Jan 152017
 

A specialist women’s mental health service attributed with saving lives is facing threat of closure under proposals currently being agreed by Croydon CCG. The 8-bedded facility providing holistic treatment in a supportive peer environment is highly valued by women who have used its services and their families. However, the CCG claim it is too expensive to run and the money cannot be justified for the number of women admitted each year. Women and their families say this is effectively putting a price on women’s lives.

Bromley and Croydon DPAC is asking for support to challenge the closure.

How you can help:

           Tweet at @NHSCroydonCCG calling on them to #SaveFoxleySaveWomen on Tuesday 17th January from 1pm.

          Sign the petition to stop closure. The consultation period has now ended but the campaign to save Foxley Lane is not done yet: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-foxley-lane-women-s-service

          If you are a Croydon resident please write to your local GP (who are members of the CCG) and to your MP. You can find template letters under this post. 

           If you have used Foxley Lane services in the past and are happy, anonymously or otherwise, to share your story about how this service has helped you and why it is important that it stays open please contact: ellen.clifford@inclusionlondon.org.uk.

          Join DPAC members at the CCG governing body meeting where they are considering the proposal for closure.  The meeting is taking place 1 – 4pm on Tuesday 17th January 2017 Conference Room, Croydon College, College Road, Croydon, CR9 1DX. If you can come along and want more information contact norwichpete@hotmail.co.uk​

 

For more information about the closure you can read these articles in Inside Croydon:

https://insidecroydon.com/2016/11/25/hundreds-sign-up-to-petition-to-save-foxley-lane/

https://insidecroydon.com/2016/11/25/please-dont-close-foxley-lane-it-saves-womens-lives/

To read our consultation response scroll down to below the template letters.

 

Letter to Croydon GP – please insert any relevant personal experiences of Foxley Lane

Dear

I am writing to you as my GP practice to ask for your support in opposing proposals by Croydon CCG to close Foxley Lane women’s mental health service.

Foxley Lane provides a highly effective and specialised service unavailable in neighbouring boroughs and to the benefit of women in Croydon. Just as this service has saved many lives, its closure will undoubtedly cost lives.

At a time when Government has recognised, in the words of Prime Minister Theresa May, the “burning injustice” of how society treats mental ill health, Foxley Lane is a model of provision that should be celebrated and promoted to improve women’s mental health services elsewhere.

There is wide opposition to the closure with a petition having now reached over 850 signatures and rising.

The recent consultation undertaken by Croydon CCG was inadequate and flawed. 54% of respondents to the consultation survey stated that they did not understand the proposals.

Information in the consultation document is misleading. It suggests that numbers of admissions to Foxley Lane have been falling due to declining need for the service. However, the reason for fewer admissions in 2015/2016 was due to longer stays which is indicative of growing rather than decreasing need.

The consultation document claims that home treatment can better meet the mental health needs of women in Croydon, but this is not a view shared by mental health service users, their organisations or staff. For many women the home environment is a dominant factor behind their need to access the Foxley Lane facility and the effectiveness of the support it provides is due to factors that cannot be replicated by home treatment including peer support and group therapy, 24-hour support and consistency of staffing from long-standing and experienced staff members.

A report for Croydon CCG’s January governing body meeting acknowledges that home treatment will not be able to meet the needs of all women impacted by the Foxley Lane closure and announces plans for a new 14-bedded women-only ward on the Bethlem. Acute wards in a hospital setting are not able to provide the same quality of environment as Foxley Lane and are therefore less effective. Moreover, the consultation proposals did not include this information.

The financial value of closing Foxley Lane does not appear to be as clear as the consultation makes out. Beds on acute wards at the Bethlem are more expensive than Foxley Lane and direct admissions to Foxley Lane prevent more expensive detentions under the Mental Health Act. The effectiveness of the support women receive in this service as a step down facility can also prevent readmissions.

Some of the things women who have used Foxley Lane and their families say:

“It is criminal to close such a unique centre. I owe my life and my road to recovery to the amazing staff and all services provided at Foxley Lane. It would be a great shame for other women to lose out on a place at the centre. A human life and mental stability should not have a price-tag.”

