Decision Maker Tells Mother Her Daughter’s Terminal Organ Failure Is ‘Your Opinion’

Same Difference

I found this heartbreaking story on the ATOS Miracles Facebook page. I usually share the links to Facebook statuses directly from Facebook, but this story is so heartbreaking that I don’t want to take the chance of anyone not being able to read it. Please share as widely as possible.

This mother talked to the Decision Maker last week and told him, “my daughter is dying from organ failure”. He said ‘that’s your opinion’. Her daughter had just been turned down for PIP for the third time. She has had a lifetime of health problems which have spread to many other illnesses. Aged 28 she now has end stage organ failure and will die without transplants. Whether a donor comes or not she is living the quality of life of someone at the end of their life. No PIP.

To anyone terminally ill your claim should get fast-tracked with a…

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Working Full Time And Think You’re Safe From The Jobcentre? Not If The DWP Get Their Way.

the void

When I click my fingers you will wake up, and all your benefits will have been stopped. Are you striving hard enough? The nudge unit is watching you.

A study released by the DWP today shows that tens of thousands of Tax Credits claimants  – some of them with full time jobs – have received letters and texts encouraging them to contact government busy-bodies for advice on how to increase their earnings by finding a new job or gaining promotion.

This startling fact is contained in an evaluation of the ‘In-work progression advice trial’ quietly carried out in 2014.  This pilot scheme, run by the DWP in conjunction with the shadowy Nudge Unit, involved 75,000 Tax Credit claimants receiving a letter encouraging them to contact the National Careers Service for advice on how to progress in work.  Around half of participants also recieved a text message.

Claimants were chosen largely at random from those earning a monthly income of £330–£960, so those working full-time at the then…

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Doctors bribed with 70-90k salaries to join Maximus and “endorse a political agenda regardless of how it affects patients.”

Politics and Insights

maximus-logoYes, but which people?

The National Audit Office (NAO) scrutinises public spending for Parliament and is independent of government. An audit report earlier this month concluded that the Department for Work and Pension’s spending on contracts for disability benefit assessments is expected to double in 2016/17 compared with 2014/15. The government’s flagship welfare-cut scheme will be actually spending more money on the assessments themselves than it is saving in reductions to the benefits bill – as
Frances Ryan pointed out in the Guardian, it’s the political equivalent of burning bundles of £50 note. The report also states that only half of all the doctors and nurses hired by Maximus – the US outsourcing company brought in by the Department for Work and Pensions to carry out the assessments – had even completed their training.

The NAO report summarises:

Million assessments completed in five years up to March 2015

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Update on GP’s providing sick note data to DWP

Yesterday, I posted an article from the Sunday Express, which you can read here:-

If any of you are likely to require a sick note or fit note (the correct term is an eMED3) you might like to consider writing to your GP to request that you opt out of your data being provided to the Health & Social Care information centre (HSCIC) who then transmit the data to DWP.

They aint half sneaky those tories, it appears there has been no public consultation about this and the DWP have left all the heavy lifting to the GP’s who as somebody remarked “as if they haven’t got enough to do already” and this “information” has been on their website since December 2015.

I know some people, particularly if they are unwell don’t always feel like, or have the confidence to compose a letter and so I have compiled a template letter, which covers the key points, for people to use should they wish.


Patient name

Patient address

4th September 20XX

Dr Name(s)

Surgery or Health Centre address

Dear Dr XXX

It has recently come to my attention that the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) have been instructed by the Secretary of State to extract and hand over patient information relating to the issue of eMED3 (Fit notes)

The NHS constitution states; “You have the right to request that your confidential information is not used beyond your own care and treatment and to have your objections to such use considered”

As the collection of data for eMED3 is for purposes beyond my direct care, I hereby give formal, written notification to all and any doctors, healthcare and allied professionals, including but not restricted to receptionists, office managers, administration and ancillary staff that I wish you as a data controller of my personal information, to apply a type 1 and 2 objection to the release of any of my data outside of the GP practice or any data from any health and social care setting being released by HSCIC.

Please acknowledge written receipt of this request and inform me in writing that the objection has been recorded on my written and electronic records.



signature of patient


If you want some more information about this despicable practice you can read more here;


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Doctors’ outrage as Government ‘snoops’ over sick notes

Reposted from the Sunday Express

FAMILY doctors have accused the Government of “state snooping” after it emerged that patients’ sickness records are to be collected and published.

