you just fail
Kenneth Roy is in error (2 May) if he supposes that the 'health professionals' paid by ATOS for the supposed fit for work assessments are doctors one and all. As the anonymous victim of the silly machinery of this company noted in SR before the end of Gordon Brown's time as prime minister, one of the assertions being made was that one of the state registered nurses employed in this dubious work had been overheard saying that in this easy work she simply failed everybody.
That is not of course impossible, since so far as I am aware the formal refusal of benefit simply follows unquestioningly from what the nurse or doctor sets down for the person nominally making the decision (the public servant with the rubber stamp).
As I recall, the exact problem was obscured at the time by the prevailing Brownophobic attention to the overall legislation – blaming Gordon Brown was a la mode – though then and in the interim the main problem and the major haemorrhage of public funds and imposition of private pain was strictly from the number of individuals being denied benefit by ATOS minions. The number of refusals of benefit far exceeded initial projections, and was bidding fair to discredit falsely the devisers of an intelligent overall scheme. The delays in hearing appeals was a big story – I was assured by one lady that between two assessments she had been longer on reduced benefit waiting for an appeal, than on the full benefit which was again denied her at the next ATOS hearing.
The questions set for the health professional to answer are crap, they in effect assume that because the individual under supposed examination can do so much when relieved of the burden of paid work, they can do the same when holding down a job.
There is a provision of back-up and support for those not unfit to do any work, but fit to do something less demanding than what they might have done hitherto. This category is not taken into account prior to an individual being baldly, and sometimes incompetently, declared fit for work.
I would have thought that some of the money spent on appeals might have been directed to reimbursing some professionals who hear appeals, in remedying the botches which must be laid at the door of civil servants on account of their and not merely politicians' incompetence.
It is not a case of who is to blame, it is a matter of a proper professional diagnosis. And while there is no question of setting quotas of the proportion of individuals whose claims are to be disallowed, has anyone ever checked whether that woman mentioned above, or anybody else, has blithely turned down everybody as a matter of course?
Perhaps there could also be a study of the texts of appeals submitted and granted, as a further diagnostic measure. Some older members of the medical profession I have known revered the men who taught them diagnostics. A lost art in some places nowadays.
The devil has been having a lot of nasty fun with the fine details of this provision, the same fine details which it is hardest to discuss in an average press article. But it matters.
Robert R Calder
Once upon a time there was a fine British newspaper called the Daily Telegraph. It was the home of Bill Deedes, one of the great journalists of my lifetime, and of distinguished figures across the board. In its heyday, its 'Page Three' was better read than that of the Sun, by those in the know.
If ever there was a titillating court case, the details of which were a little too fruity for the other broadsheets and contained words that were too long for the tabloids, you would find the full and unexpurgated version there, unless it was beyond the basest definition of good taste.
Then along came the internet, with its online editions, and the world changed. The Telegraph joined the rest in the gutter, and worse than that, it became vicious and censorious into the bargain. Even its news reporting became imbued by this and has reached a point where editorial thought seems to have disappeared.
Here's an example. Recently, a footballer got himself into trouble in the north-west of England. He was arrested on an assault charge, then released on bail pending further investigations. A short time later he was arrested again, after a motoring incident, and charged with driving while disqualified, while over the limit, and without insurance. If this man is guilty as charged, then I have no brief for him, but to me there seem to be three questions that need answering.
The first is for the police. How come this guy was released, under the influence, after being accused of punching a woman in the face? They may not have anticipated that he would go out and commit a raft of, alleged, motoring offences, but surely the safety of his, alleged, victim might have been a consideration. He was arrested at 3.30 am. At 5:30am the car accident happened, and the driver of the other vehicle wound up in hospital. Couldn't, indeed shouldn't, that have been prevented by the simple and normally routine act of locking the guy up for the night?
The second is for the editor of the Telegraph. If that very obvious question occurs to a simpleton like me, how come it wasn't put by your reporter?
The third is also for said editor. His organ chose to publish in its story the address of the footballer involved, but not in its entirety, only the town in which he lives and the street. I've just had a look at it on Google Earth; we are not talking modest family terrace here, we are talking leafy suburbia and serious wealth. In recent years, the burglary of footballers' homes has become a significant part of the black economy in the north west of England. That being the case the Telegraph's partial publication has put not only the accused footballer at risk, but potentially the homes of every one of his neighbours.
Jeremy Hunt might have been given the heave-ho save for the fact that he is very well connected: after all he went to Magdalen. (Mawdlin please for the phonetically challenged.) Magdalen (la creme de la creme) of Oxon colleges enjoys the privilege of having distinguished political alumni such as William Hague, George Osborne, Dominic Grieve, Lord Baker, Nicholas Boles, John Hemming and John Redwood; all of whom no doubt would be expected to support a Magdalen 'chap'.
Incidentally there is on the team-Magdalen the Tory-supporting Labour peer Lord Hutton (ex-Labour MP John Hutton) who found a job for himself writing anti-Labour welfare policy for the Conservatives. But Jeremy, son of Admiral Sir Nicholas Hunt, was head boy at Charterhouse School prior to going up to Oxford where he was a contemporary of David Cameron and Boris Johnson. But it was Mr Hunt who became president of Oxford University Conservative Association.
Like his good friend David, Jeremy spent time in the far east. David to Hong Kong and Jardine Mathieson, Jeremy to Japan and then onto a career in PR and selling study courses (but he failed in his attempt to sell marmalade to Japan). However he did back the successful David Cameron for leadership of the Tory Party.
Why, after half-a-dozen Labour governments, around 25 years of Labour power, do we still have a near feudal system of elite privileged posh boys wielding power in a so-called democracy? Power over the lives of 99.8% of this population is firmly in the hands of 0.2% of arrogant elites who from school and university have formed a devious and dangerous aggregation of economic and political supremacy.
The real coalition that is running (ruining) this country is made up of influential elites in finance capital who control much of our market forces tied through numerous tentacles to a similar small very select network who hold political dominance. This creates a perfect storm of command and control by a tiny authoritarian faction who, in Murdoch's words, 'will scratch my back if I scratch yours'. Scottish sovereignty will have to deal with this long heritage of privileged power that is profoundly undemocratic, representing a present danger while offering an anxious, fearful future.
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