WCA- come on scrap it!

7 Nov

After today’s brilliant ILF Judicial Review appeal win, we are waiting with trepidation the result of the WCA Judicial Review Appeal for mental health claimants.  I have everything painfully crossed for this, but knowing this Government like you all do what their reaction will be, and they will not take the decision if they lose lying down.

It’s been a long time to get to this.  2 years and more now.  When with DM we said goodbye to the legal team outside court 62 at the court of appeals, it was a strange day.  It was an emotional day for everyone involved that day.  A day of wondering what would happen next, and feeling so so tired, exhausted.

When I met DM in June 2012, I remember the day so clearly, the pre application for the Judicial review to be agreed to be heard, the vigil outside the royal courts of justice, and the summer of so many friends and fellow campaigners who passed away with the detoriation of their health over this cruel and heartless process and many have taken their own lives over the W.C.A too.

I have seen since 2008, how the W.C.A has affected people, close friends of mine who could not cope anymore, cannot take any more of the stress, not knowing when they will be reassessed again, the dreadful fear of the postman, that brown envelope laying there and the hell of filling out the questionnaire, and then the wait for will it be a face to face assessment with Atos, or will be a decision, and how long will I wait for it?

I lived in dreadful fear of waiting for that assessment, the fear alone of the wait put me in hospital, that cost the NHS thousands that three month stay in hospital, I could not bear the words DWP, or ATOS, or if I saw a brown envelope during that time, had a full blown panic attack and needed sedation.   I caused my family and friends dreadful worry during that time when I was hospitalised, I had disappeared for a few days intent on taking my own life, totally beleiving the DWP and Atos were following me, sat in a darkened room with the curtains drawn feeling as though they could see through my curtains and harm me.

The hardest time, was when I thought the doctor on the ward was an Atos assessor and he followed me down the corridor to reason with me and I was not having any of it, he frightened me, and in my state of mind at the time, nothing would have told me anything different that he was not an Atos assessor, I do not remember much what I had done, but I was on that floor, with 10 nurses holding me down, while they injected me.  I was not a human being, they made me feel totally worthless, tied down and injected against your will, that is what the words W.C.A did to me.

Later that same year in 2011, i started having problems with horrendous fatigue and headaches, I thought it was all the stress and hell I had just been through, in fact, the doctors said it probably was.  Little did I know then, that the symptoms were the start of Rhuematoid Arthritis, an auto immune disease that attacks the lining of the joints  with imflamation and horrible pain.  It attacked me over night, and it progressed pretty quickly.  Its been two years on from that, and two illnesses collide, Bipolar and R.A. and i was told by the Rhuematologist that the stress and fear of waiting to be assessed, along with other family issues at the time, probably triggered the illness to be triggered, I will never know for certain.

I have read terrible plights of people who have gone through this hellish process, people with cancer, MS, even my own father with dementia was called for a face to face assessment, and he was found fit for work too,  and if you met my father, there is no way on earth he was fit for work.  He cannot remember my name, and that of my brothers, or even a lot of the time he is married to my mum, and they have been married 42 years.

Thankfully, our GP sorted his claim out and kicked some DWP ass, and from the stories I have read, heard in person, there are people in the department who need some ass kicking, the real jobsworths who relish causing the stress, and pain that has been unleashed to sick and disabled people in the last five years.

But, to be fair, not all the staff in the DWP are like that, there are many, fearful of losing thier jobs, and seeing the hell of what the governmental policies are causing, feeling torn between being militant and helping us with information and trying every which way to ease the stress and be as kind and helpful as they can, to knowing if they speak out, that is their job, and the dwp have targets, if they do not sanction enough people, they are pulled up in front of thier managers and asked to explain why they have not sanctioned people, and the same goes for the W.C.A, although lately, more people are getting placed into the support group but its not enough.

This whole process discriminates, how does a mental health claimaint, if for argument’s sake suffers from phychosis, explain thier illness to an Atos assessor? I know my friend could not, he struggled.  His thoughts were his reality, it was not his family or his friends, but his thoughts were very real to him, as were the audio and visual halluncinations he was constantly tortured with.  He was terrified of the world around him and the people in it.  He would not hurt anyone, and was one of the most gentle people to walk the earth.  He was pulled up for an assessment, despite numerous suicide attempts.  The Atos assessor, a physio therapist in his case,  had not the foggiest clue about his illness or how it affected his ability to work or how it impaceted on his daily life.   My friend could not communicate to anyone how the illness affected him, he lacked the insight into it and would not speak to days about anything.   That phsyio therpaist should have contacted his dr and got a medical report from his physchiatrist, but she did not do that, and my friend did not have the foggiest idea that he needed medical evidence and the onus was on him to collect it, or, that with overwhelming evidence from his dcotors, would have shown Atos that he had been sectioned some 16 times, had a history of 70 suicide attemtps and would have been covered under regulations 29/35 but no dr was contacted, and he was found fit for work in July 2013.

I spoke to him a few days after this decsion and said to him i so wish you had spoken to me, I would have helped you with your questionnaire and would have done everything to support him as best as I could, But I know that he would not because he was too terrified to talk to anyone.

The last thing he said to me was, please make Atos go away, they keep following me and are hounding me, and they are there at the end of my bed, I can’t sleep even with my eyes closed they are there.  He called them demons.

The last thing, yes he is no longer with us, he passed away a few weeks later in August 2013, he took his own life at the local train station, and now he is another statistic on a list.  To me, he is and will always be a dear friend, who I miss more than words will ever say and I knew him for over 20 years.  We set up a service user involvement project up together to help people with mental health issues in the commmunity.  We campaigned together, we cried, we laughed, and now he is gone.   I stood at that station a few days after his death, looking at the flowers and I vowed one thing that day, I would get justice for him, and for everyone else who has suffered under this cruel and callous process.

A short time later, was the 10,000 cuts and counting event in London, a memorial service to remember all the sick and disabled people who have passed away due to the W.C.A.  At Parliament Square that day, were a field of white flowers.  It was moving to see them all there, and so emotional, and raw.  In front of parliament, those white  flowers lay there, every one of them a life, a human being no longer with us, and I struggled with tears, as I remembered all my friends who had died and fellow campaigners, and all those struggling today.

I burned with anger and injustice, wanted IDS to see what we were seeing that day, and wanted him to feel the pain we were all feeling.  One of the hardest things I did that day, was read my piece of poetry Lest we forget.  I broke during one verse, holding a white flower at the edge of that stage, but I finished reading, and threw my white flower to all my friends into the sea of flowers.  I came down that ramp and I cried on a friend’s shoulder.  all I knew was I wanted to help get justice, and I wanted my friends back, even if for a minute, but at that moment, they were all there and it hurt like hell.  It does everyday.

I have seen this year the ESA questionnaire change yet again, more regulations bought in, and the appeals system change again, and for the worse, as now from 28th October 2013, the reconsideration stage has come into effect, meaning if you are appealing the decision, you have to have another decsion maker at the dwp look at your paperwork and you do not get any money while waiting for this to be completed, and now, you have to submit the tribunial paperwork to the tribunial yourself.   How many will not last the winter while awaiting an appeal?

What IDS, Grayling and David Cameron hate, is that Atos have been found not fit for purpose, that 42 per cent of appeals are successful when you do not have a welfare rights advisor represent you at tribunial, but rises to 70 per cent with a welfare rights advisor at that tribunial.  They do not want us to appeal, so in October slashed legal aid so claimaints can not access it, and changed the appeals process, and put us in a catch 22, not well enough for JSA, but fit for work for ESA, and thus no money.