“When I was treated at Foxley Lane it was not tenable for me to remain in my home and receive treatment from a community team yet based on previous experiences, staying on a psychiatric ward can be very difficult and distressing for someone in an already vulnerable state. I am very concerned that if (when) I fall ill again in the future, the Foxley Lane service will not be available to me, and my recovery will take longer, at much greater cost to my family and to the NHS.”

“My own circumstances were unique to me but I was so grateful to be able to go to Foxley. I do feel it saved my life too. There is nowhere like this in the UK certainly not in Croydon and the health service should be using this as a model to copy. The other services in Croydon are not adequate and would have been unsuitable for me and many other women.”

“The service offered at Foxley lane is a showcase of best practice in the tortuous process of rehabilitation into the community for sufferers of severe mental illness. My own personal experience on several occasions with my daughter has seen long periods of difficult isolation at home followed by lengthy hospitalisation only for real and rapid recovery occurring at the Foxley lane facility. The peaceful calm environment and the amazing caring and professional staff combine with the result of a step change in speed of recovery.”

I hope that you would agree that Croydon CCG needs to at least rethink its proposal to close such a vital and effective service and look forward to your response.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Letter to Croydon MP – please insert any relevant personal experiences of Foxley Lane

Dear

I am writing to you as my constituency MP to ask for your support in opposing proposals by Croydon CCG to close Foxley Lane women’s mental health service.

Foxley Lane provides a highly effective and specialised service unavailable in neighbouring boroughs and to the benefit of women in Croydon. Just as this service has saved many lives, its closure will undoubtedly cost lives.

At a time when Government has recognised, in the words of Prime Minister Theresa May, the “burning injustice” of how society treats mental ill health, Foxley Lane is a model of provision that should be celebrated and promoted to improve women’s mental health services elsewhere.

There is wide opposition to the closure with a petition having now reached over 850 signatures and rising.

The recent consultation undertaken by Croydon CCG was inadequate and flawed. 54% of respondents to the consultation survey stated that they did not understand the proposals.

Information in the consultation document is misleading. It suggests that numbers of admissions to Foxley Lane have been falling due to declining need for the service. However, the reason for fewer admissions in 2015/2016 was due to longer stays which is indicative of growing rather than decreasing need.

The consultation document claims that home treatment can better meet the mental health needs of women in Croydon, but this is not a view shared by mental health service users, their organisations or staff. For many women the home environment is a dominant factor behind their need to access the Foxley Lane facility and the effectiveness of the support it provides is due to factors that cannot be replicated by home treatment including peer support and group therapy, 24-hour support and consistency of staffing from long-standing and experienced staff members.

A report for Croydon CCG’s January governing body meeting acknowledges that home treatment will not be able to meet the needs of all women impacted by the Foxley Lane closure and announces plans for a new 14-bedded women-only ward on the Bethlem. Acute wards in a hospital setting are not able to provide the same quality of environment as Foxley Lane and are therefore less effective. Moreover, the consultation proposals did not include this information.

The financial value of closing Foxley Lane does not appear to be as clear as the consultation makes out. Beds on acute wards at the Bethlem are more expensive than Foxley Lane and direct admissions to Foxley Lane prevent more expensive detentions under the Mental Health Act. The effectiveness of the support women receive in this service as a step down facility can also prevent readmissions.

Finally, there is also a clear conflict between the closure and with national government policy on mental health. The green paper “Improving Lives: disability, health and work” makes clear the Government’s ambition that health services should fit holistically around individuals, tailored to meet individual need in order to better facilitate all Disabled people into employment with no one left behind. Women who have used Foxley in the past have recovered sufficiently to either return to or take up employment as a result of the high quality individualised support available. In line with government aims to address mental health injustice and to support more people with mental health support needs into work, services such as Foxley Lane should be promoted as best practice.

Some of the things women who have used Foxley Lane and their families say:

“It is criminal to close such a unique centre. I owe my life and my road to recovery to the amazing staff and all services provided at Foxley Lane. It would be a great shame for other women to lose out on a place at the centre. A human life and mental stability should not have a price-tag.”

