Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Sept 15, 2015 20:48:29 GMT
The case of Shaun Pilkington
The Daily Mirror reported on the death of 58 year old Shaun Pilkington of Beighton, Sheffield. Shaun found out his Employment & Support Allowance was due to stop, he shot himself after telling friends he was “unable to cope”.
The Daily Mirror article appeared on the 5th January 2014 and states the words of Shaun's neighbour Shani Hird: “We have lost a dear neighbour who shot himself due to his money being stopped. His appeal was due next week but he felt he could not carry on."
It would therefore appear that Shaun had appealed to a tribunal and the hearing was due to take place sometime in the week following following when the article went to print.
Shaun died very close to when his appeal was due to be heard.
The Daily Mirror mentions that Shaun had a long term illness, it is therefore quite possible that he was a longer term claimant previously on incapacity benefits who was being tested for Employment & Support Allowance conversion.
Shaun's claim would have been closed in the DWP's February 2014 quarterly statistics. the reason for the closure of his claim would have been his death. at the time of his death he most probably had a 'fit for work' status against his claim. A problem in Shaun's case is whether or not the DWP would have retrospectively amended the status to reflect that he had a completed appeal (assuming the appeal went ahead).
If Shaun was an ESA claimant without a completed appeal, he would appear in table 2.3, if his appeal was completed in this set he would appear in table 2.5.
If Shaun was an incapacity benefit claimant undergoing ESA conversion without a completed appeal he would still appear in table 2.3 because appealing would have allowed him on to ESA in the Assessment Phase. The article mentions Shaun's money stopping which would not generally happen if in the Assessment Phase on appeal.
If Shaun was an incapacity benefit claimant undergoing ESA conversion with a completed appeal he would appear in table 2.6.
A coroner has demanded that the government takes action to prevent future deaths of disability benefit claimants, after concluding in a “ground-breaking” inquest verdict that a disabled man killed himself as a direct result of being found “fit for work”.
It is believed to be the first time that a coroner has blamed the work capability assessment (WCA) process for directly causing the death of a claimant.
Disabled activists believe it could prove a huge breakthrough in the fight against the government’s welfare reforms, and the battle to scrap the loathed fitness-for-work test and replace it with a more humane and less dangerous assessment.
In a report sent to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the senior coroner for inner north London, Mary Hassell, said “the trigger” for the suicide was the man being found fit for work by the department.
Responding to her concerns, in a document marked “OFFICIAL – SENSITIVE”, DWP claimed that its policy on how to respond to such cases “regrettably was not followed in this case”.
Mr A, a 60-year-old man from north London, died in the autumn of 2013 and the inquest took place early last year, but the coroner’s report has only been uncovered by Disability News Service (DNS) this week.
At the time of his death, Mr A had been receiving anti-depressants and talking therapy and was apparently engaging with an employment support officer.
In her narrative determination – or verdict – the coroner said: “The anxiety and depression were long term problems, but the intense anxiety that triggered his suicide was caused by his recent assessment by the Department for Work and Pensions (benefits agency) as being fit for work, and his view of the likely consequences of that.”
The former orthopaedic surgeon, employed by Atos Healthcare, who carried out the WCA, concluded that Mr A was “at no significant risk by working” and failed to ask him if he had suicidal thoughts.
Following the inquest, the coroner wrote what is known as a regulation 28 report, on the grounds that evidence revealed during her investigations suggested that there was “a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken”. That report was sent directly to DWP.
In the report, Hassell said the Atos healthcare professional had failed to take into account the views of any of Mr A’s doctors during a 90-minute assessment, telling him the DWP decision-maker would look at that evidence instead.
But the DWP decision-maker did not request any reports or letters from Mr A’s GP (who had assessed him as not being well enough to work), his psychiatrist (who had diagnosed him with recurrent depression and panic disorder with agoraphobia), or his clinical psychologist (who had assessed him as “very anxious and showing signs of clinical depression”).
Instead, Mr A was found fit for work. Six months later, he killed himself.
