The Independent View: Coerced, bullied and fighting back: living with Multiple Sclerosis and Welfare Reform

I am a 54 year old woman who has had Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis for around 6 years. It involves increasing pain and loss of mobility and, as there is no remission, only progression, it takes me all of my energies to manage.

After the legion of neurological symptoms forced me to give up work I have had to endure the trauma of an Employment and Support Allowance “medical assessment” by ATOS Healthcare (a French private contractor), I have struggled to attend the mandatory Work Related Activity Group, which was not a safe place in my worsening condition.

I waited months for an appeal and won, but live in fear of the brown Department of Work & Pensions envelope that indicates that the whole sorry process will start again, as appears to be the case for many who win their appeals.

If the Welfare Reform Bill is agreed this week, I face the same stress and anxiety in yet another assessment, to test for an already proven condition, in order to retain high rate mobility Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in its new guise as Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

I live in a mutual housing community we formed over 30 years ago. I fear for my security and safety, due to what appears to be a government generated atmosphere of contempt that I face daily in the newspapers, where benefit claimants are labelled as feckless scroungers.

I feel that I have contributed very honestly and honourably to society and have a great deal more to offer, but dislike intensely that people with severe conditions are subjected to a regime of rudimentary and capricious testing and harsh conditionality which will increase poverty, homelessness and potential mortality — all based on a fallacious notion that “work is always good for you”. We all know that some cannot work and that it would be unreasonable to demand that they do so, and for many work is contra-indicated to condition stability.

I’m too ill to be coerced, bullied or frightened into compliance by a flawed and maladministered welfare system.

I also feel that much worse is in store if we are subjected to a deeply questionable American style insurance-based regime. Those who are currently ill or disabled cannot access this insurance and will become a sacrificial generation, caught between the dissolution of the Welfare State and the implementation of birth-to-death private health and income protection insurances.

Lord Freud, who is speaking on behalf of this Bill, should be reminded to look to history, and consider times when human rights and human equalities have ever been subject to market forces. Fiscal expediency may seem to deliver a solution, but an option which abandons British citizens to a company based in another jurisdiction and without the controls of the British Medical Association, Royal College of Nursing or Care Quality Commission? Maybe he should look again at the basis of his philosophy.

My late father, a coroner and solicitor, would have been horrified to learn that his daughter had been abandoned by the state in her time of need. Even more so when the access to advice and legal assistance has been all but removed.

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35 Comments

  • Old Codger Chris 12th Sep '11 - 5:21pm

    There are sure to be a few individuals unfairly singled out in any system – and a few who manage to get Benefits when they shouldn’t.

    But I fail to understand why a person who is incontrovertibly suffering from disability – such as Rachel Gladwin – needs to be put through the wringer. I wonder if the money wrongly denied to genuine claimants will equal the cost of fees, commission or whatever shelled out by the taxpayer to the company employed to sniff out Benefit Cheats?

  • @Geoffrey Payne -I am really pleased that you will do everything you can to stop this dreadful situation, the Libdems MUST speak out about this. It goes against every principle we stand for.

    where you say
    “it is not easy to seperate those who do rip off the system from those who do not deserve to be singled out.”

    I beg to differ. If the descriptors on the application forms, the computer programme and system being used to assess people, and the methods employed by those using it weren’t so catastrophically bad, then those like Rachel would have no problem. Many, many people who are very seriously ill are being told they are “Fit for Work” when they patently aren’t.

    This results in them having their benefit cut, having to go through lengthy and stressful appeals and tribunals, to the detriment of their already poor health, and having to wait for up to a year for a decision on the appeal because there is such an enormous backlog. If someone has advice and representation for their appeal the success rate is 70%. That means that only 30% of the decisions being made by the company employed by the DWP who are doing the assessments are right.

    They get paid for each one they do regardless of whether they get it right or not and are not penalised when it’s wrong. The tribunals etc are costing the tax-payer £50 million a year at the moment and it’s likely to get worse.

    Meanwhile, real people with very real illnesses, are frightened, suffering and living in poverty.

  • I have worked very hard all my life nearly , had no money at all xmas 2008 and DLA never did pay properly for ages .Genuine suffer more than others.I have always paid into the system what have paid in I wont ever get back its a disgrace .

  • I truly hope that everyone at Conference supports the motion proposed by George Potter – it is the only humanly decent thing to do.