How many in this process will be bow beaten into claiming JSA or being sanctioned if they do not?  In the last year 400,000 people have been sanctioned.  My friend Clive was one of those.  I met Clive at the swan conference in March this year.  Clive was a social worker who worked for a charity and was made redundant.  We all heard his story of him being sanctioned.  He was sanctioned for his first offence for three months.  He told us of his story of looking for food in bins to eat, not eating for days, keeping warm in a library as his flat was freezing cold.  At that conference he broke down in tears and his voice cracking and shaking at the podium, he said he did not blame the JCP worker for sanctioning him, but this government, and he vowed to fightback against them, and he started campaigning.  But, there is more to this story.  Because of the stress he had been through, he struggled with Depression, and had to go through the W.C.A process.  He was found fit for work on 18th September, and many of us are trying to help him and many others keep going another day right now.

The W.C.A is costing this Government more money than it saves, and what sense is there of putting people through three month six month assessments, claimaints have been told like amputees to grow back limbs, I mean please, Atos it does not happen!  The Cerebral Palsy claimaint who was told by an Atos doctor they would be ready for work in six months.  How senseless is all this.

During the last 18 months, I have stood outside the royal courts of justice with the mental health resistance network with the pre application hearing, for the wca Judicial Review, through the actual WCA Judical Review in January 2013, and then just recently for the appeal that the dwp bought against the cliamints because they lost in May 2013.

We have stood out in the streets outside the courts in rain, the cold, the snow, gales and the sun to highlight the issues around the W.C.A and how unfair this entire process is and how it affects claimaints.

I sat through four and a half days of legal proceedings, talked with the lawyers with DM, stood there with many others with the megaphone, told the public  how it really is for us, and looked across the court room at the judges pleading with them mutely with my eyes for justice for everyone who has suffered, is sufering and will suffer this horrendous process.

I know only one thing, the W.C.A harms people, that only one third of Harrington’s recommendations from three of his reports have been implemented and the Government has no intention of making this process fair.  They only care about getting as many people off benefit as humanly possible, and if people suffer well according to them we are all scroungers, and deserve it.

I have only this to say, we are human beings, and anyone can become sick, anyone can develop a devastating disability or be born with one, and as racquel rolnik said on 11th September 2013, one death was one too many. One.  Under the WCA we in 2011 had 10600 of them, and that figure is more, but the DWP refused the freedom of information request in summer 2013 for the 2012 figures and now they will not keep records.

This process is harming people, people’s health is detoriating as they wait for yet another assessment, and one death is one too many.

As we wait for the decision for the W.C.A Judicial Review for mental health claimants, I know only one thing.  I want Justice.  I want to stop living in fear.  I like all of you want this government out, and if I could I would want this Government to face the justice they should face for the pain and suffering they have caused millions in this country.

I hope justice is served and remember this DM and MM have been through so very much to bring this case to the courts, they have been through hell,  whatever the decision is with the appeal, they took on the DWP and Atos, and gave them a bloody nose in May, and that should not be forgotten.  I know one thing, I was proud to stand with them the past 18 months, and will continue to stand with them.

Let’s hope justice prevails.

Protestor Poet. xx

What The NHS Means To Me.

5 Nov

On Monday 4th November 2013, after a five month wait, I finally had my first Actemra infusion for Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I do not often share my inner most thoughts about me, but, I was so scared and anxious the night before that infusion,  about what would happen, how would I react to it, the kind of questions you ask before anything we have around our treatment or surgery.

This year the R.A. has hit me hard, and despite the disabilities carried on campaigning, fighting horrendous pain that has reduced me to tears, sent the Depression to hit me on top, and yes, I have comtemplated taking my life, because I did not want to live in this chronic excruiating pain anymore.  I know only too well what that blackness of depression feels like, how disabling it is, how powerless it can make us feel, and at times, how feeling when at the bottom of that pit it feels like no one gives a damn, its how the Depression makes us feel.

This year, I have seen the consultants come and go,  seen a rheumatology nurse for the first time, and needed mobility aids as the disease has progressed.  Used an electric mobility scooter for the first time,  that was hairy that first ride of me on a scooter, got banned out of a shop because they worried I would hit their display cabinet, (took my custom elsewhere) and slapped in a complaint, and been the victim of hate crime, out in the community and on line, which has affected me in many ways.

On 3rd November a friend of mine went to a TUC conference at congress house in London, and while chatting to me on the phone, told me that the NHS is now 80 per cent privatised.  Scary that isn’t it?  Its damn frightening.

I looked around on the ward I was on yesterday, and kept looking at the bag of medication attached to me thinking how much this trip to hospital was costing, how much the medication was, (it costs thousands) and how if I had to have private medical insurance I would not get cover for the trip to hospital, or be allowed this medication that I so desperately needed.

I can’t get medical coverage now. Why, well if you tot up the pre exisiting medical conditions, the fact I have been genetically tested, which i have for BRAC1 and BRAC 2 cancer genes and had genetic testing for a faulty auto immune genes; there is a long list of herediatry conditions in the family, heart problems, diabetes type 1, Cancer, blood pressure problems, and the auto immune disease list every member of my family has been affected in this way, the youngest member my niece who is 6 has type 1 diabetes and the poor mite has been very ill with it at times as well.  Add all this up and I am high risk, they tell me.  I can’t even get life insurance cover.  Why? well, because of all the above, and, had cancer a few times myself and am battling a tumour right now on top, so they tell me could not afford the monthly premeiums  and no one would touch me I was told.

I wonder how many more out there would be in the same boat?  Hundreds of thousands, probably much more than that.

You imagine, you had a heart attack. The first thing the ambulance crew ask, have you got insurance, can we see your card?  The first thing they would ask before any treatment happened.  If you did not have insurance you would be turned away.  I can see it coming.  My uncle, who lives in the U.S. had this happen to him.  He needed quadruple heart by pass surgery in the end and the papers he was signing as he was on his way to theatre, pre medicated,  and feeling horrendous, telling him he was not covered for this and that, and too ill to take it in, and hit with horrendous bills that he is still paying for to this day.  That is what is what is sneaking in this country, we now have at head of NHS England, Mr Simon Stevens, who was president of United Healthcare, and United Healthcare already operate many of the supply contracts to the NHS, with equipment and such, and not very successfully, hence the NHS has cut back on a lot of equipment in many ways because they simply cannot afford the prices these private companies are stinging the NHS for, and thus patients feel the impact of not getting the equipment they need, or simply not getting the treatment they desperately need, or it being rationed which is happening in some trusts like Staffordshire with steroid injections for one.

I was at my GP surgery the other day, and the put a notice up on a wall, saying that emergency appointments are just that emergency and asking people not to see a GP for a routine problem for am emergency appointment and in OCTOBER 2013, in my surgery 984 PEOPLE used the emergency appointments for routine problems.  What about the people who are real emergencies who cannot get an appointment then?  My Grandad was one of those last year before he died and he ended up in A and E because a GP could not see him.  The wait to see a GP, four weeks in some places, and GP’s have a few days a week, have Clincial Comissioning Groups meetings to attend as well, ( I wrote a blog about CCG’S earlier this year and what they are about).

I have stood out there with my placards, about the NHS, led the Lewisham Hospital NHS save our A and E campaign march with 15,000 people out there in November 2012, which I was proud to do, stood there in the mud and listened to Louise Irvine and Heidi Alexander MP in January 2013,  wore my save the Lewisham Hospital Badge, went to meetings, and seen first hand how the cuts are impacting on hospital and have to say primary services like GP’s as well, and never thought I would see the day in my area when 10 GP’s resigned over clinical comissioning groups, but since April 2013 that is what happened in Bromley.

I was in Manchester on 29th September 2013, and watched with amazement and pride the 65,000 people who like me, vented their anger at the Conservative conference venue outside at how the cuts were hurting them, and how much the NHS means to them.  For those 65,000 people out there that day, it was everything to them.  The stories of life saving treatment, the stories of their relatives who would not have been there if it was not for the dedicated staff who go above and beyond to save a life and to help that person live as well as they can do in the community, the stories would warm milliions of hearts, but not Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron’s.  They want the NHS not to exist, they want privatisation, because its about money, profits, and what profits they make from it.  What about the patients David Cameron?  The families who care for that ill relative, the dr’s and nurses who should have the equipment and the support to do the job?

