U.K. GOVERNMENT USES MIGHT OF AMERICAN INSURANCE GIANT TO DESTROY UK SAFETY NET
By Mo Stewart, Former Healthcare Professional WRAF (Rtd.)
14th September 2012
Whilst the Prime Minister employs talented script writers, and waxes lyrically about the nation’s concerns for our most vulnerable people, the reality is that the medical tyranny used to assess anyone claiming sickness or disability benefits has, by the Department for Work and Pension’s(DWP) own admission, resulted in 1100 deaths between January – August 2011, from those moved from Incapacity Benefit into the ‘work related activity group’ following a ‘medical assessment’ by Atos Healthcare.
Regardless of diagnosis, prognosis or treatments, these victims were removed from the safety net of the welfare state by underqualified DWP staff, following a totally inadequate assessment by Atos Healthcare, forced to prepare for work and then died trying.**
The present sinister attack on the welfare state was planned by the Thatcher government in 1994(1), with successive governments contributing to the fear now faced by the chronically sick and disabled people of the UK.
The Prime Minister announced last year that disability benefits should only be available to those whose reduced health was due to ‘no fault of their own.’*
Playing ‘the blame game’ whilst demonstrating his very dangerous lack of comprehension of the sinister implications of all serious addiction was thought at the time to be extreme, but it was only ever the tip of the iceberg. Since then, every chronically sick and disabled person in receipt of disability benefits has learned to live in fear of their own government.
Most civil servants and MPs are able bodied, with very few having any personal knowledge about the vast subject of chronic illness or disability, so sweeping generalisations feed the national press whilst one particular man, with a past history in finance, was given unlimited authority.
He was never elected but his opinions are never challenged by government so Lord Freud, as the Minister for Welfare Reform, enjoys unprecedented authority about a subject that he demonstrably knows nothing about.
With a past history in the world of finance, Lord Freud knows about budgets, not disability, and he has engaged with the insurance industry to reduce the burden of government funded welfare.(2) In his own words(3), Lord Freud admitted that he knew nothing about welfare or disability. Yet, three weeks following his appointment, he produced a report that was adopted by government and now the weakest in society live in fear of frequent obligatory government ‘medical assessments’, as conducted by Atos Healthcare, that have been demonstrated to be totally ‘unfit for purpose’ by the President of the Appeal Tribunals, national front-line charities, welfare agencies and concerned high calibre professionals.
The government ignore them all.(1)(4)(5)
Atos Healthcare (AH) is the private company engaged to undertake all ‘medical assessments’ on behalf of the DWP for anyone in receipt of Incapacity Benefit – now changed to the Employment Support Allowance(ESA) – but the AH assessments remain totally free from all public accountability according to the General Medical Council and the Care Quality Commission.(1)
Undeterred by public concern, the £multi million contract between the DWP and AH was recently extended(6), whilst countless numbers of our most vulnerable citizens testify to this bogus ‘medical assessment’, that remains as far away from genuine medical evaluation as it’s possible to be.(1)
In reality, the Atos assessment is a limited non-medical assessment, that discounts all input from the patients’ GP and Consultants, and remains very high risk as it is clearly based on the totally discredited Bio-Psychosocial Model (BPS) of disability(7) that disregards the diagnosis and prognosis of the patient.
However, behind the might of Atos Healthcare(AH) are government advisers Unum Insurance, one of the most discredited corporate insurance giants in the United States(US)(8), and the ‘medical assessments’ undertaken by AH are alarmingly similar to those used by Unum for the assessments and denial of income protection insurance claims.(8)
The US courts discredited Unum’s “non-medical” model for assessing medical conditions(8) yet successive UK governments adopted it to reduce the welfare budget, regardless of the human cost of this imported US medical tyranny.
Unum rebrand periodically, depending on the numbers of multi-million dollar fines imposed due to unacceptable medical assessment practice (9), and they offer income protection (disability) insurance but have a disturbing past history of resisting paying out when an insured person hits hard times with illness, or the onset of a disability, and needs to make a claim.(8)(9)(10)(11)
Previously known as Unum Provident or First Unum, the company have been advising successive British governments since Thatcher was Prime Minister and this corporate giant, described as operating ‘disability denial factories’ inspired the initial research report: Atos Healthcare or Disability Denial Factories, completed in June 2010 (1), and now accessed by welfare professionals throughout the UK.
