An inquiry into the government’s flawed disability benefit assessment regime has produced more online evidence from the public than any other investigation ever held by a House of Commons select committee.More than 2,800 submissions had been made to the work and pensions committee through its online forum by the time the deadline passed, compared to the usual 50 to 100 posts.The committee has also received a further 450 pieces of written evidence, compared to the usual 100 or so it might usually expect.The inquiry is examining the assessment processes for both personal independence payment (PIP) and employment and support allowance (ESA).Although not all the posts are about dishonesty and many are about the work capability assessment (WCA), the eligibility test for ESA, much of the evidence provides significant fresh corroboration for Disability News Service’s (DNS) year-long investigation into claims of dishonesty at the heart of the PIP assessment system.A spokeswoman for the committee said the inquiry had produced more responses than any other web forum hosted by a select committee.The deadline for evidence to be submitted to the inquiry passed on Friday (10 November), with many of the final submissions continuing to provide evidence of dishonesty by the healthcare professionals who write PIP assessment reports for the companies Atos and Capita on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).One carer who posted evidence on the forum told how the “pack of lies and false information” provided in the report written by the healthcare professional who assessed his wife had caused her to have a significant relapse, after her mental health had been stable for eight years.Because of the “disgraceful” assessment, his wife had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.Another carer told how the only thing the assessor had got right in his report on her son’s PIP claim was his name.She added: “Just wish someone could help us, if my son does not take medication which I give him he has voices in his head and suicidal thoughts.“I really think they should tape [assessment interviews]. This assessor has turned our life upside down. I worry for my son’s safety.”One of the PIP claimants who submitted a written statement to the inquiry said that assessors were “twisting words, telling blatant lies”.The claimant, who has the genetic condition hypercholesterolaemia, which has “very life limiting symptoms”, said the assessment in June 2017 had led to them being “made to feel like a liar by the assessor and two [DWP] decision makers.“I am now being treated for severe stress and medicated with diazepam due to this experience.“That is completely unacceptable as the last thing I need is to suffer stress with such a serious heart condition.”Many statements have also been posted about the WCA.One ESA claimant described how his assessor had “lied numerous times” and “painted a totally false picture”.He added: “Treated me with total disrespect, when I tried to explain my situation and ask some pertinent questions she opened the door and said, ‘on your bike mister’.“I have worked for over 30 years and have had spinal surgery this year. This inhumane process makes a mockery of paying years of tax and NI stamps.“Humiliating, demoralising and in no way professional.”Much of the evidence was still being published on the committee’s inquiry page last night (Wednesday), including a statement by DNS which says how more than 250 PIP claimants have described their assessment reports as “inherently dishonest and misleading, and led to them being found ineligible for PIP or receiving lower rates of PIP than they were entitled to”.The DNS statement adds: “The Department for Work and Pensions, Capita and Atos have continued to insist that there is no dishonesty among the healthcare professionals carrying out these assessments on their behalf.”The committee’s first oral evidence session is due to take place next week, with four PIP and ESA applicants and four welfare rights advisers set to answer questions from committee members.