A lot of the time when campaigning I have been in agonising pain, but I owe the NHS.  I owe them my life,  I owe them for saving my life when I was 18, teaching me to walk properly when I was 9 and had a year’s hydrotherapy, I owe them for my dad’s life for the amazing treatment and heart surgery he had two years ago, that without it I would be mourning my dad today.  For the care I had yesterday when i was scared in hospital, for the infusion treatments I have now started.

How often do we say thank you to the GP, the nurse, the doctor?  When you next see the nurse, that dr or even your GP  tell them thank you.  Think of the horrendous pressure they are all under, they want to help as many as they can get the help that they need so that the patient can go and have a long and productive life or make the patient as comfortable and cared for as they come to the of their lives.

I know the NHS is not perfect, I have had bad times in the NHS, and yes I have, rude doctors, and nurses, bodged ops, lost paperwork, communication problems, but, the good for me, outweighed the bad.  I am still glad the NHS is still there for me when I need it, and I thankful for the NHS for many things, for the dedication of their staff, to the miracles that happen, and a life is saved, which would not have been if not for the NHS, but spare a thought on this.  For all those people who go to A and E where it is not a blue emergency, (heart attacks, severe breathing problems for example.)  Think.  Could you go to urgent care, or out of hours GP, or see GP at next appointment, going to A and E because you have a cold is not the way to treat the NHS or a splinter in your hand is it.  But people do exactly that, and how many people have gone to the GP and used a emergency appointment that could have waited, or phoned an ambulance when it was not necessary, thus that ambulance when needed for a emergency could not get to the patient who needed it?  These are things that people need to help the NHS on, because it costs the NHS millions by not using the services for what they are designed for, A and E are for emergencies am ambulance is for emergencies and GP emergency appointments are just that, emergencies where you need to see a GP there because you are seriously ill.

Last week, many of you said well done over the Judicial Review appeal on Lewisham Hospital.  All i did was go along to a few protests, Helmut, Louise, and the campaigners at Lewisham deserve the well done’s not I.  But what you are not looking at, and what I tried to explain last week, was the bigger picture, a bigger picture that is sadly in place now.  You see, Lewisham Hospital merged with Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, this hospital was built with PFI money (Barclays Bank Plc) own the PFI contact on the two hospitals the other being the PRUH in Farnborough.  Some of the workers were in favour of that merger.  Why?  That debt has now transferred to Lewisham.  They will be paying for a hospital they now have to trek to use as Queen Elizabeth has an A and E department.  That part of the TSA administration recommendations was a third of Lewisham hospital assets to be sold off to pay towards the PFI debt, hence the campaign in the first place, but now Lewisham have merged with Queen Elizabeth, over the next five years, they will see the services stripped back, and Hunt will waltz through the back door and downgrade the  A and E like what was done with Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup in 2010.  Queen Mary’s now has been handed over to Oxleas NHS Foundation trust who are now in the process of selling off some of the land for housing, demolishing buildings and thinking of building a new psychiatric in patient unit for Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, and I bet Lewisham residents as well, and simply put for four boroughs and the beds well you do the maths, mental health funding has been slashed, and as the director of the mental health trust said in December 2012 in Bromley, and I was there when he said it, build a new buiding at Queen Mary’s and services in the community and jobs will go to pay for it.  Now see the picture?

On 1st October 2013, Jeremy Hunt dissolved my trust, and south London NHS trust was no more.  My hospital was taken over by Kings Foundation NHS trust, and enduring a lot of changes at the moment, but spare a thought for this,  Hunt when he dissolved that trust the one I use all the time and need treatment from added another £200M to the PFI debt, and the debt now stands for the trust now stands at  £466m.  I read in the evening standard then, that Mr Hunt, will only pay £136m to the PFI debt, that the cuts to services, jobs, and hospitals would go ahead and this, that £185M has to come out of the GP patient care budgets in south east London to pay towards the debt, and how many patients in the area will be told no can’t have that treatment on the NHS there is no money, but if you want to pay private how does 11 am on 15 of the month suit can you fit it in?

I can see it coming private health insurance.  When I was on the ward yesterday, I could see Richard Branson knocking on that door, and heaven help us when he does.  Because it will not be the service that I had on that ward yesterday, which was outstanding by the way, and the nurses and doctors were fantastic.

You know what really moved me about yesterday as well?  That when they heard I campaigned for the NHS to save services and jobs one of the nurses with tears in her eyes came up to me and thanked me for saving her job.  In return I thanked her for the amazing care she gave me, and I had tears in my eyes, because with those infusions I hope i can slow the disease that is called R.A down and have more of a life, and that is the biggest thank you to the staff of all.  She helped me, I helped her and that is how it should be.

I only hope now I have more strength in the days the weeks and months to come, so that I can continue to fight for the NHS, because it means everything, and I want my nephew and nieces in the future to be able to access the NHS as well, that is the principle reason I fight for the future generations to be able to access this amazing service too, and not read about it in the foot note of a history book.

When you next see a dr, a simple thank you can mean so much, it can help keep them going as they are facing job uncertainties, the closure of their hospitals, and worrying how to treat as many people as possible who need the treatment and support of the NHS.

I owe the NHS so much.  What does the NHS mean to me?  More than this blog will ever express, and I want to say thank you to all the staff, drs, and all involved in the NHS for keeping me going everyday, Thank you.

Good luck

Protestor Poet. xx


It’s been a while!

5 Nov

It’s been a long time.  I have not written a blog for so long, many months in fact, which has been really re miss of me.  Why?  Well, have been campaigning a lot, demos and protests, meetings and trying to help who I could with benefit information and admin duties on fb, needed many days to have 48 hours in it, so i could get to everything, but, could not.  When they have invented a transporter pad let me know please.

The other side to all this and why I have not written for so long, is that my health has been well, crap, to put it bluntly.  I have struggled with the Bipolar and with the R.A. Three steroid injections this year, or “Castrol GTX” is what i call it to try to ease off the pain and stiffness, but well it did not help, and after a few dark days when the mental health team did what they could to keep me out of hospital, the Rhuemy consultant finally decided infusions was the way to go forward, and finally after a five month wait i started Actemra infusions yesterday.

It’s been a hard year for so many, and getting harder all the time.  This year we have seen the bedroom tax implemented, (yes Cameron it is called that despite what you think), the reconsideration stage for employment and support allowance come into effect on 28th October 2013, and the winter will be hard and devastating for so many.

This year, we have seen the use of a food bank rise by 200 per cent in the period of April 2012 to march 2013, while the MP’s have had £23M in personal expenses in the same period, who are the scroungers well it’s those in power of course, we all know that don’t we, even if the MP’s deny it, and claiming for their fuel bills, while people are making stark choices of heating or eating or cannot do both, and let’s be frank Mr Cameron, people are freezing to death out there, and that is a travesty and tragedy that should never be ignored.  Whoever said” high fuel bills, well wear a jumper”, you know where you can stick that jumper, where the sun does not shine!  To see the media stories over the weekend of the MP’s claiming for their fuel bills and David Willits are you too posh that you can’t screw in some light bulbs in your house?  £125 plus VAT for 25 light bulbs to be installed which we have to go without to pay for is taking the p would you not say?  and claiming for £2,596 for fuel bills on top well, saw that list of MP’s and I could use every unprintable word going now, but I am trying to clean up my language, and i save the unprintable language for when I see some of these patronising  twits face to face, Boris “THE i need a comb” Johnson being one of those among them.

