‘GPs not ‘supporting’ Atos disabled patients’ : Black Triangle Campaign to enter into talks with Glasgow LMC and Scottish BMA leaders

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Dear Members and Supporters

On Friday 7th June we were reliably informed by a Glasgow GP that posters effectively saying ‘don’t ask (for a letter from your GP) in the first place‘, in the words of Holyrood Health Committee Deputy Convenor Bob Doris MSP, were taken down in surgeries throughout Greater Glasgow.

The Glasgow Local Medical Committee took this prompt action as soon as it became aware of Black Triangle’s written submission to the Health and Sport Committee the week before the hearing reported below.

The legal issues that raised in our submission encouraged the LMC to reconsider its position. We are now looking forward to entering into productive dialogue with the LMC and BMA Scotland for the mutual benefit and support of both GPs and patients.

Tressa Burke of Glasgow Disability Alliance and Inclusion Scotland with whom we liaised closely (Ref: HS/S4/13/19/1 at 21) in advance of the hearing obliquely referred to our written submission when she told the meeting:

“Fundamental to all this is a breach of human rights, specifically the right to a fair trial. The right of access to a fair hearing, including access to an independent and impartial appeals process in the provision of welfare benefits by a state, is crucial to the realisation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

(Committee Minutes Column 3984 and Black Triangle Submission (1) Para.4 P.2)

” … the only thing that literally stands between disabled people and far greater harm, either destitution as a result of the removal of their benefits or serious deterioration in their mental or physical health through being forced to work when they are not fit to do so — is a letter from the GP, and that such a letter is being refused is professionally, legally and morally wrong.”

(Committee Minutes Column 3986-3987 Black Triangle Submission (3) (xviii) P.10 ) 

Tressa also told the meeting the shocking news that:

“Last night, at the housing associations conference in Glasgow, we heard that suicides are up to four a week in Glasgow, and one a week in the east end.” 

(Committee Minutes Column 4017-4018)

We understand that GPs are at their wits’ end, as are we and we are extremely grateful to literally hundreds of GPs who have supported us in this initiative and especially to those who have spoken out forcecibly in favour of adopting our initiatives.

It is thanks to them that the BMA carried the motion unanimously to demand that the WCA end “with immediate effect”.

We will never forget this magnificent gesture of solidarity in a society and a UK political system that no longer seems shocked by our fate.

However, we must now go further and turn our words into action. 

In all the circumstances, the adoption of our ESA regulations 29 and 35 campaign by General Practice and Primary Care is the only reasonable and logical step towards  solving our crisis pending the complete scrapping of the WCA and its replacement with a “rigorous and safe system that does not cause avoidable harm to the weakest and most vulnerable in society“.

The carnage and tragedy ends here: First in Scotland and then throughout the four corners of the UK.  

Finally, we are pleased to report that we have also met with the Convenor of the Welfare Reform Committee, Michael McMahon MSP, who has invited us to forward our submission to the Chief Clerk with a view to the committee forwarding it to the Cabinet of the Scottish Government for intervention in the form of supportive action.

We will report back as soon as these talks are properly underway.

Our struggle continues …

In solidarity, 

Black Triangle Campaign

Scotsman Logo

 

By SCOTT MACNAB 

Published on 11/06/2013 14:13 

GPs will be seen as “lacking compassion” over their refusal to provide support letters for disabled patients who face losing benefits as a result of the overhaul of the welfare system, MSPs warned today. 

Doctors in Glasgow are now reconsidering the controversial move after an outcry from vulnerable groups which have been hit by measures like the bedroom tax.

The leader of Scotland’s GPs, Dr Alan McDevitt, told Holyrood’s health committee today they are being overhwelmed by additional work and warned that the situation will damage wider patient care.

GPs must fill out initial forms from Atos, the firm helping implement the changes like the new universal benefit, which set out the fitness of claimants to work.

The row has erupted over additional letters being sought by vulnerable people if they have been ruled fit to work, but argue this is unfair. Doctors say they don’t have the resources to do this. But Tressa Burke, a director and trustee with Inclusion Scotland, slammed the approach from doctors.

“The only thing between disabled people and far greater harm, either through destitution through removal of benefits or serious deterioration in their mental or physical health through being forced to work when they’re not fit to do so, is a letter from their GP,”

she told the committee.

“That this is being refused is wrong – professionally, legally and morally.”

She added:

“It seems like a really unfair and unjust punishment that the solution is to just not to provide the evidence.

“Glasgow disabled people are losing out in a devastatuing way with potential consequences for their income, their participation in society and their helath and well-being.”

Ms Burke said the only way that disabled people can challenge decisions against them is for a doctor to provide a letter.

She added:

“This is not the right response and we ask that the decision be reversed.

“This will make the situation much, much worse.”

Nationalist Glasgow MSP Bob Doris said posters had been appearing in recent weeks in surgeries in the city urging patients not to even request extra support letters.

