Archive | January, 2013

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

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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

 

 

Lest We Forget.

15 Jan

I wrote this for the national day of remembrance on 3rd December to remember all those who have died as a result of the disability assessments, people in this country tend to forget that we are people and human beings who struggle with horrendous disabilities and illnesses. We are not scroungers or work-shy. We would give anything not to have the disabilities that we battle every single day. This was written for all those who have lost a loved one and missing them because of these horrendous governmental polices and the outcomes of the austerity measures which the disability assessments are part of. You will never be forgotten, and this is the poem that I will be reading outside the royal courts of Justice on 16th January.

Lest We Forget

I miss you every single day
The pain it never goes away
I hear your voice whispering in the trees
The whispering of the leaves saying talk to me

I remember every smile in the sun
The days of laughter and having fun
The days of seeing you fight terrible pain
Nothing in this life feels the same again

I have to live without you and be so very strong
I wondered what I would have done, how did they get it wrong?
The stress and the fear it tore you apart
I feel so much anger inside me, where I do start?

I know if you were here right now, here is what you would have said
Put the anger to one side, and concentrate on getting justice instead
Get my story out there, and get my story told
But I am safe from harm now, I will never grow old

I feel you all about me, just beyond my reach
Feel you in the wind in my hair while walking on the beach
Feel your warmth and wonderful spirit in every setting of the sun,
Now I am crying once again, I am hurting every one.

Every day without you, is tearing at my heart
It is pure hell without you, I hate being apart
I hear you saying to me, you have to go on
Come on you can do this, you know that you are strong

I hate what happened that you took your life that day
I so wish that you talked to me, we would have found a way
The Government have a lot to answer for, trust me they do
But I make you this promise, I will get justice for you

I will never forget you, and the others too
Or the horrendous hell you were all put through
You live in my memories and in my heart every day
I just wish there was something to take the pain away

Please, pause remember and reflect
For two minutes we remember those who have passed with love and respect
They are in our hearts every single day
We pay tribute to them all today

To the 10,600 ill and disabled people who have lost their lives
You will live on through us, you will never die
For your stories are inspirational and your stories will be told
You are not in pain anymore, and you will never be old

To this government shame on you for this!
We who campaign have one lasting wish
To see justice served and to bring you down
We won’t stop campaigning until we get you out!

Lest We Forget…..Rest in Peace…

(C) 2012…PP

Protestor Poet. xx

The Fear of The WCA. The Fight For Justice.

7 Jan

I think I had better start at the beginning.  That dreadful time in the summer of 2010 when David Cameron and Nick Clegg formed the Condem government.  A dreadful nightmare that quickly became the harsh reality.  I listened to all David Cameron’s speeches.  The “We will get disabled people off benefits and back into work, work will pay, why should the hard working people of this country pay for those languishing on benefits?  They work hard, long hours, while others scrounge off the system and lie in bed behind their closed curtains”….Oh yes, I remember those speeches well, I can still see the hatred in his eyes every time he mentioned the word “Welfare” and the words “benefit claimants”  We were not, and we are not human beings to him.  To Mr David Cameron, we are not human beings we are described as stock, a number, valueless and useless, not people.

I remember that spending review, George Osbourne odious man that he is, reading out cut after cut after cut £18 billion to come off the welfare budget.  All disabled people on Incapacity Benefits to be reassessed from October 2010 to spring 2014 and Disability Living Allowance to be scrapped and replaced by Personal Independent Payment, Independent Living Fund to be scrapped, the list went on, the feeling sick and pain got worse.

You know what still haunts me from that day?  That evil smile as he sat down, and was clapped, and patted like he was the messiah.  It glowed in his eyes that smug smile, I remember that I threw my glass of water at the screen, smashed the glass and so wish it was George Osborne’s head I was smashing.  I wanted to smash him before he had a chance to smash us.  But it was not to be.

I had heard horror stories of the Employment and Support Allowance since it’s introduction 2008, which Labour introduced under the Welfare Reform Act in 2007.  All new claimants were assessed for Employment and Support Allowance and the rest, well, some time in the future.

