Appalled disabled activists have warned the British Medical Association (BMA) that it will be “complicit” in the future deaths of patients, after the doctors’ union refused to speak out about “very dangerous” new benefit rules affecting severely-ill claimants.Disability News Service (DNS) reported last week how the rules can force people applying for the government’s new universal credit to look for jobs and take part in training, even if their GPs have said they are not fit for work.Dr Stephen Carty, medical adviser to the Scottish grassroots campaign group Black Triangle, who works as a GP in Leith, on the edge of Edinburgh, said last week that the “substantial risks” were “incalculable”, and that GPs had not been told about the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) rules.BMA has previously been reluctant to involve itself in safety concerns around DWP’s fitness for work tests, although its public position has been that the work capability assessment (WCA) “should be scrapped with immediate effect and replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause avoidable harm to the weakest and most vulnerable people in society”.Despite that position, it took more than two-and-a-half years for Carty, Black Triangle and other campaigners to persuade the union to agree to tell every GP in the country about two regulations that protect many disabled people facing the WCA.Yesterday – five days after DNS asked whether it was aware of the new universal credit rules and if it was concerned about their potential impact – a BMA spokeswoman said: “The assessments of benefits has been independent of GPs for years, so whilst I am sure many will have strong opinions on this, it is not something as an organisation we have anything new to say on it.”Black Triangle is now working with supportive doctors to develop a campaign on the universal credit rules, and is preparing itself for another battle with BMA.John McArdle (pictured), Black Triangle’s co-founder, said: “BMA’s silence will make them complicit in the destruction of disabled people’s lives and in the deaths of innocent disabled people, their patients.”He said he had been reminded of how, at the height of the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s, the AIDS community had adopted the slogan “silence equals death” to “mobilise the medical profession and the wider community into action to save lives”.McArdle said the BMA’s silence on the universal credit rules would “go down as a day of infamy for an organisation which has betrayed its sacred duty to protect and defend human life”.He said the organisation had also betrayed its duty to represent doctors “who we believe will be as appalled as us at this shameful act of complicity”, which was happening “at a time when disabled people are looking at another five years of Conservative rule”.The rules – which have never been announced or publicised by DWP – apply to new universal credit claimants who are waiting for a WCA.They mean that they could have their benefits sanctioned for up to three months if they fail to follow strict instructions from a job coach with no medical training, even if they have a “fit note” from their GP stating that they are not fit for work.They are forced to attend a “health and work conversation” and could be forced into further work-related activity, such as training or employment programmes, and could also face sanctions if they fail to show they have searched for a job for up to 35 hours a week, and have not made themselves available for paid work.Potential sanctions will continue to hang over their heads until their fitness for work is eventually tested through a WCA, which could take months.The new rules – uncovered by Black Triangle’s sister organisation Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) – apply to sick and disabled people who would previously have been eligible for income-based employment and support allowance (ESA), which is gradually being phased out in the move to universal credit, but not to those eligible for the contribution-based form of ESA, which will continue alongside universal credit.Under ESA, claimants with a fit note from their GP are not expected to carry out any work-related activity and continue to receive a lower assessment rate of the benefit until they have had their WCA and a decision is reached on their eligibility.DWP has insisted that universal credit claimants with a fit note will only be forced to carry out “reasonable” work-related activity that is “tailored to the individual’s circumstances”, while work coaches will demand no work-related activity “if appropriate”.But activists believe the potential harm caused to severely-ill people could be catastrophic and potentially fatal.Anita Bellows, a DPAC researcher, said: “It is very disappointing to see that the BMA has refused to comment on the DWP policy, which will force people assessed as unfit for work by their GP to attend a mandatory health and work conversation, whatever the severity of their health condition.“GPs have the duty of making the care of their patients their first concern and their refusal to speak up on their behalf will be seen rightly as a dereliction of duty.”
