How The DWP Is Drafting In Doctors To Promote Iain Duncan Smith’s Warped Ideology

Are you working hard enough?  Are you sure?  What if you get sick, or have an accident?  Are you prepared to go to work anyway, even if you don’t think it would be good for your health?  What if your doctor and boss agree you could do something other than your usual job instead of malingering at home?  Like making cups of tea all day, or cleaning the bogs, or any form of work your empoyer can dream up to force you not to take time off.  Because that is now the chilling reality as the DWP attempts to inject Iain Duncan Smith’s warped ideology into the NHS

the void

fit-note-guidanceAre you working hard enough?  Are you sure?  What if you get sick, or have an accident?  Are you prepared to go to work anyway, even if you don’t think it would be good for your health?  What if your doctor and boss agree you could do something other than your usual job instead of malingering at home?  Like making cups of tea all day, or cleaning the bogs, or any form of work your empoyer can dream up to force you not to take time off.  Because that is now the chilling reality as the DWP attempts to inject Iain Duncan Smith’s warped ideology into the NHS.

Last week the DWP issued patronising new guidance to GPs on when they should issue a Fit Note.  Doctors are warned of the dangers of ‘worklessness’ and told they must consider “the vital role that work can play in your patient’s health”.

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NHS facing worst ever winter as Tory hospital cuts could see 35,000 doctors and nurses lose their jobs

Britain’s top union has warned that unless there is an urgent “injection of cash” our hospitals face their worst winter ever

Debt is at an all time high, soaring numbers of the sick are waiting on trolleys in A&E and key targets for treating cancer patients are being woefully missed.

Yet as the NHS deals with the worst “cash crisis in a generation” we can disclose things are only going to get worse.

A Sunday Mirror probe can reveal up to 35,000 doctors and nurses could be AXED to balance the books – which are already £2bn in the red this year.

As trusts plunge into debt private firms are getting increasingly rich – with many now offering huge cash sums of £500 for NHS workers simply to sign up to websites.

And Britain’s top union has warned that unless there is an urgent “injection of cash” our hospitals face their worst winter ever.

read more here:

GPs in South East Wales instructed not to provide information for patients who are claiming benefits

More from the submissions to the Parliamentary committee on ESA and the Work Capability Assessment:

“Effectiveness of WCA

3. Very few Atos assessors have had training or experience of mental health issues and there appear to be fewer doctors available to conduct assessments.  This position has now been confirmed by Atos.

4. It is rare for Atos to have sought medical evidence and they seem to rely on the claimants to obtain this.   In south east Wales, GPs have been instructed by the Bro Taf Medical Committee not to provide information for patients who are claiming benefits and have even provided a draft letter for GPs stating this. Similarly there is no active encouragement for statements from friends, family and representatives as back-up evidence e.g. no space for statements on ESA50 as on the DLA application form.

5. The WCA makes no allowance for fluctuating conditions, like many mental health issues, and during assessments there is a clear tendency to interpret claimants’ descriptions of fluctuating conditions by recording the “good” days rather than the “bad” days or the balance between them.

6. There still are no facilities to tape Atos interviews, which would provide essential evidence for appeals. Also a paper copy of the assessment is not automatically sent to the claimant, except as part of the appeal papers when it is too late to dispute the assessment at the reconsideration stage. Also successful claimants are not told any details of their points score.

7. The widespread criticism of the WCA, and of Atos in particular, has produced an atmosphere of distrust and fear amongst claimants, which has made the whole process even more difficult for them.”

Written evidence submitted by Cardiff Mind (WCA0056). Read their entire submission here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/esa-wca-inq-2014/?type=Written#pnlPublicationFilter

Why are doctors involved in such a farce?

The parliamentary Committee on Work and Pensions’ is in an ongoing enquiry into ESA and the Work Capability Assessment.

I’ve been reading some of the submissions that have been published on the Parliament.com website, and I will be putting some extracts here. You can read  all the submissions by following the link at the bottom of this post.here. To read all the submissions for this that have been published on the Parliament website, follow the link at the bottom of this post. – Argotina

 

“The fact is that the overall system is a failure by design.  Two GPs in a 2011 survey by Manchester Alliance for Community Care described the WCA system as unfit for purpose.  They said, ‘This is a completely inefficient system which prevents any meaningful discussion about returning to work’, and, ‘My overall impression from the effect on my patients and their reports of assessments is that the current process is definitely designed less to help or support patients to return to gainful employment and more to take as many as possible off benefits, regardless of their health.’  Dr Louise Irvine, a London GP, claimed the WCA process “was causing distress to thousands of people with long-term health conditions deemed fit to work, as well as subjecting the doctors (working for Atos) to ‘McDonaldization’ of their careers”. Dr Margaret McCartney, a Glasgow GP, stated that “the tests – peak flow, limb movements, pushing a box around, pressing a button – are clearly unable to distinguish someone who can work from someone who can’t… The box ticking to achieve enough points to be granted ESA is ludicrous. The assessment bears no resemblance to real life. Why are doctors involved in such a farce?