My first taste of it, was a good friend of mine, who had terrible Anxiety, Agrophobia and Depression.  He, needless to say, went along to Croydon; that is my nearest assessment centre (no disabled access by the way, completely wheelchair inaccessible and no where to park) and he scored a total of no points at his face to face assessment.  I used to practice meditation with him.  He loved motorbikes and rock music.  Alex was his name.  He went to the doctors to get a fit note to appeal the decision.  The GP would not give him one because the DWP said he was fit for work and the GP agreed with them.  He could not appeal.  He called me in a panic from Eastbourne and said “I can’t go on.  I don’t want to.  What chance have I got of a job, I can’t cope with anything I can’t cope with the darkness in my head”.  Those were the last words he ever said.  The line went dead.  The phone was switched off. My heart plunged into the floor and the feeling something bad had happened to him  stayed with me.   The following day it was confirmed  he had taken his own life.  I was devastated.  That was in 2009.

In October 2010, the reassessments had started.  I was hearing more stories, people losing their money, and facing a bleak future.  I was scared.  To be more blunt, I was petrified.  I started obsessing over that brown envelope.  Every day I was waiting for that postman to come, my heart in my mouth, obsessing over it.  Could not sleep, could not eat, and was coming apart at a rate of knots.

In December 2010, a week before Christmas, my friend had a phone call from the DWP, and all her benefits were stopped.  In fact, to add insult to injury they said she had been over paid and they wanted back £26,000.  She was Bipolar and her name was Carol.  She had three young children.  I remember talking to her a few days before she died.  We chatted at the Community Options Involvement Network Meeting and she expressed her worries about the DWP and what was going on.  I begged her to see a doctor and get some help.  She did, she told him she was going to die and how, and he ignored her.  She got the letter from the DWP saying she owed all that money on a Tuesday.  She left her family a note and went to my local train station and jumped from platform 3.  There was a picture of her covered up body on the tracks in my local paper.  The British Transport Police told her devastated husband is there any reason why she would have done this?  He handed over the letter from the DWP and the note she left with it.  Now words fail me sorry.   Every Christmas I see her face.  We lit a lantern of rememberance for her at a meeting into the sky one night a few days before Christmas.  The last thing she said to me was this, “Promise me one thing.  Promise me you will get justice for me against these scumbags.  Promise me”

“I promise”.   I should have done more than that.  I should have been there to help her fightback.  I didn’t because I wasn’t well enough and I feel I let her down.  Every now and then I go to her grave and remember and make her that promise that I Will get justice for her somehow.

Christmas 2010, I was horrendously depressed.  I could not get Carol’s face out of my head, and I was having terrible family problems.  The fear of the benefits assessments were driving everyone around me crazy. I kept talking about them, I felt i was being spied upon.  I felt that the DWP were spying on me watching my every move.  I lived in one room with furniture piled against the door in case they tried to hurt me.  Buried in my duvet I could not read any newspapers or watch TV all the news was horrendous  It was scaring me to death.

In January 2011, the depression worsened and became so severe where I attempted to take my own life by a massive overdose.  I thought i had been bugged by the DWP and tracked and tried to open my arm to find the bug.  When I was found the only note that was found near me was this, “Please make the DWP go away and leave me alone I can’t take anymore, I don’t want to live with this constant fear”

I had to have my stomach pumped out and was in hospital for the next three months.  I could not bear the words, DWP, ATOS, Brown Envelopes, Postman, Cameron.  The staff were told not to talk to me about anything connected with benefits.  I was not to watch TV and listen to the news.  The were worried about my heart at one point, I was so stressed.  I needed medication to help me sleep, and medication to control my heart rate.  I needed medication to make “the men in grey go away”  who lurked in my room as I tried to sleep.  At one point the staff had to sit with me.  That is what the fear of the benefits changes did to me.

I came out of hospital in the April to more devastating news.  Not only was my father diagnosed with dementia on the day I was discharged, but, a very close personal friend of mine called Rob died on 6th April 2011.  The worries of the benefit changes got too much for him, he had dreadful kidney problems and he was found in his kitchen collapsed on the floor.  He was admitted to our local hospital where he relapsed into a coma and subsequently died. 

