Posts Tagged ‘Epilepsy’

Atos and the Death of Colin Traynor

February 24, 2014

I and very many other bloggers have posted pieces on the people, who have died after having been found fit for work by Atos. Quite how many is unknown, as the DWP refuses to release the figures. Mike and other inquirers have had their requests for this information repeatedly turned down. The first time this was because the Department claimed it was too much work for one person. After others also requested that the information be released, the Department decided to shift the goalposts, stating they refused to do so because the request was ‘vexatious’. See Mike’s posts on this over at Vox Political. Jayne Linney on her blog has estimated that the total number of people, who’ve been effectively killed by Atos and the DWP, may be as high as 38,000 per year. Stilloaks on his website has put up the names and short biographies of at least 45 people, who’ve died through having their benefit withdrawn thanks to this callous and murderous company. Most harrowing of all these cases is that of a young mother, who committed suicide, killer herself and her baby. At the anti-Atos protests last Wednesday the protestors in Derby laid a wreath for the company’s victims.

This video was posted two years ago on 26th September 2012. It’s a report by Channel 4 News into the death of Colin Traynor, a young man with epilepsy. Despite the severity of his condition, he was nevertheless examined by Atos and duly found fit for work. His health began to decline and the fits became more frequent, until his parents found him dead in his room. They feel that the stress of being found fit for work and having his benefit cut exacerbated his condition. To make matters worse, they then received a letter afterward saying that his appeal had been upheld, and the sanction overturned.

Here’s the video.

It can be found on Youtube as ‘Atos Killers’ at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mGZZ4TmEGA.

Channel 4 News invited someone from the DWP to appear on the programme and give their side of their story. No-one did. Instead they released this bland statement:

A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough face to face assessment and after consideration of all the supporting medical evidence from the claimant’s GP or medical specialist. We encourage people to provide as much evidence as possible when they apply for Employment and Support Allowance, and often people, who are found fit for work only provide the necessary evidence when they ask for a reconsideration or an appeal.

This is a distortion of the truth. The assessment is designed so that it finds the maximum amount of people fit for work. As numerous whistleblowers have said, the company has a quota system set by the government to find as many people as possible fit for work. Moreover, it has been my experience, and those of so many others, that Atos will lie and falsify the results of the examination to get the results they want.

As for the statement that it’s the fault of the claimants themselves that they failed the test, because the didn’t provide sufficient information, not only is that blatantly untrue, it’s a case of classic misdirection with the government once again blaming their policies’ victims.

The DWP also denied that the system was designed to save money, but intended to help as many people as possibly get back into work rather than languish on the dole.

More lies. Clearly it’s intended to save money. How could it be otherwise, when Cameron has stated that his government’s goal is to reduce state, and particularly welfare spending, in order to pay off the deficit. As for helping people into work, it does nothing of the kind. If that were the case, you’d imagine that the policy would be combined with a detailed programme of support to get someone into work, perhaps by providing suitable counselling and medical supervision, special equipment at work, and working hours or conditions adapted to suit them. No, there’s none of that. Nor will there ever be, for that would be state interference with the employers’ sacred right to treat their workers as shabbily as possible. It would also mean spending money, which is something else that gives Conservatives a sharp dose of the back door trots. Those fit for work simply have their benefits cut off, and are thrown out to find a job for themselves.

Then there’s that statement by Atos

Although we cannot comment on individual cases, we want people to know that our trained doctors, nurses and physiotherapists strictly follow the guidelines given to them by the Government when conducting assessments and make no decisions on a person’s eligibility for benefits.

Which is pretty much what they say whenever a tragedy like this occurs. They can’t get out of it so easily. As I’ve said before, they are complicit with the process because they have accepted the work and the government’s quotas. They are also aware that anyone found fit for work will lose their benefit. As for the assessment itself, this has absolutely nothing to do with the medical skills of their staff. It is purely a questionnaire, which could be administered by an ordinary civil servant.

So this is simply yet another case of someone dying through Atos’ decision, and the usual lies and half-truths by the company and the DWP to try to exonerate themselves from this incident.

Roll-Call of the Poor and Disabled, Killed by the Government’s Policies

November 28, 2013

A day or so ago I reblogged the video Still Oaks had made on the people, who tragically committed suicide due to the government’s welfare policies. Many were disabled people, who had been declared ‘fit for work’ by ATOS, when they clearly were anything but. Others were simply unemployed, who found it impossible to live on the meagre income supplied by the DWP. There’s a list of the people mentioned in the video posted by Still Oaks and Annanna, who helped Still Oaks make the video, over on the web forum DWP Examinations. The forum’s subtitled ‘Free Speech for the Disabled’, and is clearly intended to allow the disabled themselves to discuss and criticise the DWP and its policies. The people included in Still Oaks’ video are:

1/ John Walker

2/ Linda Wootton

3/ Elenore Tatton

4/ Brian McArdle

5/ David Groves

6/ Stephen Hill

7/ Nicholas Peter Barker

8/ Mark and Helen Mullins

9/Richard Sanderson

10/Martin Rust

11/Craig Monk

12/Colin Traynor

13/Elaine Christian

14/Christelle pardo,Kayjah Pardo

15/Mark Scott

16/Cecilia Burns

17/Chris Cann

18/Peter Hodgson

19/ Paul Willcoxson

20/Stephanie Bottrill

21/Larry Newman

22/Child EG

23/Paul Turner

24/Christopher Charles Harness

25/Sandra Louise Moon

26/Paul Reekie

27/Leanne Chambers

28/Vicky Harrison

29/Stephen Cawthra

30/George from Chesterfield

31/Wayne Grew

32/Kevin Bennett

32/Iain Hodge

33/David Elwyn Hugh Harris

34/ Elaine Lowe

35/ Lee Robinson

36/ Ian Carress

37/ Edward Jacques

38/ Charles Barden

The list is part of a wider discussion, ‘Death by Government’. Other posts by Annanna in this thread give some details on these poor souls. It’s a depressing mixture of people from all walks of life and types of disability. Some of them were obviously extremely talented academically. Christelle Pardo, who killed herself and her baby, Kayja, was a philosophy graduate. Others were manual workers, whose talents clearly lay with their hands, such as a farm labourer. Several of them had psychological problems, such as a young man who suffered from schizophrenia, epilepsy and alcoholism. This man’s alcoholism is not necessarily an indication that he was somehow responsible for his own poverty. It looks from here like self-medication. This is the term psychiatrists and mental health experts use to describe drug and alcohol use by the mentally ill to try and alleviate their condition. In our society, one of the ways people try to cheer themselves up when their down is to go for a pint or two. So it is with those suffering from depression or anxiety. It’s not hard to see how that can lead to dependence on this socially accepted drug, which in turn will exacerbate the sufferer’s condition. The important point here is that in these cases, alcoholism can be a consequence or a symptom of the disease, not a result of moral weakness of the part of the victim. Other victims included severely disabled people, for whom there should have been no question of them being able to work, such as a triple amputee.

I’ve come across a few severely disabled people, who nevertheless possessed the talent and strength of character to hold down often extremely well-paid and responsible jobs despite their appalling physical condition. One young lad I met a few years ago had a disease that left him almost totally paralysed. Nevertheless, he was a computer whizzkid, and his expertise allowed him to earn the kind of money some of us only dream about. And he wasn’t the only one. A young woman in a wheelchair told me over twenty years ago about one of her friends, who was also paralysed from the neck down. This man, was also a computer genius, working on them with the kind of stick attachment, which you see Stephen Hawking using to work his wheelchair and speech synthesiser. It’s one of the positive advantages of information technology that it has allowed disable people like these two to have a career of their own. The problem is the DWP seems to assume that if a few, very talented people can do it, then others in a similar position should. If they can’t, then it must be their own fault, somehow.

It should be self-evident that severely disabled people need considerable support and care. When I met the lad I mentioned above, it was in a meeting of one of the clubs in Cheltenham at the time. I think they were holding their AGM. He was taken in by his nurse, who then went to the bar to sit quietly drinking coffee once the lad had been wheeled to the table to talk about rules of procedure and the financial status of the club. Or whatever. Stephen Hawking is one of the foremost examples of a man, who has made spectacular achievements despite his terrible condition. Helping him do this, however, have been a supportive family, nursing care, and the type of advanced motorised wheelchairs and voice synthesis technology that many people can only dream about. All too many other disabled people simply don’t have that level of social, medical and technological support.

There is also the question of how much support or care an employer is prepared to spend adapting their premises to the needs of their disabled employees. Now I have to say I really have little knowledge of the equalities legislation in this area. I understand that businesses, or at least public organisations, like museums and libraries, are required to make their premises wheelchair-accessible. I’m also pretty sure that they cannot legally discriminate against a disabled applicant when it comes to jobs. I am also aware that there have been some very good employers out there, who have adapted their workplaces to accommodate their workers, who suffered from particular physical ailments. One lady I used to work with had a severe back condition, and so she sat in an orthopaedic chair at work. Others may not be so fortunate to have such caring employers. And in a crowded labour market, an employer can always find some other reason not to take someone on, regardless of whether or not they’re disabled.

My point here is that there should be no question that severely disabled people like the triple-amputee are not able to work. This does not mean that they should not be given the resources they may require to work, or that their talents should not be cultivated and neglected. It also doesn’t mean that they should be discriminated against either. It just means being realistic about the immense impact severe disability has on someone’s ability to work. IDS and his wretched crew, however, have decided that as exceptionally talented people like Stephen Hawking have succeeded in having a career, so people with less support and more modest intellectual gifts should do also. There’s a parallel here to the Stakhanovite system through which Stalin industrialised the Soviet Union in the 1930s. Stakhanov was a miner, who was given state of the art tools and support. His output was then measured by the bureaucrats, who then made it the standard for other miners, regardless of their ability, and the tools and other resources available to them. Stakhanov and his team smashed production records, and the USSR industrialised extremely quickly. The human cost, however, was immense. Cameron’s and IDS’ policies towards the disabled similarly makes the exceptional the norm, and, like Stalin, punishes those, who can’t keep up.

Still Oaks and Annanna’s thread, ‘Death by Government’, is at http://dwpexamination.org/forum/the-governmants-agenda/death-by-government/. It’s grim, moving reading. Like Still Oak’s video, it puts the people forward from behind the statistics, so you can see, who IDS’ policies have killed.