“When I was treated at Foxley Lane it was not tenable for me to remain in my home and receive treatment from a community team yet based on previous experiences, staying on a psychiatric ward can be very difficult and distressing for someone in an already vulnerable state. I am very concerned that if (when) I fall ill again in the future, the Foxley Lane service will not be available to me, and my recovery will take longer, at much greater cost to my family and to the NHS.”

“My own circumstances were unique to me but I was so grateful to be able to go to Foxley. I do feel it saved my life too. There is nowhere like this in the UK certainly not in Croydon and the health service should be using this as a model to copy. The other services in Croydon are not adequate and would have been unsuitable for me and many other women.”

“The service offered at Foxley lane is a showcase of best practice in the tortuous process of rehabilitation into the community for sufferers of severe mental illness. My own personal experience on several occasions with my daughter has seen long periods of difficult isolation at home followed by lengthy hospitalisation only for real and rapid recovery occurring at the Foxley lane facility. The peaceful calm environment and the amazing caring and professional staff combine with the result of a step change in speed of recovery.”

I hope that you would agree that Croydon CCG needs to at least rethink its proposal to close such a vital and effective service and look forward to your response.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Response to consultation on closure of Foxley Lane women’s mental health service

 

We are deeply concerned by and opposed to proposals by Croydon CCG to close Foxley Lane women’s mental health service. Foxley Lane provides a highly effective and specialised service unavailable in neighbouring boroughs and to the benefit of women in Croydon. At a time when Government has recognised, in the words of Prime Minister Theresa May, the “burning injustice” of how society treats mental ill health, it is a model of provision that should be promoted and built upon to improve women’s mental health services elsewhere. Just as Foxley Lane has saved many lives, its closure will undoubtedly cost lives.

The following response sets out our main points of concern regarding the planned closure.

 

Summary of main points

·         Flawed and inadequate consultation process

·         Disproportionate equalities impact

·         Inappropriateness of home treatment as an alternative

·         Conflict with national government disability policy and negative impact on employment outcomes

·         Questionable value for money

 

Flawed and inadequate consultation process

The engagement document published by Croydon CCG setting out its plans concerning Foxley Lane presented closure as the only option available and feedback from local residents unhappy with the proposals indicates they saw the closure as “a done deal” that they had no power to stop happening.  We believe that this had the effect of limiting the response to the consultation.

Information in the engagement document is misleading. It suggests that falling numbers of admissions to Foxley Lane from a comparison of the 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 figures are evidence that need for a service of this type is decreasing. However, the reason for the lower numbers is that length of stays were longer in 2015/16. This is consistent with the wider picture of growing demands on mental health services and does not prove declining need due to improved community services. The engagement document also fails to explain how the referral procedure for Foxley Lane has changed which has restricted access through direct admissions.

The Croydon CCG “Case for Change” report recommending closure of Foxley Lane includes information about a planned 14 bed women only ward at the Bethlem as a mitigating factor in the impact of the closure of Foxley and as additional alternative provision. There is no mention of plans for this new facility in the engagement document which informed the consultation process. The document makes clear that the primary arguments for closure are cost savings and an emphasis on home treatment. However, replacement of some of the service provided by Foxley Lane with new acute inpatient provision represents both additional cost and a move further away from home and community treatment. Costs per bed for acute wards are higher than the costs per bed at Foxley Lane. None of the additional costs associated with alternative provision on an acute wards are included in the proposals outlined in the engagement document.

The consultation survey was publicised predominantly online and may not have reached or been available in a format appropriate to responses from local mental health service users and survivors. Furthermore, the survey questions were both limited and confusing. Despite good attendance at open meetings and over 700 signatures to a petition opposing the closure, only 57 consultation survey responses were received.  54% of respondents said they did not understand the CCG proposals.

Some of the groups and organisations supporting this submission, whose members include women who have used Foxley Lane and their families, only learned about the planned closure shortly before Christmas. A request for an extension to the deadline was denied.

 

Disproportionate equalities impact

We are concerned that the proposals do not put forward adequate measures to mitigate the disproportionate impact that the closure will have in regards to gender, disability and ethnicity.