A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS… Disabled campaigners say the government must delay a controversial bill they believe would make it easier to restrict the freedom of people in care settings who lack capacity to make their own decisions.Peers yesterday (Wednesday) began debating the committee stage of the mental capacity (amendment) bill, legislation that will affect an estimated 300,000 people in England and Wales with impairments including dementia, learning difficulties and brain injuries.The bill would introduce a new system, Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS), to replace the crisis-ridden Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS), for service-users who need to be deprived of their liberty as part of their care but are considered to lack the mental capacity to consent to those arrangements.The bill is based on recommendations made by the Law Commission but critics say it is “significantly different” from the commission’s own draft bill and omits most of its most progressive elements.Inclusion London believes the bill as it stands breaches four articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (on equal recognition before the law, on liberty and security of the person, on protecting the integrity of the person, and on independent living) and says it is “seriously concerned about the impact this bill will have on the human rights of disabled people”.It says the bill will “significantly weaken the few existing protections” disabled people currently have and has called for its progress through parliament to be paused to allow people who would be affected by the proposals to respond to the government’s plans.But it will also be working with other disabled people’s organisations, lawyers and academics to secure amendments to the bill.Among its concerns are that the legislation would give new powers to arrange deprivation of liberty assessments to care home managers.An independent assessor would only be asked to carry out a review if the service-user was believed to be objecting to the deprivation of their liberty, and it would be up to the care home manager to decide if that person was objecting.Inclusion London says it would also be up to that manager to decide if it was in the resident’s best interests to have an advocate to help them challenge the decision.Similar powers would be given to managers in local authorities, hospitals or NHS clinical commissioning groups when considering LPS for disabled people in other care settings.Svetlana Kotova, coordinator of Inclusion London’s Disability Justice Project, said: “The bill does not require them to consult with the person concerned, give any weight to their wishes and feelings or even to inform them or their relatives about the decisions that are being made.“The bill restricts access to independent advocacy and does not improve in any way the person’s ability to challenge decisions that are made about them.”Inclusion London is now seeking signatures for a letter it plans to send to parliament’s joint committee on human rights to express its concerns about the bill.Disability Rights UK (DR UK) has also raised concerns about the bill.Sue Bott, DR UK’s deputy chief executive, said the bill “takes the rights of disabled people backwards”.She said: “There is nothing more serious for an individual than a decision to deprive them of their liberty yet, as it stands, this bill will make challenging such decisions difficult and costly with little independent oversight and no commitment to taking the views of the individual into account. “I hope members of the House of Lords will, through amendments, be able to radically improve the bill.”Among DR UK’s concerns are that the bill makes no provision to provide information on LPS decisions to those who have been detained; will damage access to justice; gives too much power to care home managers; and moves the UK even further away from the UN convention.Disabled activist Simone Aspis (pictured), director of the consultancy Changing Perspectives, who blogged about the bill this week, has also raised concerns about the powers the bill plans to give care home managers.She said: “As many people lacking capacity have experienced little control over their lives, it is very unlikely that they would simply complain and successfully challenge their LPS approval. “For example, I know of residents unable to go out during the weekends because of limited staff cover. “There is clearly a conflict of interest when care home social care budgets are squeezed, [because] managers could use LPS authorisation as a means of forcing residents to accept restrictive care arrangements.”And she said there was a need for legislation that “promotes and maximises our liberty” rather than a law that focuses on restricting individuals’ liberty. Howard Gordon, a disabled campaigner who is living with dementia, said he was concerned that the bill – if passed – could be used to force service-users with the condition into institutional care against their will.He fears that, although not explicit in the legislation, this could happen if someone was an inpatient in hospital and was well enough to be discharged but no appropriate social care was available.He said in a blog: “In order to free up a bed, the hospital administrator could authorise a Liberty Protection Safeguard against the person and force them into a care home until social care is available, to the detriment of the person, their dementia, their rights and their family.”He told Disability News Service: “It’s a great concern. I could be in hospital and a hospital administrator could decide that I had to go into a care home.