The coroner said in her report that she believed that action should be taken “to prevent future deaths” and that DWP had the power to take such action.
In its response to her report, DWP said there was a “clear policy that further medical evidence [should be requested]in cases where claimants report suicidal ideation in their claim forms which regrettably was not followed in this instance”.
It said it planned to issue a reminder to staff about this guidance, but appeared to make no further suggestions for how to prevent further such deaths.
Mr A had had anxiety and depression and had been claiming disability-related income support for more than 10 years.
He was one of those assessed in the “migration” process that has seen hundreds of thousands of former claimants of disability-based income support, severe disablement allowance and incapacity benefit assessed for the new employment and support allowance (ESA), introduced by the Labour government in 2008.
Mr A was turned down for ESA in October 2012, and then made a fresh application the following month, in which he expressed suicidal thoughts.
But no further medical evidence was requested and after a further WCA, he was again turned down for ESA.
After six months claiming the mainstream jobseeker’s allowance, he killed himself.
A spokesperson for Disabled People Against Cuts said: “This coroner’s verdict gets right to the essence of what is going so badly wrong with ESA.
“Where people have previously argued that suicide has multiple causes, and one alone cannot be blamed, the coroner in this case rightly identified that withdrawal of ESA was a ‘trigger’ of suicide.
“This is a ground-breaking verdict, which must now put the onus on the DWP to explain themselves since the response they provided to the coroner was pitiful, callous and inadequate.”
The DPAC spokesperson added: “If you go to any high street and ask people if someone who is suicidal should go to work, they will look at you in horror and say no.
“So how has a system been constructed that is so bureaucratic and inhuman that the people operating it could not see that?
“Not just once but twice they declared this person fit to work, displaying both times not the merest shred of common humanity, empathy or even common sense.
“ESA is a failed and discredited system that has been shown to cause avoidable loss of life, hardship and misery to vast numbers of people. It must be immediately stopped.
“The current DWP is not a fit and proper organisation to assess people’s benefit claims.
“This amounts to intentional negligence and an urgent, thorough, independent investigation is needed to find out the true extent of what has happened.
“Until all of these steps are taken, people will continue to die needlessly.”
John McArdle, co-founder of the grassroots group Black Triangle, said the case provided “the first irrefutable evidence from a member of the judiciary that the DWP’s WCA regime has been directly responsible for the death of a disabled person and that there exists no reliable mechanism for doctors to flag up substantial risk”.
He said: “It is now incumbent on the government to respond swiftly and meaningfully. Not to do so will only tell us one thing: that this is a government that doesn’t care whether disabled people live or die.
“Black Triangle has been campaigning since 2012 for an effective safety protocol to be put in place to assess risk and I sincerely hope that this will be a wake-up call and that primary care stakeholders will join with us and the opposition in making sure that such protocols are put in place without any further delay.”
Dr Stephen Carty, medical adviser for Black Triangle and himself a GP, said the case provided “clear and irrefutable evidence of systemic failure”, including the use of a former orthopaedic surgeon to risk assess a claimant with a mental health condition.
He said: “Unless they make a meaningful change, there will be more cases like this.
“The coroner has quite correctly identified some of the dangerous, systemic failings in the WCA that effectively allows disability denial and harm to occur.”
He said: “It is clear that what safeguards there are, are utterly ineffective.”
DWP said in its response to the coroner’s report: “While the Department is committed to continuously improving processes for this group wherever possible, with such a large numbers [sic]of people involved in this system there will inevitably be instances where processes are not conducted in line with the stated policy.”
It added: “It remains important to retain a balance between the added value of further evidence in any claim for ESA and time demands on GPs and other healthcare professionals.”
It said the WCA process remained under “continual review and development”, including through five independent reviews, and concluded: “We have noted the issues in this case and will continue to monitor our policies around assessment of people with mental health problems while we await the outcome of related litigation.”
This “related litigation” concerned whether DWP should request further medical evidence for all claimants with mental health conditions, and was still working its way through the legal system at the time the coroner’s report was written early last year.
