Posts Tagged ‘Cancer’

Counterpunch: Bernie Sanders Outlines His Plans for ‘Medicare for All’

September 14, 2017

Today’s Counterpunch has a piece by the radical, progressive Democratic politician, Bernie Sanders, reblogged from the New York Times. In it, Sanders discusses the outrageous scandal that 28 million Americans have no medical coverage, despite the fact that their country spends more on healthcare than almost any other nation. He points out that this is because the insurance-based healthcare system is designed not to give Americans access to decent healthcare, but to enrich the companies’ executives and shareholders. He describes how many Americans cannot afford healthcare, and are forced to cut down on the drugs they need, simply because they cannot pay for them. He argues that the experience of Canada, and the Medicare programme brought fifty years ago, both show that single-payer healthcare is cheap, popular and effective.

He states that he intends to introduce a bill for Medicare for All into Congress next Wednesday, and outlines how he envisages an initial four year transition period from the current American system. He also makes it plain that there will be concerted opposition to his proposal.

His piece begins

This is a pivotal moment in American history. Do we, as a nation, join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee comprehensive health care to every person as a human right? Or do we maintain a system that is enormously expensive, wasteful and bureaucratic, and is designed to maximize profits for big insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry, Wall Street and medical equipment suppliers?

We remain the only major country on earth that allows chief executives and stockholders in the health care industry to get incredibly rich, while tens of millions of people suffer because they can’t get the health care they need. This is not what the United States should be about.

All over this country, I have heard from Americans who have shared heartbreaking stories about our dysfunctional system. Doctors have told me about patients who died because they put off their medical visits until it was too late. These were people who had no insurance or could not afford out-of-pocket costs imposed by their insurance plans.

I have heard from older people who have been forced to split their pills in half because they couldn’t pay the outrageously high price of prescription drugs. Oncologists have told me about cancer patients who have been unable to acquire lifesaving treatments because they could not afford them. This should not be happening in the world’s wealthiest country.

Americans should not hesitate about going to the doctor because they do not have enough money. They should not worry that a hospital stay will bankrupt them or leave them deeply in debt. They should be able to go to the doctor they want, not just one in a particular network. They should not have to spend huge amounts of time filling out complicated forms and arguing with insurance companies as to whether or not they have the coverage they expected.

Even though 28 million Americans remain uninsured and even more are underinsured, we spend far more per capita on health care than any other industrialized nation. In 2015, the United States spent almost $10,000 per person for health care; the Canadians, Germans, French and British spent less than half of that, while guaranteeing health care to everyone. Further, these countries have higher life expectancy rates and lower infant mortality rates than we do.

Please go to the Counterpunch site and read the whole article. It’s at:
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/09/14/why-we-need-medicare-for-all/

The state and state-funded healthcare systems of the European countries have contributed immensely to their people’s health and wellbeing, ever since Bismarck introduced it in Germany in 1875 in an attempt to steal working class votes away from the socialist SDP.

And it’s driving the Reaganites and Thatcherites of the corporate sector up the wall, because it denies them so much of the juicy profits that comes from the insurance-driven sector. That’s why the Tories over here have been privatizing the NHS piecemeal by stealth ever since the days of Maggie Thatcher. It’s why the corporate bosses of the big healthcare firms, like the fraudster Unum, came over here at the beginning of New Labour’s tenure in office to lobby Blair to privatize the NHS.

And it’s part of the reason the Blairites, Tories and Lib Dems, and their paymasters in big business and lackeys in the media, including the Beeb, fear and hate Jeremy Corbyn, as the Republicans and the corporatist Democrats around Hillary Clinton despise Bernie Sanders in the US.

Any civilized country has to demand proper medicine for its people, regardless of the demands of the corporatists to keep it the expensive privilege of the affluent. So, go Bernie! And may Corbyn also win in his fight to renationalize the NHS.

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Trump Passes Law Allowing Gene Testing by Bosses

March 14, 2017

This is another, very chilling step towards genuine Fascism by Trump, who’s surrounded himself with Fascists and White Supremacists. In this piece from the David Pakman Show, the host and his producer, Louis, reveal how Trump introduced legislation that would permit employers to demand their employees take genetic tests and hand over information about the DNA. This was slipped past Congress when the public had their attention on the colossal mess that is Trumpcare. This overturns previous legislation which prevented employers from demanding such information, not least under US privacy laws. The legislation permits US employers to do this if they are running ‘wellness’ programmes. Pakman states that this is all about employers having the ability to charge people more for their healthcare, if they find out they have certain genetic conditions.

