Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Benefit applicants - '75% fit to work or drop claims'

The following came from the BBC news site , I read the article and have to say found its contents rather worrying !

The fact that 36% of people abandoned their claims is a worry , does this imply massive fraud or are people so intimidated by bureaucracy that they simple give up ?


Benefit applicants - '75% fit to work or drop claims'

Three-quarters of people who apply for sickness benefit are found fit to work or drop their claims before they are completed, official figures show.

Department for Work and Pensions figures showed 887,300 of 1,175,700 employment and support allowance (ESA) applicants over a 22-month period failed to qualify for assistance.

Of those 39% were judged fit to work, while 36% abandoned their claim.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said the welfare system needed changing.

He said the figures underlined the need to reassess people still on the old incapacity benefit - a process which the government began rolling out last month.

"Once again we have clear evidence of the need for change in our welfare system.

"We now know very clearly that the vast majority of new claimants for sickness benefits are in fact able to return to work. That's why we are turning our attention to existing claimants, who were simply abandoned on benefits.

"That's why we are reassessing all of those claimants, and launching the work programme to provide specialist back to work support," he said.

"We will, of course, carry on providing unconditional support to those who cannot work, but for those who can it's right and proper that they start back on the road to employment," Mr Grayling added.

The DWP figures cover the period from 27 October 2008 - when ESA was introduced by the former Labour government - to 31 August 2010.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

BBC-'Radical' NHS shake-up may jeopardise patient care

'Radical' NHS shake-up may jeopardise patient care

The planned shake-up of the NHS in England that will put GPs in charge of buying in services could risk patient care, warns a group of influential MPs.

The Public Accounts Committee says pushing through the changes while seeking £20bn in efficiency savings may damage front-line services.

The concerns follow those of others, including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's close adviser Norman Lamb.

The government insists the overhaul is essential to safeguard services.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: "The efficiency challenge and our reforms are inextricably linked.

"Our reforms help the NHS make savings, because getting rid of tiers of bureaucracy will mean an extra £1.7bn each year to reinvest in patient care.

"And if we don't give doctors and nurses the power to make decisions for their patients, then quality of care will suffer."

Under the plans GPs will be handed control over much of the health budget and the health service will be opened up to greater competition from the private sector.

At the same time the government also expects all hospitals in England to become foundation trusts, free from central control.

And it wants to secure efficiency gains across the NHS of up to £20bn by the end of the financial year 2014-15 and to reduce administrative costs in non front-line organisations by 33% over the same period.

Ministers maintain this is achievable, but the Public Accounts Committee is less sure.

Its report warns that ministers have "no control" over many of the costs.

And if the department's estimate of the one-off costs associated with reorganisation turns out to have been too low, it will make the challenge of achieving savings for re-investment even tougher, it says.
Mounting concerns

Committee chairman Margaret Hodge said: "The Department of Health acknowledged the risks associated with this radical shake-up of the NHS.

"Whilst the reforms could complement the imperative of achieving £20bn efficiency gains by 2014/15, the reorganisation might also distract those responsible for making the savings while safeguarding standards of patient care."

She added: "We were also concerned that the Department has not yet developed a high quality risk management protocol for either the commissioning or providing bodies.

"The Department acknowledged that some health trusts and some GP practices had some way to go to achieve foundation trust status or become commissioning consortia.

"The Department must have effective systems in place to deal with failure so that whatever happens, the interests of both patients and taxpayers are protected."

Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the British Medical Association, said: "The Public Accounts Committee is right to highlight the risks posed by such a massive restructuring at a time of financial crisis.

"However, it is not just the timing, but also the direction of travel of these reforms that will cause problems.

"We share the concerns of the PAC that the consequences of increasing competition in the NHS have not been fully addressed.

"'Market failures' in healthcare have far more serious consequences than in other industries - and may have little connection with quality of care, or even patient demand."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pip Patient Intelligence Panel

I would like to draw your attention to this interesting org/web site :

PIP ( ) is all about giving a voice to millions of patients who suffer from ailments and diseases. PIP is now bridging the gap between patient’s opinions and healthcare providers  by offering patients a platform on which to share their opinions, feelings, and experiences on your ailment or disease.

PIP Health is a patient research company

We have created a panel of patients across a range of illnesses and diseases in order to offer better insight and understanding of patients needs to pharmaceutical, and healthcare professionals across the globe.

Drs Nadine Van Dongen established PIP Health in 2008, after she had experienced a life threatening car-crash and thus being a patient for a long time to recover. Nadine is now the Managing Director and has been instrumental in pushing for a better understanding of patient’s needs, and quality of life.

PIP offers research services to Healthcare stakeholders. The information shared is always anonymous, and unattributed.

Every time a panel member completes a survey €1 will be paid back to charity groups providing vital research, support and care. In addition at the end of the year, PIP will donate 5% of profits to healthcare charities in the UK.