DWP finally promised in March this year – at the conclusion of the legal case – that it would work with Maximus, the controversial US outsourcing giant that took over the WCA contract from Atos this year, to develop a pilot programme to test new ways of collecting evidence for ESA claimants with mental health conditions.
But so far – more than six months after that promise, and more than 18 months after the coroner’s report was sent to DWP – there has been no sign of a pilot.
DWP’s press office is currently not responding to questions from DNS.
What conclusions can we draw from Mr A's case?
First and foremost, the case of Mr A does establish a causal link between the death and the assessment.
The coroner's verdict is clear “The anxiety and depression were long term problems, but the intense anxiety that triggered his suicide was caused by his recent assessment by the Department for Work and Pensions (benefits agency) as being fit for work, and his view of the likely consequences of that.”
Now, as in the previous examples (scroll above), let's try and work out where Mr A was (or was not as the case may be) within the DWP figures.
From the article it states that Mr A Mr A was turned down for ESA in October 2012. It would appear that this would have been a conversion test to see if he qualified for an ESA award following his previous long term incapacity claim. However, it also says Mr A "made a fresh application the following month (November 2012), in which he expressed suicidal thoughts. But no further medical evidence was requested and after a further WCA, he was again turned down for ESA. After six months claiming the mainstream jobseeker’s allowance, he killed himself."
On the second attempt (a reclaim) Mr A was declared fit for work. He would not appear to have appealed, indicating that he would have been ended his claim having a fit for work status (as he was turned down). It is therefore my contention that Mr A would not appear in the more critical tables of the DWP statistics because his claim ended due to him being found fit for work rather than his death.
Mr A (it seems) died on Jobseeker's Allowance, he would not therefore appear in tables 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4,2.5 or 2.6.
Tragically, the case of Mr A isn't likely to have been included in any of the most relevant tables relating to the fit work findings.
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Sept 25, 2015 20:47:53 GMT
Daughter of depressed man who took his own life after being declared 'fit for work' says DWP system needs an overhaul
Michael O'Sullivan had a long history of anxiety and depression. Credit: ITV News
By Penny Marshall 21st September 2015
Michael O'Sullivan took his own life two years ago, but the circumstances of his death are only now casting an uncomfortable shadow on the Government's controversial "work capability assessment" process.
Speaking exclusively to ITV News, his daughter, Anne-Marie O’Sullivan, says her father, who suffered from severe depression, should never have been ruled fit to work.
It may be only one tragedy amongst the millions who have been through the Work Capability Programme - but it’s one too many and it’s bound to give the Government’s critics ammunition.
Attempts to elicit figures from the Department of Work and Pensions about how many other suicides there have been amongst those found fit to work - have so far failed, fuelling suspicion amongst campaigners that there may be others.
The only DWP figures so far released show that nearly 90 people have died every month between 2011 and 2014 after they have been declared fit for employment after undergoing the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). But there are no details and no evidence that these deaths are linked in any way to the WCA.
WCA was first introduced by the last Labour government in 2008 with the aim of getting people off benefits and into work.
Video report by Penny Marshall
In 2011, the coalition made the tests tougher and the assessments are carried out by private companies.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has said the existing system is too 'simplistic'. Credit: PA
But campaigners say the current system needs reforming because it’s weighted against claimants, like Michael O’Sullivan, suffering from mental disabilities, something the government denies.
They will now push Michael O’Sullivan’s case into the spotlight to prove their point - at a time when the system may be reformed anyway for other reasons.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, said: "We've been contacted by many people who are extremely distressed both by the test itself and the way in which they've been treated by the DWP."
"In this case we've seen for the first time a coroner attributing a suicide as a result of this scheme", he added.
The government told ITV News mistakes had been made in this case and say improvements to the system have been made.
"Suicide is a tragic and complex issue and we take these matters extremely seriously."
Former health minister Norman Lamb, said: "It's a personal tragedy and it must force the authorities and the government to stop in their tracks and think very seriously about what changes are necessary to ensure that mental ill health is treated properly."
