PIP Assessments ? The Guardian's View + Further Articles

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Today's Guardian , Social Care Network :

https://www.theguardian.com/social-care ... rtbreaking

I accompany people to disability assessments. The lack of empathy is heartbreaking

A taster :
What I have found particularly hard, in my experience of assisting claimants, is the apparent lack of understanding or empathy from healthcare professionals and telephone representatives at Atos and Capita, the two private companies that carry out the assessments. For someone with a physical or mental health condition, for example, there are challenges involved in simply travelling to the assessment. A client who lives in Cardiff was asked to attend an assessment in Swansea, with no recognition that this could be difficult.

Usual comments section at the bottom ... should be VERY interesting !

Just one for your starter for ten :

Thank goodness you care, Ms Watts, and have taken the trouble to present your facts to all of us. I have witnessed an ATOS interview and can concur with everything you write about the lack of empathy and understanding during such an episode. I have never believed such processes should be carried out by anyone other than seriously experienced and fit for purpose staff. Certainly none of the representatives I have met from either ATOS or Capita fit the nature of the job they are doing and it is a scandal.

Reality for so many of our fellow carees.

Welcome to this Sad New World ....
I too have experienced first hand the lack of empathy shown by ATOS PIP assessors. I wrote a post here a few years ago which explained how uncaring the young man was who did my Husbands assessment. He cried when it was over, it was so humiliating, degrading, intimidating and we were both treated abominably! We were called mate throughout; this was a lack of respect to both of us in our 60's, we don't use this language. He had no empathy whatsoever, no understanding of the trauma that we had faced with almost losing my Husband and now him being afraid to go out in case he had another heart attack. How on earth can a complete stranger assess someone they don't know and only see for an hour at the most!

This young man had no empathy whatsoever, he behaved in an inhuman way to myself and Husband and we had no doubt that we were being punished for becoming ill.

We have spent everything we have ever had, having been carers to our Son for the past 29 years who has Schizophrenia, OCD, GORD, Autism and has recently had a stroke. You would think that having been carers for all these years they would take into consideration the fact that we have saved the tax payer billions over the years and we are not scroungers!

Recently a friend of mine had a Dr's letter confirming her conditions and how they affected her, she also had a letter of a family support worker but they took more note of an assessor who was with her for 50 minutes? So very wrong on all accounts!

What a frightening world we live in when people with disabilities are treated like criminals for becoming ill!
What a frightening world we live in when people with disabilities are treated like criminals for becoming ill!

Therein lies the reality of life for so many in both CarerLand and CareeLand.

No way to challenge the relentless System steamroller , leaderless , and an underlying feeling of demonisation through Austerity , and the System's goal posts virtually being " Work and support yourself , don't expect us to do so if you don't. "

Only when the casualty count becomes too " High " for public perceptions will anything change.

Even then don't expect nothing more than slightly increased rations ... not for our benefit but merely to reduce the numbers back to what they , and public opinion , fueled by the tabloid press , consider as " Acceptable ".

After all , high casualty counts don't win elections ... unless it's the enemy numbers ... and we are are still not considered to be the enemy even if certain areas of the press disagree !

Not good news for MS sufferers !

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/ho ... 20206.html

People with MS lose more than £6m of benefits a year after PIP is introduced, show figures

A third of MS sufferers who previously received the highest rate of Disability Living Allowance have had their payments downgraded since 2013

There are at least 38,000 people with MS yet to be reassessed for PIP, indicating that in line with the current trend, an estimated minimum of 11,000 more could still lose out on the mobility component alone. This would mean a further £20m per year could be taken away from them by the time PIP is fully rolled out.

The Department of Work and Pensions has not provided any evidence to show that those people losing out have less need for support.

In light of the findings, MS Society warned that mobility assessments were failing to reflect the barriers faced by people with MS, such as the unpredictable and fluctuating nature of the condition.

Pip may be popular as a character in Charles Dickens novels but ... somewhat ironic in today's Sad New World.

What's next ?

Bambi ... the social care slayer ?

Quite honesty , some of today's reports would seem fiction a mere decade or so ago ?

Our Department of Propaganda spokesperson said :

IN response to the findings, a DWP Spokesperson said: “Under PIP 36 per cent more Multiple Sclerosis claimants receive the highest rate of support than under DLA. We recognise symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis can fluctuate over time, and regular reassessments mean we can ensure people with degenerative conditions get the help they need as their condition changes.

"Assessments consider illnesses which affect sufferers during the majority of days in a year, rather than just on someone’s 'best days' or assessing ability on a single day.”

Pull the other one , it's got bells on it !
More on the impact of PIPs from today's Independent :

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/po ... 45356.html
Almost 80% of people on disability benefits 'have seen health worsen since introduction of Tories' new system'.