  • Rachel isn’t one of a few but one of many. I have worked virtually all of my working life. I succumbed to a mental illness, anxiety- depression due to stress and with all the associated physiological side-effects including hypertension.

    I had a laughable ATOS ‘examination’. I have learnt that ATOS “don’t do mental illness”. They just don’t get it. So consequently my ‘point scores’ were low. That’s what happens when you ignore half of what you are told. Even my sky-high blood pressure measured at the time of the examination was described by the nurse as probably ‘just a one-off’.

    I have appealed. In the meantime I have had a full examination by a qualified, independent psychiatrist who determined that I was suffering from a recognised illness that has a substantial affect on my ability to do day-to-day tasks. The issue of my disability was referred to an Employment Tribunal as part of my dispute with my ex-employer. The judge found in my favour that I was indeed disabled agreeing with the medical opinion and finding that I am legally concerned as ‘disabled’ and that my condition affects my day-to-day ability to do household tasks let alone my ability to work.

    I sent all this information with my appeal hoping that there would be some common sense system that would save time and money of the appeal and consider this independent information. But oh no. I still have to go before a panel and wait up to 26 weeks to do so. Meanwhile I am subjected to the very same anxiety experienced by many others on top the anxiety I suffer from my underlying condition.

    Should there be a system to prevent abuse? Of course, but one that works, is cost-effective, fair and proportionate. I understand that some 60% of appellants of ATOS assessments are successful. That means 60% of ATOS decisions are wrong. This brutal, arbitrary and unjust system is causing real distress and hardship for many individuals and is designed to dissuade many legitimate claimants. This is the reality of this Government’s policy – bullying by the State.

  • I worked in mental health for years and cared.I helped many from killing themselves .When I handed in my notice it wasnt accepted and patients used to yell for me every day.When however we need help for physical diseases we are denied too much and badly treated.Sativex no one can get or CCVI

  • CCSVI sorry a very simple procedure and very undangerous indeed

  • Rachel Gladwin 12th Sep '11 - 7:24pm

    I thank you for your comments and appreciate your undertaking to scrutinise the various processes. I think that the most vital for some for tomorrow is to bear in mind that if the Bill proceeds, I believe it negates existing case law and this is where the problem lies.

    I would suggest that the fraud figures are, proportionately’ very low and that BBC’s More or Less, You and Yours and Full Fact support this view. I think the intention has always been there to discredit welfare in the public eye and then dismantle the Welfare Safety net. The process hasn’t been subtle!! I fear there has been a Tsunami of ill thought-through legislation and very few seem to care about unintended consequences and many of us are too exhausted to keep up with events.

    Its a chilling process that government is moving briskly forward. However I’ve only ever received kindness when I have ever needed help from the public. However that is not everyone’s experience and the EHRC is currently reporting on disability hate crime. I hope that a champion for us will emerge as we sorely need one.

    Maria Miller is not a champion; we need a person who is able to project warmth and convey hope. As with Cameron’s “Happiness” Mori campaign; maybe it was meant well but lacked substance because, again, it had not been thought through.

    She couldn’t even come and meet those disabled who made the effort to “march” to Parliament. Would that have been bad PR; guilt or, even, arrogance? I don’t live in hope, I’m thinking about Plan B!!

  • WRAG, a group of people who may have some very limited capacity for some work.
    That is ‘some’, and ‘very limited’, and ‘some’ again.
    And yet they are hounded harder than those who have never worked.
    Compulsory activity starts immediately for those transferring from IB.
    That is compulsory activity for people who have a very limited capacity, very little functionality and are probably receiving treatments and are taking medications.
    Fail to comply, and your benefits stop.

    It is quite probable that they also will not recover in one year. Those currently on Incapacity Benefit have failed to get well.
    But recovery is irrelevant. The benefit will stop, as if it is some sort of whip to be wielded as punishment for daring to be ill.
    And yet the illness may be genetic. Or terminal. Degenerative.
    But you can pretty much be assured that most people on IB wont get better – if there was a cure, we would have taken it.

    I ask you all, is it fair or right to punish someone for a genetic condition?

    For those who are hard of thinking;
    I didn’t decide to have this condition,
    I didn’t loot it,
    or steal it,
    or buy it on expenses,
    I didn’t get it to get a council house,
    I can’t sell it and
    I didn’t get it by binge drinking,
    or by bribing a GP.
    But just in case you forget,
    I paid insurance in case I developed it,
    National Insurance – people on IB have paid it.