In Croydon a similar facility for men, Ashton, was closed and replaced by home treatment as an alternative service. Firstly, we would ask what the measured impact of this closure has been. Secondly we would point to differential factors which need to be taken into account when considering the needs of women for both direct admissions to Foxley Lane and for the step-down facility it provides. These include situations including domestic violence and caring responsibilities which are more likely to affect women.  

 

Inappropriateness of home treatment as an alternative

We question the evidence base on which the claim is made that home treatment can deliver more effective outcomes than a stay at Foxley Lane. For many women the home environment is a dominant factor behind their need to access the Foxley Lane facility and the effectiveness of the support it provides is due to factors that cannot be replicated by home treatment including:

          Refuge away from the home environment

          Peer support and group therapy

          Consistency of staffing from long-standing and experienced staff members

          24 hour staff presence

The proposal document claims that home treatment will be a better option as women who use Foxley Lane predominantly come from north of the borough whereas the service is based in South Croydon. We agree that it is detrimental for women to be sent for inpatient treatment many miles from home but do not consider that the distance between the North and the South of the borough presents the same issue. Foxley Lane is well served by Purley transport links and close to local amenities whilst occupying a peaceful environment conducive to restoring well-being. The suggested alternative of an additional ward on the Bethlem would place women in a location with fewer transport links and in an institutionalised setting away from the local community.

There is also evidence that the home treatment service provided in Croydon is currently unable to satisfactorily meet the needs of its existing service users. For example:

           Lack of consistent staffing. Women accessing the home treatment service have described having to go through the same information again and again to new staff.

          Limited visits at set times rather than support being available as and when required.

 

Conflict with national government disability policy and negative impact on employment outcomes

The green paper “Improving Lives: disability, health and work” makes clear the Government’s ambition that health services should fit holistically around individuals, tailored to meet individual need in order to better facilitate all Disabled people into employment with no one left behind.

By closing the Foxley Lane service, Croydon CCG will be restricting the types of service that are available to meet the different needs of women in the borough. The service provided by Foxley Lane has successfully supported women to return to employment following a mental health crisis. We are concerned that replacement of Foxley Lane with less effective treatment options will negatively impact on the employment outcomes of Disabled women in Croydon.

 

Questionable Value for Money

The consultation document makes clear that the intention behind the closure of Foxley Lane is to save money. Foxley Lane provides a service that is different from anything else on offer and just as it has saved the lives of many women, its closure will cost lives. To deem the service too expensive to continue to run is to in effect put a price on a woman’s life. It also ignores the social returns from enabling a woman to continue in her role within her family and as a member of her community.

As a purely financial exercise the proposal is however also questionable. The cost per bed at Foxley Lane is cheaper than per bed on a ward at the Bethlem. The current context is one where detainment under the Mental Health Act is rapidly increasing as low level and preventative services are cut. The resulting chronic bed shortage is leading to patients being sent many miles away to available places in acute settings. Acute wards provide a very different environment to the one on offer at Foxley Lane where chaos and disturbances can exacerbate and prolong mental distress. There is a likelihood that the closure of Foxley will result in:

·         a rise in more expensive admissions to acute wards

·         increased stays on more expensive acute wards due to a lack of step down facility

·         increased pressure on inpatient beds through readmissions due to the lack of availability of more effective holistic support as provided at Foxley Lane

 

Some of the things women who have used Foxley Lane and their families have told us:

“It is criminal to close such a unique centre. I owe my life and my road to recovery to the amazing staff and all services provided at Foxley Lane. It would be a great shame for other women to lose out on a place at the centre. A human life and mental stability should not have a price-tag.”

“When I was treated at Foxley Lane it was not tenable for me to remain in my home and receive treatment from a community team yet based on previous experiences, staying on a psychiatric ward can be very difficult and distressing for someone in an already vulnerable state. I am very concerned that if (when) I fall ill again in the future, the Foxley Lane service will not be available to me, and my recovery will take longer, at much greater cost to my family and to the NHS.”