This is exactly what the authors Ruth Hubbard and Elijah Wald wished to expose and counter in their book, Exploding the Gene Myth (Boston: Beacon Press 1997).

The book is subtitled ‘How Genetic Information Is Produced and Manipulated by Scientists, Physicians, Employers, Insurance Companies, Educators and Law Enforcers’. It’s about the way the above have tried to link illness and criminality to heredity since the 19th century, and how this has led to eugenics legislation in which the ‘genetically unfit’ were sterilised and institutionalised in order to prevent them breeding. Or else it was used as pretext to prevent the passage of welfare legislation. The argument here was that it would be a waste of resources supporting those, who were unable to work as their illness was down to their own faulty biological heredity, not the terrible working conditions and industrial hazards of the time.

Eugenics was a favourite topic amongst the European and American chattering classes from the late 19th century until it was discredited by the horrors of the Nazi regime during World War II. But Hubbard and Wald warned that it was coming back with the drive to find a genetic basis for illnesses like schizophrenia and other traits. The book has the following chapters

1. Of Genes and People
The Role of Genetics in Our Lives
Genes for Deafness, Genes for Being Raped
A Word about Scientists
Heredity and Environment
What Are Genes?

2. Genetic Labelling and Old Eugenics
The Birth of Eugenics
Genetic Labelling
Involuntary Sterilisation
Eugenic Immigration Policies.

3. The New Eugenics: Testing, Screening and Choice
Overt and Subtle Eugenics
Parenting, Disabilities and Selective Abortion
Genetic Screening
Fallacies of Genetic Prediction.

4. A Brief Look at Genetics
Heredity and Genes
The Beginning: Gregor Mendel, “Traits” and “Factors”
From Mendel to the Double Helix
Genes and Proteins
How Chromosomes and Genes Are Duplicated
X and Y: The Sex Chromosome
From DNA to RNA to Proteins
How Genes Function
Sequencing the Human Genome
RFLPs: Linking DNA with Traits

5. Genes in Context
Definitions of Health and Disease
Individualisation of Health and Illness
Genes as Blueprints
Geneticisation
Diagnostic Labeling

6. “Inherited Tendencies”: Chronic Conditions
Some Underlying Assumptions
Conditions that Run in Families
Diabetes
High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, and Strokes
Cancer
Oncogenes and Anti-Oncogenes
Cancer Prevention and Cancer Screening
Breast Cancer
Cancer Prevention versus Cancer Therapy

7. “Inherited Tendencies”: Behaviours
Which Behaviours?
Homosexuality
Alcoholism
Problems of Linking Genes to Behaviour
Pitfalls of Behavioural Research: The XYY Fallacy

8. Manipulating Our Genes
Conventional Treatments for Inherited Conditions
Modifying DNA: Somatic Cell Manipulations
“Germ-Line Gene Therapy”: Changing Future Generations

9. Genes for Sale
Funds for Research, Profits for Biotechnology
Commercialisation and Conflicts of Interest
Owning the Genome
What to Do?

10. Genetic Discrimination:
Education, Employment and Insurance

Genetic Testing and the Schools
Genetic Discrimination in the Workplace
Measures in Counter Employment-Related Discrimination
Genetic Discrimination in Insurance

11. DNA-Based Identification Systems, Privacy, and Civil Liberties
DNA and the Criminal Justice System
Scientific Problems with DNA Profiles
Genetic Privacy and Civil Liberties
Employment- and Health-Related Issues
Controlling Genetic Information.

There is also a preface, in which they give their reasons and aims for writing the book, a conclusion and afterword, as well as an appendix on mitochondrial DNA, notes, glossary and a bibliography and list of other resources.

There were a series of scandals regarding the enforced genetic testing of employees in the ’80s and ’90s, one of which was compulsory genetic testing of a set of recruits in the US army. They also make it very clear that the insurance companies wanted to introduce it as a way of charging those with ‘faulty’ genes higher premiums.

And from that, it’s a very short step to eugenics and then the mass slaughter of the congenitally disabled under the Third Reich’s Aktion T4.

