Posts Tagged ‘Malcolm Harrington’

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: Time to End the Work Capability Assessment

February 12, 2015

Mike over at Vox Political wrote this piece, Shouldn’t we call time on the Work Capability Assessment? reporting and commenting on an article by Bernadette Meaden of Ekklesia attacking the work capability assessment. He writes

On the day Mrs Mike was at first supposed to take a new Work Capability Assessment, then told it was cancelled (then received a letter confirming this – and then this writer attended the centre to make sure), Ekklesia has published a piece by Bernadette Meaden asking whether there’s any point to the process at all.

She writes: “It’s important to remember that these assessments are not a ‘medical’, as the public may believe. They are officially described as a ‘functional assessment’: they assess people as if they are machines, to see which bits are working and which bits aren’t. They disregard many medical symptoms such as pain and exhaustion, which is why people who are obviously seriously ill can be assessed as ‘fit to work’, why so many people appeal their decision, and why the government’s own expert adviser, Professor Malcolm Harrington, once described the WCA as ‘mechanistic and inhumane’.

“Not all the people who have been through a WCA will have been given a face-to-face assessment. Some will have received a decision based on their completion of the lengthy and complex ESA50 form, and supplementary information they have supplied. But for all who have been assessed, whether face to face or via bureaucracy, it will have been an added stress at a time when they may be coming to terms with a life-limiting diagnosis, or going through unpleasant treatment.

“To have your doctor say you are unfit to work, but to have the decision as to whether you will receive support in the hands of a medically unqualified DWP Decision Maker is not conducive to anyone’s health.”

He also reports the findings of Nick Dilworth, of iLegal, that under the new, even tougher Work Capability Assessment, fewer people have in fact been found fit for work. He suggests, however, that this is just a lull before Maximus takes over.

Mike makes the point that the estimates of the number of people being found fit for work are notoriously unreliable, as the DWP plays very fast and loose with the stats. And the Department is also extremely treacherous with clients. He tells his recent experience going with his partner, Mrs Mike, to hospital after she was told that she had to attend a Work Capability Assessment. Only to be told, in turn, when he rang up the hospital, that she wasn’t actually booked for one. He went to the hospital just to make sure. Many of Mike’s commenters have had a similar experience, but in reverse: they were sanctioned for not attending Work Capability Assessment, about which they weren’t actually told. Mike asks the obvious question of how much stress incidents like his have caused to disabled people, who weren’t lucky to have able-bodied carers?

And he makes it very clear that it’s time the WCA was repealed and replaced with something else, as also recommended by Bernadette Meaden and New Approach, an organisation to which Nick Dilworth belongs.

The Work Capability Assessment: A Prize Piece of Pseudoscience

Earlier this week I blogged on a piece by George Berger on DPAC’s site, describing the origin of the welfare to work philosophy by Gordon Waddell and Mansel Aylward for Unum, the giant American insurance fraudster. Berger notes that Waddell’s idea – that sick people were somehow malingering and adopting a role, which made their condition worse, was methodologically complete rubbish. It was also strongly influenced by Behaviourism, a school of psychology set up by B.W. Skinner in the 1920s. Mike’s article and Bernadette Meaden’s comments about the way the Work Capability Test treats people as machines, and disregards medical symptoms such as pain and exhaustion, is very much in line with the Behaviourists’ approach to the human mind.

The Behaviourists had a very reductive attitude to the mind: they didn’t believe in it. They didn’t like the concept of the mind, because it involved subjective experiences, which they didn’t believe could be part of objective science, because you can’t properly, objectively quantify them. It was the Behaviourists who developed the concept of conditioning, in which you could control an individual’s environment or stimuli, to alter his mind and behaviour. This resulted in the development of the Skinner box. this was a box in which pigeons were kept, and their environment totally controlled by the experiment, so as to condition the pigeon. In his utopian novel, Walden 2, Skinner developed his fantasy of a complete society populated by well-adjusted people, who had spent years in Skinner boxes.

The Simpsons sent up Skinner’s ideas in an episode, where one of the characters decides they want to give their wealth to fund a worthy project. A mad psychiatrist comes along, asking for the money so he can buy an orphan to stick into such a total environment. It’s a Skinner Box in all but name. When asked if this will benefit the child, the mad scientist says, ‘No, it’ll send him nuts’.

Quite.

Just how nasty the Behaviourists could be is shown in their treatment of ‘Little Albert’. To show how you could condition children through negative stimuli, they trained a toddler to be terrified of feather boas by giving him an electric shock every time he saw one.

The depictions of the brainwashing of political dissidents by the Federation in the BBC’s classic SF series, Blake’s 7, is partly based on the Behaviourists’ theories of conditioning. It’s also partly influenced, of course, by the Soviet Union’s abuse of psychiatry, which was revealed by Solzhenitsyn amongst other dissidents.

Behaviourism has now been discredited as a school of psychiatry. George Berger and others have also repeatedly shown that the Work Capability Test is also pseudoscience. It’s about time it was recognised as such, and thrown out.
– Along with this vile government that persists in using it.