“My own circumstances were unique to me but I was so grateful to be able to go to Foxley. I do feel it saved my life too. There is nowhere like this in the UK certainly not in Croydon and the health service should be using this as a model to copy. The other services in Croydon are not adequate and would have been unsuitable for me and many other women.”

“The service offered at Foxley lane is a showcase of best practice in the tortuous process of rehabilitation into the community for sufferers of severe mental illness. My own personal experience on several occasions with my daughter has seen long periods of difficult isolation at home followed by lengthy hospitalisation only for real and rapid recovery occurring at the Foxley lane facility. The peaceful calm environment and the amazing caring and professional staff combine with the result of a step change in speed of recovery.”

 

 

 

Apr 022014
 

It strikes me that not enough mention is being made of the important victory in the Court of Appeal in the case of [2013] EWCA Civ 1565 Case No: C3/2013/1626/SSTRF IN THE COURT OF APPEAL (CIVIL DIVISION) ON APPEAL FROM THE UPPER TRIBUNAL ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS CHAMBER) Mr Justice Charles sitting with Upper Tribunal Judges Jacobs and Lane Case Nos. JR/2638 & 2639/2012 CO/2385/2012.

You can download the judgement here and read about what it means here. I also consider that an important investigation called ‘Who benefits?’ in to the ‘The benefits assessment and death of Ms DE’ by Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland which you can refer to here has a relevance to the tragic consequences of what can go wrong if the right decision is not made for lack of obtaining the right evidence.

It is of paramount importance that anyone with mental health problems who is facing having to complete an ESA50 or who has had a decision which the DWP say does not qualify them for Employment & Support Allowance (particularly if it involves a transfer from older incapacity benefits) seeks specialist help from an experienced welfare benefit specialist.

Regrettably we cannot deal with cases on an individual basis on this forum, but if you have a question about the procedure then by all means ask one on this thread and I’ll do my best to answer it in due course.

An important part of the Court’s finding is the recognition of the following:

“Decision-makers should actively consider the need to seek further documentary evidence in every claimant’s case. The final decision must be justified where this is not sought.”

“41. Given the unique circumstances of their condition, particular care should be taken when the claimant has a mental, intellectual or cognitive condition as these individuals may lack insight into the effects of their condition on their day-to-day functioning.”

The drastic consequences of not seeking further medical evidence are clearly outlined in the report in to the death of a claimant allegedly affected by the Work Capability Assessment.

Fundamentally the Court of Appeal recognised the many instances where claimants may not disclose details of a mental health problem to the DWP or their contracted healthcare professional of their own accord.  The difficulties are summarised in the judgement as follows:

31. From that detailed evidence, the Upper Tribunal identified the following particular problems which MHPs as a group face, whilst recognising that the extent to which any particular MHP will suffer from these problems will vary.

“(i) In terms of filling out a form, seeking additional evidence and answering questions, claimants with [mental
health problems] as a class have the following problems and difficulties because of their [mental health problems],
some of which overlap:

a) insufficient appreciation of their condition to answer questions on the ESA50 correctly without help,

b) failure to self-report because of lack of insight into their condition,

c) inability to self-report because of difficulties with social interaction and expression,

d) inability to self-report because they are confused by their symptoms,

e) inability because of their condition to describe its effects properly,

f) difficulty in concentrating and in understanding the questions asked,

g) unwillingness to self-report because of shame or fear of discrimination,

h) failure to understand the need for additional evidence because of cognitive difficulties,

i) problems with self-motivation because of anxiety and depression which may prevent them approaching professionals for help and assistance,

j) false expectation that conditions will be understood without them needing additional help, and

k) lack of understanding that professionals named in the form will not automatically be contacted in the assessment process.

ii) in terms of further aspects of the process for the determination of their entitlement to ESA, claimants with
MHPs as a class have or have to face the following problems and difficulties because of their MHPs:

a) particular conditions (e.g. agoraphobia and panic attacks and autism spectrum disorder) make attending and/or travelling to a face-to-face assessment difficult,

b) finding the process itself intimidating and stressful, and, in some cases, that having a long-lasting negative effect on their condition,

c) a desire to understate conditions,

d) the masking of health problems as physical problems,

e) dealing with assessors who have little or no experience of mental health problems,

f) the difficulties of identifying many symptoms of a condition and its impact on what a person needs without proper training and knowledge,

g) the lack of time during a short assessment to identify a person’s needs,

h) fluctuation in condition, and

i) scepticism about the condition.”