I am fed up of MP’s taking the piss like you all are, angry, hacked off and beyond angry, am incensed.  As today is November 5th, and the only one with honest intentions was Guy Fawkes, may I wish everyone today, taking part in the mass civil disobedience day loads of luck and solidarity.  When you block that bridge tonight at Westminster I will be thinking of you all, I only wish I could be there in person myself because a effigy burning of Cameron and Osborne is something  among all the protests, all the stories of how people are affected, that the media should film and send it to Number 10, and the mood I am in at the moment, I would deliver that video in person and stand outside number 10 to do it, with a clear message, Mr David “the I am too rich to give a shit about anyone other than my cronies, pass the bollies” Cameron,  you can shove your policies where the sun doesn’t shine,  because people power is  building and a massing and it’s not the people who are not the scroungers but you and your cronies and its time now to get them out.  Some how we must, because thousands upon thousands of people suffering and struggling cannot cope with the hell they are going through much longer.


I am sorry I have not written for so long, but am going to try to get writing again.

Good luck,

Protestor Poet xx






The Day Britain Changes Forever.

1 Apr

1st April 2013 is the day so much changes.  The next round of benefit changes and the changes to the NHS.  I do not know about anyone else, but my head is spinning with it all, so much campaigning and so many meetings, am exhausted, and so much more to do.

This government is relentless, and will not listen, and on a one track course, cut, cut, cut, and at the expense of the people who need the help the most, the sick, disabled, the young, the unemployed, the low paid, students, and the elderly.

I wonder if Bevan were alive today what he would be thinking as the NHS slowly dies, CCG’s operational, GP’s given the NHS budget, many services like ambulances, out of hours, even night services at A and E’s outsourced and privatised.  Some campaigns have done amazing things to bring to the public conscience what is happening to our NHS, the Lewisham campaign, and I was on both marches in November 2012 and January 2013, the thousands that marched, and just recently,  the Whittington campaign, which had over 5,000 out on the street for its first demo, and Ealing as well, but, even with these demos with thousands out waving their placards and voicing their anger, still there are people who are unaware that things are about to change within the NHS, what CCG’s are and what it means for us the people who use the NHS and the GP’s who will have a bigger responsibility in the way the services will now be shaped and what treatment you will now receive.

People need to get to CCG meetings, read documents, and ask questions.  Challenge what you have been told and read between the lines, do not take things said to you at face value, join your local patient groups and challenge your GP, because from 1st April in England,  each GP practice has a rep sit on the CCG boards and for us in England, healthcare will not be the same again.

I have had to fight for my treatment recently, and I know a few months from now I will have to apply to the CCG for funding for my medication, in a “please sir, I need this medication to keep me alive, ” I have had many a sleepless night worrying about my treatment, what if the CCG says no to me and where this leaves me, how many of us through this country have had their request for treatment denied, treatment that can make a difference between life and death, and quality of life, and make a beneficial difference to that person’s life?  I honestly thought a doctor was supposed to do no harm, where is it that they now play GOD as they do with the care pathway and decide who lives and who dies without the patient’s awareness and the doctors will not resusitate these patients without the family’s permission, and that Jeremy Hunt thinks that the care pathway is a “good idea” tell that to the 60,000 patients in Liverpool Mr Hunt, who are on this programme without their knowledge, and to be honest its killing people on a mass scale.  I bet you think it’s a good idea because well this government are thinking the more people who die the less they will be a drain on the state, and we save money, we are not stock Mr “blood on your hands” Cameron, we are human beings, life is precious, but, it’s not to you or to this government is it?

Today the welfare state swings the axe again, and on its “make work pay rhoetric” in comes into force the under occupancy rules, “the horrible bedroom tax”.  My borough of Bromley is a pathway council, which has said it will rigorously chase down every penny that it is owed,  it is one of the several councils in London to increase the council tax on 1st April by 1.9 per cent, it has over £60M in reserves but will not spend it, but would rather cut, cut, cut, at the expense of the people in the community who need the support the most.  In Bromley, we have just lost £80,000 off Mind day care funding, £500,000 from elderly day care funding, the council charges the person using day care on average £10 a day and £5 on top for a lift there and back, and lunch charges on top of that.  A friend of mine  whose relative needs specialist dementia services, is charged for dementia services £47.00 a day for their relative to use the day care services, and £7.00 for lunch, and twice a week which they get no support for, they are working to pay for that,  no wonder we live in one of the richest boroughs, Bromley are coining it in.

Two weeks ago, I was at Personal Independent Payment Training.  At the end of the training which I need a degree to understand, and need to read the paperwork a million times before I get it, the JCP manager stood up, and explained about the welfare fund which replaces crisis loans, and grants.  This pot of money is tiny, and is not ring fenced, and will run out before the year is out they duly informed us.  They also told us that the council had, of course, outsourced it to a private company called Northgate, but could not provide the telephone number as there wasn’t one to hand.  The applications will be done over the phone, and without a phone number how on earth are people supposed to do that?  For that, they had no answer.

The applications will be limited to one a year, yes one a year, and the criteria will be stiff, so if you do not meet the criteria, you will not get a penny.  I sat there filled with dread, and could see quite clearly the people desperate, needed the support and simply will not get it, and these are the most needy, the most vulnerable in society who will not get the help.  This covers people affected by the horrendous bedroom tax, and there are 1900 people in my area affected by that.  So when the pot runs dry as it will within months, there will be no help, nothing.

On 15th April in my area, we are one of the four boroughs trialling the benefits cap before it is rolled out nationally in the summer.  Basically if you are a single person you will get £350 a week to live on and if a couple or single parent with children living with you £500, sounds a lot, but it’s not, not when you get housing benefit, council tax benefit, and in work benefits, carer’s allowance and the like, it’s not much at all, and people will be going without food and heating to make sure they keep a roof over their heads.  We were duly told by the DWP that if you go over your allowance the money comes off your housing benefit. So they whop you again with your rent.  I pointed out many more would be made homeless this way, to be told yes they will.  One family in Bromley with the benefits cap will lose £300 a week from 1st April housing benefit, rents are high here, they will be moved out of borough, lives disrupted and moved far from friends and family, how many will be saying this over the summer?

The JCP Manager said tersely we are working with these families to get them into work and make sure it pays, we have helped 67 people get into work and we will get many more into work.  What by the work programme?  By bullying them?  By sanctions?  How many more will you push over the edge with the stick DWP?  Slave labour and huge profits for the companies like Tesco’s “every little helps” stores who use work fare throughout their stores and where you can be kept on permanent placements with no hope of a job at the end of it.  How many has the work programme actually helped stay in a job for more than 6 months of its existence, what 96?  What a failure this programme has become.  What got me listening to this manager and her business like attitude is she believed with her whole heart the rhetoric that was coming out of her mouth, for us listening to her, we did not.  We worried about the lives who will be devastated when these changes come in and will have serious consequences, and many dire consequences for the hundreds of thousands of people affected. I watched three people wipe their eyes, most people in that room bowed their heads and greeted the manger’s words with stunned silence.

They talked about the schemes they are scrapping that would help people into work, the job grant, the in work credits, and, under the benefits cap, supported permitted work that made a huge difference to disabled and ill people to ease their way back into working would be scraped under the benefits cap and universal credit.  In Bromley that puts a work and rehabilitation scheme for mental health impairments under threat as they use the transitional employment placements and permitted work is geared for this…a project that helped many over 20 years is now in serious doubt.  They want people to work, but they scrap the schemes that could and were supporting….nothing makes much sense.