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Oct 1, 2015 21:07:12 GMT
The case of Edward Jacques
The tragic story of Edward Jacques was reported by the Nottingham Post on October 9th 2013
"Tragedy: Edward Jacques was found dead in his house in Sneinton, on September 25 last year. He had a history of self harm and depression. "
A 47-YEAR-OLD man overdosed on a cocktail of drugs after he had his benefits stopped because he was not given a proper medical assessment by the Department for Work and Pensions, an inquest heard.
Edward Jacques was found dead in his house in Loughborough Avenue, Sneinton, on September 25 last year. He had a history of self harm and depression, which stemmed from physical and emotional abuse as a child, the inquest was told.
Mr Jacques' family told the Post they considered the decision to stop his benefits was a "major trigger" in a spiral which led him to overdose on heroin, cocaine and alcohol.
Mr Jacques was told his benefits of £90-a-week would be stopped on September 18 last year, the same day he took to social networking site Facebook to vent his frustration at Prime Minister David Cameron and Atos – the company which carries out medical assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.
The assessments determine whether a person is eligible for employment and support allowance.
After writing of his disapproval of the system he wrote on Facebook: "It's time to say goodbye, goodbye."
At his inquest, which lasted two days, the court heard that Mr Jacques' medical assessment took just 23 minutes and his allowance was stopped despite him suffering from HIV, hepatitis C, sciatica, severe depression, insomnia and dental pain. The Nottinghamshire coroner, Miss Mairin Casey, branded it a "crude assessment". She said: "I find the assessment process in Edward's case did not fully or properly reflect Edward's physical and mental health at that time.
"It is conceded by those involved in the [assessment] process that if the information as to Edward's physical and mental health as shared by his GP had been known at the time of the assessment, the outcome would have been very different. It is desperately sad that such evidence was not available either to the nurse or to the decision maker."
Mr Jacques's GP at Sneinton Dale Surgery, Dr Prit Chahal, said that the assessor arrived at a conclusion which was "not in line with his professional view" of his patient.
Giving evidence on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions, Jag Sanghera, said: "The more evidence that is sought the easier the decision maker's job."
Mr Jacques's elder brother, Richard Jacques, 58, and his twin sister Margaret Hudson, 48, said: "We have no doubt that the decision to stop his allowance was a major trigger which led him on to a severe depression and desperate action.
"We do not believe that Edward is an isolated case and we think thousands of assessments have been made like this across the country."
Miss Casey recorded a narrative verdict.
She said: "Edward Jacques died as a result of central nervous system depression following a drug overdose and alcohol consumption. It is not possible for me to say if he intended that this action would result in his death."
A DWP spokesman said: "Our sympathy goes out to the family of Mr Jacques. A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough assessment and after consideration of all supporting medical evidence from the claimant's GP or medical specialist. The percentage of people entitled to employment and support allowance is now at its highest level with over half of people completing a work capability assessment eligible for the benefit."
The 53-year-old, who also suffered agoraphobia, was about to be kicked out of his housing association home when he hanged himself in the hall.
A coroner ruled the Government’s decision to axe Tim’s meagre incapacity benefit contributed to his death.
And the former assistant store manager’s sister Linda Cooksey told how his fitness to work test was carried out by a physiotherapist with no experience of mental health issues or knowledge of his blindness.
The 60-year-old said his family never even knew about his money problems until after his death.
She added: “Stopping his benefits sent him over the edge. When his small savings ran out he got in trouble with his rent, and his £30 disability allowance a week just wasn’t enough.
"Tim ran out of money. He was a proud man and never let on to anybody. It’s so sad. I want everyone to know what this government is doing to vulnerable people on benefits.
“He had a certificate to say he was blind. When we got into his house there was no food, he practically starved in the last weeks.”
South Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh said: “A major factor in his death was that his benefits had been greatly reduced leaving him almost destitute.”
Tim died on September 25.
An eviction letter from South Staffordshire Housing Association was found in the bin by his family.
He was registered partially-blind in 1994. His eyes were damaged when he tried to kill himself in 1989 after losing his job.