“These posters are basically saying don’t ask in the first place,”

Mr Doris continued:

“I have a fundamental concern with that. My constituents will see it as a lack of compassion from some GPs and its a lack of compassion from the very people in their community that they trust the most.

“That seeming lack of passion will be corrosive and erode trust in the people who are the most important people in some of the most deprived communities to help vulnerable people.”

Mr Doris said this is how it will be interpreted among vulnerable groups, but was not his opinion.

Mr McDevitt said the posters have now been removed in response to “negative feedback” to the local medical committee in Glasgow which was behind them.

“They’re reconsidering whether that’s the right response,”

he added.

“The problem still remains should everyone get an additional report or should only some people when I decide to grant them that favour.”

The Scotsman

Comments
  • Margaret June 15, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I live in the south east of Scotland.
    My GP told me in early April that he would support me with a letter to the DWP. I gave him a copy of your downloadable letter and other info and I am still waiting for the letter of support. I did receive a draft letter some three weeks ago, but it did not quote the necessary regulations to place me in the support group. So I had to ask for the letter to be redrafted.

    I have my fingers crossed that eventually the GP will furnish me with this letter and my local benefits advisers says it is the only way for my application to be considered for the support group.

    I feel really terrible having to ask for this letter. It has taken almost three months and I still do not have it. My benefit was stopped in March and I’ve had no income since then. I go round and round in my head trying to find another solution but it seems it is down to my local Health centre and their particular systems to determine if and when I am eligible for ESA.

    This can’t be a good system. The health centre is small, they only type letters once a week, my GP works part time.

    If he changes his mind, or forgets that he promised to include reference to the regulations needed for the support group I may be another 3 months without any benefit.

    In the meantime I am not able to do anything.

    • Denise June 16, 2013 at 2:00 pm

      Hi sorry I have searched, but cannot find this. Where is the downloadable letter for the GP that you are referring to. Thank you in advance

      • Denise June 16, 2013 at 2:25 pm

        Hi Margaret really hope everything gets sorted for you soon, Its okay, I think I have found it, the GP appeal draft letter. here is the link for anyone else who may need it. Thank you BTC
        https://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2012/11/21/important-black-triangle-dpac-regs-29-35-campaign-failed-your-dwpatos-wca-intend-to-appeal-download-these-documents-for-your-gp/

        • Margaret June 16, 2013 at 3:16 pm

          Hi Denise
          Sorry, I just saw your question, but luckily you have found the draft letters.
          Thank you for your kind words.
          My welfare benefits office told me that the GP’s letter must quote the relevant regulation for the DWP to listen to them. They also said that once the DWP receive the correctly worded letter that I should be put permanently into the Support Group. So it is critical that my GP letter is worded in a certain way. This is what is holding my appeal up.
          It seems that it doesn’t matter what your disability is, or to what extent you suffer. It is down to the correct phrases being used by your GP. So if they don’t want to follow the downloadable letters you have not got a chance. I have tried to explain this to my GP and they seem to get it when I am in front of them, but after I leave maybe they forget?
          My GP has children and will be going on holiday very soon so I may have to pester him again. That is what I feel I have to resort to. All I need is a letter to make this madness stop.

  • Prola Tariat June 15, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    This entire system is corrupt,and the ministers involved in the DWP/Atos, should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.

  • Karin June 15, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    Once again, us disabled bods get the fallout, when the target of GP frustratrion and exhaustion should lie with the architects of this cruel “system”, IDS and his greedsters,who are creating the ghastly situation.

    It beggars belief (for people with an ordinary conscience) that GPs, whose primary responsibility is to “Do no harm” are abandoning the sick and disabled in this manner. Well done everyone who is taking up the matter with them.

    I am lucky. The2 GPs I see at the local group practice BOTH wrote letters and checked that the content was accurate with me, before sending them. Eventually I got my due-ESA Support Gp on Appeal, after a nightmare year with NO benefits. I am frightened to think of the state I would be in, if they had not supported me. Here in Wales healthcare is devolved, as it is in Scotland so I find it extraordinary that Scottish GPs are hitting out at their patients.

  • RG June 15, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    I am in the North West of England, my GP has been supportive during my appeal process. After initially agreeing to sign the pro forma letter, she prodcuced her own version and only charged me a tenner. I am 10 and half months in and I a dreading August when my benefit will stop if I haven’t had a hearing.

  • Linda June 16, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Only one doctor has ever written a letter for me to give to the DWP , and that was just one sentence letter. I should say to them, if i’m not sick, why are you giving me all these toxic drugs.

  • anon June 16, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    I am in the Medway Towns (Kent) and my doctor in a large medical centre refused to write a supporting letter despite massive deterioration in both my physical and mental health due to DWP harrassment and being forced into both WRAg and the Work Programme.

    This GP who has previously seemed perfectly reasonable, raised his voice and began shouting and ranting at me as soon as I politely asked for his support, before ordering me out of his office.

