Posts Tagged ‘Coroner’

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

February 11, 2016

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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Vox Political: Doncaster Coroner Says Bedroom Tax Suicide ‘Staged’

January 23, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has posted this piece attacking the verdict of Assistant Doncaster Coroner Mark Beresford on the death of Frances MacCormack, http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/22/does-this-coroners-verdict-on-another-bedroom-tax-related-death-seem-sick-to-you/. Mrs MacCormack was found hanging in the room her son committed suicide after receiving a letter threatening her with eviction over the Bedroom Tax. Beresford, the Assistant Coroner, concluded at the inquest that it had been ‘staged’, but had gone wrong, thus causing this poor woman’s death.

This seems utter nonsense.

Rather than making up a story, why not look at the evidence?

This is a woman who had been pestered to pay the Bedroom Tax for two years, by the time of her death.

She had clearly reached a point of desperation – as the note in the bedroom suggests. Anyone appealing to David Cameron for mercy is clearly in dire straits indeed.

But the note was not delivered. Instead, Frances McCormack was found hanged in the same spot as her son. Perhaps this was the most secure point in the house from which a person dedicated to such a deed might commit it? Or, more simply, perhaps she chose that spot because she knew she would be successful?

The eviction notice arrived the same day her body was discovered.

This was no “staged arrangement” gone wrong.

It was the final act of a woman who had realised that nothing she could say or do could possibly stop the council from removing her from her home – because its hands had been tied by the Conservative Government.

Mike states that this is bring coroners’ into further disrepute after similar questionable verdicts elsewhere, and asks why they are making them in the first place.

A generous assessment might be to save the victim’s reputation. Suicide is seen very much as the ‘coward’s way out’, instead of what it is – the horrific last act of those in the extremity of despair. And because of the shame about it, many coroners have been unwilling to pass a verdict of suicide, preferring to save the deceased’s reputation by instead deciding that it was all due to accidental death.

Now some people do make an attempt on their lives as a desperate ‘cry for help’, rather than genuinely intending to take their own lives. Even so, the person so staging such an act must truly be desperate to even consider such a thing in the face of what can obviously go wrong.

Or perhaps, just perhaps, that the sheer number of these cases have become such that the government is find them acutely embarrassing, and so taken what they consider to be the appropriate steps. Mike reported two more or so such suicides last week, for example. Of course, by ‘appropriate steps’, the government does not mean something common sense and humane, like actually getting rid of the Bedroom Tax. No! This is an administration of PR spin merchants, fraudsters and corporate liars. Their response to anything embarrassing is to try to close down the source of information and start lying and attacking the whistleblower. It really, really wouldn’t surprise me if there was some memo passed down from the Home Office stating that in these cases, they should avoid a suicide ruling in order not to distress the people who really count: Ian Duncan Smith and his wretched cronies.

From 2012: Private Eye on Atos and Serco as their Successors

April 9, 2014

Private Eye in their issue for the 4th – 17th May 2012 ran this article reporting further examples of Atos’ cruelty towards claimants, and expressing fears that Serco were about to step into their shoes.

Health Assessments

Occupational Hazard

Disability campaigners are alarmed to hear that security giant Serco may also be moving into the health and disability assessment market, currently dominated by Atos, the French outsourcing giant.

Serco is aiming to link up with occupational therapists to “explore” how they might do assessments usually carried out by doctors or nurses; and recently hosted a seminar at the College of Occupational Therapists. The worry is that Serco could prove even more adept than Atos at doing the government’s dirty work by slashing benefits for some of the most vulnerable people.

Although some occupational therapists hesitate to join forces with Serco, the college itself sees the move as a chance to bolster the industry. Its primary objective in dealing with commercial organisations was “to ensure that there is perceived and discernible benefit to the profession and/or better health and wellbeing service for the public”.

Meanwhile, at Atos and the Department for Work and Pensions, it’s business as usual. Last week a coroner said a decision to declare a mentally ill man fit for work may have influenced his subsequent decision to commit suicide.

Martin Rust, 36, who had attempted suicide previously, had been diagnosed with treatment-resistant schizophrenia in 1998, but was living independently with mental health service support.

He died in November last year after his mother said the pressure of finding work when he felt he couldn’t cope had been extremely worrying for him. Recording that Mr Rust had committed suicide while suffering from a treatment-resistant mental illness, coroner William Armstrong said the DWP’s decision “caused distress and may well have had an adverse effect” on Mr Rust.

There was good news, though, for Jenny, the 59-year-old former teacher, who was forced to give up work when she developed the debilitating illness fibromyalgia (Eye 1300). Her benefits were stopped last year, forcing her to raise funds by selling some of her furniture, following an Atos assessment which she claimed was “cursory at best”. A tribunal panel has now said the Atos examiner’s report was full of anomalies and is instead relying on the detailed assessment and medical history for her own GP.

Doctors are the latest to raise concerns over the tests and the fact that nearly 40 percent of assessment decisions are overturned on appeal. As well as the amount of time GPs are spending on reports for appeals, there are also concerns at the length of time people are having to live, often without benefits, waiting for an appeal – nearly 25 weeks on average.

This cast some doubt on whether Atos’ statement that they are withdrawing from administering the work capability assessments will mean any improvement, if Serco takes over them. As for Atos, this report gives another victim of the company’s cruelty and incompetence. Johnny Void, Mike at Vox Political and many other bloggers have reported doctors’ criticisms of the damage the stress of the assessments has on their patients’ mental health. This article shows they are also concerned about the sheer time their patients were left without benefits while waiting for an appeal.

As for the Tribunal rejecting Atos’ reports and relying instead on information from ‘Jenny’s’ doctor, this is very much how it should be. Jaypot has stated that if a doctor declares that someone is unfit for work, then that should be sufficient as far as further assessment is required. the Work Capability Assessment itself is seriously flawed, and in my view, a completely spurious piece of pseudoscience rather than anything resembling good medical practice.