Just recently, I have been on a couple of bedroom tax protests, one in Croydon a few weeks ago, and one a few days ago in London.  On 1st April 660,000 people in social housing in the UK if have a spare bedroom will lose 14 per cent of their housing benefit, and if more than an extra bedroom 25 per cent, two-thirds of disabled people will get affected by this draconian tax.  I know of a single mother in my area, in the support group of ESA, two children, a daughter of 10 and a son of 4 who is affected by this, she has Bipolar, and has to pay £35 a week, got hit by the council tax because of working age so has to find 8.5 per cent of that, and has been hit by the benefit cap on top of that.  All of this did one thing to her.  It put her in hospital, and her children are at present in care.  This is one story.  How many millions more will there be like this?

What about the disabled people who need a spare bedroom for their carer, for their medical equipment and treatment, who will face the stark choice between moving far from friends and family, from the health care professionals treating them, whose care packages are not transferable to another local authority, and face that choice do we move out to another part of the country, or do we stay where we are, can’t pay the money, and face the possibility of eviction?  Now 12 councils have said they will not evict tenants and will protect them, let’s hope that happens.  In London 80,000 families stand to be affected by this measure and face being forced to move out of London and to places like Wales and North of England.

On 7th March 2013, I challenged Boris Johnson at People’s question time at Catford to come and support one of our bedroom tax protests and help us abolish this draconian tax.  I pointed out to him that in his 2008 manifesto he was against the social and ethnic cleansing of social tenants in London and would do what he could to stop it.  He has done nothing.  He has stood by and not defended the people of London whopped by these measures and more and instead moaned about the bankers and their bonuses being capped.

We all saw the real Boris Johnson in that room when I challenged him, angry, and rude and obnoxious and did not like being challenged on something like this that will have devastating consequences for so many, well as I said to him that day I will follow him around London and challenge him with hard-hitting question after hard-hitting question, he needs to be challenged and so does his Greater London Assembly, so do the local councillors in each authority where ever you are, and each MP.

My MP who shall remain nameless for now, wrote back to me a few weeks ago when I challenged him about the welfare payment cards, and the issues around this.  He said, the government had no current plans to introduce them in, but, the ministers WERE looking at the legality and feasibility of them.  How about the local councils who will be issuing them for people who need food, and will get these instead?  One council has said they will only issue these to people if they are of good behaviour and do not get into trouble, you will not be allowed to drink, gamble, or smoke with them, and you can imagine the family or single person walking into a shop  with this card and being humiliated and spoken to like a piece of shit because they have one of these cards, a divide and rule tactic by this government if ever there was one.  These are coming in by the back door, what else is the government going to spring on us in the months to come?  They are not done on welfare cuts, my gut instinct has kicked in….wait to the summer Osborne wants each department to report back to him by June 26th to see where more savings can be made, and Teresa May and the defence secretary have pointed to the cuts coming off the welfare budget, more than £3bn or more, and disability looks like it will get hit again.

8th April sees the introduction of personal independent payment for new claimants in the North East, North West of England, Cumbria, Cheshire and Merseyside.  Now from the PIP training I got ( and as one CAB staff member said, the clue is in the word…PIP)  the government want to save £2bn and cut DLA by 20 per cent and 607,000 will not be entitled to it.  Estimates so far have said 100,000 will lose their mobility cars, and 8 in 10 current DLA recipients are worried that the removal of their DLA will socially exclude them from society, and this includes in work disabled people right now who are claiming and may not be entitled under these assessments and will have to stop working as a consequence.

Let’s not forget Atos “Not Fit For Purpose” Health Care who have four out of the five areas to carry out the assessments for PIP, Capita has the remaining area.  We only have to know what has happened with the WCA which the BMA has voted overwhelmingly in favour to be scrapped and that cross party support has called for Atos to lose the contract, 20 per cent of people to lose entitlement, you do the maths, targets anyone?  Of course there is…..

I sat there listening to the DWP who did not talk about how many will lose their benefits once in the four hours they gave their presentation, and did not mention how many will lose their mobility cars, or how many will not qualify at all.  In stead we were told it would be easier to claim, and you can get more points not less.  That the old system was too complicated and complex.  What I saw during the four hours is a completely complex and complicated system full of  fancy words that made no sense and came in two parts.  The first part was 18 page telephone interview, the claimant had to pass that, before the questionnaire would be sent, had 28 days to return it, and the onus is on the claimant to gather medical evidence.  That only 25 per cent of claimants would not be subjected to a face to face assessment, and these assessments would not be audio recorded.  What i saw is pretty much a mirror image of the WCA and that is how it looked to me and many others, we had as much understanding of PIP at the end of the training as we did at the end, and in 2014 they want to bring in on-line applications for PIP.  When i said look, many cannot afford computers, do not have access to one, have no idea how to use one, need carer’S to help them etc, to be told tersely “oh we run computer courses at the job centre that will sort many people out”  really?  Doubt it.  So much for PIP, lack of clarity, confusion and well see what the new claimants experience of this benefit is.

The end of April sees the beginning of the universal Credit, this has been scaled back in the pilot areas, and this will be an on-line system which is untested and no one has any idea how this will work, people have received no training and the DWP are keeping this under wraps, I was told that there would be universal Credit Workshops but they have not said when.  Get a feeling we are doomed to failure on this one DWP, but what people should understand is this, 40 per cent of the staff within the DWP implementing this policy are affected by this themselves and they too will have to put in an application for universal Credit, the JCP in my area said there is a possibility that in October this scheme will be put back, and it looks like 2014 and the spring that this would come into effect…..wait and see on this.

This government is callous, cruel and heartless, we have gone back over a hundred years with so many of their polices, and hate crime against the disabled, and benefit claimants per se has rocketed 40 percent.  Well, anyone can become sick, anyone can become disabled and anyone can lose their job, in this life there are no guarantees, and people need to think about that for a minute because it can happen to anyone.  This government wants people to die to give up and have no future, simply put they do not want people a burden on the welfare state period, for treatment or for any assistance in any benefits, and I am sure I am not alone in thinking this.

As the country changes forever, I am wondering how much longer people are going to sit on their hands and backsides and do nothing.  Everyone in this country uses the NHS why are they not out there raising their voices?  The media blackout has a lot to do with this, the people in this country are ill-informed, fed rubbish in the press which people do not challenge, and well, most people think it will not happen to them, until life changes and it does, or they need the NHS and it will not be there anymore.

The apathy in this country truly worries me, yes we can be polite and we still like to queue, but, at the end of the day, we all use the services, be our local services in the community, our libraries, our hospitals, our school’s our high streets, and may need the support of the welfare state.  We all have something we care about.  It’s time for the people of this country to act, and to act in their millions get out there and do something, before we look back in the years to come and remember the NHS in our history books, and people say “if only”  and what worries me and has for many months, that is exactly what people are now saying….”if only I had of done something”

For all the people who criticise me for standing up for what I believe in, at least I  did something and I got out there and gave it my best shot, and as I am writing this I  know I  won’t stop trying to help others, support others and still fight for the services in the community, many will not stop fighting and my hat is off to all of those brave warriors who fight not just at a protest but on-line as well despite what they battle everyday.

My question is this for the many out there, where are you now when your country needs you?  Where are you when your hospital and the staff who work within it need you and is under the threat of closure, your library, your park, something you care about?  Please, open your eyes people of the UK see what is really going on, and act, because this government will keep going until there is nothing left, we need to put political differences aside, campaign differences aside,  all work together and come up with common aims, common objectives and an alternative to this government and quick……….

I wish everyone luck,

Protestor Poet. xx

The NHS Ripped Apart!

25 Feb


Not so very long ago I wrote a blog piece on the Clinical Commissioning groups, which come into effect on 1st April 2013.  (Open your eyes and see what is happening to our NHS!)  I haven’t written for a while, I have been busy campaigning, protesting and trying to battle my own health at the same time, but looking at social media recently, its prompted this post from me now.