“It would be a complete abuse of my rights. It takes away my ability to make decisions.“I have decided I want to live at home and my wife wants me to live at home. I have capacity at this time and that is my decision and I expect that to be respected.”Peers have already raised concerns about the bill at its second reading in July.The Liberal Democrat Baroness Barker said the bill was “extremely flawed and deficient” and said there had been “very little consultation”.She said the government had gone through the Law Commission’s proposals and “selectively picked pieces out of it”.The crossbench peer Baroness Finlay, who chaired the National Mental Capacity Forum for nearly three years, was more supportive of the bill and said the burden of the current system was “overwhelming”.She called for the concerns about the bill to be “resolved rapidly”. Another crossbench peer, Baroness Murphy, raised concerns about “the monstrous piece of bureaucratic machinery that is the deprivation of liberty safeguards”.She said this had caused “untold harm and cost a huge amount of money that has been diverted from finite clinical and social care budgets at a time when the country can ill afford it, and when the quality of care in hospitals and residential homes is barely adequate and often downright poor”.But she expressed “surprise and concern that some of the most far-seeing and progressive parts of the draft bill produced by the Law Commission” had been omitted from the government’s bill.She said she was concerned that the bill would abandon regard for the individual’s wishes and feelings and replace that with what is “necessary and proportionate”.She said: “These are vague words that may well imply that, in this age of austerity, the person will get care in a way that is convenient for the authorities making the judgment to impose and that does not take account of the individual’s expressed wishes or include a discussion about what they might wish.“Although ‘best interests’ is mentioned, when the crunch comes, it will be ignored.”But Lord O’Shaughnessy, a health and social care minister, defended the bill.He said: “It will ensure that any restrictions are proportionate and help to support cared-for persons to live as freely as they can by protecting their liberty.“It will allow the NHS rather than local authorities to authorise the deprivation of liberty arrangements for its own patients, enabling a more streamlined and clearly accountable process in which the NHS has a clear role in helping to afford people their rights.”Other key blogs raising concerns about the bill can be found here (by Lucy Series, a researcher at the Centre for Health and Social Care Law at Cardiff Law School) and here (by The British Institute of Human Rights)
This is what the NHS crisis looks like.Here’s an exclusive look at our latest political broadcast. pic.twitter.com/9CQ9qaWfwb— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) February 13, 2019Read LabourList‘s preview of the new PPB here.Below is the full script text.This story is told by actors. It is a real story.Nurse: Look, no one comes into nursing because they expect an easy ride, you do it because you want to help people. It’s as simple as that.But we’re at breaking point. Exhausted, overworked, undervalued. Some days there’s not enough time to eat or even take a toilet break. Let alone listen to someone who’s lonely, or who’s just had a relative pass away…In 2017, the NHS winter crisis was branded a ‘humanitarian crisis’ by the Red Cross.Patient: You know what, I don’t get it. I mean, we pay our taxes, right? Everyone around here is doing their best, you can see it, but they ain’t got the staff and they ain’t got the beds. There’s people on trolleys, in the corridors, for hours on end? No privacy, no dignity. What’s happening to this country?Last year, 25,000 operations were cancelled due to the winter crisis.Surgeon: This is what a national emergency looks like. We’ve got over 4 million people waiting for an operation. These are real people, real lives.You try telling someone who’s waited six months for an operation it’s been cancelled again. I want to make people’s lives better, not add to their stress.The Tories have cut £7 billion from social care since 2010.Patient: You got people awaiting hours for an ambulance and then being told there ain’t none. Social care is in crisis – that’s not right.The NHS is one of the things that made me proud to be British. And the Tories are running it into the ground so they can sell it off to their mates.Hundreds of GP surgeries have closed under this government affecting more than a million patients.GP: We needs thousands more GPs but more and more have had enough and are leaving. There’s not enough practice nurses or receptionists.It affects everything. At times we’re so oversubscribed, we can’t even offer routine appointments. And where do people go? They go to A&E.Relative: You know what makes me mad? I’ve just seen a nurse running