Disabled people are trapped in assessment ‘nightmare’ by PIP benefits regime, says Dr Stephen Duckworth

The head of the testing scheme at outsourcers Capita  – who is disabled himself – reveals his worries about the ‘dire consequences’ of the current system

The PIP scheme is being phased in to replace Disability Living Allowance, a non-means tested benefit designed to help with the extra costs of living with a long-term health condition.

It has proved deeply controversial, however, taking some people more than six months to find out if they are eligible for the payments – causing “severe stress and uncertainty”, according to an official report by MPs last month.

Dr Duckworth, who is himself disabled, serves as chief executive of Capita PIP, which is overseeing the roll-out of the benefits system in the Midlands, Wales and Northern Ireland. He said the evaluation process was adding to a wider culture of prejudice, particularly in the workplace.

“When it comes to recruitment, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that there is discrimination taking place,” he said in an interview. “In the corporate setting, women sometimes argue there’s a glass ceiling that means they can’t get through into the boardroom – but for disabled people lucky enough to be in employment, they often remain on the ‘sticky floor’.

“There’s often little career advancement, they enter a job and stay in that job and can’t go any further.” Dr Duckworth, who has been confined to a wheelchair for over three decades after fracturing his spine during rugby training when he was 21, has faced some vitriolic criticism from sections of the disabled community for his involvement with PIP – with opponents to the scheme claiming that up to 600,000 people will lose out on vital support, partly through alterations in eligibility criteria.

Under PIP, only those unable to walk a distance of 20 metres will qualify for the Higher Rate Mobility component. This shift away from the former standard benchmark in assessing severely limited mobility of 50 metres means that in future many highly compromised individuals will no longer receive support they have previously relied on.

PIP has also added to wider concerns about disability benefits, with the Government saying last month that it would be seeking a new contractor to replace Atos in carrying out the separate Work Capability Assessments, or “fit-to-work” tests, after the firm became widely reviled within the community for lengthy waiting times and wrongly saying people are ready for employment. Dr Duckworth has faced abuse for working on PIP, with one web forum member calling him “Judas”, while he was dubbed “Capita’s flagship supercrip” on Twitter.

However, Dr Duckworth said he was well aware of the worrying impact benefits assessments can have – and said his firm is committed to disabled people filling half its management team to ensure they fully understand the pressures involved. “Assessments can be a stressful and difficult experience for claimants. We know that prior to an assessment there’s a tendency to worry and focus on health problems, which makes them seem bigger, that’s just human nature,” he said.

“PIP assessments may be followed by a Social Care Assessment, Work Capability Assessment and perhaps one for a blue badge. It becomes one assessment after another and people end up getting stuck at home with nothing to do other than focus on their problems.”

Dr Duckworth said the Government should make an effort to reduce the burden placed on the disabled by repeated assessments.

“There are decisions that politicians can take to change things,” he said. “We could, for example, have one assessment in which 80 per cent of the information across Social Care, PIP and the Work Capability Assessment, which is ultimately mostly the same information, could be captured. At the present moment, a disabled person has to share this three times with three different people.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said: “We will continue to work with disabled people… to assess what improvements we could consider to refine our processes. We have committed to at least two independent reviews of the PIP assessment.”

Via http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/disabled-people-are-trapped-in-assessment-nightmare-by-pip-benefits-regime-says-dr-stephen-duckworth-9272423.html

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Healthwatch Southwark enewsletter 23 Jan 2014

  Welcome to Healthwatch Southwark’s latest enewsletter
  Hello Supporter!

We’ve had a busy time since the festivities getting back into gear with all that is happening around care services in Southwark.

1000 Lives – Lets Talk about your health and wellbeing
We need you to all please get involved with ‘1000 Lives’ – Healthwatch Southwark is working with the Health and Wellbeing board (HWB) and its partners to collect the stories of local residents around their health and wellbeing. Get involved today!

Building Our Network Update!
On December 17th we had our public form event to build our networks and conversations. We had presentations from Southwark Council around the ‘1000 Lives’ engagement and a presentation on Healthwatch Southwark’s work in partnership with the Latin American Women’s Rights Service.