I have warned many people over many months about the stark warnings on our NHS,  the issues South London NHS Trust were facing, and at the end of January 2013 Hunt rubber stamped Matthew Kershaw’s recommendations and the break up of our trust began.  Last week, actually it was Thursday 21st February 2013, I heard the news that Bexley are going to lose their Community Diabetic Nursing Team.  Diabetes is on the increase, and many have been discharged from hospital consultant care (save money) and put under the care of the community diabetic team, this piece of news will leave many in the area with no treatment at all, and will have a devastating impact on patient care and people’s lives.  With Clinical commissioning groups fast approaching on us patients won’t be able to expect the GP’s to be there to see or treat them.

The BMA  has responded to the government’s proposals to make sweeping changes to the English GP contract from April 2013.  As well as an analysis of funding implications for GP’s practices and  the workload the GP’s will be coping with after 1st April, the BMA submission contains interim findings from a survey of GP’s in England with nearly 8,000 responses.

The GP’s will be facing a range of targets that will divert time and resources from treating patients in their practices towards the work of the Clinical Commissioning groups, administrative work, tick boxing, and a increase in workload responsibilities in clinical areas, as more resources are placed in the community and away from a hospital setting.

A GP will be carrying out minor operations in the surgery, diagnostic testing (bloods etc) and this will take away from the time the GP can actually spend with a patient in a consultation, they simply will not have the time to give you, and as you are finding now, you can’t get an appointment with a GP for nearly a month in many areas, (well they are busy within the CCG’s a couple of days a week listening to the likes of KPMG, McKinsey and their staff showing them glossy brochures and telling them how it is going to be.) Hence why you cannot get an appointment with them. But,  the GP’s will not have much time to give to the CCG’s as they will be practising medicine, carrying out their new clinical roles in the surgery, thus paving the way for the private health care companies to make all the clinical decisions, (managers and civil servants, not doctors,) GP’s will not be included in the clinical decisions and will not be able to challenge the decisions companies like McKinsey make as these companies have a huge department of lawyers who will block every challenge the GP’s will make, and well these companies have a hell of a lot of money, and very deep pockets, and the GP’s cannot compete with that.  Everything will  be rubber stamped.  Deal done!

Don’t think that the GP’s will be able to talk about it, sorry, but no, under the clinical Commissioning Group Constitution that each GP practice had to sign up to, they had to sign legal agreements saying they had to get written permission from each person from the clinical commissioning board before they said anything at all, and, they have to all be in agreement as to what that person says about the CCG.   That will not happen as well they do not want bad press do they, so they have been GAGGED.  Don’t think for a minute that us minions (we are called patients/members of the public) can challenge the decisions the CCG’s will make as they will all make these decisions behind closed doors and bang, deal done, and by the time we find out, you will find they are well into the process of implementing their decisions from that meeting.

Now the CCG’s are going to be made up of non executive clinicians (civil servants to you and me, who do not have the foggiest what the patient requirements are, the GP’s, KPMG reps, and yes, your local councilor representative, and the least said about the local councilor who sits on my CCG the better really,  they are in the process of market testing supported housing for people with learning disabilities at this moment in time in my area  and sending it out sourcing it to other contractors and privatizing everything and closing these houses down and shoving over 40 people on to the streets and make them homeless  if they get their way.  I along with a group of other local campaigners are trying to stop them, and forced a full council meeting on this issue with a hard campaign, thank you local Unite for your support on this.

Another local councilor who shall remain nameless and I locked horns in November 2012 when I challenged the council over CCG’s and they thought “The Clinical Commissioning groups are a great idea”  Really?  What, gagging GP’s, privatizing our services, and stopping people from having treatment they so desperately need?  A good idea?  Well I always new the Tories lived on the furthest planet from the sun, and came down and invaded, and here it is confirmed along with many other disastrous decisions they have made since they came in.   No one in their right mind would see the CCG’s as a good idea, people with sense would be alarmed with their remit and stopping patients having treatment,  they are a disaster awaiting.  Don’t forget the government wants the NHS to shave £20bn off it’s budget by 2014, oh yes so you can see how many services we will lose and in swoop all the private companies, as the new NHS regulations bought in recently which will hand the private companies all contracts to the NHS on a plate in a come and get it the NHS is yours!  Privatise!

Let’s face it Bevan fought the Tories from the birth on the NHS, the Tories never wanted the NHS, and David Cameron called the NHS a “soviet style calamity” and wanted all staff  in the NHS on local pay and conditions.  The Tories hate the NHS, and let’s not forget shall we the vested financial interests that over 140 members of the House of Lords and over 60 MP’s in the House of Commons has in private health care companies, is it any wonder that the NHS and Social Care Bill went through on roller-skates?  Of course not!  They profit!  The NHS doesn’t make them money, private health care does…..its’ all about profits and money at the expense of your care, your treatment.  We are in a battle for the NHS survival, and within a month it will NOT be the NHS you know right now.

With the responses received from the survey that the BMA included as their response to the governments proposals here are some figures for you.  Almost six out of ten (58% of GP’s ) said they expected to have to make changes to the services within their practices to compensate for the government’s proposals.

Of this group, just over half (54% said the practice would have to reduce access to patients).

Of those respondents, nine out of ten (91%) said they would not be able to see patients for routine appointments as quickly as they currently do, (if they call waiting three weeks for an appointment quick), while seven out of ten (72%) thought they would have to reduce the number of consultations offered to free up time for their new responsibilities.

A similar number (75%) expected to reduce the range of services offered to patients.

In addition, out of this group, eight out of ten (82%) expected to make changes to staff working hours or employment.  Of these, roughly one in five (22%) expect to make clinical staff redundant and over a third (35%) would have to lay off admin staff.

Here is something for you to think about an average practice will lose £31,100 a year in funding from 2014/15 (remember earlier and the £20bn to come off the NHS Budget by 2014?) owing to changes that make it more difficult for practices to achieve funding through the QoF and other budgetary changes.

Some practices will see their budget cut even further as alterations are made to other funding streams designed to fund GP practices with complex patient populations (talked about this in my piece open your eyes and see what is happening to your NHS!  How a practice with say 6500 patients on their books can by stopping a patient from having any hospital treatment will get £4 a patient for doing so in some areas, and this money does not have to go to improving the patient care services, but oh no on GP salaries, so make sure when that GP denies you the trip to hospital, whose interests is it in?  Talk about a conflict of interest, again the lure of money will be too great, and they will have targets to meet so they can make more money if they meet their targets, and a GP is supposed to do no harm and not deny the patient the treatment and care they need, (that will be destroyed and so will the patient-GP relationship, who will trust a GP and whether they have your best interests at heart once this gets going?)

Dr Laurence Buckman, Chair of the GP committee, warned; “The changes will make it difficult for practices to maintain the level of care they currently offer while introducing an even greater focus on targets and tick boxing at the expense of holistic, patient-centred primary care.

Now you can see why I am worried, this is what this government are doing to YOUR NHS, Yes, your NHS, we all use it, we have to try and help defend it, before it is too late.  My fear is, am afraid it already is too late for the NHS!

Protestor Poet xx

The Government Are Lying Thieving Bastards!

29 Jan

Watching that Panorama Programme on BBC1 on Monday evening, 28th January, “The Disability Scam” and hearing those words, “Lying Thieving Bastards” from an ex employee from Triage, a work programme contractor provider, left a vile sick feeling in my stomach, and I am so damned incensed, so I thought I would write this in response to that vile statement.

I feel angry; actually, livid is a better term to use.  The words Scroungers, Fraudsters and now Lying Thieving Bastards, aimed at claimants, particularly those on disability benefits, have been bounded about a lot since the Condems came to power in May 2010.

Disability Hate Crime has rocketed since records began due to the Government propaganda and large swathes of the media.  In January 2013, in the town of Blackpool alone, disability hate crime has rocketed 40%.  We live in fear every single day.  I then started thinking about the term “lying thieving bastards” and wanted to redress the balance and have a look at our politicians who run this country, and some interesting and disturbing facts have come to light.