to top up the meter in the car park. I mean it’s all you need isn’t it?You come to visit a poorly family member and they’re stinging you for the car parking. Wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t have to wait 4 hours to get seen in the A&E. That’s if you can get to one, if it hasn’t been closed, or “downgraded”.Privatisation has doubled under the Tories. Last year, the Tories handed out nearly £9 billion to private healthcare companies, whose main priority is profit, not patient care.Surgeon: Now we’re sending patients to private hospitals for operations. Spending billions outsourcing treatment that could be done within a properly funded NHS.But that doesn’t fit with this government’s program. They don’t want a publicly funded healthcare system. They have other ideas.Teenage suicides have nearly doubled since 2010.GP: I hear warm words about mental health but it’s all a sham. Services are being cut all over the place. I have to sit with parents and tell them their teenager has to be sent to halfway across the country to have their eating disorder treated.Can you imagine the heartbreak and stress that causes? We are so much better than this as a country.For the first time since WW2, life expectancy is going backwards in the poorest areas.Patient: Oh, I know, we’ve got to tighten our belts, all in it together… We’ve been doing that for the last 8 years though, haven’t we? What’s it gotten us?Health and social care cuts have been linked to 120,000 excess deaths in England.Nurse: There’s a lot of anger, and I get it. I can’t do the work of three people, I just can’t do it. When I see elderly patients waiting hours in A&E, ambulances queuing up round the block, not even able to get near the doors. How does this make sense? In one of the richest countries in the world?Our NHS is dear to every one of us. But it is in danger. Labour will invest in it. We’ll recruit the doctors and nurses it needs. And we’ll end Tory privatisation. Labour created our NHS. And we will rebuild it.Tags:Labour /PPB /Party Political Broadcast /Labour party political broadcast /
I suppose the kindest way to describe this match is to say that the Saints wanted to treat the crowd to a spectacle of Saints trademark edge of the seat, topsy-turvy rugby, writes Graham Henthorne.However, the real truth is that, as with the U18s the previous night, a lack of respect and a killer instinct almost cost the U20s dear.To show how in control the Saints were at half time you only have to look at the stats. They completed one out of the first seven sets, finished with a completion rate of 50% and yet still scored six tries without reply to be seemingly out of sight.A majestic 40/20 from Lee Gaskell set up the first try as from the scrum Danny Yates’ short pass to Joe Greenwood put the big second row in unopposed.We were treated to a Shaun Magennis master class throughout the match as time and again he put a team mate through a hole with a neat short ball.The first to benefit was Gaskell as Nathan Ashe shot through the line on his own 30 before feeding the ball inside to Gaskell as he reached the full back.Greg Wilde showed he’d benefitted from his trip to Australia with a great mazy 40 metre run out of defence. A quick play the ball saw Danny Yates feed Magennis then take the return ball to score under the posts.Gaskell scored his second ghosting around the cover after a great drive from Anthony Walker and two tries from Scott Hale and Mark Percival in the final 5 minutes seemed to have put the icing on an already huge cake.But the Saints are nothing if not unpredictable as they proceeded to emulate and then better their junior counterparts in throwing away the half time lead by conceding seven second half tries, the last with only 3 minutes left.The get out of jail card was ultimately played by Gaskell and cashed in by Jayden Sandford. Gaskell’s short kick off was tapped back by Hale and taken on by Jordan Case. After battering the Tigers line down the left the ball was passed back to Gaskell on the last. His pinpoint accurate cross field kick was taken over the head of his opposite number by Sandford who grounded it to the relief of all in the red vee.The Tigers arrived late due to traffic and in the first half it looked like they were still on the motorway. Maybe it was just as well, as if they had played anything like they did after the break in the opening stanza then they would have gone away with the points.Match Summary:St Helens:Tries: Lee Gaskell 2, Mark Percival, Danny Yates, Scott Hale, Joe Greenwood, Jayden Sandford.Goals: Lee Gaskell 5.Castleford:Tries: Ben Blackmore 4, Ben Reynolds 2, Clark Thompson.Goals: Ben Reynolds 4.Half Time: 34-0Full Time: 38-36Teams:Saints:1. Lee Gaskell; 2. Jayden Sandford, 4. Alex Trumper, 3. Mark Percival, 5. Greg Wilde; 6. Nathan Ashe, 7. Danny Yates; 17. Jordan Hand, 16. Dom Speakman, 8. Shaun Magennis, 11. Scott Hale, 12. Joe Greenwood, 13. Jordan Case.Subs: 10. Anthony Walker, 14. Lewis Foster, 15. Adam Hesketh, 18. André Savelio.Castleford:1. James Clare; 5. Richard Lepori, 3. Danny Holmes, 4. Josh Atkinson, 2. Ben Blackmore; 6. Ben Reynolds, 7. Tom Carroll; 8. Jay Leary, 14. Jack Lee, 10. Steve Nash, 11. Billy Lloyd, 12. Sean Pick, 13. Chris Siddons.Subs: 15. Jack Smith, 16. Sam Orange, 17. Sean Richards, 18. Clark Thompson.