He was so supportive to me in hospital.  Not a day went past where he did not text me.  Not one.  I still can’t get rid of his messages or his mobile number from my phone.  I still have the book he bought me to cheer me up in hospital “Hit a jellyfish with a spade” and within it I keep the funeral service sheet with his picture on it.  Every day I think of him.  I used to call him “Mr Motivator” because he was.  He motivated everyone, so helpful, so cheerful and such a wonderful human being who would help anyone.

After his funeral, I battled my mental health, but I started having problems with my physical health.  I was tired all the time, physically exhausted, and everyone said I looked washed out.  In November 2011 my hands became painful, swollen, stiff and miss shappen.  By Christmas I was unable to move them, and reliant on my husband to do everything for me.  I had tests and in January 2012 I was diagnosed with the auto immune disease RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis.)  I was given steroid injections and chemo medication to help me combat it.  I have since found out that all the stress I was under could have been a contributory factor to my contracting the disease when I did.  I will never know for sure.

So there I was in the early parts of 2012 battling physical and severe and enduring mental health issues.  Then, on 4th May 2012 the dreaded brown envelope arrived.  It was a Saturday the bank holiday weekend.  Thanks for ruining my weekend DWP.  I am positive that they do it on purpose, send it at a certain time so that it wrecks weekends and holidays.  Another form of torture to hurt us with.

I could not bear that phone ringing.  Every time it did, I thought it was them.  We got a caller display phone and 18 days went by and nothing.  I went to pieces.  Eventually my mum called them, I had to answer a couple of questions, then I handed the phone to my mum and burst into tears.  A few days later, a dreaded white envelope turned up.  With the smallest envelope and a silly size ESA50 questionnaire with a letter the words “Medical Services” on it telling me I had to get it back by 18th June or “my benefits would be affected”  that made me panic,and I freaked out, and I still have vivid memories of my throwing up and fainting.  That is what that questionnaire and ATOS did to me that day.

The next three weeks were filling out the most horrendous questionniare I had ever seen and gathering what medical information I could.  The stress was horrendous.  I posted nearly every day on face book because I was worrying about it, scared, frightened not sleeping again.

Well I sent in a novel. 100 pages, photos of my joints, the lot.  It went back on 8th June.  It was one way a relief that the questionnaire had gone back.  I had nothing else to give them.  There was nothing else they could know.  I told them everything.  You know the hardest part of this process?  It was the wait.  That day by day not knowing if the phone would ring, or the post man would drop that brown envelope on that mat.  Face book and the groups I had joined really helped me.  Others were going through it too.  I was not alone with it.  We supported each other and shared information.

In July 2012 were the horrible programme from Channel 4 “Dispatches” and BBC1 “Panorama” about Britain on the sick etc.  I remember that ATOS training doctor on the Dispatches programme calling the process “toxic”  if you had one arm, one finger you were found fit for work.

My mood after that plummeted.  I was so frightened.  Eight weeks had gone by and nothing. On the Monday night after the programme  I had the medication in front of me to kill myself again.  I felt dreadful and I could not go on.  The wait was pure torture.  I could not take another day of it.  Then, on 4th August, I got my decision letter.  I was placed in the support group.  The relief!  It was huge.  My legs would not hold me up that day and I collapsed on the floor and sobbed my heart out.  I went on a roller coaster of emotions over the whole process.  But do you want to know something?  Within a few days the fear returned.  Oh yes it’s back and it will not go away.  I know that very soon, a envelope will turn up and the whole process will begin again, and all the fear, stress, anxiety will come flooding back and the torture of that phone ringing again.  

My mental health has never stablised.  No medication has worked for me.  I have a progressive auto immune illness that has shortened my life and will worsen over time there is no cure for that.  Sorry, ATOS, but, be realistic I know I am.  I struggle to hold a pen, turn the pages of a book, pick up a penny and even hold a knife and fork.  Most days I am in crippling pain, throwing up and sitting on that toilet wishing with everything I have inside of me I was not here.

