Thursday, 20 November 2014

Minefields and Crystal Balls. Och its the DWP/ATOS again. Argh!!!!

I don't often speak about my current personal circumstances but on this occasion it just has to be done.

I have a long term illness called ME or CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) with fybromyalgia, with the added complications of some other issues too which I shall not go into for brevity.


Realising I was ill in 2011 I was loathed to get into to the minefield of the UK Benefits system again having been ill all ready between 2005 to 2008. I therefore stayed on Job Seekers Allowance hoping I would get better in the meantime but couldn't cope with the constant harassment of attending unexpected appointments and applying for jobs that I knew that because of my illness I would not be able to do anyway.

Crystal Balls

I was just thinking that today's issue with the ‪#‎DWP‬ is similar to the time my ‪#‎JSA‬ (Job Seekers Allowance) payments were sanctioned for not attending an appointment with my advisor at Parkhead Job Centre. The only issue on that occasion was the fact the letter advising me of aforesaid appointment arrived after aforesaid appointment. So in order to have kept my JSA I would've needed a crystal ball or multiple crystal balls, and the ability to read it/them too of course!

 This is not my experience and nor anyone elses experience who actually lives in the real world.

So currently due to illness I have to suffer the UK sickness benefits system once again, which is enough to make you feel worse before you start, if you or any of the people you know have actually been involved in it. I don't know what world some politicians stay in, or the one constantly portrayed by the mainstream broadcasters i.e. that there are millions of people on these benefits who are actually not ill at all, and are therefore diddling the system. This is not my experience and nor anyone elses experience who actually lives in the real world.

Being on ESA isn't a lifestyle choice anyone with half a brain would chose if they were able to avoid it.

Being on Employment and Support Allowance is not a lifestyle choice anyone with half a brain would chose if they were able to avoid it. Every single year I have been refused it, except oddly this one, and then had to go to tribunal always getting it once the evidence was actually considered and not just dismissed.

This was despite having a long term condition, which caused me additional expenses, which the benefit is actually for.

Therefore with severely limited energy I avoided applying for #DLA or #DisabilityLivingAllowance after my first abortive attempt when despite my evidence being credible my application was refused. This was despite having a long term condition, which caused me additional expenses, which the benefit is actually for.

So this year I decided I would tackle PIP (Personal Independence Payment) the new replacement to DLA which I applied for in March. I am still waiting to be assessed.

Firstly ATOS contacted me to tell me to be patient (well I should have gotten this benefit about 8 years ago so I am that!).

I was contacted in October. After properly looking up where I was exactly to go to be assessed for ‪#‎PIP‬ - I thought it was a ‪#‎Falkirk‬ postcode but it was actually a Business Park outside ‪#‎Stirling‬. How do ‪#‎ATOS‬ expect someone with a disability or long term illness to get there? Is this a cynical ploy to stop folk from ‪#‎Glasgow‬ getting PIP?

However on contacting ATOS, despite this being standard procedure to send people from Glasgow to Stirling for assessments, they stated that in my case they would arrange for one actually in the city I lived.

In my case they would arrange for one actually in the city I lived.

I then waited with bated breath and was not disappointed when a letter from them popped through my letterbox when I was asleep again. Well no surprise there?

A letter arrived from the ‪#‎DWP‬ today advising my ‪#‎PIP‬ (Personal Independence Payment, the new replacement to ‪#‎DLA‬ or ‪#‎DisabilityLivingAllowance‬) application has been unsuccessful. Why? Because the reason I gave for my lack of attendence at my assessment on 31st October 2014 with ‪#‎ATOS‬ at Salus in ‪#‎Glasgow‬ was unsatisfactory. Yet I gave no reason as ATOS themselves cancelled the appointment! You could not make it up!!!!
I have to wait for months and months for this crap! You wouldn't need to need the money (which I most definitely do). To think I paid my taxes diligently for years and years when I was working (unlike Gideon and his rich pals) expecting that the Welfare State would be there when I needed it and this is what I end up with!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

New booking procedures at Patient Transport part of Scottish Ambulance Service causing needless misery and stress

I have been arranging patient transport for my Mum for some time now. It has been a wonderful service as patients with a medical need can get to the hospital they require. And the actual transportation continues to be so if you are prepared to be a bit patient (pun!) as each ambulance picks up multiple people so you can get a bit of a tour on the way to your destination.

Since October however I have been having dreadful trouble making a booking on my Mums behalf, now made more complex in that I have to accompany her to the hospital as she is becoming a bit vague on occasions.

It seems that a new system has been imposed from on high. This new system is obviously to put people off using patient transport in order to save money, staff and resources. Whilst this is laudable in the planning stage it is proving anything but to me and probably many like me who require to use this service as there is no other way most of the time of getting my Mum to and from hospital for her regular appointments.

I previously was able to phone up for a booking and it would all be complete within a few minutes as the person at the other end of the phone was able to check the records for my Mum and then confirm everything was okay or not as the case may be, the only previous likely problem being there was no available transport available on the requested day.

Now I must go through an assessment procedure on every single occasion making the required call much longer. Because everyone’s call must be longer you now need to wait in a long queue before even speaking to someone. I also am not permitted to make multiple bookings where this previously caused no problem. The assessment procedure is now also more stringent meaning it is painfully long and taxing – who wants to have the repeat everything on every occasion that patient transport is required if you have a regular need for transport?

I have also failed the assessment on one occasion (this occurring this week) meaning I was unsure how I was going to get my Mum to the hospital for an essential appointment for over 24 hours. There is no complaints procedure built in but you can make an appeal but you obviously have to await the outcome.

My Mum is 83, walks with a stick on her best days, has terminal cancer, is a bit vague and therefore requires to be accompanied yet she was assessed on this occasion as being able to get public transport to the hospital in question for an estimated 9 hour appointment at the hospital. This public transport is two buses which do not coincide with one another at the change over point meaning there is a walk required between two stops.

The new patient transport booking system is making an extremely stressful, physically and emotionally taxing period even worse. It seems the Scottish Ambulance Service has been taking lessons from the UK Department of Work and Pensions and their assessment procedure for illness and disablement benefits.

I now dread having to make patient transport bookings and it is yet another difficulty to cope with when I myself am also ill with ME. This new booking system must change perhaps to a system where terminally ill patients are able to bypass this new assessment system. It is grossly unfair as it stands currently.

(sent to Alex Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing in the Scottish Government on 08.11.2014)