Guests were also asked to share their understanding of our priority areas. Click here to read a report, a full report is available upon request. We will be holding another forum in March.

Board Chair and Lay Board Member recruitment
We are seeking people to fill the role of Healthwatch Southwark Board Chair and Lay Board Member. To show an expression of interest please contact Alvin info@healthwatchsouthwark.co.uk / 020 7358 7005.

Focus Group findings
Sec-Chan our Development Officer has been working with groups to dig deeper into their experience of accessing and receiving services. Her findings are in a report that we will share with you soon.

Best wishes,

The Healthwatch Southwark team

Alvin, Sec-Chan and Chip


Local News

Local news from across the community


‘1000 Lives’ – Lets Talk about your health and wellbeing
Healthwatch Southwark is working with the Health and Wellbeing board (HWB) and its partners to collect the stories of local residents around their health.
The idea of taking this story telling approach is that it allows Southwark’s residents to tell us what matters to them in terms of their health, wellbeing and experience of health services for themselves, their families and communities.
The information will inform the next Health and Wellbeing Strategy. (Read info on the current strategy here).
We will also use this engagement opportunity to gather information around our four priorities: GP Access, Accessing Mental Health Services, Sexual Health Services focussing on HIV, Social Care for people without personal budgets. Read more and get involved.

Healthwatch Southwark Board Chair and Lay Board Member Recruitment
A new opportunity has become available and we will be taking applications for the role of Healthwatch Southwark Board Chair and Lay Board Member. Applications will be accepted from residents of Southwark to work with Healthwatch Southwark’s board maintain a strategic direction for our work going forward.
If you would like to show an expression of interest, contact Alvin Kinch – Healthwatch Southwark Manager: info@healthwatchsouthwark.co.uk / 020 7358 7005

Access to meetings
Southwark Council has developed a survey for residents to tell us your views on the range of health and social care services provided in the borough, particularly your experience of accessing GP surgeries and Accident & Emergency. Access to services in Southwark is varied and with increased pressure on these services it is important to have services which truly deliver for our residents. Read more and access the survey.

March 2014 public meetings: let your voice be heard
The NHS Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body and Health and Wellbeing Board meetings are held in public which Healthwatch Supporters and members of the public can attend. Also Healthwatch Southwark also has a seat on both boards. If there is something that you think is important to say about health and social care contact the Healthwatch Team.
Find out more.

Southwark’s new London Youth Games Disability Swimming Programme
This programme is set to inspire young disabled people to achieve their potential in swimming.  It is open to young disabled swimmers who live or go to school in Southwark and are in school years five to thirteen. The individual doesn’t have to have been part of a swimming club before – a team of experienced coaches and volunteers from Dulwich Dolphins Swimming Club will be on hand. Read more.

‘My Guide is a Guide Dog’ – for people with sight loss in Southwark
‘My Guide is a Guide Dog’ involves a trained volunteer guiding a service user for a few hours a week.  They agree aims and activities in advance, for example, attending social or leisure events. During their time together the volunteer and service user identify support which can be put in place at the end of the partnership, such as other local services or friends and family members who could be trained in sighted guiding. Read more.

Every step counts – walking for heath
We’re bringing walks to you! Walking Works! Walking is for everyone. It’s free, simple and gentle on the body. You can do it wherever and whenever you like. It’s a fun way of get-ting together with other people and a healthy way to get out and about. Read more. Join today.

 
   
Local Events

Community events and training near you


Calling all supporters – Southwark and Lambeth Integrated Care Event | Tues 28 Jan

Southwark and Lambeth Integrated Care is hosting an event  | Tues 28 January 2014, 5.30pm to 8pm at Cambridge House) to give you an opportunity to hear more about integrated care for adults, say what outcomes are important and influence future commissioning of services. To register for a place at the event email info@slicare.org, or call 020 7525 7888. Book today.

