Save Lifeworks mental health service!

April 15, 2014 at 6:23 am (Cuts, Disability, health service, mental health, posted by JD, protest, unions)


Service users and supporters rallied in Cambridge on 5 April

By Matt Wells (via Workers Liberty)

Lifeworks is a Complex Cases Service drop in centre which currently supports over 70 people with complex mental health problems in the Cambridge district and has supported many, many more over several years.

Following a deeply flawed decision to close the Lifeworks centre, taken behind the backs of those using it, a group of service users decided to occupy it. That was six weeks ago and the occupation is still holding out. This short video interview from inside the occupation with one of the participants gives a flavour of the resolve being shown by those fighting to save the service.

Please visit their Facebook page and sign their petition: see here.

They are seeking donations to sustain their campaign. Cheques to Cambridge & District Trade Union Council, marked Lifeworks. Send to Ian Beeby, Treasurer, CDTUC, 55, Station Road, Whittlesford, Cambridge, CB22 4NL.     

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Jeremy Hunt is trying to change the law: sign this petition!

December 3, 2013 at 2:39 pm (Cuts, health service, London, posted by JD, protest, solidarity, Tory scum)

Readers are urged to support this petition against Hunt’s outrageous “hospital closure clause.” However, I feel obliged to say that 38 Degrees have a bit of a cheek in seemingly claiming all the credit for the brilliant Lewisham Hospital campaign, which has been conducted on the ground by local activists and rank-and-file trade unionists, many of whom have not even heard of 38 Degrees…

****************************************************************************************************

From 38 Degrees: This is a message from Louise Irvine, a 38 Degrees member and hospital campaigner. Read her message below, or sign  her petition here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/hospital-closure-clause

I’m a doctor and part of the Save The Lewisham Hospital campaign. Along with thousands of 38 Degrees members, we stopped health minister Jeremy Hunt from closing services at Lewisham Hospital. Thousands of us chipped in to take him to court, and we won. [1]

Jeremy Hunt appealed the decision – but he lost again. So now, having been told twice that he acted illegally, he’s trying to change the law! [2] He wants to bring in a “hospital closure clause” to give him new legal powers to shut A&Es like Lewisham. If he gets this through, none of our hospitals will be safe from his meddling or closure. [3]

The hospital closure clause will soon be voted on by MPs. We need to persuade enough of them to vote against it. A huge petition will show MPs that the public don’t want them to give Jeremy Hunt new powers to shut hospitals.

I’ve started a petition on the 38 Degrees website. Please can you sign it today, before MPs vote?
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/hospital-closure-clause

It’s a pretty cynical way to respond to our campaign, isn’t it? After losing in court, Jeremy Hunt’s trying to sneak a change into a law to allow him “to dismantle hospital services arbitrarily.” [2] Even the very best hospitals wouldn’t be safe. This sinister clause is hidden within a much bigger piece of law – presumably he’s hoping that it will go through unnoticed.

A big petition can help stop this happening. When the bill is next debated, we can prove that thousands of us are coming together against these plans. Every signature helps sound the alarm. Every signature is a blow to Jeremy Hunt’s reputation, an extra voice against him getting new powers to shut hospitals.

Jeremy Hunt saw the public outcry the last time the government changed the law to damage the NHS. He saw his predecessor, Andrew Lansley, lose his job. The last thing Jeremy Hunt will want to see is 38 Degrees members coming together again to stand up for NHS.

NOTES:
[1] 38 Degrees blog, Jeremy Hunt beaten in court… again!
http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2013/10/29/jeremy-hunt-has-been-beaten-in-court-again/
[2] Parliament website, Early Day Motion 656
http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/656
[3] The Telegraph, Government wants free rein to close hospitals, claims
medic
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10414510/Government-wants-free-rein-to-close-hospitals-claims-medic.html
——————————

H/t: Trudy S

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EU study exposes Tory ‘benefits tourism’ lies

October 14, 2013 at 8:38 pm (benefits, Europe, health service, immigration, Jim D, Tory scum, truth, welfare)

Healthcare spending on non-active EU migrants - estimates

The EU Commission’s report (Impact of mobile EU citizens on national social security systems) leaves no room for doubt: the Tories’ campaign against so-called “benefits tourism” is based upon a pack of lies.

The report finds that “mobile EU citizens are less likely [ie than the national average] to receive disability and unemployment benefits in most countries studied.” In the UK, EU migrants account for just 4% of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants while representing more than 5% of those in employment.