His family has written to David Cameron about his Atos treatment.
The housing association insisted help was available for those struggling to pay rent.
And the Department for Work and Pensions said Tim had the right to appeal its decision.
* For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch or click here for details.
Tim died on the 25th September 2013 and would appear to have been refused a conversion of his pre-existing incapacity benefit claim in to Employment & Support Allowance because he had been found fit for work.
Tim will not have appeared in the DWP's death statistics because he was not on Employment and Support Allowance at the time of his death and nor was he on incapacity benefits, the article implies he was only living on Disability Living Allowance (most likely to be the lower rate care and mobility components) and a small amount of savings. The benefit cessation had in all probability caused the rent arrears because the DWP would have notified the local council of the benefit stoppage, if Tim hadn't responded to the council it is highly likely his Housing Benefit would have stopped (as well as any Council Tax Support). There is no mention of an appeal.
A disabled father died two weeks after being judged fit for work as he lay in hospital with pneumonia, it has been revealed.
Diabetic David O'Mar, of Cardiff, Wales, was stripped of his disability benefits in April after a work capability assessment for the Department for Work and Pensions.
The 58-year-old was bed-bound in hospital on the date of a tribunal to decide whether he should carry on receiving the benefits or was well enough to look for a job.
Despite family pleas to reschedule, the court ruled the former radio DJ fit for work. He died of pneumonia on April 29.
His daughter Alexandra said: 'It affected him. I think it's disgusting they stopped somebody's benefits who genuinely needed them.'
Before he fell ill, the father-of-three had a £400 bill from the council for unpaid rent, after his housing benefit was cut.
He attended a job centre in March for a work capability test, which found he had 'limited' ability to work and he had his £100-a-week Employment Support Allowance stopped from April 1.
Mr O'Mar appealed but caught pneumonia shortly afterwards and was admitted to Llandough Hospital, Cardiff.
He found out the date of his appeal when his daughter went to pick up things from his flat and found a summons.
Shop worker Alexandra, 26, called the court and was told to write requesting a postponement, which she did.
She said: 'I explained the situation and he'd had notes from the doctors about his condition. But then I received a letter saying it wasn't a good enough reason. It was hard to see him suffer with this on top of all his illnesses.'
Later that week he had the letter saying his disability benefit had been cut.
Mr O'Mar was well enough to return home for a few days and his mother Margaret Moore, 78, travelled from Somerset to care for him.
Mrs Moore was optimistic he would recover in time for his 59th birthday on July 19.
But she said: 'He couldn't walk. He couldn't see. He was in a terrible state. By the end of the week he was back in hospital, then he deteriorated.
How was he supposed to work? Something has got to change for people like David.'
Divorced Mr O'Mar was nicknamed Dai Poland by pals because he once ran a radio station in the eastern European country.
When he returned to Wales in 2003 he was a football talent scout for Derby County and Burton Albion.
He also threw himself into charity work, collecting hundreds of football shirts to send to orphanages in Moldova and Ukraine.
Alexandra said: 'I would like some answers from the courts and the judge. Why did they think he could do anything? He could barely walk.
'I don't want that to happen to anybody else.'
A DWP spokesman said the departments' 'thoughts are with Mr O’Mar’s family' adding that Jobcentre Plus followed correct procedures in relation to the case.
David O'Mar will not have appeared in the DWP death statistics because he died in April 2015, a date which would not be within the range covered from December 2011 to February 2014.
None the less the case illustrates that something was clearly wrong in refusing David a postponement on what were perfectly valid grounds. The Daily Mail report David as being in receipt of 'disability benefits', it wasn't a disability benefit which was in question, it was an Employment & Support Allowance assessment. Nor would David have e been summonsed to his appeal, a Tribunal does not 'summons' appellants. It was clearly wrong for the Tribunal to have made a decision in David's absence, they should have adjourned the hearing to give him an opportunity to attend.