    Sadly as my mobility is severely limited there is no other surgery that I can physically travel to.

    • karin June 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      What a horrible experience. It sounds like this GP should be reported to the BMA. How dare he treat you in this cruel way.

  • anon June 16, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    I am in the Medway Towns (Kent) and my doctor in a large medical centre refused to write a supporting letter despite massive deterioration in both my physical and mental health due to DWP harrassment and being forced into both WRAg and the Work Programme.

    This GP who has previously seemed perfectly reasonable, raised his voice and began shouting and ranting at me as soon as I politely asked for his support, before ordering me out of his office as I broke down in tears.

    Sadly as my mobility is severely limited there is no other surgery that I can physically travel to.

  • Humanity2012 June 17, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    I am Astonished Beyond Words how Bloody Diabolical this
    Codswallop is

    Sack Useless GPS They are a Waste of Money and Space

    Get Caring GPS that are in Touch with Circumstances Not in
    Cloud Cuckoo Land

  • GEOFF REYNOLDS June 18, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Can it be really true that the coalition are considering child murderer, Ian Brady’s final wish to end his own life………

    Sending him to ATOS would be the final twist in the long going saga.

    Indeed his life would be terminated in one of two ways, he could take his own life after being given a falsified medical report by a “health care professional” who has a private hatred of disabled, whilst watching the pounds roll in.

    The alternative would be to succumb to starvation while awaiting an appeal tribunal, having insufficient funds to live….

    A high ranking figure from the DWP, who did not wish to be named, described the move as callous, stating the ethnic cleansing was not available to detainees in prison, but only the scrounging disabled…………..

    • Karen M August 13, 2013 at 9:53 pm

      Problem is as he was born in 1938, Brady would be a pensioner so exempt from the torture of a WCA.

  • Gbarbm June 18, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    just watched “Frankie” on BBC1 a programme about a district nurse.
    ATOS gets a mention! A patient with lupus is deemed fit for work (quelle surprise) …worth watching!

  • GEOFF REYNOLDS June 19, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Similar to the BBC having a programme, the DWP, controlled by the condems, also have a programme, its called;

    “THE DEMOLITION OF THE WELFARE STATE BY MURDERING ANYTHING THAT STANDS IN ITS WAY”

  • PAULA June 25, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I SUFFER WITH CHRONIC ANXIETY, MY DOCTOR TOLD ME WORK IS GOOD FOR YOU, THAT PUT ME INTO A PANIC AND MADE ME FEEL WORSE, I WAS PUT IN THE WRAG GROUP AND TOLD IF YOU APPEAL YOU COULD LOSE YOUR WRAG HA,HA!! I HAVE BEEN ON A COURSE WITH THE MIND PEOPLE AND THAT DID HELP BUT LAST WEEK HAD A CALL FROM J CENTRE TO SAY I’D MISSED AN APPOINTMENT I TOLD THEM I HADN’T EVEN HAD A LETTER, THAT WAS MAX STRESS I FELT I WAS GOING TO HAVE A HEART ATTACK, AFTER BEING TOLD THEY WOULD PHONE ME BACK ( THEY DIDN’T), I WAS SENT ANOTHER APPOINTMENT, I HAVE HAD TO REBOOK WITH THE MIND PEOPLE AND AM GOING TO ADVISE PEOPLE WITH APPEAL, THIS IS ALL VERY EVIL, DOCTORS DON’T WANT TO GET INVOLVED BECAUSE THEY ARE WORRIED ABOUT IT AFFECTING THEIR PENSIONS?

  • PAUL August 13, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    i took the black triangle letter, my gp… didnt use it but wrote a two line note saying it would affect me with this process… do i actualy have to get those clauses 35 and 29? mentioned?

  • Margaret August 13, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Hi again
    Wee update.
    I got my GP letter (only took 2 months) and he did not mention clauses 35 and 29. He said he would.
    Although he said he would support me he wanted to put things in his own words.
    So I have been told I am still in the WRAG. But wait for it, with no payment. I am in the process of appealing AGAIN.
    In the meantime it is seemingly recognised that I am unable to work as I am still officially in the WRAG group. They will not pay me anything and they have NEVER asked me to go to an interview or to give me the support promised to help me get back into work.
    So they say I am not well enough to work. I am in the WRAG but receiving no payments or assistance. I do not have anywhere to go now. I am appealing to try and get into the support group but have been told in my area that this is virtually impossible.
    The benefits advisers also say that locally they can’t cope with WR interviews or assistance, they don’t have the staff. Ans those who do get a WRAG interview are then sent to other agencies to have other decisions made about their fitness for work.
    They advise me to avoid the merry go round of these WRAG interviews. So no money, no hope of help, I am lost.

  • […] ‘GPs not ‘supporting’ Atos disabled patients’ : Black Triangle Campaign to enter into talks … Posted on June 15, 2013 […]

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