EU spokesman Jonathan Todd told BBC Two’s Daily Politics, “the vast majority of migrants go to the UK to work, and they actually contribute more to the welfare system than they take out, purely because they tend to be younger than the average population, and of working age. The more EU migrants you have, the better off your welfare system is.”

The report also contradicts the claim, published in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph  that “600,000 unemployed migrants are living in Britain…at a cost of £1.5 billion to the NHS alone”. The 600,000 figure turns out not to refer to those who are unemployed but to those who are “economically inactive”, including pensioners, students, school children and the disabled. Of this total, those out of work and claiming Jobseekers Allowance amount to just 28%. In addition, the figures published in the study show that EU migrants are less likely than their UK counterparts to be economically inactive or unemployed. Thirty per cent of migrants are “non-active” compared to 43% of British citizens, while 7.5% are out of work, compared to 7.9% of UK nationals (the unemployment rate at the time the study was conducted).

Here’s the statement from László Andor, the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion:

The study makes clear that the majority of mobile EU citizens move to another Member State to work and puts into perspective the dimension of the so called benefit tourism which is neither widespread nor systematic. The Commission remains committed to ensuring that EU citizens that would like to work in another EU country can do so without facing discrimination or obstacles.

Downing Street responded by issuing a statement saying there is “widespread and understandable” concern about “benefit tourism”: in other words, never mind the facts, just pander  to prejudice.

It would be nice to think Labour will take a principled stand on this, but given recent statements from the Shadow Cabinet, that’s probably too much to hope.

NB: In writing the above, I made extensive use of this report on the New Statesman website – JD

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March in Manchester to Save the NHS!

September 28, 2013 at 6:51 am (Cuts, health service, posted by JD, protest, Tory scum, TUC, welfare)

  •  SAVE OUR NHS

    LIVE DEMO BLOG:

    See live updates from the march and rally at our Save Our NHS blog

    JOIN US ONLINE ON THE DAY

    If you can’t join us in Manchester you can still get involved online.

    Tell the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester: SAVE OUR NHS. Defend Jobs and Services. No to Austerity.

    March and Rally – Sunday 29 September 2013

    Supporters of the National Health Service and all those who want to defend jobs, services and a decent welfare state will be marching in Manchester to deliver a clear message to Conservative Party Conference that we mean to Save Our NHS from cuts and privatisation.

    A march and rally have been called by the North West TUC, backed by unions and NHS campaign groups. They’ll be assembling at Liverpool Road (M3 4FP) from 11am, and marching to a rally in Whitworth Park.

    The protest will highlight the impact of huge job losses and spending cuts across the health service, as well as the rapid sell-off of the most lucrative parts of the NHS to private healthcare companies – many of whom like Circle are also Conservative Party donors.

    The event will also raise concerns about the wider effect that government economic policies are having upon communities across the UK.

    Getting there:

    Coaches to Manchester are being laid on by groups around the country, with many places subsidised or free. A list of coaches can be found at http://falseeconomy.org.uk/travel/uk/all/t1.

    Coach Drop Off Point: The coach drop off point will be on Water Street, Manchester B5225. Coaches should arrive at the drop off point between 09:00 and 12:00.

    Advertise your coach
    For those looking to advertise your coach and ensure they are full, the False Economy has a section dedicated to 29th September. Register your details through http://falseeconomy.org.uk/nhs299 or alternatively, you can email Jay McKenna at jmckenna@tuc.org.uk with your coach details.

    Trains
    The nearest train station to the form up point is Deansgate Train Station. For those travelling to Manchester Oxford Road or Manchester Picaddilly, there will be police officers on duty on the day who will be able to point you in the direction of Liverpool Road and the march.

    Buses
    Buses will be running on the day, however there will be some alterations due to road closures. These will be published shortly on the Transport for Greater Manchester website www.tfgm.com.

    Form Up
    The form up area for unions will be signposted and this information will be circulated prior to the march.

    Route:

    The march is expected to move off at 12:15 and the route has been confirmed with police and agency partners.

    It is: Depart Liverpool Road; Turn Left onto Deansgate; Turn right onto John Dalton Street; Continue over onto Princess Street; Turn right onto Portland Street; Turn right onto Oxford Street; Left into Hall Street; Continue round to Bale Street; Turn left onto Lower Mosley Street; Continue down onto Albion Street; Turn left onto Whitworth Street; Turn right onto Oxford Street; Continue down onto Oxford Road; Finish at Whitworth Park.