This was posted on Facebook today. 19th September 2015
My mother Ruby Urbacz age 59 was found dead at her home on the 6th September as a result of a heart attack. She had been admitted to hospital a 01/08/15 for chest pains where they found she had had three minor heart attacks. Even though my mother had poor mobility , type 2 diabetes, very basic numeracy and literacy skills and mental health problems including depression, she was deemed “fit for work” by the DWP. She was put on JSA and hounded to show evidence of looking for a job she struggled to write a shopping list and thus constantly worried about money and if her benefits would be stopped.
Her benefits were stopped without without any investigation as she missed her jsa appointment whilst in hospital, after her discharge she had received no money for five consecutive weeks of the £50 per week she would have normally received she was also paying £20 per week in bedroom tax. On only £30 per week She could not afford to feed herself properly as bills were her main priority, so was living off food bought from poundland which obviously worsened her diabetes. She was getting carer visits from the red cross.
After her discharge from hospital. On the the 4th September the carers notes say “Ruby is worried about money, still waiting for benefits to be sorted.” She died less than 48hours later.
I’m writing this not because I want sympathy but to make you aware that Ian Duncan Smith’s policies are directly contributing to the deaths of the most vulnerable people in our society.
Please do not comment with sympathetic messages as this will not change anything, instead share this post and make as many people aware of the contemptuous nature of our self serving government who punish the poor and give to the rich. Thank you for sharing.
The sterling work of John Pring of Disability News Service, Mike Sivier and the unstinting activism of Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC), Black Triangle and many more has done a wealth of good in promoting the tragedy of lives lost to the treacherous regime of Iain Duncan Smith's perilous welfare reforms.
"The programme of reassessing people on disability benefits using the Work Capability Assessment was independently associated with an increase in suicides, self-reported mental health problems and anti-depressant prescribing."
After taking account of the impact of baseline deprivation, economic trends, and long-term trends in mental health, the researchers calculated around six extra suicides, 2,700 more cases of mental ill health and an extra 7,020 prescriptions for anti-depressants for every 10,000 people reassessed during this period.
They said this equated to 590 additional suicides, 279,000 extra cases of mental ill-health and 725,000 more prescriptions for anti-depressants across the country as a whole between 2010 and 2013.
But is any of this enough to resonate with the wider public?
Sadly, I very much doubt it.
Having conducted exhaustive research in to the Work Capability Assessment over the course of the last four years with close to three quarter of a million 'hits' on two articles started 24 months ago on the ilegal.org.uk forum, namely 'ESA Chaos' and 'Serious Flaws in Government Statistics' it is clear that there's plenty of interest in this inherently broken regime via social media.
But there is life beyond social media.
On a day to day basis on the front-line as a welfare benefit specialist, I've heard and dealt with hundreds of cases of work capability related injustices. Each case represents a differing personal tragedy, the onset of debilitating illness, a car smash which dramatically turns lives up side down, early age sexual and physical abuse is all too often a factor which predisposes innocent victims to becoming becoming socially withdrawn welfare reform 'casualties. Drug and alcohol addiction are more often than not the anaesthetic which mask far deeper rooted problems. Bereavement and redundancy for instance often culminate in people being plunged in to poverty through no fault of their own. These are the kind of real barriers which stand in the way and disable people from being able to fully participate in society. Sadly we have become a society which has shown appalling hostility towards disabled people and those who have to rely on the state for support.
Iain Duncan Smith hasn't got the first clue over what really distances people from the world of work.
Having recently attended Unite and PCS's Social Security Summit in Birmingham I was absolutely appalled at the lack of presence of those who, like me, could be telling our client's endless stories.
Powerful evidence which should be collated across the nation by hundreds of welfare benefit advisers and used by our organisations to lobby government to say 'this is wrong'.
But the advice sector has been disabled, the withdrawal of legal aid has taken away our voice. It was the deliberate intention of government to do so when passing the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offender's Act. It was never about saving money, it was all about removing us as a means of vocalising our client's arguments. It disabled us from winning 95% of the cases we won in tribunals.
