Benefits Assessor: How Long Are You Likely To Have Parkinson’s?

I was asked in 2011 by an Atos assessor how long I thought I would have a “chronic, progressive illness”.  Medical testing had confirmed I have connective tissue disease (lupus). That was the diagnosis from my rheumatologist, which she read aloud at the assessment, from a correspondence between my consultant and my GP. Dumbfounded, I replied:

“Until I die. The clue is in the words ‘progressive’ and ‘chronic’.”

But an essential failure to grasp what words like “chronic”, “degenerative” and “progressive” actually mean isn’t peculiar to state assessors of illness and disability, who work for the government specifically to reduce the number of people eligible for sickness benefits. Government ministers display the same level of purposive ignorance:

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Hardly  “appropriate” , “reasonable” or taking “circumstances”, or medical diagnoses, for that matter, into account. A degenerative condition is one that DOES deteriorate. That is why it is called  a “degenerative condition.” It is therefore wrong and displays a degree of exceptional ignorance to assume that people WON’T or “may not” deteriorate.

This is why we don’t visit the government rather than a doctor when we become ill, especially when the state thinks it knows best about our medical conditions and how we should address those – and clearly doesn’t. This is about irrational ideology-driven policies aimed at cutting  back the welfare state. Regardless of how unreasonable that is and regardless of the consequences for those needing social security.

Sick and disabled people need support, understanding and medical care, not ignorance, Conservative dogma, vicious stigmatisation and a (neo)liberal re-translation of the words “Arbeit macht frei”.  

The government have conflated human needs with purely dogmatic economic outcomes.

Kitty S Jones.

Same Difference

This paragraph from Frances Ryan’s latest article- an interview with a claimant called Phil Brehaut- just says it all.

“It was very daunting, like being in court,” he says. “The lady on the panel actually asked me, ‘How long are you likely to have Parkinson’s?’” He pauses. “The person next to her quickly whispered in her ear … You would think they’d know a little bit about it.”

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16 thoughts on “Benefits Assessor: How Long Are You Likely To Have Parkinson’s?

  1. It does make one hope that a couple of politicians* will get first hand knowledge of a chronic degenerative incurable disease or condition fairly soon. *supply your own names

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The problem is that only one of the panel is a doctor the other two are legal people, and they have a set of questions they ask without any thought as to whether or not it is appropriate, this is the reason why they make so many mistakes they don’t actually understand what is being conveyed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This isn’t about a tribunal, where, as you say, the panel consists of 2 legal people and 1 doctor. This is about the work capability assessment, where it’s reasonable to expect the medical staff employed by Atos or Maximus understand what “degenerative” “chronic” and “progressive” illness actually means.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. We are constantly told that those carrying out these assessments (not Tribunals, as Kitty has answered that area) are “Health Professionals”. In reality, they are people who may have started training in either a medical or paramedical subject, but not finished that training. They may have completed training, say as a chiropodist, but failed their exams. These will be put in charge of these tick-box, computer driven interviews, where someones life-line benefits are at stake. They can be assessing those with mental health conditions. Despite the massive drive to attract paramedics from the ambulance service, and qualified Drs. by offering twice the salary in their “day jobs”, there are far too many still in the assessment process who have no idea what they are doing. In one memorable incident, a “health professional” asked an ex-soldier when his “prosthetic leg” was expected to get better. They had no idea that he actually had lost a leg, and the prosthetic leg was in fact a “false” leg. No-one who has been through this process has a shred of confidence in the system.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. If I remember rightly – a similar instance was reported in the Stoke Sentinel – normally a Tory union bashing local rag

    A guy , I think in his early 60s or late 50s was ‘ let go ‘ by this small firm – a State General Nurse asked this acting for #Atos – so she could put in a prognosis of him , either ‘ recovering ‘ from Parkinsons in 6 or more like 18 months , thus earning Atos another ‘ assessment ‘ fee paid by the ‘ hard working tax payer ‘ to see if he wasn’t exaggerating his condition / ‘ trying it on ‘ – ridiculous & corrupt I know !!

    Atos , #Maximus and Crapita are the real scroungers and fraudsters with this corporate welfare baloney – it costs more than it saves – still it keeps the #DailyMail thickies happy !

    His ex boss said I’d love to meet that idiot that ‘ assessed ‘him in that sham non medical , ‘ medical ‘ – they simply couldn’t employ him anymore

    If that ‘ nurse ‘ pulled that stunt , acting beyond her remit , over ruling consultants and specialists in a hospital – she’d be in the office so fast her feet wouldn’t touch – needing a good RCN / Unison rep and maybe a employment solicitor ? to avoid being struck off by the NMC .

    There’s also ambulance chasing legal firms looking for misdiagnoses

    These corrupt entities get away with it – as they’re merely ‘ analysts ‘ offering opinions and the #DWP taking ‘ advice ‘ and making the final ‘ decision ‘ is institutionally incapable of operating independently

    Just another political wing of the Tory party – they don’t do empirical evidence – just Victorian / Edwardian ideology

    #McVey said some people do get better and I will come for them – that’s the petty , spiteful , small minded and vindictive #Tory mindset and paranoia they have – in case anyone gets one over on ‘ the system ‘ – so it means they’ll have every single person will be dragged in ………just in case !

    Can’t think why John McDonnell called her a stain on humanity and joked about people in her ex constituency having dark thoughts about lynching her ….not – she certainly didn’t do herself any favours

    The Liverpool Echo said the kindest thing you could say was that she acted as a lightening conductor for Iain Duncan Smith and the criticism she attracted was not for the faint hearted

    Liked by 2 people

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