Health and Wellbeing day at Blackfriars Settlement | Wed 29 Jan
Come and find out about healthy choices online, have some healthy food and do some healthy activities. Also find out how to get health information online with NHS Choices, no experience needed, we’ll teach you. The event is free!  Come along from 10-4, with lunch at 1.00. Everyone is welcome so please spread the word! Read more.

Introduction to Adobe Photoshop for beginners
REGISTER FOR THE 5 WEEK COURSE (For people recovering from mental health difficulties). These classes will cover: Photo Retouching, Colour Correction, Image Enhancing, Image Manipulation, Photoshop effect, Working with Images to produce eye catching posters, leaflets & flyers. Book today.

Patient Leadership Training | Wed 19 Feb
This free training session, by the NHS Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group, (CCG) is for all patients involved with Locality and Practice Patient Participation Groups in Southwark. This session will cover: National NHS, NHS Southwark CCG, CCG engagement structures, Roles and skills of PPG members.
Book today
.

Mental Health and Street Gangs’ workshop | 26 Feb
This workshop will focus on the mental health needs of young people involved in street gangs, the associated risks and how these can be assessed and managed. In order to do so we will consider what a gang is and what it means to be a member. Join us to be better equipped and informed on this challenging and important subject. Book today.

 

 
 
  National News
 

Keeping you up-to-date with national news


Invite Supporting family carers of people with dementia – DAA The Carers’ Call to Action

Please sign up and support the Dementia Action Alliance – The Carers’ Call to Action. DAA have 5 aims in ‘our shared vision’ to support the needs and rights for family carers. DAA will be supporting everybody, working in partnership across all organisational boundaries, to ask the right questions, explore examples of good practice and find solutions to address the needs and rights for family carers of people with dementia.
Sign up today.

Free friendship phone service for older people launched
A free 24-hour dedicated helpline for older people across the UK has been launched. ‘The Silver Line’ aims to combat loneliness in the over-65s by providing friendship, information and advice through calls to trained volunteers. Read more.

Information for Health Professionals on Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
DWP National Partnerships – Information for Health Professionals on Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for new claims from people aged 16 to 64 from 8 April 2013. The Department for Health and Pensions want to make sure you know about PIP, how the assessment process works and the key role that the health and social care sector have to play in it by providing evidence to DWP via our assessment providers.

Read more.

Extra funding for mental health nurses at police stations and courts
An extra £25 million of funding for mental health nurses and other mental health professionals to work with police stations and courts so that people with mental health and substance misuse problems get the right treatment as quickly as possible, and which helps reduce re-offending has been announced by the Government. Read more.

Patient Data to be collected from GPs
The NHS in England is to start collecting data on patient care by GPs for the first time. Hospital data is already collected but the NHS says extending the initiative to general practice will create a fuller picture. Leaflets explaining the scheme, and how people can opt out, are being sent to 26.5 million households.
Personal details will not normally be shared outside the NHS but some approved medical researchers may have access, in some circumstances. Anyone who does not want their information used can talk to their GP and those who have questions about how the data will be used can call 0300 456 3531.

Bowel Cancer UK Over 65 research project – calling for your views and experiences
Bowel Cancer UK is running a survey to gather the views and experiences of people aged over 65 who have been diagnosed with bowel cancer, as well their carers, family members and friends. This will be used to inform a report that we will be published this year which will highlight the various issues that exist for people over the age of 65 with bowel cancer.
The survey is now live, access the link here.

NHS England London Region invite to help shape commissioning – Opportunities to be involved
NHS England London Region is pleased to invite you to be a part of shaping the way we commission our directly commissioned health services. We have opportunities to participate in the following activities. Procurement Project Team Members for Redbridge & Tower Hamlets, a reading Group, a procurement Project Team. Read more

Women’s experiences of maternity care – survey results
Women’s experiences of maternity care have improved, but further progress is needed. Women’s experiences of maternity care have improved over the last three years, but progress is needed in some critical areas, the findings of a survey published by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) show. Read more.
HAVE YOUR SAY…Leadership Alliance for Care of Dying People – deadline Fri 31 Jan
The Leadership Alliance for the Care of Dying People (LACDP) is currently seeking the views of patients, families and carers, professionals and organisations as part of a planned system-wide response to the recommendations contained in More Care, Less Pathway, the independent report on the Liverpool Care Pathway. This focuses on a set of desired outcomes and guiding principles that will describe what high quality care for people should look like in the last days and hours of life. Read more and access the survey.

