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Three-quarters of Cumbrians on sick judged fit to work

Nearly three quarters of north and west Cumbria’s sickness benefit claimants are being judged capable of work, it has been revealed.

Have your say

@craig. An interesting question. One would think that the people best placed to assess whether a person is fit for work is their GP and/or their Consultant.

Most people do not realise that their family General Practice is itself a private business and one which is obviously paid out of the taxpayers purse.

It does not make any sense to me to pay ATOS another £100 million of taxpayers money to diagnose people again in a second opinion as it were and then for us to pay another £50 million on appeals against bad decisions.

But it seems that although the Government trusts GP’s to run the NHS by way of GP Consortia they do not trust the family GP to manage Work Capability Assessments because they are considered to be too sympathetic to the patient.

Also do not get Incapacity Benefit mixed up with Disability Living Allowance. There is to be a similar assessment for this benefit and just as the definition of being fit for work has been redefined so has the definition of disability. Another big payday for ATOS then?

To give you a feel for this the Government are of the opinion that if you are able to self propel a wheelchair 50 metres, say around a supermarket, then you do not have a mobility problem. On that basis many of our paralympian athletes ought not to be at the Paralympic games this year. However, the Minister for the Disabled will still be there to congratulate our medal winners before taking their Disability Living Allowance away.

Still every pound spent on disability is a pound that cannot be given in tax relief for the rich.

Posted by Jack Dawes on 4 May 2012 at 09:09

Some of the contributors to this debate have obviously researched the subject very well and I commend that. I, like many others want to see a clamp down on the benefit cheats that 'big up' their health issues in able to 'big up' their claims, however, I do NOT want the genuinely ill and disabled to be vilified and pilloried for nothing more than being unfortunate to be born, or end up with something that prevents them from leading an active normal life.
It seems to me that the group conducting the investigations, was initially contracted by the previous government, despite its staff being less than qualified to accurately assess the individuals concerned. It also seems that the current coalition government has renewed that contract without addressing that fundamental issue, and by increasing the pressure on the company to 'get results' it is creating a bigger problem with inaccurate assessments leading to reviews and appeals which cost much more than the original assessments and savings.
Can anyone tell me why the forms were not sent to patients doctors to be filled in instead of getting a private company in? Is it because of the sheer numbers involved on disability alowance?

Posted by Craig on 3 May 2012 at 09:04

@ Gill - Nice post. As time goes on, more and more people are going to become familiar with stories such as the ones you cite - soon we'll all know of some genuine case who has been treated abominably - a relative, a friend - maybe then the Daily Mail righteousness may not seem quite so righteous.

Posted by Evil McBad on 2 May 2012 at 18:29

@ Gill - Nice post. As time goes on, more and more people are going to become familiar with stories such as the ones you cite - soon we'll all know of some genuine case who has been treated abominably - a relative, a friend - maybe then the Daily Mail righteousness may not seem quite so righteous.

Posted by Evil McBad on 2 May 2012 at 15:21

@ Craig. I’m afraid that not everyone is discerning as you. There are many people who either can’t or simply won’t differentiate between those who are disabled and those who are not.

In the last two years, there has been a reported increase in disabled people being harassed and intimidated by complete strangers. Two out of three young disabled people said in a survey that they have experienced verbal or physical abuse directly related to their disability.

Why? My bet is that the demonization of the disabled as ‘benefit cheats’ and ‘scroungers’ by some tabloids, and the government telling us that supporting disabled people is ‘unsustainable’, has created a climate which encourages hatred, hostility and abuse towards people for whom life is already so difficult. This is self evident by many of the misinformed and misguided comments here.

I’m not sure that I’d be too quick to slam those that have fallen foul of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) either. Some terminally ill cancer patients have been told they are ‘fit for work’, while other claimants have died from their conditions shortly after being found ‘fit for work’. A parliamentary question recently revealed that 31 people had died while awaiting their appeals.

From its own research based on a year-long study the charity Citizens Advice revealed "serious levels of inaccuracy" in the process.

The Commons work and pensions select committee is reported as concluding that there have been “failings” in the service provided by the company that receives £100m per year for their assessment of claimants, which had "often fallen short of what claimants can rightly expect".

Appeals which are often successful against what has been described as ‘quite shocking decisions’ cost another £50 million.

Whilst a few benefit claimants might be working the system, every single tax dodger is certainly manipulating a system to their own ends. This is said to cost the Treasury, i.e. the taxpayer, 15 times more than benefit fraud and therefore begs the question who is really milking the state?