I feel useless, and pointless.  I really do, and most people who know me do not understand that, as they see someone who would help anyone, stand up for others and fight for them with everything I have, and yet, I cannot fight for myself.  Explain that.

Is this what life has come to battling illnesses every day, unable for the most part to do the simplest of things for myself, and needing help all the time?  I wondered what I could have been, I had a big career and was working my way up until mental illness took that from me at the age of 23 with a breakdown at my desk.

Now I am reduced to relying on people to help me out of bed, at times feed me, and at times keep me safe from danger.  The future is uncertain and scary.  I know I will go through this horrible cruel process again with the same scary thoughts and also with PIP when that is my turn to go through that.

I have lost 16 friends to this nightmare of a process.  Oh yes they are all dead.  I wish someone would explain these polices to me and why this is happening.  To them they think we are stock. We are nothing.  We are human beings.  We want to live, be part of society, be thought of as an equal and paying our own way.  We did not ask to be like this.  We would give anything not to be like this, anything.  We would give anything to be working, but so many of us are too unwell and we need the support, only it will not be there.

I have often wondered, through my campaigning and struggles with my disabilities how we stop this government, or for want of a better word fightback.

2 brave mental health claimants have challenged the government over the WCA process and are going to be challenging this in court.  The mental health resistance network has campaigned for, and fought so hard for, a judicial review.  I was outside the royal courts of justice on that rainy day in June when the application for the judicial review was read.  I was in a lot of pain, but i had to support this.  There is a picture of me somewhere standing with a placard outside that court hoping and praying for that review to be granted, and on 24th July 2012 it was.

This is one way we can hurt the government, legally.  This will not be the first legal challenge to this government.  It won’t be.  On Tuesday, 15th January in courtroom 6 of the upper tribunial courts of the royal courts of justice in London the mental health resistance network begin their quest for justice.  I wish them luck.  I really do.  I will be in that court room for two of those days.  I promised my friend justice.  I want to be there for them and for the tens thousand or so human beings  who have died because the of the effects of the WCA process.  The stress, the fear the dreadful anxiety played a contributory factor in so many of their deaths, each one has a family who grieves.  Each one has a family whose life will never be the same again.  They want justice too.

To all of you reading this, the only thing I hope for and I hope happens  Is that this government gets what comes to them and justice is served, and I hope one day they will be held accountable.

Good luck mental health resistance network.  We are all behind you.  Let’s hope justice prevails.

To Carol and to Alex, Rob and my other friends I won’t name because it is so painful for me and I cried a bucket of tears writing this.  I will never ever forget you.  Ever.  You will always be with me and you will be in that courtroom with me on 16th January as I sit with my friends listening to those legal debates.  I promise you this.  Your stories will be told and you will always always live on.

Protestor Poet. x

 

 

 

Reasons why I campaign

6 Jan

Wicked blog, excellent. x

Open Your Eyes And Really See What Is Happening To Your NHS.

4 Jan

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For the longest time I have been worried and very concerned about what is happening to the NHS in England.  The Introduction of the Private Finance Initiative, of which my trust in South London is currently under special administration and faces being broken into pieces under proposals that are with the current Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt as we speak.

In April 2012, The Health and Social Act came into being under this act, and the primary care trust as you know them to be now, will be abolished and replaced on 1st April 2013 by Clinical Commissioning Groups, (CCG’s)

The CCG’s are the groups of GP’s and “other healthcare” professionals that will take over from the primary care trusts from April and they will be responsible for designing local care services in England

They will be commissioning of buying health care services such as:

  1. Elective Care.
  2. Rehabilitation Care.
  3. Urgent and Emergency Care.
  4. Most Community Services.
  5. Mental health and Learning Disability Services.

All GP Practices in England, under the Health and Social Care Act 2012, are required to be members of a CCG.  The aim is to give GP’s and other clinicians the power to influence the commissioning of the health needs of their patients.  Here is the thing, and something that is quite concerning the CCG will be responsible for the entire NHS Budget of £65 BILLION.