Doctor writing a note and sick person

The Department for Work and Pensions will comb through GP records, including the number of sick notes issued by each practice and the number of patients recorded as “unfit” or “maybe fit” for work.

Patients’ names will not be disclosed. The DWP said the statistical information would “help provide a better understanding of why people take sickness absence in different areas across the country”.

But Family Doctor Association chairman Dr Peter Swinyard said: “I think that is state snooping. Although I am sure some civil servant thought it was a terrific idea somewhere, I am not entirely sure I agree. I don’t know if patients understand that when I write a sick note, some bureaucrat is going to be able to have a look at it.”

Dr Zoe Norris, spokeswoman for the family doctor pressure group GP Survival, said: “This could be a method for trying to find the highest concentrations of people on long-term sickness to try to catch people cheating the system. GPs should not have to be put in this position. Patient trust will be undermined if they think their doctor is reporting back on them.”

The information gathering, uncovered by doctors’ magazine Pulse, will begin next month and make it mandatory for GPs to release the data to the DWP for analysis unless a patient specifically objects.

The material, which will be published by the Government’s Health and Social Care Information Centre from next spring, will include the length of time off, patient gender, type of health condition, their location and whether workplace adaptations were recommended.

GPs, as data controllers, will be required to tell patients in person, via notices in the surgery and on the practice website of the impending extraction.

GP and data-sharing campaigner Dr Neil Bhatia said he was “not sure why” the data was required, “other than to compare practices, create league tables, name and shame”.

He added: “‘I think it would be extremely difficult to make sense of the information out of context of the consultation.”

Dr Kailash Chand, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association, said: “Primary care in this country is a jewel in the crown. But GPs are supposed to be patient advocates.

“This will damage the doctor-patient relationship for very questionable gain.”

A DWP spokeswoman said the data was being collated to support patients in getting back to work.

She said: “We know the damage that can be done when people are absent from the workplace for extended periods of time.

“That’s why we want to ensure that people get the best possible support to return to work or to avoid falling out of work in the first place.”

She added that the statistics “will help provide a better understanding of why people take sickness absence in different areas across the country, so we can then make the service as effective as possible for businesses and employees”.

My thoughts : So, there you have it!  It’s funny isn’t it because in the case of a person claiming ESA, the DWP are quick enough to leave GP’s and NHS specialists out of the loop. Now suddenly they want the details of those signed off sick and potentially not fit for work.

A couple of things occur to me;

  1. Will the fact that certain occupations give rise to certain conditions, firefighters for example, who even though they use specialist breathing equipment will be more likely than the average citizen to suffer lung problems
  2. Similarly, in those areas of the country such as Wales and Northern England, where there was heavy industry such as steel and coal, those workers (ex – workers) are more likely to suffer ill health as a result.
  3. But what I really think is the main reason for this is that the government has it’s eye on privatisation and this information will prove crucial to private companies who will use it to cost out their tendered bids.

Now, I would never tell anyone what to do of course … but if I my doctor has to complete a sick note or fit note or shit note or whatever they are called this week, then I will be providing him/her with a written statement saying that I object to my data being collected and used in this way and that I do not give my consent for it.






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Big Up the NHS

There is a question that has been troubling me for some time now. I think I have worked out the answer but if I am right it is deeply disturbing.

Why does our government have such a fixation about providing a 7 day elective (non emergency) NHS?

Now let me be perfectly clear about this. They are talking about non emergency services – getting your family planning advice on a Saturday afternoon and your varicose vein operation on a Sunday morning. Cameron was unequivocal in his speech to the Tory Spring Conference in Manchester last year. He said “with a future Conservative government, we would have a truly 7 day NHS” and that “everyone will have access to the NHS services they need 7 days a week by 2020 – the first country in the world to make this happen”.

Let me also be perfectly clear that the proposed changes…

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If even the DWP isn’t Disability Confident, how will a million disabled people get jobs?

By Bernadette Meaden

The recent case  of a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) employee sacked for taking time off for illness illustrates a truth that the government does not acknowledge. Modern employment practices often appear to be incompatible with its aim of getting sick and disabled people off disability benefits and into work.

In this particular case it was reported that after working at the DWP for thirty four years, Ms Powell, who has a disability, fell foul of its sickness absence procedure, whereby formal action is taken against employees after eight days absence, or four spells of absence within a 12-month period.