The forcible genetic testing of US recruits is mentioned in one of the books that came out on the X-Files, as an example of how the paranoid fantasies of the show nevertheless had a factual basis in this instance. To be fair to the Christian Right in the America, they are very hostile to sterilisation and eugenics. However, it’ll be interesting to see if they oppose this noxious piece of legislation. In much of the rhetoric of the religious right, such legislation is linked to oppressive, totalitarian states, like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. It’ll be interesting to see if they oppose it when it’s introduced by an ostensibly democratic government (yeah, I know, it ain’t really), dominated by big business and which is bitterly hostile to any kind of Socialism.

I don’t think you’ll see a word against it. As Pakman explains, when it came to voting, all the Republicans voted for it, all the Democrats against. And I doubt the right-wing Conspiracy fringe will oppose it either. Alex Jones on Infowars has been pumping out pro-Trump propaganda since the Orange Nazi’s election campaign. He wants Americans to believe that Trump is somehow ‘anti-globalist’, despite the fact that he’s stuffed his cabinet full of globalists and monopoly capitalists.

This is truly terrifying, as it does bring us once step closer to the genetic dystopia of the film Gattaca.

And it’s yet more proof of the Nazism at the core of Trump’s administration.

Chunky Mark on Owen Smith as the Official Labour Challenger to Corbyn

July 20, 2016

More Chunky Mark, the Artist Taxi Driver, I’m afraid. I’m reblogging him because he does have genuinely pertinent and incisive observations about the current leadership challenge against Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour party.

He begins this rant by talking about how the media just repeats its lies and smears against Corbyn, until people automatically believe they’re the truth. He doesn’t mention it, but this is exactly the tactic advocated by Goebbels and Hitler for spreading Nazi propaganda. You start with a big lie, keep the message simple, and carry on banging away at it until enough people believe it. And they will.

He then moves on to discussing how Angela Eagle has lost her bid for leadership to Clive Owen, who boasted that he was normal man, married, with three kids. Chunky Mark sees this as a further rejection of socialist values in the Labour party, in that a female candidate once again lost to a man. He notes that Condoleeza Rice, the woman of colour in George Dubya’s cabinet of neocon monstrosities, observed that Corbyn’s opponents are all men, but they use the testimony of women as their weapons against Corbyn. ‘So this is it,’ asks the Chunky One rhetorically, ‘women are just cannon fodder for the men in this contest?’ At the heart of his outrage here appears to be the allegation that Smith was deliberately playing on anti-gay prejudice when he stressed his family background, as Eagle has said she’s a lesbian. I don’t know how far that was the case. Eagle had on 6 per cent of the vote before she started out, so I think it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that she’d lose. But this doesn’t mean she wasn’t used along the way.

As for Owen Smith himself, he’s another shabby PR spin doctor, like David Cameron. And he’s not untouched by scandals. Among the firms he worked for was a big pharmaceutical company that was fined $762 million for promoting their anti-cancer drug in such a way that it would cause people to die. And before then, Smith worked for Pfizer, another profiteering big pharma company. Smith quotes Stephen Kinnock, the son of Neil Kinnock, himself now an MP, who has said that if Corbyn wins, it’s all over for Labour. Chunky Mark observers caustically that this is what the Labour values now come down to, being a PR merchant for a corrupt pharma company that miss-sells drugs and kills people.

Chunky Mark notes that the real plotters are the 172 Labour MPs. The Labour party, thanks to Corbyn, is the biggest political movement in Europe, but the Labour MPs can’t stand it because it doesn’t represent their ideas for the world. He states that he was there at the election with John Snow, when one after another the Labour MPs walked out in a huff after he won. Corbyn represents the dreams of people, who believe another world of possible. And the Chunky One goes on to state that this is all about your dreams, who represents you in parliament, not big business.

Anti-NHS Privatisation Rally at 1.00 PM Today, Stoke on Trent

May 4, 2015

I’m sorry this is somewhat late, but it’s only just come through my inbox.

Gail Gregory, one of the campaigners against the privatisation of the NHS, and particular local hospitals in Staffordshire, has been part of a team organising events this Bank Holiday weekend. She has sent out another release letting everyone know that there is another rally today at 1.00 in Stoke On Trent. She writes

Dear friends,

I know you may not be able to join us, but I though you would like to know just how amazing the March we have helped organise is going. We set off from Burton on Saturday morning – and before we reached the finish line we had Harry Leslie Smith confirm he would like to speak in Stoke on Monday (today) and welcome us across the finish! What a day. We will put footage up online for you – but in the mean time here are the details of the final day and the speakers we have!