  • paul barker 12th Sep '11 - 9:25pm

    Ive been through the Appeal process 3 times now & something that strikes me is that it looks very expensive, glitzy offices in central locations & high-class staff, an astonishing contrast to the dumps that ATOS runs. If a lot of those “failed” by ATOS are appealing that must be costing a fortune. Is there any research as to whether this whole process actually saves the Taxpayer any money ?

    Another point is that a lot of the claimants are close to Retirement Age. Does the “Fit for Work” assesment take any account of Age ?

  • Very sorry to hear your story, Rachel. Atos and whoever in Government contrives to keep them employed in this process have so much to answer for.

  • Rachel Gladwin 12th Sep '11 - 11:49pm

    “Glitzy offices in central locations?” Doesn’t sound like the one I visited. I think the tribunal service may now have been amalgamated with the court service proper; though I thought the intention was to put them in magistrates court buildings rather than crown courts. Just sufficient to make appellants feel a little more like criminals. was my cynical thought.

    Close to retirement age but appealing a failed medical? Probably been on IB since the late Thatcher era? what does it sound like to you? I would be terrified as the retirement age is moving ever upwards, and I would guess that people are terrified when a gaping chasm appears where it appears that IB may fail them and there are gaps in entitlement, advisors are becoming thin on the ground and energy prices are soaring.

    Glitzy offices in central locations? Could there be more glitzy offices vacant during a recession then cheap ones?

    This is a flagship government project and has to succeed. I’m still not sure what the objective is though. (holds head in hands).

  • I have worked all my life and paid all my taxes and national insurance. However three years ago I started to suffer from blackouts, pain and numbness in my legs, arms, hands and feet. I had to leave my job as I was not safe to have around as I can fall when my legs give way or just blackout. Obviously no employer could have this happening day after day on their premises. I was advised to claim esa which is when my problems really started. Having never claimed benefit before I was totally unprepared for the treatment I received.

    I attended my esa medical and met a health care professional who could hardly speak english. She had never heard of my condition and refused to accept the documents I had brought from neurology consultant and gp. I had all my hospital test results and medication lists which she refused to look at. She kept telling me to shut up if I asked a question and was extremely rude. My medical was a joke !! She asked me to put my finger on my nose and if I suffered incontinence. She gave me an eye test when there is no problem with my sight. I was rushed out of the medical with her saying Finished, Go now !!

    When I received my result it said I had failed the medical as her opinion was that I had a mild condition and no blackouts or mobility problems. She also said I watched tv for 5 hours a day. I dont have a tv !! Her sentences were written in broken english with many not making any sense at all.

    I took the decision to appeal and waited nearly 2 years to be heard. The tribunal looked at all my medical evidence that she had refused to accept and found me unfit for work. The judge even asked for checks to be made on my medical report as it was so inaccurate he thought it may have been someone elses.

    I am now housebound with my blackouts happening 4 or 5 times a day and my falls and mobility increasing in severity. I am now battling to be accepted for a DLA mobility payment. My application for DLA is based on the inaccurate esa medical report !! This is such a bad system and what a waste of money !!

    Any intelligent system would take notice of medical evidence from hospital consultants and gps who have known their patients for a long time. How can the government accept the opinion of someone who sees a person for 20 minutes and discredit the medical specialists diagnosis? My gp is fuming as he spends half his week writing reports for these appeals. This system needs to be changed not just rearranged at the edges. The money this is wasting when our country is broke is beyond belief. I have always been a lib dem supporter but I must admit I have not been happy at your decisions lately. However I believe you will gain back a lot of your supporters if you actually do the right thing and help to change this sytem. I believe it is a big waste of money and beyond repair. Meanwhile disabled and ill people are suffering badly at the hands of this not fit for purpose money cutting system. The statistics say it all. On a final note why isnt ATOS fined for all the inaccurate medical reports they produce? They still get their full pay regardless of the quality of their work. If that was normal company making that many mistakes it would have been closed down before now and received many legal suits.

  • You sound alot like me yet I know I have to face this ATOS stress as yet – It wont make me betetr – There is no cure for MS. All it will do it make me more ill. Yet I have no choice. I am at the ”mercy” of this Govt and the DWP. But their mercy is nonexistent, and I fear for myself and my life and my familys life

  • The level of disability benefit fraud in this country is currently estimated to be less than 1%.