Indeed, Unum Insurance were identified in 2009, by the American Association for Justice, as being ‘one of the top two worst insurance companies in America’(8) yet have been involved, behind the scenes, with the DWP for almost 20 years.(9)(12)(14)(15)
Disturbing evidence of the eventual planned move from the British welfare state to the US style of welfare, to be funded by private insurance, was first exposed in the House of Lords during the welfare reform debates last year.
Members of the noble House quoted from the 2nd detailed research report: Welfare Reform – Redress for Disabled People (9) as written at the request of noble members.
Unsurprisingly, the government decided that all suggested amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill, hard won in the House of Lords, were to be disregarded due to the use of Financial Privilege(16) – an ancient authority of the House of Commons. Hence, this government’s contempt for any challenge was complete, unstoppable, and demonstrably dangerous for the nation’s chronically sick and disabled population.(8)(9)
One of the reasons for the DWP inviting the involvement of Unum Insurance was the ultimate plan to follow the American lead in welfare, to identify such conditions as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as a BPS model of disability and thus to, eventually, justify not funding welfare benefits for sufferers, as in the US.(17)(18)(19)
The former DWP Chief Medical Officer who made this all possible, Professor Sir Mansel Aylward, introduced Unum Insurance to the DWP in 1994(9)(12), and he has enjoyed a lengthy relationship with this corporate giant ever since.(13)
Considering that, at the time of the introduction of Unum (Provident) Insurance to the British government, they already had an atrocious reputation in the US for failing to fund payouts from the insurance policies they sold, one must wonder as to why their advice was so willingly accepted and adopted by all successive UK governments ever since…(1)(9)(17)(19)(20)
Within three months of leaving the DWP Professor Aylward was appointed as the first Director of the then named Unum Centre for Psychosocial Disability Research at Cardiff University, initially funded by Unum Insurance, that led to his appointment as the first ever Chair of Public Health in Wales.
Professor Aylward is also a Director of the Health Claims Bureau (13), a private company involving Unum Insurance with the ‘medical assessment’ for claimants of income protection or disability insurance for industry.
To make sure that Atos Healthcare Ltd remained confident about their purpose, Unum’s former Chief Medical Officer Mike O’Donnell crossed the Atlantic Ocean and was appointed as the new Chief Medical Officer for AH but, of course, both companies deny that there is any professional relationship between them.
Copyright retained 14th September 2012
(**) 32 die a week after failing test for new incapacity benefit: http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2012/04/32-die-a-week-after-failing-in.html
(*) PM vows to get addicts into work: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13152349
(1) Atos Healthcare of Disability Denial Factories: www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html#docs
(3) Welfare is a mess, says adviser David Freud: www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/1577313/welfare-in-a-mess-says-adviser-David-Freud.html
(4) CAB evidence on ESA work capability assessment: NOT WORKING: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/not_working
(5) Disability test a ‘complete mess’ says expert: www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/feb/22/new-disability-test-is-a-complete-mess
(6) Atos wins £400m deals to carry out disability benefit tests: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/aug/02/atos-disability-benefit-tests
(7) A Tale of Two Models: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/disability-studies/archiveuk/jolly/A%20Tale%20of%20two%20Models%20Leeds1.pdf
(8) The Ten Worst Insurance Companies: The American Association for Justice (UNUM is listed as 2nd WORST insurance company in America)
(9) Welfare Reform – Redress for Disabled People: www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html#docs
(10) Memorandum submitted to Prof Harrington: http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosmemowcayear3.html
(11) Unum and Business: http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosbusinessunum.html
(12) Mutual Benefits: Private Eye Issue 1301: www.private-eye.co.uk
(13) Health Claims Bureau Directors: http://www.hcbgroup.co.uk/pages/aboutus
(14) UNUM advises gvt: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200203/cmselect/cmworpen/401/3021203/htm (Dec ’02)
(15) UNUM advises Government on welfare reform: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmworpen/616/616we37.htm (Mar ’06)
(17) Unum influence in the UK continues to wreak havoc: http://lindanee.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/unum-influence-in-the-uk-continues-to-wreak-havoc/
(18) Downgrading disability: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17021
(19) Welfare reform tyranny direct from the USA: http://lindanee.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/welfare-reform-tyranny-direct-from-the-usa-by-mo-stewart/
(20) New evidence of corporate giant’s influence on welfare reform: