Concern over review that will examine ‘bullying’ forced treatment plans

Original post from Disabled Go News



Government proposals that some groups of disabled people should have their benefits cut if they refuse treatment have been branded “ethically unacceptable” and “sheer bullying”.

The Conservative pledge to carry out a review into the proposals was treated with shock and anger when it was announced before the election, with disabled activists branding the plans “wild, stupid and dangerous”.

The review was launched this week by Professor Dame Carol Black, who will consider the case for “linking benefit entitlements to accepting appropriate treatment or support”.

The review document mentions two disability benefits by name, employment and support allowance and disability living allowance.

The terms of reference say her review will “consider how best to support those suffering from long-term yet treatable conditions back into work or to remain in work”, and will “primarily” consider those with problems with obesity, alcohol addiction and drug addiction.

But it is still not clear whether Dame Carol will also examine the possibility of sanctioning people with other long-term health conditions, such as mental illness, if they refuse treatment.

During the election campaign, the minister for disabled people, Mark Harper, hinted during a debate broadcast on local radio that people with mental health conditions could be among those facing sanctions for refusing treatment.

He told the debate: “The most beneficial thing we can do though is to deal with the disability that they have got and particularly with those people with mental health problems, most of which are treatable, is to get the support in place so they can get back to work, which is what most of them want to do.”

The key concerns about the review focus on question seven in Dame Carol’s consultation document, which asks: “What are the legal, ethical and other implications of linking benefit entitlements to take up of appropriate treatment or support?”

There was criticism of the review from members posting on the Mental Health Forum this week, some of whom appeared to assume that it would cover mental ill-health.

One, “cpuusage”, said: “There’s little to nothing aimed at/available for genuine/proper treatment for these issues – long term/severe mental health & addiction – other than a label & drugs. The whole thing is a joke.”

Another, “Stray”, said the review made them “furious” because of the lack of treatment available to deal with the obesity “epidemic”, and added: “All we see is a parade of fat bellies, no services, helplines or patches for this.

“I’m asking for treatment that barely exists and is hard to access. We don’t have these problems to avoid work, to feel this bad for this long, there are complex reasons for these things and often co-morbid conditions.”

A third member of the forum, “neorealism”, said: “I would hope this wouldn’t apply to mentally ill people, for me medication has never worked and I wouldn’t get back on medication even if threatened by a benefit cut to make me even further unwell.”

Black Triangle, the grassroots, user-led campaigning network, said on Twitter that DWP’s “attack on obese people is sheer bullying and scapegoating with no empirical evidence base”.

And the disabled Guardian columnist and author Clare Allan, pointed to the strong correlation between “adverse childhood experiences, such as sexual, physical or emotional abuse, and adult drug and alcohol problems”.

She added: “These proposals will do nothing whatever to help such individuals. Indeed, in corrupting and undermining relationships between service users and professionals they can only make recovery harder.”

Dr Sarah Wollaston, the Tory MP and former GP who chairs the Commons health select committee, told the BBC that such a policy “would probably be illegal”.

She said it was a “fundamental principle of medical consent that it should be informed and freely given”.

She said that this kind of “coercion for consent” was “ethically unacceptable”, and added: “I think it would be very difficult for any doctor to take part in treating a patient without valid consent and this would invalidate their consent if it was linked to conditionality with benefits.

“Also, it would not be effective… we know that coerced treatments tend not to work.”

News provided by John Pring at


Hi I’m Aden, I work at DisabledGo as the Digital Marketing Manager and I manage the blog and all social media channels.

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ELECTION 2015: Disabled people ‘should come together in new national body’

Original post from Disabled Go News



Leading activists appalled by the prospect of another five years of attacks on disability rights and equality – following the election of a majority Conservative government – are working on plans to set up a new national organisation of disabled people.

They want to bring disabled people’s organisations and disabled activists together under a non-party political umbrella, funded by membership fees and with elections to a steering group or executive.

The idea came from conversations between disabled bloggers and campaigners on social media, in the wake of last week’s general election results.

One of the disabled activists involved in the discussions, Gail Ward, said that such an organisation would provide “a platform for all to feed in and act as a collective, giving us more bargaining power and a voice that every individual disabled person can get behind”.

Another, Debbie Sayers, said in a blog that disabled people “as a community need to use our assets collectively, we need to come together to pool our resources”.

She added: “We need to work together in spite of our differences, because quite frankly our differences are far outweighed by our similarities and common foe.”

Among the Conservative manifesto commitments that could cause a regression in the rights of disabled people over the next five years include plans to scrap the Human Rights Act – with the potential loss of key protections under a replacement bill of rights – the party’s failure to pledge to fill the social care funding gap, and its commitment to further funding cuts, including slashing social security by another £12 billion a year.

Another leading figure involved in the discussions is disabled activist Sam Barnett-Cormack, who wrote in a blog: “Given the results of this general election, it’s more clear than ever that we need to make use of every tool outside of Parliament to stand up for ourselves.”