Cancer Not for Profit Announce STAR speaker for May Day Rally!

Star speaker line up revealed for finish line rally of the 3 day, 30 mile, M’aide May Day March For Our NHS in Hanley Park, Stoke on Monday 4 May at 1pm:

Harry Leslie Smith – author of ‘Harry’s Last Stand’ and 91 year old survivor of the Great Depression, a second world war RAF veteran and an activist for the NHS, the poor and for the preservation of social democracy.

Lord Philip Hunt – Labour Spokesperson for Health in the Lords

Sarah Perry – Cancer Patient and 38 Degrees Campaigner

Professor Ray Tallis – Co Author of NHS SOS

Tristram Hunt – Labour Stoke Central PPC and Shadow Minister for Education

Christine Venables – Save Our NHS Campaigner – South Derbyshire

Paul Walker – East Staffs TUC Chair and cancer patient

Representatives from the CCGs have been asked to attend but are unfortunately unavailable on this occasion.

Health Campaigners Cancer Not For Profit and East Staffordshire TUC are calling on the public to join them at the FREE event on, Monday 4 May at 1pm, to hear stirring speeches from famous NHS campaigners and why we need to fight the privatisation of our NHS in Staffordshire.

The M’aide, May Day March for our NHS began on Saturday in Burton on Trent with a 10am rally where 50 concerned health campaigners, members of the public and patients set off for Uttoxeter in a bid to highlight the privatisation of the NHS in Staffordshire. On Sunday 3rd May the NHS crusaders were joined by more supporters as they left Uttoxeter for Blythe Bridge to complete stage two of the march. On Monday 4th May the final stage of the march between Blythe Bridge and Stoke on Trent will culminate with a mass rally with expert contributions from prominent NHS campaigners as walkers arrive in Hanley Park at 1pm.

The biggest potential NHS privatisation in history still looms large for Staffordshire, with the £1.2 billion contract for of Cancer and End of Life care for 800,000 residents, yet to be decided. The bidders in the running include five private companies and only two NHS Trusts however since the 2012 Health and Social Care Act 70% of all contracts have been awarded to the private sector.

Virgin Care have recently won a controversial contract in East Staffs to provide Elderly Person Care worth around £280 million for 6000 frail elderly and 38,000 patients with chronic diseases in East Staffordshire as awarded by East Staffs CCG. Campaigners have condemned the contract fearing care will suffer as private companies seek to make profit out of an already cash strapped NHS.

38 Degrees are supporting local efforts to stop NHS privatisation with more than 60,000 people signing the petition to stop the sell off of Cancer and End of Life Care in Staffordshire in the past month. This adds to previous efforts which have secured more than 15,000 signatures from Staffordshire residents who presented concerns to the County Council in October but failed to secure enough support from the chamber to stop NHS privatisation, instead residents’ concerns were referred to the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

Monday 4th May

Blythe Bridge Rally point 10am Blythe Bridge Library ST11 9JR

to Hanley Park, Stoke On Trent for the final rally at around 1pm by the Bandstand

For full route and timings please see the website: bit.ly/NHSMayDayMarch

Enjoy your bank holiday if you do not join us – once again thank you for making this campaign happen!

Best Wishes,

Gail

This is very far from my home in Bristol, but I wish her, the event and the speakers every success.

One of the speakers, Ray Tallis, is a former neurologist and Humanist, who has written and spoken extensively on the mystery of human consciousness and cognition, as well as art and philosophy. I heard him speak last year at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, and he is well-worth hearing.

38 Degrees Video against the Privatisation of the NHS

April 26, 2015

n4s_nhs1

The political petitioning group, 38 Degrees, are running a campaign to prioritise the NHS as one of the very most important issues in the coming election. They posted this video to their members about the NHS and the magnificent work it does, asking them to watch and then share on the social media.

I’m not on Facebook, Twitter or any of the others. I only have this blog, and so I’m posting it here. The video’s extremely brief – just under two minutes. It does, however, contain snippets of interview from people, who have been treated by the Health Service for cancer, liver failure and infertility.

It states that these are all threatened by privatisation, and asks people to use their vote to defend the Health Service. Here it is:

https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/content/nhs-video

The message doesn’t name or mention specific parties, but it’s clear enough.
The biggest threat to the NHS comes from the Tories and their Lib Dem enablers.