32. It is important to note that these problems fall into two categories, although they overlap. Some of these difficulties go to the adverse experience which might be felt because of what, from the vantage point of some MHPs, will be perceived to be stressful, embarrassing or confusing features of the process, in particular the completion of the questionnaire and the face to face interview. Other difficulties lead to the decision maker having inadequate or even false information about the nature and extent of the illness thereby increasing the risk that a false functional assessment will be made which in turn may jeopardise the right to an ESA. I will call these “adverse experiences” and “outcome effects” respectively.

My note

Whilst the judgement places an emphasis on the DWP seeking further medical evidence in mental health cases, the reality is that in many cases the DWP fails to do so.  In the investigative report in to the death to which I have referred it appears for instance that the claimant’s doctor was not contacted and asked to complete what is called an ESA 113 report.

There is nothing to prevent a claimant when completing the ESA 50, especially when assisted by someone, to point out that they specifically want the DWP to obtain further medical evidence from their own doctor or clinicians.  A claimant could for instance write something along the following lines:

“I have severe mental health problems and find it impossible to describe them in this form.  Please ensure that you contact my doctor (or other named clinician) and ask them for full details of my mental health problems.  I believe this is necessary to make a proper decision on my claim.”

In long term claims it may also be relevant to state:

“You already hold details of my long term mental health problems and I am asking you to make sure these are made fully available to the decision – maker who is looking at my claim.  I believe these details to be very relevant to getting the full picture and vital to a correct decision being made.”

In Incapacity Benefit cases where you have been asked to undergo an assessment for Employment & Support Allowance, the following may be relevant (most claims have now now been ‘migrated’ according to the DWP).
 

When you receive the ESA 50, make an appointment to speak with your doctor either by phone or at the surgery.  This is particularly important where you have not seen your doctor for some time.  Tell your doctor you are being reassessed and ask for a review of the time since you were last seen by the doctor.  This allows you to update your doctor and tell him or her of any problems you have faced since you were last seen, it also means the doctor is better equipped to comment if the DWP contacts them.  It also makes it possible for you to bring matters to the attention of your doctor over which they may be unaware.  You could for instance talk to them about declining levels of social confidence and any fears you have about meeting people or facing certain situations.

The reason this is important is because in incapacity benefit to ESA cases, no medical certificate is required at the commencement of the ‘conversion phase’.  You only need a medical certificate if the DWP assesses you and finds you fit for work and you want to appeal.   The rules are different to new claims for ESA where medical certificates are required at the very start of your claim in the ‘assessment phase’.  In migration cases the ‘prompt’ to speak with your doctor about a certificate only arises once you have already been assessed.

Claimants who have been refused ESA in cases where mental health was relevant (even if the DWP did not know of this) and no attempt was made to obtain further medical evidence by the DWP should consider an appeal.

There will be more on this in subsequent posts.

With thanks to the brilliant nick at http://ilegal.org.uk

Please follow on twitter: @Mylegalforum

Mar 172014
 
Protestors with placards
Requesting solidarity and support for people with complex mental health needs who are fighting to save Cambridgeshire’s last Complex Cases Service in the community, Lifeworks at 128 Tenison Road, Cambridge.
A small, brave group of the disabled people have occupied Lifeworks round-the-clock since 4 March after being told the centre was being closed, and they would be discharged back to their GPs as of 25 March. There has been no consultation with them or their GPs, no Equality Impact Assessment, despite these being cuts that may well cost lives.
The occupiers and supporters held a peaceful protest in Cambridge market square on Saturday.
—-
This morning various ‘men in suits’ with clipboards tried to enter the building on ‘official’ biz. Serco security turn up fairly regularly too. It’s intimidating. Unfortunately Complex Cases Service staff haven’t been allowed to continue working there during this period, so there are no mental health support workers on site. The first meeting the occupiers have been offered with a representative of either CPFT or CCG is tomorrow ….
The stress is really beginning to show on the  occupiers, and exhaustion is setting in, so please could you help boost morale and show solidarity by
They would warmly welcome visits in person too. If it’s your first visit, it might be a good idea to let them know you’re a ‘friendly’ in advance – you can message them directly via the Facebook page. They make a mean cuppa!
– from Annie Galpin
May 222013
 

