I'm growing increasingly angry over the way people with Parkinson's in general and myself in particular are being treated with regard to ESA claims and medical assessments, so I've decided to do something about it in some small way. I wrote to my local MP about four weeks ago and despite receiving an acknowledgement I've yet to get a reply, so today I phoned his office to find out when his next surgery is. I now plan to present him with this list of questions on 30th March in person.
• Why were the recommendations of my consultant neurologist, psychiatrist, GP, Serco Occupational Health, an independent doctor specializing in disability and work issues and my employer’s own doctor totally disregarded in favour of the opinion of one doctor employed by Atos?
• Why is the Atos medical assessment so simplistic and narrow in definition when that cannot possibly provide a fair assessment of complicated and variable conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease?
• Why does Parkinson’s Disease not automatically qualify for ESA if the victim is proven to be unable to continue their regular occupation?
• What is gained by attempting to force a person with Parkinson’s to start a new job if they are unable to continue their existing career, when there are thousands of fit and healthy people competing for the same jobs?
• If Parkinson’s sufferers are to be bullied into finding a new job, why isn’t there a suitable programme to specifically assess what they are capable of doing, providing training specifically geared to their needs and providing practical work experience placements?
• Potential employers appreciate the difficulty that Parkinson’s sufferers face in performing a job satisfactorily so why can’t the Government? Example – I recently had an interview for a job manning a car park kiosk for two days a week, four hours per day. They offered to let me try one day a week to see if I could cope but had reservations in employing me for both days because they anticipated I would struggle in view of my illness and the fact that I hadn’t worked for over two years.
• Following on from the last point, if it is considered that a job of this nature for just two four hour shifts a week is likely to be too much for me to cope with, what type of job exactly is considered to be within my capabilities?
• Regarding the new time limits imposed on how long contribution related ESA and JSA benefits are paid, why is there not an exemption for people with Parkinson’s who obviously face a far greater challenge in finding employment?
• Finally, Sir Alan, what are you prepared to do to challenge this huge injustice and fight for the rights of your constituents who have Parkinson’s Disease?
I don't expect that this will achieve anything but at least it will make my feelings known and I will expect some serious answers that address the problem. I'll let you know what happens, in the meantime do consider contacting your own MP. This can become a political issue if we make it a political issue.
Bravo! What a fighter. I will be thinking about you on 30th March. Your M.P.
will probably be full of hot air and platitudes. Go for it - you are an inspiration and I hope your meeting is productive for you at least.
What satisfaction there must be in wiping that sanctimonious smile from the face of a politician!
Hope you do better with your MP, I recently wrote to him regarding Parkinsons, free prescriptions. All he did was write back and quote the Tory Party line. Waste of time. I wrote back to him saying I have paid for everything in my life and worked every day of my life, could he not do something for me for once. Need you ask no reply.
I would just like to let people know that there is an e petition regarding the unfair assessments that Atos are currently undertaking. I'm sure thata a lot of yoy will want to sign this here is the link http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/5828
Thanks Ezinda for bringing my typing error to my attention. I would just like to add something to this thread. I too am in regular contact with my MP regarding cuts to disability benefits and concerns regarding the way assessments are being carried out. I always receive a reply and to my knowledge he has acted upon at least two of my concerns, the most recent is posted below.
DLA TO PIP MEDICAL BONANZA
Disability living allowance (DLA) claimants have been divided into four regional lots and are being sold off to ten shortlisted bidders – including multinational security companies - for the purpose of being medically assessed for personal independence payment.
A fifth, nationwide lot is also up for grabs, but the DWP have said they do not intend to use this contract unless things go wrong with regional suppliers.
PIP is due to begin replacing DLA for working age claimants from spring next year, with all current DLA claimants having to be reassessed for the new benefit. The contracts for PIP medicals are worth up to a billion pounds in total and have attracted the attention of many multinational companies.
Amongst the bidders through to the final round in all four regions is the increasingly heavily criticised Atos, who will undoubtedly be hoping that their LIMA software will give them the edge over their rivals.
