The mother of a disabled man who starved to death

first_imgThe mother of a disabled man who starved to death after he was found “fit for work” and lost his out-of-work disability benefits has called for ministers to face criminal charges.Jill Gant says work and pensions ministers should be tried for misconduct in public office for failing to take action that could have saved the life of her son, Mark Wood.She spoke out after signing a letter, drawn up by the Green Party and backed by Disabled People Against Cuts, that calls on work and pensions secretary Damian Green to order an independent inquiry into the links between his department’s procedures and the deaths of benefit claimants.The party has produced a dossier of 50 cases in which the deaths of benefit claimants have been linked to decisions taken by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).Mark Wood (pictured) starved to death in 2013 after being found ineligible for employment and support allowance (ESA), even though he had never been able to cope with the demands of a job and his GP had said he was completely incapable of working.The decision to find him fit for work caused him extreme anxiety and distress and exaggerated his eating disorder.He died in the summer of 2013, apparently from natural causes and as a result of becoming dangerously underweight, four months after his incapacity benefit was stopped.Because of his complex mental health condition and other impairments, including the eating disorder, Asperger’s syndrome and multple chemical sensitivity, he had not provided the evidence needed in his ESA application, or at a face-to-face work capability assessment (WCA).But he had stated in the ESA form that he had problems with anxiety and depression, while the assessment was carried out at the cottage where he lived alone, rather than at an Atos assessment centre in Oxford, because of the severity of his panic attacks.Because of his complex mental health issues, he was unable to cope with either support workers or help from his family, and his mother says he was unaware of the purpose of the WCA.She said that neither the Atos assessor nor the DWP decision-maker made any attempt to secure further medical evidence about his mental health from his GP, who would have told them that he was unable to work.His GP told his inquest in February 2014 that he had handed Mark a note, explaining that he was extremely unwell and completely unfit to work, but the note does not appear to have reached his local jobcentre.The GP also told the inquest: “Something pushed him or affected him in the time before he died and the only thing I can put my finger on is the pressure he felt he was under when his benefits were removed.”His death came three years after ministers had been warned by a coroner – following the death of Stephen Carré in January 2010 – that they needed to review their policy not to seek further medical evidence from the GPs and psychiatrists of ESA claimants with mental health conditions.And a year after Mark Wood died, another letter was sent to DWP by a coroner, raising the same concerns and making almost identical recommendations, this time following the death of a disabled man from north London.But nearly seven years after the Stephen Carré inquest, these safety concerns have still not been addressed, despite many other deaths, and a DWP promise to a tribunal that it would test ways to collect further medical evidence through a pilot project, although a DWP spokesman said today (Thursday) that the pilot project had now been completed.Former DWP ministers Iain Duncan Smith and Chris Grayling have been heavily criticised for failing to act on the coroner’s advice in 2010, for covering-up that report, and failing to pass it to Professor Malcolm Harrington – the expert they had commissioned to review the WCA – as well as failing to show Harrington secret DWP reports linking the WCA with the deaths of benefit claimants.Attempts by the user-led grassroots group Black Triangle (BT) to secure a prosecution of Duncan Smith and Grayling in Scotland – over the deaths of three Scottish benefit claimants – have so far failed because of resistance from the Scottish criminal justice system, although BT is seeking legal representation to help push for a case to be taken in the Scottish courts.Mark Wood’s mother, Jill Gant, said she would like to see ministers held accountable by the criminal justice system for their failure to act on the Stephen Carré coroner’s report, which she believes led to her son’s death.The retired education social worker, now 78, and from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, said: “Quite honestly, I think they have failed in their duty. They doggedly refused to consider and act on this very clear, simple suggestion.”She said it would be “stunning” if a case could be brought against ministers, and added: “They certainly need to be called to account.”She secured a meeting with the minister for disabled people, Mark Harper, in March 2015, but said that he had “a heart of stone” and had made no effort to be “friendly or understanding”, and when she asked him about the need to secure further medical evidence “he refused to answer the question directly”.She said it was “shocking” that Harper now chaired the all-party parliamentary group on learning disability.Her search for answers following her son’s death had quickly focused on the single issue of why further medical evidence had not been sought.Confronted by the refusal of Conservative ministers, including Harper and employment minister Priti Patel*, to answer her questions, she has now told her Tory MP, Nicola Blackwood, that the refusal to act was “not fair and in my view it is not moral or legal”.The final letter from Patel was sent to her last July and said that DWP was still working with Maximus – the discredited US outsourcing giant now carrying out WCAs – to “expand the current guidance” on securing further medical evidence and “ensure that evidence is gathered in more circumstances than at present, especially for those claimants with a mental health condition”.She said: “They must have no conscience at all. Each of these stories, each of them, is a massive tragedy and a painful time for these poor people.“In the end I [told my MP] that I looked forward to having a government where there was compassion and understanding and which would seek to protect the most vulnerable.”A DWP spokesman said this morning (Thursday): “The department will respond to the [Green Party] letter once it has been received.“The pilot has been completed, and the outcomes of that will help to inform training and staff guidance.”It is not yet clear what action DWP will take following the pilot project.*Both of them have now left the departmentlast_img read more