    Eliminating all Fraud will be impossible, and just making these benefitsarbitrarily harder to get will not have much effect on those who desire to gain the system but will have, as we see, a disporportionate and huge effect on the deserving.

    At some point you have to ask yourself the question, what level of fraud is tolerable? Some would of course say, none, but they fail to recognise that any measure to lower fraud even further will have a disproportionate impact on the genuinely disabled. My own opinion is that I would rather let a very small number of fraudsters get away if it meant that people currently losing their benefits wrongly and being forced through terrifying ordeals would be spared.

    However, I do not believe the government is really concerned with Fraud. What I think they want is for people who are entitled to benefits to intimidated so as not to claim what they are entitled to. Of course for many people, these benefits are crucial to their survival, but there are some people who’s quality of life is substantially improved with benefits but they could scrape by without them- the government wants these people to stop claiming even though they are entitled to.

  • Rachel Gladwin 14th Sep '11 - 2:04pm

    Wednesday, 14 September 2011
    URGENT APPEAL FOR ACTION NOW! URGENT NEED TO KEEP THIS DEBATE IN THE MAIN CHAMBER
    MOTION TO MOVE THIS TO A SMALLER INACCESSIBLE COMMITTEE ROOM AT 3.30 THIS AFTERNOON

    After an incredibly constructive debate yesterday in the House Of Lords the government appear to be concerned about how many Lords had significant concerns about the Welfare Reform Bill, even those Lords who in principle supported the bill had major questions they wanted answers to.

    For a bill of this size and importance, convention dictates that the next stage of the bill should be kept in the main chamber of the House of Lords for debate. It’s particularly important the bill be continued to be debated in the main chamber as disability access to the smaller committee rooms is very limited and people will not be able to access the committee rooms to exercise their democratic right to observe the passge of the bill from the public chamber.

    At 3.30pm today the govermnent are tabling a motion to move the grand committee stage of the bill into one of the smaller committee rooms. Presumably the government are hoping that by moving a bill into the committee rooms it will be harder to scrutinise – there won’t be enough space in any of the committee rooms to allow for all the Lords to participate, let alone for us to scrutinise online or attend in person.

    This is an outrage – the government are clearly concerned by the level of queries and opposition to the Welfare Reform Bill highlighted by yesterday’s debate and wish to quietly sideline it to a committee room where they hope it will pass with less opposition. Tabling the motion for the afternoon following PMQ’s is also an underhand trick as it means it will be harder for us to object through the main stream media.

    This is our call to arms. This bill affects us, our families and every aspect of our lives, as well as the lives of those currently paying into the system in anticipation of protection should they require it. If we can make enough noise in the next few hours the government will be forced to keep the passage of the bill in the main chamber of the house of lords where it can be effectively and appropriately scrutinised by all.

    What you can do to help is this;

    Please post copies of this blog onto your facebook, your twitter, stumbleupon, wikio etc. Please email it to everyone you know, please talk about this on your own blogs. Email or phone your MP to register your objections, email or phone the house of lords to explain your concerns, email or phone the media, local or national and explain that whether or not people are in favour of this bill, that it is a fundamental democratic right to have it debated in the main chamber of the house of lords where there is space for all who wish to attend and observe. Highlight the injustice and hypocrisy of the governments behaviour in trying to sideline this important bill into a room too small for all the Lords to attend and certainly too small to allow those in wheelchairs, or with guide dogs, the very people most affected by this bill to be able to observe from the public gallery.

    If we make enough noise before 3.30pm today the government will have to drop this underhand tactic and the Bill will continue to be debated in the main chamber of the House of Lords where everyone who wishes to can attend and observe.

  • Midge Midgley 14th Sep '11 - 2:49pm

    Thank you, Rachel, for an erudite and frank letter.
    The vast majority of us don’t speak up until we’re forced to act… in the hope of retaining a modicum of dignity and privacy within our lives, and also because of the shame associated with being on ESA, due to the constant media and government coverage.
    As an ex-nurse and an ESL teacher, I have contributed in taxes and NI all my working life, until the symptoms of my MS forced me to to take the ESA route. Every day I read articles in the media, calling those on benefits fraudsters, con artists, and just too lazy to work. I’d love to work… to use my brain and contribute, but I simply cannot find anything that is viable with my health issues. I too suffer constant pain, numbness, poor gait, visual problems and much more.