    Map

    Short March/Static Demonstration
    For those who require a shorter march the two points for will be at:

    • Barbirolli Square (outside of the Bridgwater Hall) – This allows for those who wish to join the march to pass the conference centre and continue onto the rally
    • All Saints Park (off Oxford Road) – This allows for those who just wish to attend the rally to join the march to its conclusion

    Both Barbirolli Square and All Saints Park will be stewarded and policed to ensure that those with mobility requirments will have safe and easy passage in the march. All marchers are asked to respect this.

    Rally

    The rally will start at 14:15 or when the march reaches Whitworth Park, whichever is the later. It is expected to last for approximately 2 hours with speakers and music.

    Space for any stalls within Whitworth Park is limited is extremely limited. If any Union or organisation wishes to have a stall at the rally, please email Kara Stevens on kstevens@tuc.org.uk

    Accessible Viewing Area/Sign Language
    A disability viewing area will be provided near to the stage to enable clear sight lines to the stage. There will also be sign language provided on the day. This area will be signposted and stewards will direct individuals to this area if required.

    Departure
    At the end of the rally, coach pick up points and the direction of travel to train stations will be advertised on the large screen. Stewards and police will be on hand to assist with dispersal from the park and signposting individuals to coach parking.

    Get involved:

    NB: all the above is reproduced from the TUC website

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Measles: single jab quackery

April 24, 2013 at 7:41 pm (children, conspiracy theories, Daily Mail, health service, Jim D, media, parasites, profiteers, science, Tory scum, truth, youth)

It is now universally accepted by competent health professionals that the MMR triple vaccination jab is the safest protection presently possible against measles, mumps and rubella. The present outbreak of measles in South Wales is entirely attributable to the discredited (and probably fraudulent) “research” of Andrew Wakefield in 1998, falsely linking the MMR jab with autism. Wakefield’s dodgy “research” was widely promoted by the Daily Mail and other media (including the South Wales Evening Post) from the moment it first appeared until well into the 2000’s, even after Wakefield’s “research” was officially discredited and the man himself struck off.  As a direct result teenagers who did not receive the two MMR jabs that are required, as infants, are now the main group suffering from infection.

But still opportunist quacks are (literally) cashing in on the fears of gullible parents: The Children’s Immunisation Centre (see below) ran a clinic last weekend in Swansea supplying the less effective single measles vaccination privately for £110 for each jab plus a £50 registration fee. MMR is available on the NHS free of charge.

The Children’s Immunisation Centre website gives telephone numbers for private clinics offering single measles jabs in England and in Swansea and also links to old newspaper articles suggesting an autism link to the MMR vaccine.

It also claimed that the single vaccines are “the only safe option” to immunise against measles – but that demonstrably false claim has now been removed from their website.

Why has no government minister spoken out against these quacks? In particular, why has health minister Jeremy Hunt had nothing to say? It surely can’t be because the government rather approves of both “parental choice” and private medicine for profit – or that Hunt himself is on record as being sympathetic towards quackery?

H/t: BBC Wales

The profiteers’ fraudulent publicity, below:

The Children’s Immunisation Centre Ltd operates The Immunisation and Medical Centres. Our centres operate Nationally London, Manchester, Kent, Dartford, Birmingham, Southampton, (Leeds-Harrogate, Nottingham-Sheffield Coming Soon), has been specialising for ten years  on all types of vaccinations but particularly  in single vaccinations against  Measles, Mumps, Rubella: MMR single vaccinations; baby jabs and other childhood and new vaccinations to protect adults and children in the UK, and for all your travel vaccinations such as Yellow Fever ,Typhoid rabies and Cholera to name but a few.

We are particularly proud of our 100 per cent safety record and have over 18,000 registered patients and we are one of the UKs largest and friendliest injectables company.

Our group was established in 2002, and for the last 10 years has brought PEACE OF MIND to thousands of patients for affordable private single baby jabs of single Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR single jab vaccinations) -currently no mumps vaccine available in the UK.

All our thousands of patients are healthy, with no autism, no hospitalizations or fits (anaphylaxis shock) no febrile convulsions. We have a 100% Safety Record and have given over 70,000 vaccinations.(over 18,000 patients)

Our Measles, Mumps, Rubella single jab (MMR single jabs) immunisation clinic was the first private health clinic to obtain its Care Quality Commission. We have been independently audited and checked by  Care Quality Commission Assessors;

FOR YOUR PEACE OF MIND

FOR YOUR PEACE OF MIND.