Posted by Jack Dawes on 1 May 2012 at 21:44

Jay: I'm going to disregard your 'pious' dig because I think people can judge for themselves who is the more pious of the two of us.
To all:
I realise that some of you posting here are not very clued up about what's happening with the Work Capability Assessment so here are a few examples of the fine work being done by Atos and your DWP. They are not by any means extreme, but actually pretty representative of the 'judgements' as a whole. Enjoy!

"Man with life-threatening blood clots and open leg ulcers loses benefits after job centre labels him fit for work"

Ex Atos Healthcare Professional gave up her job because “It’s against my principles to treat people with long term illnesses in such a disgusting way, so I had to give it up."

Cecilia Burns: battling cancer in 15 lymph nodes, underwent 18 weeks of chemotherapy and 6 weeks of radiotherapy, still on a cancer drug. Found fit for work.

Robin MItchell: Parkinson's disease. Unbroken work record of 42 years. Doctors say he will not get better. Former boss "would like to meet the idiot who thinks Robin might be able to return to work".

'Karen': Multiple serious health issues. A severely limited daily life. Placed in Work Related Activity Group despite the HCP herself saying "“You are a genuinely ill person and are unemployable due to your multiple medical conditions.”

Stephen Hill: 'Derbyshire Heart Condition Dad dies month after being found 'fit for work'.

Keith Tilbury: Shooting victim, 13 days in a coma after shot in the stomach in a police firearms accident. Damaged sternum, hole in liver, part of kidney and bowel removed. Massive entry and exit wounds, muscle and other tissue damage. Resultant PTSD. Found 'fit for work'.

Forum poster: Surgery for breast cancer, lymph node removal. Endured chemotherapy, radiotherapy, on hormone treatment and anti-depressants. "I have worked all my life, never claimed sick pay or unemployment, I have the nerve to get cancer and am treated like a fraud!!"

Another poster on that forum: "2 fractures in pelvis,2 fractures in right ankle,fracture in left shoulderblade,fracture in right wrist.spondilitus.i also have serious skingrafts and muscle loss in my upper left arm due to severe lacerations and tissue loss.however the atos healthcare professional awarded me 6 points for the entire interview.even though i could not walk without a crutch and have not had full use of my left arm for the last 14 years."

Rachel Gladwin: Multiple Sclerosis. Atos decision overturned at appeal. Expects endless retesting despite MS being a progressive illness with no known cure.

I don't know if the N&S will post all that but I could go on, and on and on...

Posted by Gill Thorburn on 1 May 2012 at 17:31

@Craig - "the people aren't accussing the genuine disables"

That's the problem tough, isn't it Craig? No one WANTS genuine claimants to be hit - but they ARE being! The whole system of testing is either seriously flawed or it is politically designed to get as many claimants off benefits as possible - REGARDLESS of the legitimacy of their claim.

Posted by Evil McBad on 1 May 2012 at 15:07

Gill Thorburn claimed to be reluctant to get into this debate and yet, wrote the largest article that missed the point entirely.
This issue is not about those who for whatever reason cannot work, but in fact those who insult the disabled and ill by faking their illness in order to obtain extra cash than they would be entitled to on Job seekers allowance.
It's not just about the money either. This fraudulent act allows them to go about their daily routine without the need to even look for a job.
I support this weeding out of scroungers because i know quite a few, who have even told me to my face, it's easy to fool the doc. For some of these, it's a lifetime scam.
I agree with many on here that this has to be handled very carefully, but the perfectly healthy scroungers, who are riding this gravy train should be caught and be made to look for work whether it's available or not, and leave those who are genuinely at a disadvantage alone. I would even go as far as to say increase the income for genuine incapacitated, using the money saved on getting the cheats off it.

Posted by Dave on 1 May 2012 at 13:57

@ Jack Dawes, the people aren't accussing the genuine disables or dis afvantaged of anything of the sort!, the people are expressing their collective opinion on the people who are claiming a benefit they are NOT entitled to and the ones that are DELIBERATELY manipulating a support system for their own ends.

Posted by Craig on 1 May 2012 at 07:59

If that percentage is infact a true or relative statistic, Then why the hell has the government granted "Incapacity Benefit" if they're not eligable?? Doesn't make any sense, unless the statistics are false, which would NOT surprise me.

Posted by Ben on 30 April 2012 at 14:35

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