    I not only have to cope with MS on a daily basis, but unemployment, paucity of funds to attend treatment, and impending homelessness, as my borough housing section feels that I’m not a ‘priority need’. On a personal note I’ve reached the point where I simply cannot go on fighting the battle… I have nothing left to give.

    Midge

  • @Rachel:

    Sadly, we’ve lost. The debate will now be held in a non-wheelchair-accessible room. For a debate on disability benefits. This government plainly are out to “reform” the system no matter what disabled people think. Moving this to a room with less accessibility is disgraceful, but is pretty much the norm for this anti-disabled government.

  • Rachel Gladwin 14th Sep '11 - 6:07pm

    It appears that the “Aye”s won. I am an inexperienced observer and so will not comment but it seems much less likely that people will be able to be present in order to thoroughly examine this Bill . A tremendous amount of effort has gone into lobbying our representatives and making sure this debate was well attended. I think there must be a solution but it would take an experienced parliamentarian to clarify for me.

  • @Midge I share your pain and frustrations, It does seem as though this government has abandoned its duty to care and support for our most vulnerable people in society, the sick, disabled and poor. It is extremely difficult to keep standing up and taking it on the chin when your constantly smacked down again with a 4*4.
    I am sure you have plenty left to give though, there are millions of sick and disabled people in this country, in the same situation all feeling abandoned and very very scared. Although there does not seem much hope in anyone from the Government coming to our aid on this matter, I feel there is hope in the Young Liberal Youth that are up and coming, People such as” George Potter” who is happy to add his voice to the vulnerable and speak up at conference.
    Hopefully, Conference will see that George Potter and Liberal Youth are our future, and represent the kind of country and politics we ALL wish to live in, instead of this Corrupt, Thatcherite, Elitism Government we currently have.

    @Squeedle
    “This government plainly are out to “reform” the system no matter what disabled people think. Moving this to a room with less accessibility is disgraceful, but is pretty much the norm for this anti-disabled government.”

    Couldn’t have put it better myself. What hope do we have when the Prime Minister of this country and his family where more than happy to claim disability benefits and milk the system when it applied to them, then have the audacity to cut disability benefits to others once they where no longer able to claim, due to the sad loss of their own disabled child Ivan. The Prime minister is a hypocrite for saying the welfare bill has spiraled out of control and needs reform, when he as a “Multimillionaire” has claimed these benefits.

    @Rachel Gladwin keep up the good fight, all is not lost, we must continue to shout louder until people really start to listen

  • Rachel Gladwin 15th Sep '11 - 1:45am

    I recommend Nick D’s of MyLegal’s piece on Welfare Reform which he started in June to enable people to pick their way through these, reforms. It is a massive read but very entertaining. It helps make a start on understanding the reforms and their intricate simplicity. I have copied a few paragraphs just to show how good it is and here’s a link to the (long) thread for your consideration;
    http://mylegal.org.uk/index.cgi?board=frontline&action=display&thread=405&page=1
    «
    Thread Started on Jul 23, 2011, 9:25am »

    (1) The Welfare Reforms are delayed; it’s a good job, but it’s merely postponing one almighty car crash!!

    Iain Duncan Smith radically launched welfare reform, actually he got off to a good start, but where this will go wrong is when you start to look at the detail…

    By Nick D

    I have to say that upon reading Lord Freud’s ‘introductory information pack’ of the welfare reforms into the House of Lord’s I was astounded at how attempts by the coalition government to simplify the system have been made so incredibly complex; – reading this introduction filled me with fear as to its consequences, what on earth will implementation of these reforms do to the lives of claimants?

    Before you can get to Lord Freud’s ‘Vision’ statement, you’ll need to read through a full 102 pages; – it’s so textual that you’ll probably end up with a ‘visionary’ problem by the time you reach the end, I’d recommend you read it with a glass of wine or two, or three; – or perhaps a full bottle, you’ll need it. How on earth can anyone maintain this is simplifying the system? – it does no such thing. Any simplification measures which may be effective are far outweighed by others which will add further complexity.