It is the biggest single change to the NHS since it’s creation in 1948.

It’s important to note and understand the changes that we face.  The CCG’s have been framed as being significantly different to their commissioning predecessors the PCT’s because they will hand a larger role to the GP’s.  The CCG’s need to follow on the value that the clinicians bring into commissioning.

Focus should be on clinical risk, and how clinical risk is managed when defining services from a hospital to a community setting.  Attention needs to be also given to defining population health needs as well, so that commissioning intentions are properly handled and clearly defined.

Am I worried?

Yes.  Why?  Well, firstly, CCG’s will be relatively young organisations that need time to grow and many have challenges ahead.  Secondly, CCG membership has a mix of clinicans ma managers and lay people to represent patients.  It should also be pointed out that many CCGs are being led by GP’s. who are able to give a day or two a well of their time to the CCG’s, the rest of the time they are in their own practice.  What concerns me is that there is a risk that the clinical voice will not be as prominent in the commissioning decisions, and manage with no clinical experiences will be making decisions based on all our health needs.

So why the upheaval then?

CCG’s if clinically led, not management led, can be a producer for patients and the population.  In Financial Year 2013/14, it promises to be very tough for the NHS, and CCG’s will need to make some TOUGH commissioning decisions.  THIS WILL AFFECT ALL OF YOU.

This will mean moving services outside the hospital setting (more hospitals to close then) consolidating services on fewer sites (which means longer travel to different area for all of you) and stopping some services altogether, (which means you will be removed from a list with no warning, only to be told the criteria has changed and you do not meet it.)

With less than 4 month to go before CCG’s formally take over from primary care trusts, just eight of the 211 CCG’s are fully authorised by the NHS Commissioning Groups to begin their work.  After a five month assessment no fewer than 119 were not tested, a further 26 CCG’s in the first wave of the New Year have been attached with conditions.

3 more waves of CCG’s are authorised to follow in the New Year.  Many of the CCG’s are beset by  problems that are in these first waves that showed as having significant, unstable financial and effective governance problems.

Managers working in both the PCT’s and CCG’s have seen many CCG boards struggle with strategic planning, PCT’s were set up to cover whole population area.  In some ways they had the opposite problems to that new experienced by the CCG’s.  The outgoing PCT’s were good at the big picture but struggled to get down to a granular understanding of population need.  GP’s have a detailed understanding of the health needs of patients but are not used to planning across the big population needs.

There are widespread concerns about governance.  Through no fault of their own, GP’s leading the CCG have been thrust into a position where they are at certain risk of conflict of interest and many of them do not seem to understand the crucial importance of robust advice and establishing procedures to ensure they cannot be accused of improper conduct.

Crucially, some have not grasped that is not whether you intend to do anything wrong for that matter, it is able to determine that you are squeaky clean.

A GP source in Welling, Kent, told me that he will be paid £5 a patient in their practice to slash the number of patients they refer to hospital.  GP’s are to be offered financial incentives if they meet targets to reduce referrals.  Every time a doctor sends a patient for a scan, consultation or operation, the local NHS trust is charged for the cost of that patient’s treatment.

The trusts are trying to save money by urging GP’s to cut the number of so called “inappropriate referrals”.

But leading doctors, including members of the BMA say it’s unethical to pay doctors for effectively withholding treatment.

Dr Laurence Bickelman, Chairman of the GP Committee of the BMA said, “There is no way that paying doctors for withdrawing treatment is acceptable”

This brings up the concern I made earlier about the CCG’s and GP’s as they would produce obvious conflict of interest.  You cannot ever have a patient in front of you it it’s in your interest to treat them.

He said “I have yet to find, anyone who thinks this is a good idea, i don’t see overall enthusiasm for this.  I am very concerned” and said, “that these schemes are happening”.

So, for example, an idea of the scheme is this.  How would say £26,00 a year in extra funding for the practice work?

Well, under a scheme proposed by Harrow PCT in North West London, doctors have been promised £4 for every patient in their practice if they follow certain steps aimed at cutting referrals.