 


Recent NICE published guidance

NICE guidance and updates

Take head injuries seriously and treat quickly, says NICE – read more.

NICE autism quality standard will help tackle ‘real variation in care’ – read more.

Preventing chronic conditions among ethnic minorities and improving access to servicesread more.


National events

The latest events from across the country


Invitation to attend Health Commission evidence hearing sessions | Mon 27 Jan

The Mayor has established the London Health Commission to improve the health of Londoners and healthcare across the capital. One of the London Health Commission’s key tasks is to gather evidence and data from Londoners and other health stakeholders such as London Boroughs, MPs, patients groups, the NHS and voluntary & community sector organisations – to really understand how health and healthcare in London can be improved for everyone’s benefit. Read more.

Train the Trainer: Breast Health Promotion course | wed 5 & Thurs 6 March
This accredited course is ideal for anyone promoting health and wellbeing messages in the community. It’s designed to give trainees the confidence and skills to cascade the breast awareness message. It includes how to be breast aware, the breast screening programme and breast cancer risk factors as well as how to help overcome barriers to accessing health service. Read more.

Medicine and Me: Living with diabetic eye disease | Fri 21 March
‘Medicine and Me’ meetings aim to provide a forum in which patients’ concerns about their illness are given top priority. The meetings provide an opportunity for patients and their families to share their experiences, to hear about the latest research and to question the experts.
These meetings bring together patients, their families, carers, advocates, patient support groups, clinicians and researchers to discuss care and research issues. Book today.


Demeaning work test for disabled people should be scrapped

12 December 2013

The demeaning ‘fitness for work’ work test for disabled people should be scrapped, PCS says following publication of an independent review.

The work capability assessment is not designed to support people into employment, but to cut their benefit entitlement, the union says.

Last week the appeal court upheld a ruling that the tests discriminate against claimants with mental health problems, learning disabilities and autism.

The government has failed to implement all the recommendations in the first three independent reviews into the WCA.

The fact that this fourth review, published today (12), contains 37 recommendations – including some basic things such as allowing claimants to see what is being written about them – shows how flawed the test is.

The union’s view – shared by the TUC, the British Medical Association, a range of disabled people’s organisations and more than 120 MPs – is that the assessments are not fit for purpose and should be scrapped.

There is mounting anecdotal evidence showing people are being found “fit for work” so denied employment and support allowance and put onto jobseeker’s allowance. They are then denied that because they are not able to start work or meet the conditionality requirements of JSA.

Sanctions for disabled people claiming ESA have increased by 156% in the last year.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “No one joined the employment service to administer a system designed to harass people and take benefits away.

“Our members want to support people into work and claim the benefits to which they are entitled. But, consistent with the government’s approach to social security, these tests are not designed to help people and they should be scrapped.”

Via http://www.pcs.org.uk


At Last, A Report That Skewers Iain Duncan Smith’s Welfare Policies

This article titled “At last, a report that skewers Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare policies” was written by Alex Andreou, for theguardian.com on Monday 9th December 2013 18.02 UTC

Today Iain Duncan Smith is being questioned by the Commons work and pensions committee on universal credit, after finally admitting last week that the scheme’s targets had been “reset”. Last week, the petition calling for a cumulative impact assessment of the way welfare reform affects sick and disabled people, known as the WOW petition, passed 100,000 signatures, triggering its consideration for debate by the backbench business committee. To add to Duncan Smith’s woes, the well-respected Centre for Welfare Reform has released details of its report, How Norms Become Targets, which exposes the myth that Atos, the private company responsible for assessing the needs of people unable to work, does not do so on the basis of targets.