Monthly Archive: July 2019
SAINTS U19s put on the perfect curtain raiser to the main event with a nine try 48-10 demolition of the Auld Enemy, writes Graham Henthorne.In oppressively humid and hot conditions the Saints took control in the latter stages of the first half putting the game out of reach.Lewis Galbraith was close to continuing his rich vein of form as he was just prevented from opening the scoring as he was ankle tapped as he streaked away from the cover.The relief for the visitors was short-lived; however, as aggressive defence forced the error on the second tackle from the scrum. Three tackles later and the increasingly impressive Connor Dwyer was sauntering through a massive hole on his way to the first Saints try.The visitors took advantage of a steeping penalty count to even the scores. But as the game entered the second quarter the Saints superior fitness and ball control took its toll allowing full back Danny Abram to score a brace of tries.The first came after the Saints received their first penalty of the game 24 minutes in. Drives from Greg Richards and Adam Hesketh, having his best game for many a month, put the Saints on the front foot. When the ball was spread to the right Abram injected himself in to the line, stepping off his right foot and reaching out for a great try.Then came a Saints special. Galbraith expertly gathered a last tackle kick behind his own line before speeding along the line and feeding opposite winger Ben Parry who cleared the lines. The forwards rolled up their sleeves before Abram again popped up this time racing 60 metres through the middle of the ruck and outpacing his opposite number to the sticks.A 16 – 4 lead at the break would have been good but two tries in the final three minutes of the half really killed off the visitors.A dart from dummy half by a rejuvenated Dom Speakman found Dwyer on the burst. In a planned move he in turn found Lewis Charnock on his inside who was stopped just short. From the play the ball Hesketh got his just deserts charging onto the ball for his first try of the year.In the last play of the half Danny Yates profited from another Speakman break sprinting the final distance to the sticks.Knowing that the job was only half done and how poorly the Saints had started second halves recently, much emphasis was put into reversing that trend by the coaching staff at the break. Their wishes were made into reality courtesy of Hesketh again forcing an error with a big hit in the opening set.There followed a steady stream of tries with only a consolation in reply.Charnock gathered a knocked down pass on the visitors 30 metre line, fed his winger Parry who jinked his way off his left foot twice to touch down for the sixth try.Charnock then notched his own four pointer popping up at the right time to take Yates’ pass after a fine offload from Captain James Tilley.Matty Fozard showed great awareness and soft hands as he won the race to mop up a difficultly bouncing chip kick. Jack Ashworth was the beneficiary as he barged over in the corner four tackles later.The final act was deservedly reserved for Captain Tilley as he crowned another solidly impressive performance with a try to the right of the sticks.After the disappointment of a one point loss last week the Saints bounced back in the best of styles with a thoroughly professional demolition job. On the back of a 90% completion rate in both halves the Saints were never really under any pressure producing the consummate team performance and a real boost before the very difficult trip to Hull next Saturday.Match Summary:Saints U19s:Tries: Dan Abram 2, Jack Ashworth, Ben Parry, Lewis Charnock, Danny Yates, Connor Dwyer, James Tilley, Adam Hesketh.Goals: Lewis Charnock 5, Matty Fozard.Wigan U19s:Tries: David Thompson, Kieron Sharratt.Goals: Callum Wright.Half Time: 28-4Full Time: 48-10Teams:Saints:20. Dan Abram; 2. Lewis Galbraith, 4. Jack Ashworth, 3. Matty Fleming, 5. Ben Parry; 6. Lewis Charnock, 7. Danny Yates; 8. Greg Richards, 9. Matty Fozard, 10. Chris Webster, 11. Luke Thompson, 12. Connor Dwyer, 13. James Tilley. Subs: 14. Dom Speakman, 15. Adam Hesketh, 17. Joe Ryan, 21. Tom Calland.Wigan:1. Gabriel Fell; 2. David Thompson, 3. Dom Manfredi, 4. Oliver Gildart, 5. Mike Scrivens; 6. Jake Shorrocks, 7. Joe Prior; 8. Ben Austin, 9. Callum Wright, 10. Joe Bretherton, 11. Grant Beecham, 12. Robert Lever, 13. Kieron Sharratt. Subs: 14. Brad Lawrence, 15. Zac Dewhirst, 16. Ellis Grimes, 17. Luke Waterworth.
They saw a presentation on the club’s history and took part in a Q and A with Alex Walmsley, Faye Gaskin and Josh Simm.They then enjoyed a chronology and photo interpretation session with images from the club’s history and finished with an outdoor skills session, led by Saints Community Development Foundation’s coach Gareth Friar.Robert Morley from Bleak Hill Primary School said. “It was a great day with the highlight being the Q and A forum with the children. Most of the children thought the same with comments like: ‘It was great to find out about how the Saints players train,’ ‘I can’t believe a Saints Player used to go to Bleak Hill School’ and one girl saying: ‘I never knew girls played rugby for Saints too, I could be a Saints player now’.“The girls were inspired by all the visitors but Faye in particular. Naturally the boys gravitated towards Alex Walmsley but Josh was also well liked for being a try-scorer. All three visitors represented the club superbly and answered the children’s questions with interest and enthusiasm.”