    This is the most bizarre attempt at trying to convince the Lords (who will consider the bill at some stage – thankfully it’s been delayed until September) that this is an effective simplification system. With no offence to the Lords, they are people that by and large won’t have the first clue about claiming benefits, if you introduce a bill like this and make it sound like all of the complexities have been carefully sorted out, people will probably fall for it hook line and sinker. The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) warned that the ‘devil would be in the detail’, there’s no end of the devil in this bill – but the details leaves a lot to be desired; – it just hasn’t been thought through in terms of it’s practical application. This is not the way to fix a ‘broken’ benefits system.
    http://mylegal.org.uk/index.cgi?board=frontline&action=display&thread=405&page=1

  • Rachel Gladwin 15th Sep '11 - 2:49pm

    Aarghh there’s a Unum ad in the middle of my blog!!! Don’t they know I’m uninsurable??

    Couldn’t they have a word with Lord Freud about what provisions he is making to cover those who become ill without warning; who did not expect a severe condition and had been paying their contributions and taxes all these decades?

    I know he used to be a banker and a deal-maker, maybe he could work something out?

    Can you imagine the uproar if Government called in a Sociologist to overhaul the banking system??

    If I were able to obtain insurance, I don’t think I’d go to Unum; I don’t think my remaining health will stand up to wrangling with an US insurance monolith!

  • The Liberal Democrat Lords voted to send the bill to Grand Committeei nstead of it being debated democratically. Why?

  • It might be of interest to some people to know that, in the last couple of weeks, ATOS, the company who has been contracted out to carry out “Medical Assessments” on behalf of the DWP have been threatening and taking legal action against websites and support forums for sick and disabled people in order to get the sites shut down.
    This included the organisation “Care Watch” which provides support forums and advice to disabled people and their carers, along with 2 other websites.
    Understandably these sites contain some very personal and shocking stories of peoples encounters with ATOS and the “health care professionals” and how they where badly treated.
    Atos even managed to get the website of care watch closed down, not by contacting and engaging in dialogue with the administrators, but by going straight to the server that hosts the site in the US and getting them to pull the site.
    Thankfully the site is back up and running, but this just goes to show the complete lack of consideration ATOS have towards sick and disabled people.
    Forums Like care watch are a vital support network for many vulnerable people where they can come together and share experiences and support one another and give advice.
    When the site was pulled, with no warning to the administrators who then had no way of contacting it’s members, many sick and disabled people and their carers where distressed to have lost such a vital support network
    The fact that ATOS went to these measures in order to silence peoples criticism of the company is in my view sickening. It just goes to show the complete lack of empathy this company has towards the people that they are being paid “enormous” sums of money to assess.

  • Sorry, above post should have said CarerWatch
    http://carerwatch.wordpress.com/

  • rachel gladwin 17th Sep '11 - 8:37pm

    Congratulations and many thanks to all those at conference and those working away behind the scenes in working away at drafting, redrafting, amending and improving these proposals. Its all turning into progress that we can be proud of!!!

  • It is quite clear that new welfare systems are to be designed to be as humiliating and degrading as possible.

    It is quite shocking that the safety net, supposed to be in place to protect us all does not operate with any degree of humanity. There for the grace of god, go us all as we may experience ill health or disability and be subject to such inhumanity and degrading treatment.

  • rachel gladwin 19th Sep '11 - 2:16pm

    Jack Timms Thank you for your comments and I hope that my piece and the resulting, affirmative comments serve to lend hope and courage to all those who are ill, struggling and feeling they are on their own.

  • Annie Bishop 21st Sep '11 - 7:21pm

    thanks Rachel for that excellent testomy : if 40 % of ESA appeals win something is going very wrong, and don’t conclude 60% are fraudulent as people just give up. This is a very expensive process to save 20% of the budget will it? I dont think so just line the pockets of the pals of Cameron et al. Its worth rembering the 0.5% fraud rate for DLA claims. No such hot pusuit of bankers who got us in this mess and MPs who defraud on expenses get released early whilst the sick and disabled are vilified. Shame on all you who support these changes.

  • Annie Bishop 21st Sep '11 - 11:39pm

    http://www.channel4.com/news/700-000-terminally-ill-to-lose-benefits
    Health charities condemn the government for writing to some terminally ill people to tell them a benefit they receive will stop in six months.

  • jacquie stone 22nd Sep '11 - 6:13pm

    Surely this is against our human rights and the Magna Carta to be unrepresented in a court? If I’d committed a criminal offence I am represented in court by a barrister who knows my case inside out, whether I’m guilty or not. However, If I have a degenerative illness [in my case MS] or a long-term condition that fluctuates, I cannot have representation [ie doctor] in the court [ie medical assessment.] It would be interesting what the court of human rights would say about this.

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