Relative newcomers to the scene are security guards G4S, who have also been shortlisted for every contract. Their forensic medical arm, though more used to helping catch rapists and paedophiles, won a small contract to pilot PIP assessments last year. In 2010, three G4S security guards were bailed after the death, whilst they were restraining him, of an Angolan refugee being deported from Heathrow.
Serco, another company with a heavy security presence, have been shortlisted for Northern Ireland. Amongst many other contracts, Serco run prisons, detention centres and immigration removal centres in the UK and abroad. In Australia, a Serco training manual is alleged to have taught employees how to use pain, including punches and kicks, to subdue asylum seekers.
Capita, which runs the Criminal Records Bureau on behalf of the Home Office and is invariably referred to as ‘Crapita’ by Private Eye, has also been shortlisted for all regions. The company has been involved in a number of less than successful public service contracts in the past, including Individual Learning Accounts which were subject to fraudulent claims on an unprecedented scale and which were shut down after just one year.
Other potential providers include Avanta, Ingeus Deloitte, APM UK, Reed In Partnership and Vertex.
A4E, currently mired in fraud investigations, did not make it through to any of the shortlists.
This is very concerning in my opinion, so please sign the petition even if you are not currently effected by these cuts?
Have signed it. We seem to have been put, quite by accident, in a category of "benefit scroungers" that the government is targeting, probably because the rules were hastily drawn up without proper consideration.
It seems to me that Parkinsons UK as a recognized authority would be in a strong position to have its voice heard and take the matter forward.
Wrong on both counts, Polly.
We are very concerned about how these changes are impacting people with Parkinson’s of working age. We've campaigned extensively against the Welfare Reform Act. You can find out more about our efforts on our campaigns page at: http://bit.ly/gj92yn
There was also a news update on the changes to the Employment Support Allowance on the website from 1 May. You can find this here: http://bit.ly/IEHBQO
Please also look out for a news story on the main page of the website later today which will provide information on the next steps that people affected by this change should take and what to do if you have been given incorrect information.
In the meantime, if you feel like you might be affected by these changes, please call our benefits adviser on the helpline at 0808 800 0303.
Would you like to share your story or help us with campaigning around this issue? Contact the campaigns team on 020 7963 9307 or email campaigns[at]parkinsons.org.uk
Please remember that there is a wealth of information and chances to get involved on the website. Do check the news page regularly for updates on important issues affecting people with Parkinson’s.
The news story on the changes to ESA has now been posted. You can find it here: http://bit.ly/K9xeTz
I hope this helps.
Hi, I had an interview at my local Job centre plus yesterday. I've been concerned about it for weeks now since I received a letter from the DWP informing me that I had been placed in the 'work related group' of the ESA.
I was interviewed for about 30 mins by a very understanding Lady that explained everything in detail to me. I've always had the pre-conception that ESA was just replacing the old Incapacity benefit and that it would continue supporting me until my official retiring age. The new ESA benefit will only be paid out for one year if you are placed in a 'work related group'.
I could see the disapproval on her face concerning these changes but she couldn't say as much to me. After all, she doesn't make the rules, she just abides by them. However, she did tell me in a roundabout way, that it would be advisable for me to contact the DWP by letter before my benefit runs out next July and try to convince them that I should be placed in the 'support group' instead.
You wont be forced to look for work and you will receive the full benefit amount if you can get placed in this group. One thing that you mustn't do is try to convince them that you cant do ANYTHING! She as good as told me that joining a volunteer service (like the C.A.B.) would satisfy the required criteria.
As it happens, I was already in the process of applying to join CAB but I left it because I thought it might have an adverse effect on my ESA application. I also thought that I'd give my medication a miss on the day for better effect but I didn't do it in the end. Keeping my dignity is important.
If you intend to write a letter to get the 'upgrade' to a 'support group', make it very comprehensive and go into lots of detail. Get supporting evidence from your GP, Neuro or PD nurse but DO NOT get them to state that you are incapable of ANY type of work. Just describe what your symptoms restrict you from doing. If you can manage to get something from a volunteer service, do so!
We might not be able to right these wrongs (yet!) but we can certainly skirt around them until then. Don't get mad, get even!!