This is from the WCA Action Group, “an alliance of organisations and individuals in the North of England which uphold the rights and dignity of disabled adults and people with mental health problems and opposes their discrimination and harassment.  Member organisations include Europia, Manchester Alliance for Community Care, Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People, Breakthrough UK Ltd. Greater Manchester Welfare Rights Advice Group, and Access to Advice”

read the full submission here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/esa-wca-inq-2014/?type=Written#pnlPublicationFilter

 

Tory’s Pressure on GPs to Find Patients Fit-For-Work

I always find it interesting when we see the private advice that this Government are giving to other organisations.

In this case,  what we are seeing is the Govt’s advice to GPs in respect of ‘fit notes’(Full PDF can be found at bottom of page).

The advice given to GPs is as follows:

  • Repeatedly reiterated that the fitness for work assessments that GPs carry out are NOT job specific.For example, if a delivery driver broke his leg, he would be found FIT TO WORK as another form of employment may not be impinged by his broken leg.
  • (QUOTE: Always consider if your patient could do work of some kind before advising that they are not fit for work.)

 

read the full article from aworkingclassman.com here: http://aworkingclassman.com/torys-pressure-gps-find-patients-fit-work/

Thousands of HIV patients go hungry as benefit cuts hit

Thousands of people with HIV have been left struggling in poverty by the Government’s welfare reforms – with some unable to afford the basic food they need to fight their condition.

 

The situation is now so critical that in some cases doctors are having to prescribe food supplements to ensure that patients’ medication works, The Independent on Sunday has learned.

A national hardship fund for people with HIV/Aids, run by the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), registered a 63 per cent increase last year in those needing emergency help because their benefits had been stopped.

HIV experts described the situation as “truly alarming”, saying it was “nothing short of a disgrace” that seriously ill patients in modern Britain were having their treatments compromised by hunger. HIV medication can be less effective if taken without food.

Changes to sickness benefits introduced by the coalition – alongside other welfare reforms such as the so-called bedroom tax – have left many HIV patients significantly worse off.

Read the rest of this article by Emily Duggan in the Independent on Sunday here: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/exclusive-thousands-of-hiv-patients-go-hungry-as-benefit-cuts-hit-9146888.htm

Atos move leaves DLA decision-makers guessing

Disability benefit decision-makers have been left without expert medical advice to call on for most of their cases, after the outsourcing giant Atos Healthcare withdrew from large parts of a key contract.

Doctors employed by Atos used to advise Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decision-makers on the more difficult claims for disability living allowance (DLA) and attendance allowance (AA). Atos has also been providing doctors to visit claimants in their own homes to carry out full medical reports, again under a medical services contract.

But Disability News Service (DNS) has learned that the long-term contract to carry out this work ran out three months ago, and since then Atos has been providing the service on a month-by-month basis. Now the company has pulled out altogether from most of the work, leaving decision-makers – the civil servants who decide whether or not a disabled person will receive the benefit – without any expert medical advice to call on.

An internal bulletin to staff says that Atos Healthcare has been providing medical services for DLA and AA claims for “many years” but that this support would now be on “a revised basis”. The move is thought certain to lead to an increase in appeals from people whose DLA and AA claims have been turned down, with decision-makers forced to rely more on guesswork as they make decisions “on the balance of probability based on available evidence at the time”.

DWP guidance is being rewritten, with Atos doctors only available for claims from people with terminal illness, and for those claims from disabled children being dealt with at just one regional benefits centre.

Although personal independence payment (PIP) has now replaced DLA for new working-age claims, under-16s still have to claim DLA, and over-65s must claim AA to cover their care needs. And due to delays in the PIP rollout process, existing DLA claimants across London and the south of England, the north of England, and Scotland, are still being assessed for DLA rather than PIP if they report a change in their care or mobility needs, if their fixed-term award is about to expire, or if they reach the age of 16,

A DWP spokesman said: “It’s a revised service. Guidance has been provided to decision makers and decisions made will be informed decisions based on information provided.” He said that the withdrawal of the Atos doctors would not damage the quality of decisions because decision-makers could use information “from a variety of sources”, including the claim form, care plans, and reports from GPs and consultants.

The internal memo is just the latest evidence that problems for Atos – which has numerous government contracts – are continuing to mount.

Despite DNS having seen the bulletin, and DWP admitting that it was genuine, Atos has so far refused to confirm that there have been any changes to its medical services contract.

Campaigners already believe that Atos has contributed to or even caused the deaths of thousands of disabled people, because of the way its assessors have carried out the much-criticised work capability assessment (WCA) on behalf of the government. But last month, DNS learned that meetings between Atos and DWP civil servants were taking place across the country because a recruitment crisis had left the company with a severe shortage of doctors.

The public spending watchdog is also investigating concerns about the award to Atos of at least one of the contracts to assess those claiming PIP – following a DNS investigation – as part of a major “value for money” study into the new benefit and its implementation. And in July, the government announced that it was bringing in new companies to join Atos in carrying out WCAs.

by John Pring, on the Disability News Service, 15th Nov 2013: http://disabilitynewsservice.com/2013/11/atos-move-leaves-dla-decision-makers-guessing/