He said that a new national, membership-based organisation, with a proper constitution, would be “a strong way to ensure the voice of disabled people in politics, in civil society, and in the media”, and would provide a “credible, mature and accountable voice for disabled people on the national stage”.

He believes that such a body could work alongside existing disabled people’s organisations, and anti-cuts grassroots groups such as Disabled People Against Cuts and Black Triangle.

It would carry out “constructive policy work and campaigning in all areas, not just political”, including work “to protect the social security that so many disabled people rely on”, but also in areas such as inaccessible town centres, healthcare inequality and disability sport, and would have “the data and policy work to back it up”.

Barnett-Cormack told Disability News Service that there had been an “enthusiastic response on social media and in blog comments” to the idea, although he accepted that not everyone was in favour of setting up a new organisation.

News provided by John Pring at


Hi I’m Aden, I work at DisabledGo as the Digital Marketing Manager and I manage the blog and all social media channels.

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Doctors’ union finally agrees to spread the word on ‘life-saving’ WCA rules

Original post from Disabled Go News



The doctors’ union has finally agreed to tell every GP in the country about two regulations that campaigners believe could protect disabled people facing the controversial “fitness for work” test.

Activists have been trying since August 2012 to persuade the British Medical Association (BMA) to inform GPs about the regulations, part of the rules that shape the work capability assessment (WCA), which tests eligibility for employment and support allowance (ESA).

The grassroots, user-led group Black Triangle (BT) believes that many GPs are still not aware of the regulations.

The rules state that a claimant should not be found fit for work (regulation 29), or placed in the ESA work-related activity group (regulation 35), if such a decision would pose “a substantial risk” to their “mental or physical health”.

The assessment has caused mounting anger among activists and disabled benefit claimants since its introduction in 2008, because of links with relapses, episodes of self-harm, and even suicides and other deaths, among those who have been assessed.

Now the BMA has told Disability News Service (DNS) that it will finally be notifying its members about the two regulations by including the information in newsletters published by its general practitioners committee – which represents all NHS GPs in the UK – and the committee’s chair.

Last week, DNS reported that the BMA had refused to meet Labour MPs and members of Black Triangle and Disabled People Against Cuts because the unions said it was “not an area that we have done much work on recently”.

But this week, Dr Mark Porter, chair of the BMA council, said: “The BMA position remains that the work capability assessment process should be scrapped with immediate effect and replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause avoidable harm to the weakest and most vulnerable people in society.

“The BMA has consistently lobbied politicians on this issue in the past few years and will continue to do so.

“We will ensure that our members are informed about the current regulations around work capability assessments, so as to help patients get the best outcome for their needs.”

John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said the BMA had taken “a hell of a long time” to agree to inform GPs about the two regulations.

He said: “A lot of lives could have been saved in that time and a lot of people could have been saved from trauma and destitution.”

But he said such a move was “better late than never”, although he wanted to see the detail of the information BMA planned to send out, to check that it was “sound and unambiguous”.

There have been strong signs that Black Triangle’s campaign to raise awareness of the regulations has been successful, even before the BMA statement was issued.

Paul Litchfield, the government’s independent reviewer of the WCA, concluded last November that regulation 35 appeared to be “the main driver” for a sharp rise in the proportion of new claimants being placed in the ESA support group.

The latest ESA figures show the proportion of completed assessments after which the claimant was placed in the support group – for those who do not need to carry out any work-related activity – rose from 12 per cent to 65 per cent between the first quarter of 2010-11 and the second quarter of 2014-15.

Doctors at the BMA’s annual representative meeting in 2012 were almost unanimous in voting for the organisation to “demand” that the WCA should end completely.

The BMA was subsequently heavily criticised for failing to do anything “meaningful” to push for the WCA to be scrapped.

Meanwhile, the controversial US outsourcing giant which took over provision of the WCA this month from Atos, has now succeeded in its bid to take over Remploy.

The new business will still be known as Remploy and will transfer from the government to Maximus early next month, with Remploy employees owning 30 per cent of the business, which will focus on finding jobs for disabled people in mainstream employment.

Maximus has a lengthy record of discrimination, incompetence and alleged fraud in the US, and has also been linked with allegations of exploitation and manipulation of government contractswithin the Australian welfare-to-work industry.

But thanks to the Remploy takeover and other successful bids, Maximus now has a string of DWP contracts, in addition to providing the WCA.

It is one of the main Work Programme providers, and last year was awarded a contract to run the government’s new Fit for Work service.

Thanks to the Remploy deal, Maximus will now provide mental health support in the workplace under the Access to Work scheme, and will help disabled people into jobs through the Work Choice programme.

News provided by John Pring at


Hi I’m Aden, I work at DisabledGo as the Digital Marketing Manager and I manage the blog and all social media channels.

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