As this, and so many other left-wing blogs, like Johnny Void, Vox Political, Pride’s Purge, and Another Angry Void have pointed out, over and over again, the Tories are privatising the health service piecemeal. There are 92 Tory and Lib Dem MPs who either own, or have senior management positions with private healthcare firms seeking to profit from the NHS’ privatisation. The Tories’ Health Secretaries, Jeremy Hunt and Andrew Lansley, have stated that they want the NHS privatised. One of the two even spoke about it at an event sponsored by one of the private healthcare firms at a Tory party conference.

As for the Lib Dems, it is not remotely surprising that they also want to privatise the NHS. It’s in the Orange Book, the Lib Dem ideological guide advocating neo-Liberalism now guiding their policies under Nick Clegg.

Ed Miliband, by contrast, has said that he will protect the NHS from privatisation, and will undo the Tories’ disastrous legislation privatising the NHS.

If you genuinely don’t want to see the NHS privatised, and the sick and disabled suffer and die as they do in America, when they can’t afford medical insurance, then don’t vote Tory or Lib Dem.

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NHS Doctor Wants to Debate Farage over ‘Bollocks’ Cancer Story

March 24, 2015

According to this story in the Indie, Nigel Farage told: Blaming the NHS for losing your testicle is bollocks, Dr John Lamport, who is standing for the NHS Action Party in Nottingham East, has rebutted Nigel Farage’s comments about having lost a testicle to cancer due to NHS incompetence in an article on the Open Democracy site.

The doctor states that he also lost a testicle to cancer, but there the similarity between him and the Fuhrage ends. The article quotes the doctors as saying

“Nigel Farage likes a good debate I’m told, so here’s my offer. Head-to-head, one-ball to one-ball, let’s really hammer out what Nigel is selling the British public and why it’s bollocks.

“Nigel has twice told the story of his cancer in print, four years apart and significantly different in detail. I can’t pronounce on his case but I do know his amateur self-diagnosis – “All they had had to do that first night in A&E was to have me referred for a scan” – is bollocks.”

The article’s at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/generalelection/nigel-farage-told-blaming-the-nhs-for-losing-your-testicle-is-bollocks-10128365.html

Dr Lamport was so moved by Farage’s comments about the NHS that he wrote a letter to the Telegraph taking the Purple Duce to task. As for the NHS Action party, that was formed over a decade ago to fight the closure of local NHS hospitals in the midlands under Blair.

Dr Lamport in his letter stated that the NHS needed to be well-funded, nationalised, and free at the point of delivery.

Everything, in fact, that Farage’s party would like to get rid of, and which the Tories and their Lib Dem enablers are doing their best to destroy through creeping privatisation.

Farage: Don’t Ring-Fence NHS Funding

March 23, 2015

UKIP’s purple Duce continues to present two faces on the NHS. The Independent today also has this article, Nigel Farage: ring-fencing the NHS is ‘nonsense’ reporting his remarks about the NHS in an interview he gave to Prospect magazine. In the interview, Farage said that he would make further cuts to the NHS’ budget, despite the fact that there is already a £2bn black hole in its finances. He also claimed that it was misleading for Labour and the Tories to claim they would ring-fence its funding, and said that the mainstream parties were too afraid to make negative comments about the Health Service.

The article quotes Fuhrage as saying of NHS funding “Even ring-fencing it is a waste of time—it’s moonshine to think we can.”

“We’ve reached a ridiculous point in the debate over health in Britain. Every time I’m on Question Time all the other politicians say is how wonderful the doctors and nurses are. Then everyone claps. Just because I’m not scared to criticise the NHS doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s important.”

The article mentions that in his memoirs, published last week, he blamed the NHS for misdiagnosing the testicular cancer that nearly killed him, and urged those who could to take out private health insurance.

In the Prospect interview, he praises the NHS for saving his life after he was hit by a car in 1985, and again when his light aircraft crashed five years ago when he was campaigning in the elections.

Despite this, the Independent points out that his comments about ending the ring-fence around NHS funding mean that he has turned his back on his promise to increase funding by £3bn.

The Indie’s article is at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/generalelection/nigel-farage-ringfencing-the-nhs-budget-is-nonsense-10123958.html.