Three judges today confirmed what DPAC and other campaigners have been saying since 2010– the benefits test used to decide whether people are fit for work, actively discriminates against disabled people and those with mental health issues

 Mental health Resistance network (MHRN) have won the judicial review case against the DWP on the clear inadequacy of the Work Capability Assessments. They supported two users who took a case against the DWP for the harm these tests do to those with mental health issues. The WCA has been severely criticised since the Condems took over the reins from the New Labour WCA inception, making the tests more and more difficult and more and more humiliating for all concerned.

 Last week Dr Greg Wood resigned claiming the tests were biased, there have been a number of high profile resignations from nurses resigning and claiming that not only were the tests unfair they were degrading. This is a subject disabled people know all too well, from the millions lavished on Atos for tests and the millions for appeals.

 The  judicial review focussed on specific issues for those with mental health issues – that of gathering supporting evidence. Under the current system, individuals are responsible for gathering their own medical evidence and sending it to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). If anyone fails to do this, it simply won’t be looked at, and in many cases if you do do this your papers will be brushed aside (see DPACs survey responses on the WCA HERE).

Reporting the victory DPAC’s sister group,  Black Triangle Campaign wrote:

“The judgment that the DWP is in breach of the Equality Act is a huge victory for everyone affected by severe mental illness, but it’s sad that it took a court case to force the DWP to take action”.

DPAC wants to congratulate the two people that took the case, MHRN and all others that supported this. We hope this is another step towards outlawing these tests and stopping them for the damage they are causing all disabled people as called for by the BMA and the RCN.

We note that the big Disability charities have , as usual, chosen to take the credit for this success and we say again that this success is due to MHRN a small group that chose to do something. It is due to the two people that took the case and the solicitors involved. This case was not initiated by any of the big disability charities-despite them joining in later to save face.

 The charities sat back and did nothing, but they are fast to take the credit for something that they didn’t even contribute too. We hope that the success of the MHRN actions leads to an end to this inhuman process for all and we congratulate them for their tenacity and their actions in getting someone done- to the charities we say: we know the difference between the real heroes and those that try to bask in reflected glory-if you had made the move that MHRN had or acted more vigorously we might applaud you, as it is we are, once more unimpressed by your actions.

 see also:

https://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/esa-regulations-25-and-31-campaign-black-triangle-to-meet-with-scottish-parliament-welfare-reform-committee-chief-this-thursday/

https://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/where-are-the-mental-function-champions-at-atos-and-other-atos-type-things/

https://dpac.uk.net/2013/01/dpac-press-release-wca-descriptors-fail-dwp-fails-atos-fails/

https://dpac.uk.net/2012/10/joint-statement-on-work-capability-assessment-wca-by-dpac-and-black-triangle/

https://dpac.uk.net/2012/11/dpac-survey-responses-on-wca-what-harrington-didnt-ask/

 

 

 

 

Jun 242012
 

What follows is a personal account of the experience of one person and what it is like to be unemployed and disabled in Tory Britain. It shows the contempt that people are treated with by some so-called work program providers engaged by their Tory friends and paid for by the taxpayer.

This example shows quite clearly what we all knew: that people are not being supported under this Tory regime, rather they are being belittled humiliated and having legal rights under the Equality Act ignored. At the same time they are being driven towards new or further mental health issues resulting in suicidal tendencies for some.

The fact that this example features the A4e Company run by disgraced multimillionaire Tory darling Emma Harrison speaks volumes.  Ministers ended the A4e contract for the Welfare to Work scheme in May this year under the shadow of a range of accusations, arrests and resignations within the company.