Bad news Iain Duncan Smith, I took your rotten 25% cut in pay and found another way to fight from the front-line. I did so because I believe your government has left far too many without effective help.
The most poignant moment of the summit day was as we filed out of the well attended room. Hurrying off to our destinations as we made for the exits, the sound which haunted me was that of a young woman with Down's Syndrome. She had taken to the 'front' of the room not realising how everyone had by now turned their back to her, she picked up the microphone and tried to tell everyone how they needed to fight for disabled people. Very few were listening, the room was rapidly emptying, after a while she'd probably have been left talking to people kindly taking the microphone from her whilst telling her 'it's time to go home'.
Sadly, it's not dissimilar to the plight of thousands of families who prematurely bury or cremate their loved ones.
A death on benefits is one which is unlikely to lead to a send off attracting the masses, maybe a good number of fellow sympathisers, but by and large it will be a quiet affair.
It pains me to say it, yet the awful truth is the death of someone on a 'benefits lifestyle' just doesn't resonate with the wider public. Even national organisations purporting to represent the sick and disabled have sadly turned their back on them. In truth, the sick and disabled have been left completely abandoned to fend for themselves.
It pains me to say that I believe the death of Michael O'Sullivan was completely avoidable. I've read the case papers, it wasn't just the work capability assessment which caused him to end his life so tragically by hanging himself. He had been subjected to two fit for work findings in two separate and equally crude computer aided assessments. Neither of which would have been capable of picking up on the complex difficulties faced by people like Michael. It was beyond ludicrous to send someone in Michael's position through the rigours of inhumane work testing. Following on from which Michael was forced, by sheer DWP induced fear, in to finding work. Very little is said as to how Michael took his life just before he was due to commence a job on a building site, by all accounts he was ready for work, he even had all the equipment to commence his job. But Michael wasn't ready for work, nor was he able to work, what is abundantly clear is that driving him to that extreme was at substantial risk to his health.
Ordinarily, that would have been enough to qualify Michael for Employment & Support Allowance.
But this was no ordinary case,
He never turned up, he was driven to end his life.
You have to ask, why?
The Coroner laid the blame with the DWP and the process. I would go a step further and blame the man who sets the hidden targets for the whole sordid process, that man is the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions - it is Iain Duncan Smith who must accept the blame.
There was an escape mechanism, a safe guard, the problem is it was never deployed.
Michael had in fact appealed against the very first fit for work decision, but for reasons unknown, his appeal never proceeded to an independent tribunal.
Why was the appeal abandoned?
I remain convinced that Michael should have been left alone with no contact from stress inducing target driven work programme providers until his case had been properly assessed by a Tribunal. Michael should have been placed in the assessment phase pending his appeal. I remain convinced, that had he received the right help, Michael would have been placed in the Support Group and thus could have transitioned in to work in his own time with no mandatory requirement upon him to do do. It's the pressure of the whole rotten process which drove him to his death.
The pressure was avoidable, what's clear is how much worse it was because of the target driven process being followed.
The public don't care because they think the process works
Duncan Smith has convinced the public, with the unstinting help of the right wing media, that his reforms are working.
We know this is not the case, but the public don't get it.
They don't get that Michael was one of well over 5 million people who have been through utterly futile work capability assessments, they don't get how less than 1% of those assessed ended up with a job via the Government's multi - billion Work Programme, nor do they get how we've still got over 2.5 million people on the sick - a figure which has barely moved despite endless vindictive attempts to show people up as scroungers, the blind public just don't get how badly these reforms are failing.
The awful truth is the grossly misled public think that lives lost through these dreadful reforms are a price worth paying.
Short term pain for long term gain.
One life on benefits fewer is no big loss, it's what many people think.
No safe guards for the sick
Endless attempts have been made to work out the true meaning of the death statistics made available by the DWP. Prising the information from the DWP has achieved limited success because in reality the government has no intention of releasing any meaningful data.
2,300 - 2,650 - 4,010 - 10,000 or more.
It's all guess work.