Farage’s comments on the NHS are confused, and deliberately so. He has said repeatedly that he wishes to see it privatised and replaced with an insurance-based system, as in the US. So has his deputy leader, Oberleutnantsturmgangfuehrer Paul Nuttall, last seen this weekend ranting about ‘cultural Marxism’. Farage is also acutely aware that if he makes his intentions public, he will wipe out immediately any electoral gains he thinks he can make. So are his followers. The other Kippers even told him to shut up about it.

Hence he deliberate shows two faces – appearing both to support the NHS, while wanting everyone to denounce it and get private health insurance if they can.

Don’t be deceived. And as for his comments about breaking the taboo about saying only good things about the NHS, this is the line taken by the Repugs over the other side of the Atlantic. One Repug site was fuming about the inclusion of the NHS in the celebration of British history in the opening pageant at the London Olympics. This particular Republican site also loudly denounced the minimal state health provision in America, like Medicare and Medicaid, in which the state pays the medical bills of those too old or poor to have health insurance.

It is these people with whom Fuhrage was mixing when he turned up at CPAC the other week.

As for Prospect, the parapolitical magazine, Lobster, has pointed out that, despite its mildly left-wing appearance, it has more than a little similarity to the Encounter. This was another cultural magazine, that was revealed to be funded by the CIA as part of its cultural campaign against Russia and Communism.

Vox Political: Parents Forced to Starve as DWP Stops Child Cancer Victim’s Benefits

January 30, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political has a particularly harrowing tale of the sheer callousness and vindictiveness of IDS from the Cambridge News. The DWP have stopped the disability payments made for a seven year old boy, Tommi Miller battling cancer, as he is getting better. His parents, Ruth and Kevin, are facing eviction because of the lack of money coming in, and have been forced to cut back on food and heating. This is despite the fact that the poor lad is still receiving radiation treatment and having weekly reviews. He has also relapsed.

Mike’s story is Boy battling cancer has benefits stopped. It’s at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/01/30/boy-battling-cancer-has-benefits-stopped/.

There really is no depths to which the Tories and the DWP will not stoop.

What makes this particularly sickening is that IDS’ own wife was in the news a week or so ago. She had also suffered from cancer and fortunately made a good recovery. I don’t begrudge her returning to health, and indeed congratulate her on it. I despise her husband, however, for denying others the treatment and care his wife received during her illness. Mike reported about a week ago on his blog that the Tories had cancelled several cancer operations over the Christmas period. The suffering of this little lad and his family are another, direct result of RTU ‘Tosser’ Smith’s policies. They need to be ejected from power as soon and as swiftly as possible.

Vox Political: Terminally Ill Woman Placed on Workfare

December 16, 2014

Mike over at Vox Political has another example of the Tories’ and their workfare contractors’ absolutely vile attitude to the extremely ill. It’s a message he received from a woman dying of cancer. The lady is extremely ill, but nevertheless is glad to be alive. Despite numerous disabilities that in any sane society would be recognised as making her genuinely unfit for work, she received a letter from the workfare provider, Prospects, telling her that she must attend a work placement. Mike’s article has a photo of the letter.

The article’s entitled Dying woman ordered onto the Work Programme, and can be read at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2014/12/16/dying-woman-ordered-onto-the-work-programme/.

This is just one of a continuing number of cases where seriously ill people have been told that their benefits are being stopped, as they have been judged ‘fit to work’. This farcically has even included messages sent to those, who died of their various diseases after being so assessed by ATOS. Which shows you that ATOS are a bunch of quacks, who if they weren’t hired by the government would be one step away from multiple malpractice suits. It also shows you that the assessment process itself is also a load of pseudo-medical bunkum every bit as fraudulent and pernicious as some of the medical frauds the BBC filmed peddling dubious ‘New Age’ healing techniques a few years ago.

Mike, Jayne Linney, Stilloaks and many other Left-wing bloggers have covered similar cases, which have also attracted the cynical attention and scathing comments of Pride’s Purge and Johnny Void. Private Eye in their pages published similar stories of people with terminal cancer being declared ‘fit for work’, including one man with a brain tumour on life support.

As for Prospects, if I remember correctly, they have a policy of treating their staff absolutely appallingly with no respect whatsoever for their own illness. A friend of mine told me of someone he knew, who took up a job with them. This person continued to work for the company during the time they had a stinking cold, for which most other firms would have allowed them time off to get over it. And, of course, not infect the rest of the staff.

Not so Prospect. They don’t like their workers going ill. You can take days off sick if you work for them, but the next day when you come back, you’re called in for an interview and asked how see your future with the company.