Our clinics are in Birmingham, London Harley Street, Manchester,  Kent-Dartford, Southampton, (Leeds-Harrogate, Nottingham-Sheffield Coming Soon). All our clinics are open on Saturdays so that parents can conveniently bring their children for their single MMR jabs (single immunisations). It is essential children and adults keep up with all their immunisations and check booster requirements.

Apart from MMR single jabs, we also protect against the following diseases, especially for travelling children. No NHS referral necessary.

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10,000 march to save Lewisham A&E

November 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm (Cuts, health service, London, protest)

Cathy and Jill report :

At least 10,000 people marched on Saturday (24 November) through central Lewisham, in terrible weather, to stop the closure of the A&E, maternity and other departments at the local hospital.

Local, mostly working class people appear to have reached a  tipping point on what services they are prepared to see go in the so called ‘austerity cuts’. We don’t recall being on a similar demonstration since the miners strike – ie. a local demo where local working class people were by far the dominant force (there were many differences too, like the lack of trade union banners and consciousness).
.
We gave out thousands of leaflets about the campaign  with people pushing and queuing to get one – fleeting chats imply that many, many people want to be involved and some longer chats clearly indicated that the A&E closure was forcing them to voice their anger and frustration about what the Tories are doing to them/us more generally.
.
It was easily the biggest demonstration Lewisham has seen since the “Battle for New Cross” in 1977 and one of the biggest in the UK against local NHS cuts for many years.

This was very much a demonstration of the local community but will have drawn in people from around south London who also face cuts in their NHS services proposed by government-appointed Special Administrator after South London Heath Care Trust went bust.

The root of the problem is the massive, long-term payments a neighbouring Trust has had to fork out to PFI contrators. Everyone in south London and not just Lewisham are set to pay the price. Unless we stop the NHS bosses and the government who have devised cuts so that they can continue to pay out to the PFI profiteers.

This demonstration was fantastic start, but there is not much time. Anyone wishing to get involved in the campaign to discuss and work out how to take further effective action and link up around London should come to the next public meeting.

7pm, Wednesday 28 November, Broadway Theatre, Catford

And the next action:

6pm, Tuesday 4 December Converge on Kershaw (the special adminstator) Calabash Centre, George Lane, SE6

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Will Labour put its NHS policy into practice?

October 3, 2012 at 6:05 pm (Cuts, health service, Jim D, labour party, unions)

Unanimous conference vote is start, not end, of fight

From 

Labour Party conference has voted unanimously to pass the composite motion on the NHS based in large part on the model motion promoted by the NHS Liaison Network . That is an excellent result – but just the beginning of the struggle.

Since the motion was passed by more than two thirds, Labour Party rules mean its contents should become part of the next General Election manifesto. If that happens, however, it will not be without a big fight.

Labour has democratically agreed left-wing policies on a whole range of issues – eg council housing, renationalisation of the railways – which are either ignored or repudiated by the leadership. This happens because, in general, the unions and the left do not campaign for the party’s policies to be implemented.

In this case, Labour Party officials tried various tactics to prevent the NHS text from making it onto conference floor. They were stopped by the determination of delegates, particularly those whose CLPs had submitted NHS motions, so switched to a strategy of avoiding a floor fight which would make them look bad. That is good. But it is also an indication that winning the vote is just another step in pushing Labour to take up these policies. The slightly more left-wing statements now coming from Labour spokespeople on the NHS should encourage us to push harder.

Alongside struggles against cuts and privatisation by health workers and local NHS campaigns, there needs to be a trade union and labour movement campaign to bring massive pressure to bear on Labour, to demand it fights for and implements its new policy. The NHS Liaison Network will seek to make that happen.

Pat Smith, the Liaison Network supporter and conference delegate whose speech moving the NHS motion got a standing ovation, said: “Passing this policy shows that campaigning in the Labour Party can work. But it is only the first step. Starting immediately, we need a campaign by trade unionists and party members to insist Labour puts its paper policy into practice.”

  • We will print the motion passed by the conference and text from Pat’s speech shortly.
  • For the story of the campaign around Labour Party conference, see other articles on the NHS Liaison Network site.
  • For more information, email nhsliaison@yahoo.co.uk, or ring 07904 944 771.

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Labour must rebuild the NHS !

October 2, 2012 at 11:00 am (Cuts, health service, labour party)

By Pat Smith, delegate from Hull North CLP and proposer of Wednesday’s NHS motion

We have succeeded in forcing a debate on rebuilding the NHS onto the agenda of Labour Party conference.