Today also sees the publication of the stunning People’s Review of the Work Capability Assessment (pdf). It has been compiled by the anonymous organisation, We Are Spartacus, whose activism in this area has been hugely empowering. The report is a collection of statistics surrounding welfare reform and reactions of MPs, charities and professional groups to the way in which it has been administered. An almanac of condemnation, if you will. Most importantly, the report compiles statements from sick and disabled people actually going through the system.

These are most encouraging developments and point to a sea-change in the way our democracy works in this internet age. There is no doubt that without extensive use of the internet and social media, the compilation of such a detailed report would have been impossible and its publication unnoticed. For too long, this group of most vulnerable people, many of them with serious health and mobility problems, have been too easy a target for cost-cutting governments of all hues to demonise, recalibrate and victimise. This is no longer the case. Vulnerable people have grabbed the issue by the scruff of the neck and are taking the fight to the government. It is inspirational and points the way to a level of democratisation hitherto unseen.

I encourage you to read the report. It is packed with striking statistics and heartrending stories, in the words of people being put through this inhuman and degrading assessment. It contains the stories of those who can no longer speak, having taken their own lives or succumbed to their illness, while being hounded by the very department which is meant to protect them, people like Peter whose leg fused as a result of injury and, having suffered a stroke which meant he couldn’t grip with one hand, received a text telling him to attend the Jobcentre. He sent his partner a text which read “I give up”. He was found hanging at his home.

It contains incredibly powerful quotes which show that dissatisfaction with Atos is spread across MPs of all parties. Dr Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative MP, said of the assessment procedure: “Not surprisingly, it adds to their [claimants] sense of worthlessness – already stoked by a longstanding political narrative from both sides of the political divide that they are ‘shirkers, not workers’ or a drain on Britain’s ‘hardworking people’. They are neither.”

It contains tragic and often simultaneously humorous stories of ridiculous assessment reports, like the one on a 59-year-old woman who had had a hysterectomy following cervical cancer, which observed: “There is no evidence that the client is currently pregnant.” Or the one which concluded that someone who took an overdose of medication the previous night had “no current thoughts of self harm”.

This programme of welfare reform was always doomed to fail for a very simple reason. The purpose of welfare is to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable; its reform must have their interests at heart, rather than cost-cutting targets. Proper reform costs money. Duncan Smith himself recognised this simple fact before he came into power. In 2009, explaining his proposed reforms, he recognised that they would lead to a rise in the welfare bill in the short-term.

Iain Duncan Smith’s fall from grace, because of a botched IT system which has already caused £140m to be written off, is properly a cause of both frustration and comedy – like Al Capone being arrested for tax evasion. But I must ask, we all must ask: how many of the vulnerable people mentioned in the Spartacus report would still be alive today if that money has been properly spent?

Via welfarenewsservice.com


Will you ask the NHS to value mental health?

We’re a member of the We Need To Talk coalition, a group of charities, professional organisations, Royal Colleges and service providers who believe in the effectiveness of psychological therapies.Today we published We still need to talk, a report which tells us that a third of people with the most severe mental illness are not offered talking therapy by the NHS. Yet evidence shows that when people do get help, it improves their health and helps make recovery possible – it can also help prevent people from developing psychosis in the first place.

Take action now – tell the NHS how important our mental health is

One in five people with severe mental illness are waiting more than a year to get psychological therapies. We would rightly never accept this state of affairs for people with physical health problems – it should be no different for people with mental illness.

We want the NHS to offer a full range of evidence-based psychological therapies to anyone who needs it within 28 days of anyone requesting a referral.

Our brilliant colleagues at Mind are putting pressure on MPs and Government Ministers. But David Nicholson, the Chief Executive of the NHS, also has a crucial role to play in making this happen. The NHS has already agreed to introduce waiting times but we’re really worried it isn’t happening quickly enough. If we collectively act we have a much greater chance of making this change happen.

Will you ask David Nicholson to lead the way so that people with severe mental illness have access to the help they need, when they need it? By taking this action you are making it clear that our mental health is important to the NHS.

Thank you so much for your support.

Best wishes,

Charlotte Wetton, Senior Campaigns Officer.