Research from Disability Benefits Consortium says the PIP system is leaving most people worse off

No great surprises here ... merely what many of us have seen across individual reports across the media , and from conversations with claimants who have switched over.

A new benefits system for disabled people is making their health worse, leaving many isolated and struggling to pay for food and bills, according to a new report.

A major survey by more than 80 organisations reported that 79 per cent of respondents said their assessments for personal independence payment (PIP) had made their health worse, due to stress or anxiety.

More than a third of those who have had their funding cut in the middle of a benefits shake-up said they were struggling to pay for food, rent and bills, while 40 per cent said they had become more isolated.

Again , worth reading the whole article together with the expanding comments section at the bottom.
One article from today's Guardian which really does put the cat amongst the pigeons ?

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... d-claimant
Benefits assessor sanctioned for mocking disabled claimant.

Alan Barham, who was dismissed by Capita after undercover footage emerged, given caution order by disciplinary panel.

A benefits assessor who was caught on film mocking disabled claimants of personal independence payments and suggesting they were liars has been found guilty of misconduct by a professional standards tribunal.

Alan Barham, a paramedic who carried out PIP assessments for Capita in Northampton, brought his profession into disrepute and undermined public confidence in the integrity of the PIP assessment process, a health and care professions disciplinary panel found.

It issued a five-year caution order, meaning any prospective employer will have access to details of the case on an online professional register for that period.

Barham was covertly filmed by a Channel 4 undercover journalist. Footage showed him boasting that he would largely complete assessment forms before meeting the claimant, and afterwards would often disregard the evidence they gave during their assessment.

He told the reporter he would “completely dismiss” claimants’ explanations for why they needed disability benefit, and rely instead on his own “informal observations” to “catch them out”.

WORD OF WARNING ... full article contains some strong words !

Barham told the panel that at the time he was filmed by Dispatches, he had become arrogant and big-headed. He had been lauded by Capita for the high percentage of excellent reports he produced and was well paid. He had allowed all this to “go to his head”.

He joined Capita in 2014 after 11 years in the ambulance service as an emergency medical technician and paramedic. He was dismissed by Capita after the programme aired.

The panel said that although Barham’s behaviour was not sufficient to warrant being struck off the professional register, and this was an isolated incident for which he had shown remorse, taking no action would have sent out the wrong message to the public.

Although the caution order will not prevent Barham from practising as a paramedic, the panel said it did not regard it as a lenient sanction, because it would negatively affect his employability and reputation.

Feel free to make your own judgements.

Citizen's Advice Bureau ... Disability Hate Crime .... guidance :

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/law-a ... ate-crime/

The Criminal Justice Act 2003.also comes into play here.

And what did the offender receive ???????????
Another article from the Guardian's Frances Ryan :

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... y-benefits

The staggering rise in PIP complaints shows there’s rot in the system.

It’s not just the scale of the complaints, it’s the increasing evidence that disability benefits are being removed on fabricated grounds.

hat happens when the system designed to help you is actually hurting you?

This is the question I keep coming back to as I look at the newly released evidence of widespread failings in the disability benefit system. Complaints about the personal independence payment (PIP) assessment process rose by nearly 880% last year, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

That translates to almost 1,400 people, who might have Parkinson’s or severe depression, put through the government’s flagship disability benefit who – after months of gruelling paperwork, assessments, and perhaps even tribunals – are so desperate that they then find more energy to put in a formal complaint. These can’t be dismissed as being unjustified either: DWP statistics also show that the number of complaints that were upheld rose by 713% in the same year (from 67 in 2015-16 to 545 in 2016-17).

For the past four years, I’ve been reporting on the radical changes to disability benefits orchestrated by Conservative governments.

The lack of humanity is glaring: there’s the Open University student with agoraphobia, Asperger’s and complex mental health problems living without a washing machine, oven or television after benefit cuts left her destitute; the 14-year-old child carer listening to her disabled dad crying because he doesn’t know how he’s going to pay the bills after having his disability benefits taken.

But as the DWP’s complaints show, the scandal of this goes even further: there’s increasing evidence that benefits have been removed from disabled people based on entirely fabricated grounds.

The picture that’s emerging should disturb anyone who cares about the welfare state, poverty, or basic government transparency.

The specialist disabled news site Disability News Service (DNS) has been carrying out an investigation into claims of widespread dishonesty in the disability benefit system, with more than 250 PIP claimants alleging assessors repeatedly lied, ignored written evidence and dishonestly reported the results of physical examinations.

It’s a regular occurrence for disabled readers to show me the reports of their benefit assessment, point to a statement, and tell me that it never in fact happened.

Even the latest official independent review of PIPs this March found there was “inherent distrust” of the system, due to the “lack of transparency in the assessment process” and the scale of faulty decisions (four out of five cases where a disabled person is denied disability benefits are now overturned on appeal).

