crisis’ in the health service

The Government will cut the National Health Service’s budget per person in real terms next year, ministers have admitted in official figures for the first time.

Numbers released by ministers show NHS England will face a sharp reduction of 0.6 per cent in real terms of per head in the financial year 2018-19.

The numbers corroborate claims by NHS chief Simon Stevens earlier this month that “in 2018-19, real-terms NHS spending per person in England is going to go down”.

The figures also fly in the face of the Government’s public insistence that it is investing more in the health service, with Jeremy Hunt and Theresa May repeating the mantra of an extra £10bn for the NHS.

That claim was debunked by the cross-party Health Committee in the summer, whose chair, Tory MP Sarah Wollaston, said the number was both “incorrect” and “risks giving a false impression that the NHS is awash with cash”.

The Liberal Democrats said the figures show Tory claims of investment were “disingenuous” while Labour said the Government should use the March budget to close the black hole opening up in the health service’s finances.

read more: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nhs-cuts-spending-policies-theresa-may-jeremy-hunt-tories-labour-lib-dems-a7549686.html?cmpid=facebook-post

An NHS hospital is being forced to CROWDFUND to buy beds, thanks to Jeremy Hunt

A London hospital has been forced to crowdfund for vital equipment, including beds, because it cannot afford to invest the money itself.

Begging for beds

The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) in Stanmore, north-west London, set up the appeal in a bid to raise £400,000 for its spinal injuries unit. The money will go towards six extra beds for the ward, plus new rehabilitation equipment. The RNOH has so far raised £126,000.

The campaign, called the ‘Make it Possible’, is thought to be the first time any NHS hospital has crowdfunded for investment. The project works by allowing patients and families to suggest where money could be spent. Then an appointed committee selects one of the suggestions, and the crowdfunding begins. The spinal injuries unit was the first to be chosen.

Chief Executive of the RNOH, Rob Hurd said that because all the hospital’s money goes into frontline services, very little is left for investment:

We have to be frank, capital is constrained in our NHS and investment in facilities is really difficult at this time. That means the infrastructure that we have got doesn’t get replaced as quickly as we would like. So we need the help of donations and charitable sources to make those additional investments. So we really value those donations because without them we cannot even get started.

Financial uncertainty

The RNOH is one of the country’s flagship orthopedic hospitals, where one in five orthopedic surgeons are trained. But it has fallen into financial difficulties. A proposed renovation of the hospital’s century-old buildings, signed off under Labour in 2010, was delayed by more than five years. The RNOH was initially looking for a private company to fund the work (paywall). But in August the Department of Health (DoH) signed off the first phase of funding. This was only possible because part of the RNOH site was sold off to private developers, and loans were taken out.

The £49.9m awarded to the RNOH will go towards a new inpatient block. The hope is that the DoH will then sign off another £31m for a training centre and biomedical facilities. But, as the crowdfunding project has shown, this only covers the bare essentials. And even on a day-to-day basis the hospital is struggling. It warned in October 2015 that it faced losing £15.2m in income in 2016/17, due to changes in the way the DoH allocates funding.

Read more here: http://www.thecanary.co/2016/10/25/nhs-hospital-forced-crowdfund-buy-beds-thanks-jeremy-hunt/

“I am a midwife and I wish I was dead”: Shocking open letter reveals stress on NHS staff : Daily Record. — DWPExamination.

The midwife author is responsible for 40 women, 80 lives A midwife has penned a shocking open letter revealing the stress of the job, admitting: “I wish I was dead.” The anonymous note, sent to the Liverpool Echo , claims the role is “a black hole destroying my world.” The author talks of the stress […]

via “I am a midwife and I wish I was dead”: Shocking open letter reveals stress on NHS staff : Daily Record. — DWPExamination.

95-year-old’s FOUR-hour wait for ambulance laying on floor then FOUR-AND-A-HALF hours to see doctor

A 95-YEAR-old woman was left lying in agony on the floor with a broken hip for more than four hours waiting for an ambulance – and then had to wait a further four-and-half hours to see a doctor at hospital.

Alma Gaffing fell and broke her hip at the Grimsby Grange and Manor Care Home, based on the Nunsthorpe estate.

Five separate 999 calls were made as care home staff and family members waited impatiently for an ambulance to arrive.

The incident happened at 10.30pm, yet Alma, who suffers with dementia, did not arrive at A&E at Grimsby’s Diana, Princess Of Wales Hospital until 2.45am.

MS sufferers’ health damaged by benefits tests, survey finds

Nearly half of those with multiple sclerosis surveyed by MS Society said they felt the process caused their condition to relapse or deteriorate

Many multiple sclerosis sufferers required to undergo assessments to claim disability benefits are having their health damaged as a result, a survey suggests.

The MS Society found that nearly half (48%) of people with the disease of the nervous system who had an assessment for Employment Support Allowance (ESA) felt the process caused their condition to deteriorate or relapse. Just over a third who had a face-to-face assessment for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) said the same.

The charity says the disability benefits system fails to take adequate account of the fluctuating and hidden symptoms of MS, or the extent of their impact.

Its chief executive, Michelle Mitchell, said: “Having MS is enough; it should not be made harder by a welfare system that doesn’t make sense for people living with the condition.

“Lack of understanding of the condition and the failure to use information from medical professionals is causing stress or contributing to relapses and deteriorating health. This is counterintuitive to a system designed to support people with disabilities.”

ESA, and its eligibility test, Work Capability Assessments, and PIP have been dogged by controversy. The fairness of the assessments have been called into question repeatedly and there have been severe delays in processing claims, leaving people stressed and penniless while they wait.

As well as the detrimental impact on health recorded by the survey, a number of respondents said the changes to the benefits system had forced them to spend less, including on treatment.

Around one in 10 said they had reduced outlay on attending hospital appointments and a similar proportion said they had cut down on medical treatment or prescriptions. About a third said they were spending less on food, 28% on transport and 41% on socialising with family and friends.

Read more here: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/sep/14/ms-sufferers-health-damaged-by-benefits-tests-survey-finds