The amount of money each practice gets depends on the number of patients on it’s books, and whether it meets all of the “referral” targets  that are set by the CCG’s.

To get the full amount, practices must allow a number of steps which include reducing their referrals by 10%.

They must draw up lists, giving the details of the names of the patients referred, the reasons they were sent to hospital, and which GP ordered it.

Then, the practice must also nominate a GP to scruntise every patient referred to hospital to ensure they are “appropriate”.  The scheme covers referrals ranging from patients sent to for scans, to rule out possible cancer to those needing to see specialists for a hip and knee operation.

If a practice meets all the criteria it will be £4 for every patient not referred to hospital and it’s books.  If it only meets certain fulflments they just get £1 or 2 per patient.

All average sized practices roughly have 6, 500 on their books so they stand a maximum of £26,000 a year of additional funding by this method as long as it meets all the targets.

Doctors could then decide to spend money as they wished on better facilities for the surgery or “to increase their salaries”

A surgery with 6,500 patients are likely to send 650 to 1,300 patients for reference to hospital a year.  Harrow PCT insisted that the schemes treat the patients “best interests” and that they are more likely to improve care whilst saving the NHS money.

At Hardwick Clinicial Commissioning Group in Derbyshire the practices are offered 25p per patients up to 1,600 in total if they cut referrals.  Luton PCT in Bedfordshire is also proposing to offer practices extra funding to cut referrals, though details are not available to post here.

Although the NHS has been protected from the cuts to it’s budget by ring fencing, it has been ordered to make £20bn of savings by 2014, by running more effectively.

Whitehall and dear old David Cameron say the savings are necessary to ensure there is enough money to care for all the elderly population.  Explain to me, Mr Cameron, the care pathway where 60,000 people are on the care pathway without their knowledge or that of their families and the doctors can withhold treatment from the patient.  What happens?  The patient can and will die.  Mr Hunt, thinks the care pathway is a “bright and good idea”.  What killing off thousands of patients Mr Hunt?  Euthanasia?

Frightening and worrying and damn right petrifying what this government are about don’t you think?

It must also be pointed out that many trusts have resulted to try and slash referrals by rationing of treatment and cutting back on the number of staff.  Some trusts are trying to reduce spending by sending some patients to other surgeries that other specialist services such as physiotherapy rather than take to them hospital because it’s cheaper.

Doctors are arguing that the 2012 Health and Social Care Act “will lead to the abolition of the NHS in England” and falliable the transistion from a single pay financed system to a mixed funding system (PRIVATE HEALTHCARE INSURANCE) with increasing priviatisation of the provision and commissioning of health care in England.

Here are some thoughts to make you think and chew over as I try to bring this blog to an end.

When you go to see a GP, and they say you don’t need to see a consultant and certain medication will no longer be available, be sure whether that decision is because it’s best for you, or because the GP has their eyes of that new car of holiday (I talked about financial incentives earlier)

When it takes longer to get an appointment with the GP, or you can’t pre book one it’s because the GP’s are in meetings with staff from companies like KPMG (who are in turn owned by ATOS) who are making their commissioning plans for the CCG’s to rubber stamp.

How many GP’s will know enough to challenge the advice of the “experts” and their flow charts and glossy brochures.

If you want to challenge the policies you’ll find that the CCG’s that your practice is part of has decided that the meetings about such important things happen in private.

If your GP says you need to see a consultant, you will find a really long wait and waiting times to see a consultant in ENGLAND have risen by 34 per cent in the last two years since the condems came to power in 2010.  This is because your local hospital will be selling as much as 50 per cent of it’s capacity to private providers.  This is something that is already happening.  That all NHS trusts need to be doing this just to balance the books especially as public money on the system is reduced year on year.