Despite the weather, up to 200 people took part in Sunday’s lobby of the conference, organised by the NHS Liaison Network (http://labournhslobby.wordpress.com/). A mix of Labour Party activists, trade unionists, students and NHS campaigners chanted slogans including “Cuts no, services yes – Labour rebuild the NHS” and “Seize the banks, reclaim their wealth – spend it on our National Health”. We also heard speeches from John McDonnell MP, ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan, and a range of NHS workers and local campaigners. Perhaps most importantly, we leafleted and discussed with delegates as they went into the conference. (Even Andy Burnham stopped to speak to us!)

The lobby, and the campaign running up to it, seem to have had an effect. 15 of the 17 motions on the health service submitted by Constituency Labour Parties were versions of the model motion written by the Liaison Network and the Labour Representation Committee. And today, as the lobby was demanding, CLP delegates voted to make the health service their top priority for discussion.

However, the Labour leadership is well armed with bureaucratic procedures to avoid debate. Having failed to persuade the Conference Arrangements Committee to rule most of the NHS motions out of order, apparatchiks descended on the compositing meeting to try to get them gutted. But, faced with such a large number of CLPs and with delegates determined to get their text onto conference floor, they eventually had to give in, after more than two hours of intense argument.

The essential content of the Liaison Network/LRC motions will now go forward to the conference as a composited motion – the only one on the NHS – to be discussed on Wednesday morning. But there are still other tricks that can be tried, including an NEC statement over-ruling or disqualifying the motion. (Earlier, when delegates voted clearly against the CAC’s ruling out of a democratic reform motion, the chair simply declared the ruling carried!)

Labour Party members and members of affiliated unions and societies need to use the next few hours to bring the maximum possible pressure to bear on the party hierarchy, to ensure the motion is voted on – and passed.

Watch this space. For more information ring me on 07515 004 519

Pat Smith

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Hunt believes in homeopathy, but not in the NHS

September 5, 2012 at 5:56 pm (Conseravative Party, David Cameron, health service, Jim D, science, Tory scum)

Jeremy Hunt arriving in Downing Street.

Jeremy Hunt, the new health secretary allegedly objected (as culture secretary) to the scenes in Danny Boyle’s Olympic opening pageant that celebrated the NHS. The allegation has been made by Labour’s Andy Burnham and I have no way of verifying it. What is a matter of record is that Hunt is listed as one of the co-authors” of the book Direct Democracy: An Agenda for a New Model Party, which contained the follolwing passage:

“Our ambition should be to break down the barriers between private and public provision, in effect denationalising the provision of healthcare in Britain, so extending to all the choices currently available only to the minority who opt for private care.”

Also on the record is the fact that in 2007 Hunt signed an early day motion supporting homeopathy. This is pretty close to believing in magic, as Sir John Krebs told the Guardian: “There is overwhelming evidence that homeopathetic medicine is not effective. It would be a real blow for those who want mewdicine to be science-based if the secretary of state were to promote homeopathy because of his personal beliefs.”

The overwhelming, unanswerable case aginst homeopathy is most effectively (and entertainingly) explained to the layperson by Ben Goldacre in his Bad Science blog here and also in his excellent 2008 book of the same name. here’s just a small part of the book’s chapter on homeopathy, dealing with ‘The dilution problem':

“Most people know that homeopathic remedies are diluted to such an extent that there will be no molecules of it left in the dose you get. What you might not know is just how far these remedies are diluted. The typical homeopathic dilution is 30C: this means that the original substance has been diluted by one drop in a hundred, thirty times over. In the ‘What is homeopathy?’ section on the Society of Homeopath’s website, the single largest organisation for homeopaths in the UK wil tell you that ’30C contains less than one part per million of the original substance.’

“‘Less than one part in a million’ is, I would say, something of an understatement: a 30C homeopathic preperation is a dilution of one in 1 in 100^30, or rather 1 in 10^60, which means a 1 followed by sixty zeroes, or – let’s be absolutely clear – a dilution of 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000, or to phrase it in the Society of Homeopaths’ terms, ‘one part per million million million million million million million million million million’. This is definitely ‘less than one part per million of the original substance’.

“For perspective, there are only around 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Imagine a sphere of water with a diameter of 150 million kilometers (the distance from the earth to the sun). It takes light eight minutes to travel. Picture a sphere of water that size, with one molecule of a substance in it: that’s a 30C dilution.”

Is a man who believes in such patent nonsense a fit and proper person to be in charge of the nation’s health?