PIP is currently based in the UK and in the Netherlands, but is expanding into new markets across the globe in the coming years.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Birmingham City Council disabled care limits 'unlawful

The following article is from the BBC news , all I can say is that this is a victory for common sense !


Birmingham City Council disabled care limits 'unlawful'

Judges have ruled that Birmingham City Council's plans to limit social care for disabled people are unlawful.

The families of four severely disabled people took the case to the High Court sitting in Birmingham.

The test case is the first in a series of possible legal challenges to councils around the UK mounted by those facing cuts to social care.

Birmingham City Council is planning to reduce care packages to about 4,000 people over the next three years.

The authority, a Conservative-Liberal coalition, says it needs to make the cuts to help slash £118m from its adult and communities directorate.

In total, a spokeswoman said, it needs to save £308m from its budget.

It explained that only those whose needs had been assessed as "critical" would qualify for council-funded care.

But the judges ruled that the council business plan was unlawful because it failed to comply with Section 49a of the Disability Discrimination Act.

The four people, who cannot be named for legal reasons, include a 65-year-old woman with severe learning difficulties who receives 24-hour care in a home paid for by the council.
'Hugely beneficial'

They also include a 25-year-old man with a rare genetic disorder and severe learning disabilities who receives overnight respite care, also funded by the council.

Both were set to lose their council-funded care.

The sister-in-law of the 65-year-old woman said: "I'm deeply concerned about what impact this will have and it's important to take a stand here.

"She relies on the council's support to assist her with daily living skills and to support and promote her independence, including assisting with personal care tasks, preparation of meals and safely accessing the community.

"The care is hugely beneficial and without it her quality of life would fall dramatically."

The case was also brought on behalf of a 30-year-old deaf, autistic man with severe learning disabilities who is prone to self-harm. His specialist day care would also have gone under the plans.

The fourth person is a 36-year-old woman with severe learning difficulties whose day care centre will close and who is also set to lose respite care.

A spokesman for the council said they would be looking at the judgement in detail before making a decision on whether to lodge an appeal.

He said: "The generality of the budget is not affected, this is a decision about the eligibility criteria for adult social care.
'Opportunity to pause'

"Like all councils, Birmingham faces a huge financial challenge, with adults and communities having to make a share of the savings like all other directorates, and we need to assess the impact of this decision.

"It is also important to point out that this judgement is about the process we went through with regard to the Disability Discrimination Act, not the actual decision about where savings should be made."

Tony Rabaiotti, head of local government in the West Midlands for public sector union Unison, welcomed the ruling.

He said: "This is a landmark ruling and a tremendous victory for thousands of vulnerable people across Birmingham who rely upon social care provision.

"Social care workers across Birmingham have been telling Unison over the last few months that they are genuinely frightened by the proposal to so severely axe social care provision.

"They have been telling us that vulnerable people will simply be left to fend for themselves. The council now has the opportunity to pause, think again and work with us to maintain quality social care provision for the people of Birmingham."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Addicts and DLA

So the media is a wash with "moral outrage and execration " over the fact that 80,000 addicts receive welfare payments but correct me if I am wrong, but back in 2006 was not the figure 100,000 ? so in real terms there has been a drop of 20% .

Housing benefit cut's

A great article by Leslie Morphy from the Guardian

By Leslie Morphy, Wednesday 20 April 2011

Last June, the government announced cuts to housing benefit that are expected to hit about a million households. There was major coverage at the time, including controversy over Boris Johnson's use of the phrase "social cleansing". But another change, included in November's comprehensive spending review, has barely received any attention even though it will force tens of thousands to leave their homes.

The government is preparing to rush through regulations that mean up to 88,000 25- to 34-year-olds will suddenly be dropped from a benefit rate designed to cover the cost of a one-bedroom flat to the shared accommodation rate. This week, draft regulations are due to be published on the measure, which will be laid in parliament by the summer and take effect next year.

The average loss is £47 per week, and some people will see their benefit entitlement more than halved. Most of those affected will lose their home. This measure threatens to turn the clock back on street homelessness. We could find ourselves back in the 80s, when people living rough on the streets was a fact of life.

It's true that many young people living in bigger cities across the UK have to house-share, but for most this is a choice. It's a period that is time-limited, coming to an end when a deposit for a house is saved or when earnings allow a move to their own flat. Sharing for young professionals tends to be with like-minded individuals, friends or workmates, and provides a social life and base for good times.

Contrast this with the experience of vulnerable single people without support networks or the cushion of a decent income. Many of those affected by this cut come from troubled backgrounds featuring neglect and abuse, have mental illnesses, or struggle with drugs or alcohol. Their difficulties in early life are not smoothed out by supportive families or peer networks. Nor are they pointed in the right direction by a proactive teacher or tutor at college. Instead, it's often a struggle for them to become independent and make a home and a life for themselves.