SAINTS U16s ran out easy 22-6 winners at the end of this “Home” fixture switched to the home of the Vikings due to the rainy weather in and around the area, but 20 minutes in that couldn’t have been further from the truth, writes Graham Henthorne.In all my years of watching Saints teams play I don’t think I’ve seen a team make a worse start to a game than I witnessed this evening!In their first three sets the Saints ran on the final play not reaching the half way line on the first two – and then then made a massive improvement reaching 10 metres inside the Vikings half on the third!It was aided and abetted by the Vikings being continually offside from their seven metre starting point but…However, two unconverted tries later and buoyed by the continual big hits from Brandon O’Neill, and numerous last ditch try saving tackling, notably from Jake Arnold, the Saints started to claw their way back into it.Jack Welsby and Josh Waterworth managed to salvage a kicking game from somewhere and on the back of some bullocking runs from Ethan Yates the Saints actually got to play in their opponents half.And that was where the game turned. Put the Vikings under pressure and they cracked coming up with error after error.Two of the errors were converted into scores by the Saints.Another try saving tackle, this time from Yates led to a knock on, which was then compounded by a penalty and the Saints were on the front foot threatening the home line. Four tackles into the set and quick hands across the line gave right winger Harvey McDaid just enough space to dive over.Josh Simm just missed with the conversion but he gave the Saints the lead five minutes later converting Jack Welsby’s try. Two repeat sets proved too much for the home side to survive as first Jack Roughley was held short before on the next tackle Welsby attacking the line, struggled out of the grasp of the defenders before reaching out to score.The talk was positive in the sheds at the break as Coaches Lomax and Frodsham urged the U16s to play as they had for the final 15 minutes of the half praising them for their ability to fight their way through adversity.The second half started with a repeat set as the kick off caught Welsby out sailing over his head but good defence got him out of goal and the Saints never looked back.The Saints poured on the pressure. The Vikings nearly caved in midway through the half as Josh Simm’s 20 metre burst seemed to end with him putting it down over the line but he was ruled to have knocked on.Minutes later the Saints introduced their secret weapon from the bench and the game was put out of reach of the home side.40 metres out and running towards the side-line a shimmy and a jink saw Lewis Dodd through and bearing down on the fullback. Another shimmy and he was past him only to be caught from behind but not before he had fed Simm to go under the sticks.From the restart and we were getting the ready to revive the “It’s like watching Brazil” refrains as the Saints through the ball about with gay abandon. Welsby started it scorching up the blind side from a kick through to his own line. He fed it inside to Yates who then found Simm to take it into the Vikings half.From the play the ball it was moved left to Dodd who did his thing again this time beating everyone and sailing under the posts for a great try.After a shaky start the Saints grew in confidence. Yates and Kye Siyani off the bench gave the team go forward which Josh Carrick emulated in a great cameo in the second half. Welsby, Waterworth and Dodd combined well especially with the again good Simm.But man of the Match was Brandon O’Neill for his intelligent kicking and running from dummy half but especially for his fearless tackling of anyone, usually much bigger than himself.Next Wednesday we entertain our neighbours from over the Lump so all support will be welcome.Match Summary:St Helens:Tries: Harvey McDaid (25), Jack Welsby (30), Josh Simm (60), Lewis Dodd (64).Goals: Josh Simm 2 from 3, Josh Waterworth 1 from 1.Widnes:Tries: Liam Barnes (3), Jarrod O’Connor (17).Half Time: 8-10 Full Time: 8-22Teams:Widnes:1. Daniel Hill; 5. Callum Watson, 3. Harry Moxham, 4. Oliver Brookes, 2. Liam Barnes; 6. Anthony Fenlon, 7. Nathan Redmond; 8. Jake Bradley, 9. Kellen Wood, 10. Josh Wilde, 11. Bradley Calland, 12. Sam Walters, 13. Jarrod O’Connor. Subs: 14. Ciaran O’Donnell, 15. Cameron Reilly, 16. Robbie Ascroft, 17. Alexander Peart, 18. Elliot Smith.Saints:1. Jamie Little; 2. Harvey McDaid, 3. Sam Morley, 4. Zak Critchley, 5. Jake Arnold; 6. Jack Welsby, 7. Josh Waterworth; 8. Kian Horridge, 9. Brandon O’Neill, 10. Cameron Hetherington, 11. Josh Simm, 12. Brandon Scully, 13. Matthew Foster (C). Subs: 14. Keenan McDaid, 15. Ethan Yates, 16. Kye Siyani, 17. Josh Hadland, 18. Lewis Dodd, 19. Jack Roughley, 20. Josh Carrick.