‘Health problems meant that Ms Powell was frequently off sick. As some of her absences were related to a disability, her trigger point was adjusted from the usual eight to 12 days. However, Ms Powell later went over her allotted 12 days’ absence by a few days, and she was dismissed.’

A year earlier, a DWP whistleblower had revealed :

“Attendance management continues to get more draconian and sackings have become a regular occurrence: a recent guideline instructed managers to consider dismissal for staff off work for longer than 28 days regardless of the reason.”

So despite its own Disability Confident campaign, which calls on employers to “help improve employment opportunities for disabled people and retain disabled people and those with long term health conditions in your business”, the DWP itself seems unable to provide employment for people who may have long or frequent spells of illness. This would suggest that if you have, say, a long term fluctuating health condition, or a disability that requires frequent hospital appointments, you will find it very difficult to keep a job at the DWP.

Of course the DWP is not alone in this. We know that in some workplaces the pressure to attend even when very ill is overwhelming. At the Sports Direct warehouse, for instance, it wasreported that over a two year period, 76 calls for an ambulance had been made, with 36 cases classed as ‘life-threatening’ including strokes, convulsions and breathing problems. One woman gave birth in the toilets, and employees said they were too frightened to take time off when they were ill, in case they lost their job. The employment agency that supplied staff to the warehouse had a ‘six strikes and you’re out’ policy, where a strike could include being off sick, or taking ‘excessive or long toilet breaks’. Very few people with a long term health condition would find it possible to keep their job in these circumstances.

The reality is that in a fiercely competitive economy and austerity-driven government departments, there is very little room for anyone who has a long term health problem. Perhaps somebody in the government should do a little experiment. Try applying for jobs and declaring a long-term illness or disability which may require regular absences. See how easy it is to get a job.

Even Paul Maynard, a disabled Conservative MP who has in the past referred to critics of government policy as “extremists” has warned his own government;

“It is not until one gets out there and tries to find a job that one really discovers the existence of prejudice against the disabled in society…I was not expecting to encounter it when making job applications, yet I rapidly ran into it and I do not consider myself to have a particularly severe form of cerebral palsy at all.”

So it is difficult to say just how insulting is the government’s suggestion that people who receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) because they have been found unfit to work by the DWP, are not getting jobs because of the ‘perverse incentive’ of the additional £30 per week they receive compared to a person on Jobseekers Allowance. Being on ESA is not a lifestyle choice.

The government needs to admit reality. It cannot itself find it impossible to employ people who have frequent spells of sickness absence, but punish sick people for not finding an employer who will accept them. It cannot aim to get a million people off disability benefits until it has ensured that there are employers who really will be prepared to employ them.  And not ‘prepared’ in a Disability Confident, PR spin kind of a way, but with actual jobs which people will be able to keep even if their health does necessitate frequent absences. Until then, the policy seems guaranteed to push even more disabled people into absolute poverty.

Indeed, any policy which aims to get sick and disabled people into employment will be highly damaging if it removes support before properly addressing current employment practices, and making them fit for disabled people, rather than finding sick and disabled people fit to work in jobs that do not exist or that they will find impossible to keep.

The numbers of disabled people in ‘absolute poverty’ (unable to meet their basic needs) hasrisen steeply following welfare reforms. Yet in his most recent party conference speech Iain Duncan Smith said to disabled people, “We won’t lift you out of poverty by simply transferring taxpayers’ money to you. With our help, you’ll work your way out of poverty.”

This would seem to suggest that, until disabled people find a job in a highly problematic jobs market, the Secretary of State is content for them to remain in poverty, as he objects on principle to the idea of the welfare state providing an adequate income for them.

Here is a radical proposal. Why don’t we a) trust people and b) help people?

Why not take all the money that is currently being wasted on the disastrous Work Capability Assessment, which we know is costing more than it saves, and believe people when they and their doctors say they are not fit to work? We could spend that money on providing top quality specialised support for people who are looking for a job they can actually keep. And meanwhile, politicians, why not stop insulting people who are ill or disabled, and start supporting them? Why not stop implying that because people are on ESA and face more barriers to employment, they are any less talented, less aspirational, or less deserving of respect than anybody else?



© Bernadette Meaden has written about political, religious and social issues for some years, and is strongly influenced by Christian Socialism, liberation theology and the Catholic Worker movement. She is an Ekklesia associate and regular contributor. You can follow her on Twitter: @BernaMeaden

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