Karen wrote to DPAC so that her story could be shared –we believe this inhuman treatment and worse is happening to many people under this Tory regime. She says:

Background

I finished University in 2002 and was sent toQueenAlexandraCollege. I signed on in 2004, before that I had long term problems with health and eyesight. I had specialist help from Action for Blind People who were instrumental in getting me a voluntary placement at aBirminghamCollege. Although it was two years before I got a paid contract there. I was supported in furthering my skills and gaining more qualifications as well as experience. In 2009 government cuts meant I was unemployed again. Action for Blind People got me some courses under the advisors discretionary fund. However, I was summoned to the jobcentre and informed I was to be put on flexible new deal with A4e in 2010. I was stopped from seeing Action for Blind People and the placement they were arranging fell through as a result.

A4E and the constant threat of sanctions

I informed A4e that I needed large print documents, but they continued to send out small print documents which were illegible to me. The first contact given for at A4e was not contactable so I went to my job centre and asked for someone else. A4e said they’d send someone out but I had already arranged a lift to their offices. When I got in the office they presented me with a form to fill in, in small print. I told them I couldn’t see it and asked them to photocopy it, but they didn’t enlarge it. I was then taken to a very public area where there were other clients and I was asked humiliating personal questions. For example: are you a drug user? What medication do you take? and so on, at no time was I informed that I didn’t need to answer these questions.

I was then called over to see a woman, let’s call her Ms Harris. The first thing she said was:

If I were you I’d go on the sick.

This would have meant that I was off their books. I told her I wanted to work, at which point she became very rude and then refused to reimburse my travel costs. I explained that I needed large print documents, Ms Harris and her manager barked at me that they didn’t need to provide me with anything! Then they amazingly proceeded to threaten me with sanctions.

Three months passed. I decided that if they couldn’t provide reasonable alterations, equipment etc.   I wasn’t going to sign it or do it. They threatened me with their sanctions again and put me through a psychometric test. Once again, no attempt was made to provide for my reasonable alterations. In the end I showed the A4e worker how she could enlarge the screen this for others that might need it, after I’d worked it out for myself-they didn’t have a clue nor care. I think I skewed the results so badly that they didn’t bother me for a while, until I received a call from Ms Harris, she informed me about a teaching job. However, when I told her that I didn’t have a teaching qualification, she got aggressive. I later learned that she had immediately got in touch with the benefits office in an attempt to impose sanctions again. To be fair they did provide training in CV writing-that was great as they told me to leave my degree off the CV! In the end they submitted the CV I had done while at Action for Blind People and claimed credit for it.

More months passed and I was transferred to Beacon Centre for the Blind. It was not taken into account how I would get there, I got lifts mostly, but trying to get travel costs reimbursed was still made as difficult as possible. At this time my mental health issues had been worsened by the treatment at A4e. I told A4e I couldn’t use buses (I had had some training before going to A4e but it was a bad experience and really didn’t work). A4e thought this was an opportunity to belittle me and humiliate me, telling me I was missing out. By the next meeting they made their contempt even clearer:

Look you’ve been sent here, you’re better off than others: stop complaining!.

If you don’t like it, don’t sign on-nobody is forcing you to claim JSA are they!

I was then sent to the Job Centre. They told me to sign for the work program, if I didn’t …then – you guessed it: I would be sanctioned.

I am now with Action for Blind People again, the people I have had a ten year relationship with, they saw the mess I was in and helped me loads. I am also now seeing a specialist mental health nurse and psychiatrists for the suicidal feelings.  I avoid signing anything and am terrified of going to the job centre now, after my experience.  In fact, I am starting to be scared of going out at all. Sometimes, I’ll pretend to be sick so I don’t have to go out of the house. For example I live with my parents and they often go to see my nephew-I just can’t face leaving the house. It’s the same when I have the chance to go to my brothers.

Complaint

I put a formal complaint in to the Independent case examiner. They believed that it was acceptable for A4e NOT to provide large print documents, despite the Equality Act. The job centre still doesn’t provide large print documents. I have to ask each time and explain again and again. I’m close to the end of my tether with it all. I finally got my travel expenses 12 months after that first meeting with A4e, after my formal complaint. They were paid on the 1st April.

 

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