Making a clean break from past lifestyles is almost impossible in these circumstances, as is reconnecting with children or trying to sustain paid work. And where is all the shared housing for these individuals? As housing benefit claimants, they will not be able to afford the comfortable shared houses that young professionals do. There simply aren't enough available alternatives. In many areas of the country, especially rural areas and small towns, shared accommodation doesn't exist.

We at Crisis surveyed 343 frontline housing professionals working to support people into private accommodation. Of these, 95% expressed concerns about the proposed change, 87% said they already have difficulty finding appropriate properties for people on the shared accommodation rate, 72% said that there is not enough shared accommodation available in their local area, and around 63% said that there is a higher risk of tenancies breaking down in shared properties.

The National Landlords Association has also said that most landlords will be unable to accept such significant decreases in rent and that the vast majority (96%) also say that they are not planning to let more shared properties in response to this change.

A return to the days of widespread homelessness just doesn't make economic sense. It can cost up to £50,000 and dedicated effort from a range of public and voluntary agencies to help a rough sleeper off the streets and tackle the issues that made them homeless. Yet all that could be wasted if, after having settled someone into a flat in the private rented sector, they are now uprooted due to this benefit cut and forced to move into a shared house. Experience clearly tells us this will lead to many becoming unstable again, returning to past behaviours and ending up back on the streets. Protecting vulnerable people from the cuts has become almost a mantra for David Cameron, quelling the fears of many of his coalition partners. But street homelessness, emblematic of unjust social and economic policies, looks set to increase if this cut goes ahead.

Housing is not a luxury, and for anyone not convinced by the moral argument against homelessness, it is clear that an increase in rough sleeping will have a political and economic cost too. There is still time. I urge the government to head off this disaster before it is too late by rethinking these cuts, or at the very least introducing clear exemptions for vulnerable groups. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

A great Blog to read -Dawn Willis

A really great blog to follow for anyone interested in mental health

Monday, April 11, 2011

EU cross-border health care directive

The new EU cross-border health care directive will the God,s willing come into effect in 2013, but will it lead to greater choice for all patients and their carers ?

Patients should in theory be able to get health care treatment from anywhere within the EU from 2013, at least, this is the core idea behind the cross-border health care directive, which is likely to make it into the European Union's official journal in the next few weeks , after it has to be said , many years of political wrangling.

I suspect that relatively few people will take advantage of the law but it will prove useful in clarifying when patients are entitled to obtain reimbursement for health care obtained abroad, with the aim of ensuring that people no longer need to fight for their rights in court.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Prescriptions for anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac rose by more than 40%

The BBC news web page has posted the following

"Economic problems may be fueling a rise in depression in England, it has been suggested.

Prescriptions for anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac rose by more than 40% over the past four years, data obtained by the BBC shows."

Well that sounds quite straight forward at first at first glance but maybe the raise is due to GP's changing from older types of medication to more modern ones such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI ? i for one rather think this is the case .

The Mental Health Foundation has taken over the running of the Shift Speakers’ Bureau

The following post is taken form the WEB site of the Mental Health Foundation and will be if interest to any one that uses the Shift Speakers Bureau .:

Date: 05 April 2011

Source: Mental Health


Country: United Kingdom

The Mental Health Foundation

has taken over the running of

the Shift Speakers’ Bureau: a

network of people with a

variety of mental health

problems who are available

to speak to the media and at

public events about their

experiences. The newly-

named Mental Health

Foundation Speakers’ Bureau

will be managed by the

Foundation’s Press and PR


The Speakers’ Bureau was

formerly run by Shift, a

branch of the now-closed

government agency the

National Mental Health

Development Unit (NMHDU)

that was established to help

tackle the stigma and

discrimination that surrounds

mental health issues in the

UK. The Mental Health

Foundation has taken over

running of the Speakers’

Bureau following the closure

of Shift and NMHDU as part

of the government’s

programme of spending


Dr Andrew McCulloch, Chief

Executive of the Mental

Health Foundation, said:

“Over the last four years, the

Shift Speakers’ Bureau has

proved an invaluable resource

for literally hundreds of

journalists, columnists,

reporters, producers and

event-organisers looking to

gain real-life perspectives on

what it is like to experience

mental health problems in the


The Mental Health Foundation

has long believed that giving

people with mental health

problems the opportunity to

share their experiences, in the

media or at public events, is

crucial to raising awareness

of mental health issues and

tackling the stigma and

discrimination that still

surrounds them.

As such, while the closure of

NMHDU and Shift is deeply

regrettable, we are delighted

that we are able to do our bit

to keep this tremendous

resource open, helping to

keep the real experiences of

people with mental health

problems in the public eye”.

Read more about the Mental

Health Foundation Speakers’

Bureau, which includes short

biographies of Bureau


If you are a member of the

media or an event organiser

who would like to speak to a

member of the Speakers’

Bureau about their

experiences, please contact

the Mental Health Foundation

Press Office on / 020 7803