If you care requires co ordination  then you’ll it can’t happen because parts of the care path are now being run by private companies who have different systems and planning services in that they could be seen as anti-competitive.  The experts are still arguing whether the system know as “any qualified provider” means decisions about working together can be challenged using European Competiveness.  Gp’s won’t know that the big money deep pockets of the private providers are lining up to exploit uncertainty and are rich enough to hire the best lawyers to challenge every commissioning decision they just, well, do not like

If you have a specialist need you will find you can no longer get to you local hospital because your clinical commissioning group has contracted each condition to a different service which for efficiency serves large areas and are located 50 miles away.

Some of the first services contracted out were maternity services and my trust in South London knows all about that, with the closure of the maternity department at Queen Mary’s Hospital Sidcup in 2010, and Lewisham Hospital about to lose theirs.  It will mean that there are two maternity department for Lewisham, Bromley, Bexley, and Greenwich.  There being four London Boroughs that serves over 1.5 million.

In the longer term, you;ll find a system in which doctors and nurses become increasingly scarce and are not keeping their skills up to date because the system of teaching hospitals has been broken down, and the private health care providers don’t like to spend profits on teaching their junior doctors, as it goes on share holders, people with vested interests in private health care companies.  People like David Cameron, George Osbourne and Iain Duncan Smith and David Milliband, across all parties and most of the Lords do as well.

The strategic Health Authority who currently manage the commissioning and provision of having and setting up development will be abolished in a couple of years and the health bill currently has no plans in it to replace that function.

Health Education England is still just a name.

The question of which practice you register with will be a lot more crucial as this will determine which clinical commissioning group will be paying for any care you need.  Health will no longer be planned on services of needs of a locality, but on the basis of the Business Plan for the collection of practices.

The budget will be used for patients who suddenly need a £70K heart transplant, but, if the balance is unsettled then services where young fit people will be protect their profits, while those serving ill patients will have to RATION  treatment or go BUST like a hospital.

We don’t know how the system will stand up when there is an epidemic or health crisis because the whole public system of public health is to be re designed on new lines, and that PCT’s that formerly planned for this and co-ordinated the system response to crisis are being broken apart and abolished.

And when all this goes wrong, you are likely to find that the Secretary of State for Health will step back and claim that “my hands are tied” and it is now out of their control because the traditional accountability relied on for 60 years has been removed, and the lawyers and politicans are still arguing over this.

Keep this in mind, that in 2009, Jeremy Hunt called “the NHS a 60 year old mistake” and in the same year, David Cameron called it “A soviet style calamity” They do want the NHS to exist.  David Cameron likes his profits from private health care companies.  Open your eyes and see this government for what it really is, corrupt and wrong.

The NHS was not broken in the first place, the case for change was not based on evidence.  Yes, it can be improved upon and times are changing, but we still want the NHS to be keep the NHS in public hands and to be publicly accountable.  I know I for one, want the NHS.  Do you?

What’s that saying – it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

You need to understand this, when the NHS is gone, it’s gone.  These changes are not going to be reversed.

The majority of Briions have been born and grew up with a health service that was there for the public good, than for private.  Many take the NHS for granted, that it is there when you need it, and  often, most of the time, they don’t think about it at all.

With the CCG’s hundreds of GP’s when they signed the consitutions of the GGC’s only a little while ago were being asked to sign legal agreements from speaking out against the CCGs and what happens in the groups. They have banned the GPs from talking out in public about the CCG’s, and if they want to say something they have to get written permission fro every member of the group.  So GP’s have been gagged.

You have read this and though what the….but, every word is true.  You know, because I have raised concerns on the NHS and what is happening to it I have been accused of being a scaremonger, etc.   All I can one day you will need it and then it will be too late,  and that these changes that I have talked about for these many months are a now a cold reality.

Just one last thing, have you noticed the flood of private health care insurance ads on TV? and everywhere you look?  Now, do you see where this is going?  Privatisation.

Can you afford private health care insurance?  That most pre exisiting conditons are not covered, or premimums will be loaded?  That 99 per cent of people in this country can not afford it?

Now you have read this.  Open your eyes.  This is 21st Century Britain, This is what is happening to your NHS.

 

Protestor Poet. x

 

Watch This, The Video of David Camron and Nick Clegg lies. This video are some of the reasons why I campaign and stand up.

3 Jan