All the more reason to support this

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Disabled people and the media: hailed at the Paralympics, targeted when claiming benfits

August 7, 2012 at 5:18 pm (BBC, Cuts, Disability, health service, Human rights, Tory scum, welfare)

By Anne Begg MP

For a couple of years disabled people have been reporting increased levels of both verbal and physical abuse from members of the public. This has been confirmed this week in the results published by the charity Scope from a survey of 500 disabled people and their carers across the country. The research showed that 46% of those polled said that attitudes towards them had worsened over the past year.

Why should this be? With the London 2012 Olympics & Paralympics taking place, and particularly Channel 4 rebranded as Paralympics broadcaster, has been full of positive images of disabled people, some doing remarkable things. I think the Channel 4 advert for the Paralympics (below) is fantastic and get a lump in my throat every time I see it.

However, for a longer time there have been a large number of very different stories about people who receive disability and sickness benefits in the press. In the government’s attempt to show it is getting tough on benefit fraudsters and the work shy the print media have been very willing to run stories on every release of statistics which they say show that most people who claim sickness benefits are perfectly capable of work, statistics which in reality show no such thing.

A study “Bad News for Disabled People: How the newspapers are reporting disability” by Strathclyde Centre for Disability Research and Glasgow Media Unit found that there had been an increase in the number of disability related stories in the press with a decrease in those presenting a more sympathetic view. There had also been an increase in the use of words such as “scrounger”, “cheat” and “skiver” all adding to an impression that disabled people were “underserving”.

So who are the targets for this abuse? Is it the benefits cheats featured in the various stories about “sick note Britain”? Is it the man who claimed to be too ill to cut his own food caught on camera playing golf or the man who claimed to need a wheelchair filmed Jiving? Of course not. Their friends, far less passersby, will have no idea what income or benefits they receive and certainly won’t know what they said on an application form and pretended in an interview. Who would believe they would have such a brass neck? No it is not the real fraudsters, estimated to be less than 1% of benefit claimants, who are the target for the abuse, it is those with an obvious physical or learning disability. That’s why some of the irresponsible reporting has been so dangerous. It is the person who clearly has a disability, who may actually be in work, who is having to suffer the taunts, the name calling and being spat on.

Those with genuine disabilities were told there was nothing to fear from the new Work Capability Assessment for people who are unable to work due to sickness or disability. It was being introduced, we were told, to weed out the scroungers and work shy but those with the greatest disability would get more help and support. However, two television programmes this week, Channel 4’s Dispatches “Britain on the Sick” and BBC Panorama “Disabled or Faking It?” have given the lie to this. Something which many people who have been through the new system already knew.

Rather than showing that those with severe disabilities had nothing to fear from the new assessment, Panorama found a number who were being found fit for work, such as the man with severe emphysema who keeps having to take his case to appeal as he scores no points every time he goes through the assessment.

The Dispatches programme showed that the WCA was declaring people fit if they could work from a wheelchair even if they don’t use a wheelchair. Are wheelchair services across the country ready for the influx of applications? And what happens if the wheelchair assessment says the person doesn’t qualify for one on the NHS?

But most worrying was a woman who featured in the Panorama programme who, among other things, could not go to the toilet on her own. Yet she was put in the Work Related Activity Group. There must be something seriously wrong with a system which makes that kind of mistake. I wasn’t allowed home from hospital recently until I could safely toilet myself.

These were not isolated examples. I received an e-mail this week from a man who was highly anxious because he had just been called for this third WCA in three years. It is not surprising he was feeling persecuted as he had had to give up work as he has the particularly cruel degenerative Huntington’s disease.

Much of the misleading press coverage blames the victim of the system for the failings of the system. So someone who begins a claim for ESA because their Statutory Sick Pay has run out but returns to work before their ESA claim has been determined is counted as someone swinging the lead. Nor is the WCA very good at dealing with people with progressive diseases. It doesn’t make any acknowledgement that people with MS or Parkinson’s or Huntington’s have probably just lost their job precisely because they have a degenerative disease so their employability will not improve no matter how many reassessments they go through.

One thing about disability worth bearing in mind is that in a blink of an eye it could be you. An accident or a diagnosis can change your life for ever. At the very time you want to be wrapped in the care of the NHS and supported by the welfare state is the very time when a complete stranger in the street might spit the word “scrounger” at you.

Dame Anne Begg MP, Chair of Work and Pensions Select Committee, MP for Aberdeen South

H-t: David Kirkham, Sheffield Uncut

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