The 21-year-old has committed his future to the Saints until the end of season 2020 – with the option of a further year.Danny made his debut against Leeds this year and went on to make a further 12 appearances, scoring two tries.“Danny has had a good year with the club and I’m pleased he has agreed a new contract,” Saints Head Coach Justin Holbrook said. “He took his opportunity with both hands after impressing at both Academy and Reserve level.“We’re looking forward to seeing him improve over the next few years as he has a big future in the game.”Richardson joined Saints from Halton Hornets at 16-years-old and toured with the Academy to Australia in 2013.He was also part of the unbeaten Academy Championship side in 2016; kicking the winning Golden Point penalty in the Grand Final.He said: “It’s an honour to sign a new contract with the club I call home. I’m looking forward to developing as a player and winning silverware with the Saints.“Since making my debut, the coaching staff, players and fans have been very supportive and I cannot wait to repay them for their faith.”Danny has signed on for 2018… have you? 2018 Memberships now available. Click here to find out more.
Inside an electric DW Stadium packed out with over 5,500 Saints fans, James Roby set us on our way scurrying over from dummy half.Wigan to their credit responded through Hardaker, before Grace grabbed his first after Jonny Lomax had broken through the Wigan line.Lachlan Coote hit a penalty before Grace went over for his second. George Williams gave Wigan hope on the half-time hooter, before Saints blew the Warrriors away in the second half.First Tommy Makinson went over, before Grace secured his hat-trick and Coote converted a penalty before going over himself late on to send the Saints fans home bouncing.Next up for Saints is a home game against Hull FC on Easter Monday (kick off 3pm) and Justin Holbrook has already named his 19 man squad. You can buy tickets for this one online here, or by calling into the Ticket Office at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
Anonymous scarves, gloves and hats donated to WPD (Photo: Wilmington Police Dept.) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Thanks to an anonymous donation, Wilmington Police Officers will be carrying something a little extra with them in the coming day.Scarves, mittens, hats all sit on a table at the police department. Some handmade, some new with tags, all items meant to help keep you warm.- Advertisement – Related Article: Police K9 tracks hit-and-run driver Officers have been invited to pick up the items and when they’re out patrolling, they will hand them out when they see someone in need.WPD says it was an anonymous, generous donation that came at the right time.
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Take a book leave a book, it’s as easy as that when you have a Little Free Library in your neighborhood. Now one is up and running in a Wilmington housing community to spark creativity through book exchanges.The Little Free Library is a non-profit organization that inspires a love of reading. A reveal was held today in the Houston Moore community.- Advertisement – Betsy Kahn said she presented this idea about a year ago and now has turned into a reality. Kahn said this is an exciting day for her. She said her favorite thing about a Little Free Library is you never know what book you will take home or find.“It’s a lot like the tide ebb and flow. What shells will the tide bring in? What shells will the tide take back out? Using that analogy for books is what it’s like. It’s been my experience with our Little Free Library at home,” Kahn said.Dozens of community members came out for the reveal. A lot of kids at Houston Moore already started picking out books to read.
Many people were there first thing in the morning and started dancing and drinking.Organizers say this is a unique event because it bring so many people to Carolina Beach to enjoy a good time.“Carolina Beach music is a very important lifestyle,” festival emcee Mike Worley said. “Once you get in the lifestyle, it involves the music, it involves the people and the dance. You just want to come and gather together and that’s what people do. They come from all over, you know? Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Maryland, they all come down here this one weekend of the year.”Related Article: Southport to host ‘Sunset on the River Concert’ Friday nightOrganizers say besides the music, they enjoy seeing people reaching out to strangers at the festival and making them feel welcome.It’s one of the longest running music festivals in the country. Thousands were out on the beach enjoying live music during the festival. (Photo: Basil John/WWAY) CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — It’s that special time of year in Carolina Beach: the Carolina Beach Music Festival and people from all over came out to enjoy some Carolina Beach music.Thousands of people came out in their bathing suits for the 33rd Annual Carolina Beach Music Festival.- Advertisement –