Almost 80% of disabled people put through the PIP test have seen their health deteriorate due to stress or anxiety, a major survey found last month. More than a third of those who have had their benefit cut said they were struggling to pay for food, rent and bills. Forty per cent had become more isolated, and more than 50,000 disabled people have had their Motability cars removed after undergoing the PIP test.

None of this exists in a vacuum. Due to the fact the government is undertaking multiple cuts to disability services at once, many of the disabled people facing the PIP assessment have also simultaneously been forced through the notorious “fit to work” tests (often several times in the space of a few years) and/or then had their money sanctioned.

Talk to them about the reality of the disability benefit system in this country and it largely invokes a response of distrust, anger and fear. It isn’t hard to see why. As well as allegations of fabricated reports, secret filming has produced claims of a culture of targets, in which assessors are allegedly monitored to ensure they don’t find excessive numbers of disabled people eligible for sickness benefits, and mounting evidence of toxic punitive measures. As one former jobcentre adviser put it when describing her role with benefit claimants, there were “brownie points for cruelty”.

Cruelty can be lucrative. The two private firms hired by the government to carry out the PIP assessments – Atos and Capita – have been handed more than £500m in taxpayers’ money between 2013 and 2016. This is despite year-long delays, administrative chaos, and thousands of wrong decisions.

For any government-run system to be riddled with at best inaccuracy and at worst outright dishonesty, would be cause for serious concern. But that this is a system that’s charged with providing a safety net for some of the most disabled and severely ill people in this country makes it sickening.

By 2018, around 3 million disabled people will be put through PIP assessments. The result for many will decide whether they can eat regular meals, leave the house and pay for medical equivalent. The government must not only launch an independent investigation into the assessment process, including allegations of dishonesty, but urgently act on any subsequent recommendations. As it stands, the evidence is mounting: there is something rotten in Britain’s disability benefit system.

I've broken up some paragraphs into smaller bite size chunks ... I hope that it makes the article easier to read ?

Contining questions ... and no answers that make any sense ???
Disturbing article from The Eye :


PIP appeals: the cruel truth.

A 62-YEAR-OLD man with terminal leukaemia, who was wrongly denied benefits supposed to ease the extra financial burden of living with serious illness and disability, finally had the decision overturned at a tribunal – the month after he had died.

In another case, a 28-year-old woman with a spinal tumour had to be taken to her benefit tribunal by paramedics in an ambulance. Proceedings were immediately halted while the horrified tribunal judge went to tell Kirsty Garnett, outside, that her case was successful.

Universal credit isn’t the only government welfare reform causing extreme distress and hardship. Despite government assurances that those with terminal cancer or other life-shortening diseases would not have to face the ordeal of tick-box assessments for the new personal independence payments (PIP) at the hands of health professionals from Crapita and Atos, that is not the experience of many sufferers.

Duncan Walker, the welfare advice worker who represented the bereaved family and Ms Garnett, said theirs were but two of more than 30 “truly shocking” cases he has handled in the Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford areas during the past year. In every one, the cancer patient had been told by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that following their assessment they were ineligible for any PIP support – only for a tribunal to later award them the highest rates of daily living and mobility support. (Payments can range from £22 to about £140 per week.)

In a third case, Walker, an advice worker for Unite Community, himself witnessed a Crapita health check of a man with stage four lung cancer, and was alarmed by the assessor’s subsequent report. He told the Eye that he had seen the man having to use his bottled oxygen repeatedly – yet the assessor reported “no signs of breathlessness”. The report also said there was no need for a review for another two years – despite the man’s prognosis giving him just months to live.

Walker told the Eye: "These cases are absolutely horrendous and should not be allowed to happen. What is clear is that assessors pay little or no attention to what is written in claim forms, doctors’ notes and other accompanying material. In the worst cases, the process is a dishonest sham.”

Even in cases where doctors have completed a special certificate stating that a patient is likely to have less than six months to live – which is supposed to lead automatically to a fast-track PIP award – the final decision about whether to conduct a medical assessment, by someone who could be a nurse or an occupational therapist by training, is still left to the very companies who profit from carrying them out.

What is also shocking is that that there are no meaningful checks and balances in place at the DWP. It is supposed to carry out “mandatory reassessments”, or reviews, when claimants challenge the refusal of benefit. A freedom of information request in the summer revealed that a key performance indicator for those carrying out the mandatory assessments has set a target to refuse 80 percent – making a mockery of the process.

In Walker’s experience, the reassessments are upholding nearly nine out of ten rejections. No wonder the tribunals are overwhelmed and are overturning nearly two-thirds of DWP decisions. The scandal is the extra misery, stress and financial hardship sick people and their families suffer in the meantime.

Follow that !!!

Always rely on The Eye to probe where others fear to probe ???

A National Treasure ... and vital !!!