Private Eye on Death of Man from Heart Attack after being Assessed ‘Fit for Work’

IDS Death Meme

This is a piece from Private Eye’s issue for the 27th November to0 10th December 2015 issue. It’s an article reporting the death of a man suffering from diabetes, Alan McArdle, after he failed to attend ‘work related activity’ sessions with Maximus. The article makes it very plain that the Eye sees it as further proof of the harm aIDS’ policies are having on disabled people, and those genuinely unfit for work.

Fitness To Work Tests
Deadly Reckoning

Yet more evidence has emerged of the often devastating impact of the government’s welfare reforms on those with disabilities after Alan McArdle died of a heart attack less than an hour after learning that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was threatening to cut his out-of-work disability benefits.

Mr McArdle is the latest claimant to have fallen foul of a push to force people off sickness benefit and into work, no matter how ill they are.

Mr McArdle, whose diabetes left him with no feeling in his arms or legs, had just come out of hospital following a fall and was too unwell to visit the offices of Work Programme contractor Maximus for sessions of compulsory “work-related activity”. Even though the charity Slough Homeless Our Concern, which had worked with Mr McArdle for 16 years, told Maximus he was not well enough to travel to its offices, the company recommended to the DWP that he be sanctioned with the loss of benefits. Slough MP Fiona Mactaggart said it was “shocking” that the only way Mr McArdle could prove he was not well enough to take part in the Work Programme was by dying.

Details of his death emerged as new research from Liverpool and Oxford universities concluded that the government’s controversial “fit to work” tests for disabled claimants, which Mr McArdle faced, were associated with an extra 590 suicides in just three years and 279,000 cases of mental ill health. Eye readers will be aware that the tests, until recently run by Atos, have attracted widespread criticism for delay; for being too prescriptive, leading to devastating errors; and for leaving claimants stressed and penniless.

Ministers continue to claim that any link to suicide or death is “misleading”- even though they received a formal warning in 2010 in a “Rule 43” letter from a coroner after a suicide “triggered” by a wrong dining of “fit for work”. The coroner urged improvement in the collection of medical evidence before finding someone fit for work, in order to prevent further unnecessary deaths.

It is now being asked why work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith and former employment minister Chris Grayling failed to respond substantively to the coroner back in 2010 – as they are legally obliged to. Nor did they pass on the coroner’s concerns to Professor Malcolm Harrington, the independent expert commissioned to review the tests in the wake of widespread concern.

Let’s make this very plain, and itemise some of the salient general points about the policy as a whole.

* Private Eye concurs that there is a real and overwhelming link between aIDS’ policies and the deaths of disabled people. The Eye is, presumably, sure of the legal basis of its claim. It is a magazine, after all, that has had a very long history fighting libel battles, and I doubt Ian Hislop, the editor, fancies another appearance in court.

* It also mentions studies by Oxford and Liverpool Universities. This sounds like the book, First Do No Harm, mentioned in Mike’s article.

* The Eye cites the figures of 590 suicides and 279,000 cases of ‘mental ill-health’. Vox Political has put up some of these suicides. So has Stilloaks, who put on a website the increasing number of this foul policies helpless victims. Tom Pride over at Pride’s Purge has also covered it, along with many, many others. And Mike has also reported the various reports and warning about the policy from mental health practitioners – the doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists, who have to treat severely vulnerable people, who have been made seriously depressed or turned into genuine nervous wrecks from …Smith’s callous, inept and cruel policy.

* A coroner has come to the same conclusion as the Eye, and informed aIDS and his vile colleagues under a legal instrument.

* Furthermore, aIDS has broken the law by not responding to the coroner’s “Rule 43” letter, and he and Chris Grayling also did not pass it on to an independent researcher, Professor Malcolm Harrington.

This is truly a perverse and lawless administration that has absolute contempt for both the disabled and the laws and legal and academic authorities, who try to protect them. Mike has issued a challenge to aIDS stating that he has made outrageous claims about the Gentleman Ranker, and that the Spurious Major should prove him wrong.

IDS can’t and probably won’t. … Smith is the stereotypical bully: once confronted, he runs away and starts squealing. He has hidden from protestors behind armed guards in parliament, run away from them out the back way of a Job Centre, and hidden in laundry baskets in hotels. These are acts of such magnificent cowardice that you could probably turn them into a brilliant comedy film. He’s just as craven when it comes to producing evidence. When it’s demanded, his tactic has been to find some spurious reason to turn it down, or stonewall the request, and appeal at the very last minute. And then finally to misinterpret the terms of the request quite deliberately so that he can send the wrong information.

Now he’s squealing that people have been making ‘outrageous claims’ about him. This is wrong. They’ve been making entirely reasonable statements, based on solid factual evidence, about aIDS’ policies and their effects. The only thing that’s outrageous are precisely those: that nearly 600 men and women have killed themselves due to his wretched policies, and over a quarter of million have been driven into depression, anxiety and madness.

And this coward, bully, braggart and fantasist has the audacity to declare that he’s being maligned. Well, Mike’s right. The facts speak for themselves. Let this monumental sham and incompetent prove otherwise.

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2 Responses to “Private Eye on Death of Man from Heart Attack after being Assessed ‘Fit for Work’”

  1. Florence Says:

    The MoJ apparently also has a legal imperative to ensure the DWP perform their legal duty. Of course, having put the non-legally qualified Grayling and Gove in the MoJ they seem to have also not understood that the law must be obeyed. So they are refusing to even acknowledge their responsibility in this matter. Either that, or they really have given up any pretense of lawful governance.

  2. Michelle Thomasson Says:

    Kitty Sue Jones also writes really well on this heart-breaking and shocking state of affairs e.g. https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2016/02/11/iain-duncan-smith-is-bleating-about-criticism-of-his-draconian-policies-on-social-media-and-in-the-mainstream-media/

    It is also really hard to take in that there are people willing to go along with these cruel policies as their day job in the likes of Atos, Maximus et al (and this link includes a quote from Priti): https://kittysjones.wordpress.com/2016/02/11/benefits-assessor-how-long-are-you-likely-to-have-parkinsons/

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