Which looks very much like the threat of the sack.

So the company is basically run by a bunch of bullies, who bully their staff into bullying the unemployed and terminally ill in an expanding pyramid of contempt and harassment. Which more or less typifies this government’s entire attitude to the poor and the working class.

Vote them out in 2015. All of them.

From 2011: Private Eye on Atos Throwing the Severely Disabled Off Benefits

April 11, 2014

This is from Private Eye’s edition for the 9th – 22nd December 2011.

ATOS

Unfit For Purpose

The government’s proposal to stop GPs writing sick notes for long-term illness and hand the work to “independent assessors” has private companies rubbing their hands. Bit it has alarmed those who far that patients will have to endure the same type of tick-box assessments as those needing benefits, as carried out by Atos.

The huge French service company has been slated by MPs and charities over its health and capability assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions, leading to wrong decisions in up to 40 percent of cases and causing “fear, anxiety and distress” to many disabled people.

Now an Atos insider tells the Eye that, under pressure from government to produce figures showing the number of claimants coming off benefits, coupled with competition to run the multi-million-pound contract, the situation may get worse. In the past 12 months a number of experienced doctors have left the company because they no longer want to part of a “target-driven” system that they say is unfair to the claimants and compromises their professionalism. One said it was “immoral”.

They have not apparently been replaced, and most medical assessments are now carried out by n8urses, who are less expensive – but would have fewer skills in musculo-skeletal disorders or mental illness, two of the main causes of disability.

For those who have been assessed by Atos, the result can be devastating. Secretary Debbie, 44, has been unable to work since a brain haemorrhage 14 years ago left her needing regular nerve-blocking injections into the head and intravenous drug treatment. She suffers from excruciating headaches and is partially sighted.

Her consultant detailed in a letter how her “excruciating” chronic cluster headaches and migraine were rated by the World Health Organisation as “one of the most disabling chronic disorders”. In August she saw an Atos assessor – a doctor, not a nurse – who appeared sympathetic. However, Debbie and her partner say the assessor then made false statements about the examination, saying an eye had been carried out when it hadn’t and bizarrely alleging that she self-harms, which she says she has never done.

The DWP then told Debbie her incapacity benefit would be replaced by employment support allowance (ESA) and that she must attend work-related activity group meetings (WRAG) seven miles from her home. If she fails to attend she will lose her benefits. She told the Eye: “my consultant, my GP, everyone says there’s no way I can work. I can’t see very well, I bang into things, I can’t even make a cup of tea without spilling boiling water. I can’t travel unattended … Yet according to Atos I’m able to work.” Having lost her appeal against having to attend the activity group, Debbie is to file a formal complaint about the Atos doctor to the General Medical Council.

Similarly, in April 2009, Mike, a 52-year-old academic, was found to have a brain tumour the size of a squash ball after he collapsed and had a massive seizure. Six weeks of radiotherapy reduced its size, and Mike has remained stable – although he relies on strong anti-convulsants to keep epilepsy, seizures and focal fits at bay – and is exhausted after short periods of mental or physical activity. Two months after the diagnosis he was ordered to attend an Atos assessment and was found to be capable of work.

Mike has found that the DWP had hidden information showing that people with terminal illness, like him, should not have had to undergo such an assessment, and that any assessment that does take place should be by an expert. But it took him two years of appeals to obtain his entitlements. His battle for compensation continues.

This confirms the other reports that Atos are instructed to find a certain percentage as fit for work, in order for them to be thrown off benefits. I’d also come across elsewhere the information that some of the doctors initially involved in the assessments had left because of its immorality and unprofessionalism. And from my own experience and those of some of the commenters here, and the reports of other bloggers like Jayne Linney I know that Atos lies and falsifies its medical reports to get the results it desires.

There is some useful information here for those seeking to challenge Atos. The article’s statement that terminally ill people should not have to undergo assessment may be of some help to some of the others challenging their assessments. Atos has a long history of declaring medically capable of finding work people so tragically afflicted. Jayne Linney has suggested that as many as 55,000 people a year may have died after being assessed by Atos. If only a small proportion of these were diagnosed as terminally ill by their doctors, then it means that Atos has been massively in breach of regulations. Which is probably why bloggers such as Mike over at Vox Political have been refused this information, and denounced as ‘vexatious’ by the DWP for daring to do so.