David Cameron, privately educated at Eton, with a joint family fortune of £30M with his wife Samantha, claimed £21,000 in 2005/6 for interest mortgage payments on his house in London, which he then paid off the mortgage with £75,000 and then obtained a tax payer funded mortgage with HSBC to buy his house in his constituency of Witney in Oxfordshire.

Let’s not forget his vested interests in the private health care company TLC Group which is a nursing home and care company for the elderly.  Dolar Popat, Chair of the company, gave Mr Cameron a £209,000 campaign contribution in 2010 and was made a peer by him shortly after the general election.  Then Mr Popat gave Mr Cameron a £25,000 gift within a week of the health care reforms being voted in.

This is the same prime minister who called the NHS in 2009 ” a soviet style calamity”

Then we have dear old George Osbourne who claims he took a pay freeze, £134,655 is more than what 90% of this country earn Mr Osbourne, and we don’t have a £4M trust fund either do we?  This is one of the wealthiest members of the cabinet, who said recently, we need even more cuts, the man who has cut £28bn off the welfare budget, who called the benefit claimants lazy, and enjoyed a life behind closed curtains while the taxpayer got up early and worked hard and came home late.

This is the man who claimed for his home in Cheshire from 2003-09 £100,00 from the tax payer to pay his mortgage payments, this is the house that cost him £485,000 in 2000 and who did not disclose to Parliament the paddock that came with the house, that it was registered separately with the land registry.  That he sold the house in 2012 for over a £1M, and did not disclose the £500,000 donation from Mr Schild, who in turn, made the family fortune by selling the hospital manufacturing bed makers Huntleigh Technology in 2006 for £130M, and dear old George works with George Bridges who used to work for Quiller, who in turn is owned by PR firm Runsworth, who is owned by Lord Chadlington , who is President of David Cameron’s constituency in Witney.  Oh how the plot thickens.

We have Robert Smith, Lib Dem MP, who has shares in GlaxoSmithKline and shares in Legal and General, which offers medical insurance.

Iain Duncan Smith, the smug operator of the Department of Work and Pensions, the wrecker of many benefit claimants lives, has vested interests in a company called Byotol Ltd PLC which sells products to the NHS.

Mr Alistair Darling, former Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer who was paid £10,200 by Cinven for addressing a dinner, this is for 6 hours work.  Not bad for an evening’s work, eh Mr Darling?  Cinven is a Europe leading market health care company.

Mr William Hague, the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, who in 2008 had interests in the NHS IT provider AMT SYBEX, now held by Lord Coe.

Grant Shapps, the housing minister, received tens of thousands of pounds of cash to run his office from different housing companies, two on line mortgage brokers, an estate agent, and a property developer.

Then, we have David Milliband, brother of Ed, (lest we forget), and Labour MP who has interests in McKinsey Company, this is the company that has received over £13.8M from the government health care policy since 2010, and opens up under the NHS and Social Care Bill £106B NHS Budget to private sector health care companies which will go to McKinsey clients.

McKinsey is worth over £4BN, and sent one of it’s employees, Matthew Kershaw to break up South London NHS Trust, who in turn runs over his budget of £4M by £1.1M which are consultancy fees for yes you guessed it, McKinsey Company.  Matthew Kerhsaw is off to pastures new as he will become chief executive of Brighton and Hove NHS Trust, so watch out Brighton, the axe man is coming and he can’t manage a budget if you counted it for him.

Oh one more thing about McKinsey Company they did rather well within 48 hours of the coalition coming into power in May 2010.  With a £330,000 health strategy contract with Monitor signed and sealed.  Now you know where this is heading.  Oh yes, the government hates the NHS and 65 MPs and 140 House of Lords members who have vested interests in the private health care sector.  No wonder the Health and Social Care Bill went through on roller skates.  Now who are the Lying Thieving Bastards?

This Government decided in 2010 to have a spending review and every single department got reviewed and with it, in swept the most brutal austerity measures this country has seen.  Dear old George to date has set about with the rest of the rich club and cut £28bn off the welfare budget, £20bn off the NHS, and a further £2bn off social care.

Disabled people have experienced a massive drop in income of £500M since the emergency budget of 2010, the latest estimates suggest disabled people will experience £9BN worth of cuts over the lifetime of this Parliament, half of that from the welfare budget.

Then you have the lack of social care and support spending to allow disabled people to take part in society.  Social Services budgets have been slashed, and care and support funding has been drastically cut by 25% in most local authority areas.

Eligibility criteria for social care are being tightened all the time, so fewer and fewer people who so desperately need the services now do not qualify.  Hundreds of thousands of disabled people’s care packages are being cut, imprisoning them in their homes with no quality of life.  Hikes in charges for essential services including £77M rise in charges for care, a 13 % increase in meals on wheels charges and a 33 % in transport costs which disabled people with limited means are unable to meet and lose their packages and life is made impossible.

The value of benefits is now being linked to CPI Indexed Inflation, meaning a squeeze in living standards for people in receipt of benefits struggling with rising costs, many cannot afford to eat, heat their homes and are facing destitution.

Added to this, the government has said it will close the Independent Living Fund from 2015 with no ring fencing to local authorities who will be expected to fund the support needs of those with the highest support needs, which, at this moment in time, is split between the local authority and the I.L.F.  In a recent consultation, many local authorities said this would force disabled people back into residential care homes, a total regressional step backwards for people’s human rights and civil liberties.

Disabled people are being subjected to the discredited WCA process for Employment and Support Allowance, which has been condemned by the BMA and politicians from all parties who have called an end to this.  They have also said that the contractor Atos Health care who carries out the Face To Face Assessments for the DWP is not fit for purpose.  That thousands of ill and disabled people have been wrongly found fit for work and denied ESA through flawed benefit assessments, and 65% of disabled people assessed said that the assessors did not understand their conditions and are having to go through costly, lengthy appeals.  In April 2013, disabled people will have to appeal wrong ESA decisions with no money coming in.  How many people will die?  How many will go hungry and how many will go homeless?

Cuts to support for people too ill to work are subjected to a 12 month time limit for Contributory ESA and 400,000 people are losing their entitlement within the work related activity group who are having their money stopped and cannot claim JSA as they are too ill and are having to rely on friends and family for support if they have that support network.  70% of disabled people assessed through the WCA Process said that their health had deteriorated as a result of the fear and stress of the process, and that 9 in 10 welfare rights advisor throughout the UK said that many claimants coming to them had seen a deterioration of their health because of the constant re assessment for employment and support allowance.

From a Freedom of Information request from July 2012, from January 2011 to November 2011 within the support and WRAG groups of ESA, and within 6 weeks of their claims ending, 10,600 people had died, and many had taken their own lives in tragic circumstances.  This averages out at 73 people a week, this is the human cost of these cuts and these unjust government polices.

In April 2013, the abolition of the DLA, a benefit that supports disabled people with extra care and mobility costs of living with a disability is being replaced with Personal Independent Payment.  The abolition of DLA is designed to remove 500,000 from the benefit by 2016 and save the government £2bn.  8 in 10 disabled people believe losing their DLA will drive them into isolation and struggle to manage their condition and 3/4 of disabled people said that losing their DLA would mean the need for more social care support from the local council.  For many in work in receipt of DLA this will mean they can no longer work as they will not have access to a motorbility car or electric scooter (public transport is inaccessible in many areas ) and this will trap many people at home, causing them further isolation.

450,000 disabled people will stand to lose out under Universal Credit with the removal of the severe disability premium to the tune of £28-60 per week.