A disability charity that has signed up to the gov

first_imgA disability charity that has signed up to the government’s Disability Confident scheme for employers has been forced to pay more than £3,000 to a disabled woman who claimed she was discriminated against and unfairly dismissed.Tmara Senior (pictured) worked for Cloverleaf Advocacy in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, for more than three years, before she says she was forced out after her year-long research project ended.After learning that she was facing redundancy, she applied for another position with the charity, only to be sent a print letter telling her when to attend an interview, even though she is blind.It later sent her other print letters in connection with her application, she said, even after she complained that she could not read them.She said that she was rejected for one position she applied for with the charity because she failed to describe in the interview how she would use visual forms of communication in that job.And she said that her own personal assistant was able to shadow advocates working for the charity, when she was not given similar opportunities until after she had left her job.Senior has also told how the charity refused to publish her research report, which detailed the views of disabled people about the barriers they faced in accessing social and leisure opportunities in the Kirklees area.Cloverleaf also prevented the report being shared with the local council.She said: “I never got to present it to anyone because they decided nothing was going to be done with it.”She believes the charity failed to publish it because she had refused to remove criticisms made by disabled people she had spoken to about local organisations that Cloverleaf worked with.She said: “I didn’t alter what was said because I wanted it to be accurate and reflect the views of disabled people.“How can you advocate on behalf of disabled people and not want their views to be taken into account?“Why wouldn’t you want to publish a report to the council saying these are the reasons disabled people are not happy? That’s not advocacy.”After Senior took legal action against Cloverleaf, the charity tried to convince her to sign a confidentiality agreement as part of its settlement of her claim, but she refused to do so because she wanted to speak out about the way she had been treated.Although Cloverleaf did not admit liability for Senior’s claims of unfair dismissal and disability discrimination, it has agreed to pay her £3,250 to settle her claim, as well as paying for her to take an advocacy course.She said she believed she was discriminated against, and blames the “culture” of the charity.She said: “My work had always been very good but in the end it is almost as if what I did was not really valued very highly.“It really does hurt because I worked there for quite a while. I loved my job and I never wanted to leave.“I feel like I was just pushed out.”She also said the charity failed to deal with two members of staff who had confronted her in the office, shortly before she was made redundant, leaving her too frightened to return to work and “feeling extremely anxious for some weeks afterwards”.Suzi Henderson, Cloverleaf’s chief executive, said the charity did not want to respond to the individual allegations because it would not be “fair” to Senior to do so due to “confidentiality” reasons, although she said they “very strongly feel that the allegations she has made are untrue”.She said that all of the issues raised by Senior have been “reflected on by the organisation as part of the process of reaching the settlement” and that “all the actions we have taken were fair and lawful and appropriate”.But she admitted that “in terms of our reflections, we have updated all of our application forms now to accommodate additional communication needs, alternative communication needs”.She declined to discuss any more of the allegations, but she said in a statement: “Since 1995 our core values have driven us to be passionate about equality.“We firmly believe that every individual should be an equal member of society: everyone has the right to plan their own life, to be listened to, taken seriously and to be respected.“We constantly review all our activities to help ensure that we are doing everything possible to support all our 160-plus staff while providing the best possible service for thousands of individuals.“Regarding the specific issues, we remain confident that our actions have been right. “We do not tolerate any incorrect behaviour and take immediate action wherever appropriate.“The settlement made was a commercial settlement by our insurers and does not indicate any liability.”The charity, which says it offers “high quality advocacy services to people with mental health needs, learning disabilities, older people, people with physical and sensory impairment, and carers”, is a member of the government’s Disability Confident scheme that aims to promote the employment of disabled people.Cloverleaf secured its status as a “Disability Confident Employer” – the middle of the government scheme’s three levels – through self-assessing its own policies and procedures.As a Disability Confident Employer, it is supposed to “make a commitment to employ and retain disabled people”, “make sure all documentation is available in different formats”, “make sure people involved in the recruitment process are Disability Confident and know how to support disabled applicants”, and provide “a fully inclusive and accessible recruitment process”.Senior said that Cloverleaf’s claim to be a Disability Confident Employer was “just laughable”.She said: “If they can do what they have done to me, why wouldn’t they do it to anybody else who was disabled?“They should not be a member of that scheme when you consider what they have done to me and the way I have been treated.”She added: “I really believe in disabled people being heard and the voices of disabled people being heard but I don’t believe they believe in that.”Disability News Service reported last November how analysis by disabled campaigner David Gillon suggested that Disability Confident was “trivially easy to abuse” and allowed organisations to describe themselves as “Disability Confident” even if they failed to comply with anti-discrimination laws.last_img read more

RICHARD and a team from Liverpool Lions are cyclin

first_imgRICHARD and a team from Liverpool Lions are cycling from Liverpool to Hull – some 150 miles – on November 1 to raise funds for a defib at the club.One of the team’s 18 year olds collapsed recently and is recovering in hospital.The remainder of the money raised will be going to RL Cares.To support this endeavour head to gofundme.com/liverpool-lionslast_img

Shameful that government funds corruption and not mental health – PN

first_img <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> Partit Nazzjonalista (PN) is berating the government on its decision to completely ignore the mental health sector in Malta. According to the PN, it is shameful that a socialist government does not have financial resources for vulnerable mental health patients, but then has funds to sustain corruption and those in its inner circles.This has been published in a statement from the party, which was endorsed by MP Maria Galea, who is the Opposition’s spokesperson for mental health amongst others. The statement also continues to criticise the government for completely forgetting mental health patients and the infrastructures that cater for them, such as Mount Carmel Hospital and community services.The PN is promising to stay close to mental health patients and also expressed solidarity with both the staff and the patients at Mount Carmel Hospital as they all need a more secure and decent place to work and be taken care of. It is also pledging full cooperation with the government on mental health issues without allowing any humiliation for the patients.WhatsApp SharePrintlast_img read more