It's obvious the Work Capability Assessment and all the wickedness which surrounds it is a silent killer. There is a rise in the number of suicides particularly in men aged 45 +, but where they come from requires the DWP's commitment to engage with the process of working out how many are involved.
The real data is there somewhere.
Relating to Employment & Support Allowance or Jobseeker's Allowance 'off flows', the data is there hidden. It involves looking forensically at the records of those who come off benefits and claim nothing, those who attempt suicide, those who actually go through with it, those who end up in casualty and those who end up in the mortuary.
Those who die of stress related to IDS's target driven regime, they are I suspect the largest affected group.
If the DWP isn't tracking these deaths, one has to ask why? .....
Surely, it is neglecting its duty of care if it fails to keep adequate records of those it opines as fit for work?
I suspect DWP record keeping just isn't keeping track.
For which, Iain Duncan Smith must accept his culpable neglect and accept the blame.
Furthermore, he should compensate his victims and ensure this national scandal is brought to an immediate end.
He also knows his failure to achieve his much promised 'claimant reduction' achieved nothing, his attempts to get the sick in to work have failed spectacularly, the cost of his failures have spiralled out of control. Rather than accept the blame for his own incompetence, Duncan Smith now plans to ruthlessly strip genuinely sick claimants of 30% of their income, he also plans to impose stricter targets in order to deliver his chancellor his much promised savings. You can expect thousands more to be found fit for work over the next five years.
The measure of how many sick claimants can be deemed unfit for work is driven by treasury spreadsheets - it has nothing whatsoever to do with how ill people are.
Until the public see the root cause of the problem - Iain Duncan Smith and the ideologically driven aims of his government - these deaths will continue.
It found that each additional 10,000 people subjected to a WCA was associated with an additional six suicides, 2,700 cases of reported mental health problems, and the prescribing of an additional 7,020 anti-depressants.
Overall, that amounted to 590 extra suicides, 279,000 additional cases of mental health problems and an additional 725,000 anti-depressants across England as a whole.
The higher the number of assessments the greater the increase in these adverse mental health outcomes, the research found.
The researchers said: "Our study provides evidence that the policy in England of re-assessing the eligibility of benefit recipients using the WCA may have unintended but serious consequences for population mental health.
"There is a danger that these adverse effects outweigh any benefits that may or may not arise from moving people off disability benefits."
Disability rights campaigners have argued that the process has led to unnecessary deaths.
Almost 20,000 people have signed a petition calling on the government to act on its commitment to reform the assessments.
Tom Holland, policy and campaigns manager of mental health charity Mind, said: "This worrying study shines a light on the damaging impact the WCAs can have on people's mental health."
Labour said the study raised "serious questions" about how the government's approach to getting people into work was impacting on their mental health.
Shadow mental health minister Luciana Berger said: "It is unacceptable to have a system that causes vulnerable people anxiety, putting their health at further risk.
"When only a small proportion of people with mental health problems are moving into employment, the government must accept that their approach is deeply flawed."
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "This report is wholly misleading, and the authors themselves caution that no conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect.
"In addition, it is concerning that they provide no evidence that the people with mental health problems highlighted in the report even underwent a Work Capability Assessment."
Work Capability Assessments were introduced by Labour in 2008 for claimants of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
The coalition government extended the system to existing recipients of incapacity benefit, the predecessor of ESA, in 2010, as well as periodically re-assessing ESA recipients.
Prof Thom Baguley, associate dean for research at Nottingham Trent University, said more evidence was needed, but added: "The study provides evidence that the specific application of this policy (the way reassessment of cases was conducted) increased the suicide rate and outcomes associated with adverse mental health in those people affected.
"The evidence goes beyond merely establishing a correlation but falls short of establishing a causal link."
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Duncan Smith has convinced the public, with the unstinting help of the right wing media, that his reforms are working. hmm more deaths more suicides more abuse to those who dont need it but does government care about it nah it seems they culling the stock by any means yet day in day out more will die while the poor pay the price for those banksters who lost the monies yet i asked is the population ever to wake up to the fact they culling us daily aktion t4 is alive today jeff3