There is a massive shortage of accessible housing generally, but the bedroom tax introduced in April 2013 will mean that disabled people who need a spare room for a carer to meet their care needs will now find they have to find 14% of their rent, a cost of £14 a week in some areas, which they can ill afford, and many will have to move from an adapted house/flat that has been changed to meet their needs and as their care package is not portable to another local aurhtority area, because each area has their own eligibility criteria, people will have to make the stark choice of moving miles away from family and friends and support or staying where they are and will with a lack of money face the real possibility of eviction and homelessness.

There are 6.7 million people in this country who are in working poverty where work is not paying and with the abolition of working tax credits and the benefits cap this figure is expected to rise.  In the last week, two job seekers took their own lives as they could not get work, had no money and saw no future.

There are 5.8 million people in this country who are in fuel poverty, and that figure is expected to rise to 7 million by the end of the year.  The government has abolished insulation grants for people to keep their homes warm and last winter, 24,000 people died as a result of not being able to heat their homes, this averages out at 63 people a day, and many of those over the age of 75, the highest winter fuel deaths in Europe.  That in the last five years hypothermia deaths have doubled, many people are making the stark choice between heating and eating.  For many disabled people living in a cold house causes their conditions to worsen, then placing a burden on the NHS for the need for treatment.

3.5 million people in this country are hungry today.  Many of them disabled people.  That there are one million children in this country who are starving and two children in every class who do not have one square meal a day.  That more people in this country are relying on a food bank to eat and that homelessness in the last 12 months has risen by 43%.

Now tell me where the lying thieving bastards are.  We are seeing the break up of our NHS, the politicians in this country who voted in the Health and Social Care Bill in because their greed means they profit from the break up of it, that they rely on tax payers money to pay their mortgage payments while we go homeless, and they enjoy subsided meals in Parliament while we go hungry and have awarded themselves a £32,000 a year pay increase while many are enduring pay cuts or a freeze in wages.  Lying Thieving Bastards.  It’s pretty simple really.  When you look at the smug faces of the politicans who sit in Parliament day after day and have long holidays, many perks, and have a high standard of living, and still cheat this country by not paying their taxes and cheating the taxpayers.  It’s one rule for them and another rule for us.  We know who the lying thieving bastards are.  It’s called the government.

Protester Poet. xx

Campaigning Is Tough.

19 Jan


People often ask me why do I bother campaigning.  The answer to that is a simple one.  Because I really care and I really want to make a difference to the world around me and people’s lives.  I hate injustice, really hate it.  What is happening to disabled, sick and vulnerable people is a horrendous and tragic injustice.  I could not just sit there and do nothing.  I had to act.

From a very early age, people have always said I was a maverick.  I was rebellious, and would not run with the in crowd.  My mum once said of me that my eyes would flash with defiance, my teachers said that of me as well. When I was 15,  I led a demo around the school when someone was banned for not having the right school coat because that girl’s parents could not afford to buy it for her, so to show my support to her as she was so upset by the way the teacher spoke to her in front of us and humiliated her I led a show of defiance and a 1000 girls wore every different colour coat than the one the school told us to wear.  The trouble I got into, but I had to show my support to a school friend whose father was taken ill and lost his job and money was tight, and to show the teacher what I thought of them and their judgmental behaviour to her without knowing all the facts.

Politics from an early age fascinated me.  Not just politics here at home but around the world.  I remember when I was 17 studying A level Government and Politics and meeting Tony Benn.  He made a lasting impression on me, not all MP’s have, but he did.  In the last two years, John McDonnell is another MP who has made a lasting impression on me and I have listened to John and Tony speak many times.  John came out of his way last September to my area to see what was happening to our NHS trust  and spoke passionately with tears in his eyes on the NHS.  My MP could not be bothered to come to that meeting and he lived a mile away, but John did, I can’t tell you how that galvanized the campaign in my local area.  He lit a fire under it, he spurred us on to keep fighting and never give up no matter what the cost.

I was at the unite resist conference in October in London and listened to a leading campaigner on the Hills-borough campaign and their fight for justice.  She talked about the 25 year fight for truth, for answers, for justice and for those who did wrong that day to be held to account.  She talked about the frustration, the exhaustion, the self sacrifice, the back breaking work, and how it still continues, campaigning never stops.  It doesn’t.

People think I am mad to do what I do. They say to me look you have to take care of you.  You have severe health issues, you have to rest, don’t burn out, you name it, I have heard  it. But,I was taught by my parents that there are always people out there who need the help and support, who are a lot worse than you and if I can make a difference then give it a  try, and I am too much like my father, he was unison treasurer for our local NHS Trust, we both like a good scrap, we are both determined, stubborn, and workaholics.  People wonder when do I sleep.  I wonder myself sometimes.

This week has been such a big week.  This week has been the week of the WCA Judicial Review and the Vigil that we had on Wednesday 16th January 2013 to support the two mental health claimants in their quest for justice against unjust governmental policies. As I stood in the same spot outside the royal courts of justice where I was  several months before for the application of the WCA Judicial Review to be read, the enormity of the case hit me.  Not half a mile away in court room six of the upper tribunal courts the case was being read.  So much work went into this campaign, a year’s worth of work by a great many people, and a wonderful legal team.  On Wednesday it was so cold, it was bitter.  No one could tell from that photo taken of me that I was in so much pain, it hurt to stand and my hands hurt like hell.  I felt overwhelmingly sick from the chemo meds, and I was really tired, but, despite that, I had to show my support to this case, not just for the two mental health claimants, one of whom is now a friend of mine, but for all those who so wanted to be there were with me in spirit and for all those who would never be there again, 16 of them friends of mine.

I was offered a chance to speak on a radio microphone with the biggest megaphone I have ever seen and say why I was there.  I spoke from my heart about the fight for justice, the people who are dying, going hungry, made homeless by these callous welfare cuts.  I then said, we don’t give up, we can’t give up,  we protest on Facebook, on twitter, on blogs, on protests, on demos, we write and e mail our councilors, our MP’s, and we do everything we can and keep going until this government are out.  People cheered me as I came off that microphone.  I was shaking like a leaf.  It wasn’t easy to do, believe it or not I do not have a great deal of confidence and it took a lot for me to stand there and speak out it really did.  No wonder I was sick shortly after that photo was taken, it was such an amazing experience and a emotional one being where we were and why.

Not one campaigner does what they do for recognition or awards.  I know I don’t.  Many people I know on Facebook when they thank me i often say why are you thanking me.  I even have trouble accepting a thank you, I don’t do what i do for that, I do because I want to help and I care about people so much it breaks my heart so much to see people suffering.  The tears I have cried to hearing so many horrendous stories, the anger that I have felt, and the overwhelming sense of powerless.  Its the anger that drives me, it gives me a focus and it gives me an energy never to give in despite my disabilities and illnesses and the pain I am in every day to keep going no matter what.  See, told you I was stubborn.

The frustration is horrible, so many new polices are coming in, and we have been fighting back a long time.  We may not have changed a great deal, but we can’t give up, and we mustn’t give up, because we are a thorn in the government’s side, and one which is causing them many a headache.

When I spoke to DM’s legal team on Wednesday and spoke to her barrister leading the case for her he said we must stay positive and keep going, that this is not the last legal challenge to this government, and that we may not realise it, but we have spurred a great many people in this country to take notice of us, yes, not always in the positive way, but they are aware of us and we have inspired a great many more to join in the campaigning and to act.  It may not feel like it, but the tide is slowly turning and more will join in the campaigns and the fightback as the cuts hit them, and believe me they will.

I end this blog with this.  Don’t give up, its hard, its exhausting, its frustrating, but each day we raise awareness and we fight back and we help someone to keep going who is on the verge of giving up.  It’s all we can do, and we hope, we hope one day that this cruel and inhumane condem government is shown the door and leaves power, because on that day there will be a party the likes of which this country has never seen before and I suspect nearly 60 million people will be participating in.

Protestor Poet. x