Sick? No you’re not!

This news item is worrying. Scary, in fact.  GPs should ‘not sign off long-term sick’ [BBC] I’ve quoted most of it here, with my responses.

People should be signed off for long-term sickness by an independent assessment service and not GPs, a government-backed review says.

Strange. The government trusts GPs to run the NHS but not to decide who is too sick to work. Yet they trust Atos and Group 4 who have a proven record of ignoring evidence and making wrong decisions. I wonder which company the government will outsource this “independent” assessment service to?

The review also suggests tax breaks for firms which employ people who suffer from long-term conditions.

This, I actually like.

It is estimated the changes would send 20% of those off sick back to work.

This is blatantly a move in favour of employers and against employees. Tories always side with people with money. Perhaps the government should instead ask why so many people are sick.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “The government is committed to supporting more people with health conditions to work.”

Supporting? They mean forcing. Whether it’s what people need for their health or not.

Around 300,000 people a year are absent from work due to long-term sickness.

Perhaps there is some problem other than people pretending to be sick. Perhaps being forced to do too much work for too little pay is the problem. Perhaps employers should pay more and stop sacking people and then forcing other employees to do the work of more than one person.

The review also calls for a new government backed job-brokering service, to find work for people cannot stay in their current job because of their condition.

Great idea. But don’t force it on people that shouldn’t be working at all.

A survey suggested 77% of GPs had admitted they signed people off sick for reasons other than their physical health, the report authors told the BBC.

What, like MENTAL HEALTH? This is an absurd, biased statement that ignores a huge part of health care.

The government asked Professor Carol Black and the former head of the British Chambers of Commerce David Frost to consider radical changes to deal with the human and financial cost of sickness absence in the workplace.

Ah. “Deal with”. Because it must not really be sickness.

If the recommendations are accepted people who are signed off sick would also be put on to Job Seekers’ Allowance, instead of Employment Support Allowance, for a period of three months.

They would receive less money and have to prove they were looking for work.aul

This is outrageous. In fact, it’s evil. When someone has been signed off sick the last thing they need is to be forced to look for work. Being made to visit the job centre every fortnight can be very difficult and highly damaging to what little health remains. Looking for a more suitable job means being forced to leave the job you are in and abandon hope of going back which can be crushing. Even if there are jobs which a sick person could manage to fit around their problems, most employers would hire a healthy person, which means endless applications and rejections which cause stress, which in turn aggravates both mental and physical health problems. Sometimes a GP will sign a person off work because they need rest, both physical and mental, in order to recover from their illness.

The government’s new policy to deal with the costs of sickness in the workplace appears to be to pretend that people aren’t sick at all.



As is pointed out by Paul Cotterill at Liberal Conspiracy, Atos founded the Commercial Occupational Health Providers Association (COHPA) which has seats on Dame Carol Black’s select committee for occupational health and the Council for Work and Health. COHPA boasts

COHPA has been active politically in trying to represent the interests of commercial OH providers to Dame Carol Black, Government and key bodies in the industry.

It seems likely that Atos will be well-placed to bid to carry out these assessments.

Author: Latentexistence

The world is broken and I can't fix it because I am broken. I can, however, rant about it all and this is where I do that when I can get my thoughts together. Most of the time you'll find my words on Twitter rather than here though. I sometimes write for Where's The Benefit too.

3 thoughts on “Sick? No you’re not!”

  1. Surely this is a mistake about the JSA part. Even this government can’t be that evil and stupid can they?

    So you’re off work with, say, meningitis and the first thing you have to do is start looking for another job?
    “Why do you want to work here?”
    “Well I’m currently off from my current job with a serious illness, and though I would apply here in the meantime.”

  2. Suppose someone has a nervous breakdown because of stress at work.  The nice man from the DWP (after the ‘client’ has had the usual sympathetic and in-depth assessment by a ‘nurse practitioner’ at Atos Deathcare) tells the person that he is not ill enough to get ESA.  He has to go back to work.  After a couple of months back at work, he has a second breakdown.  He reapplies for ESA.  DWP send him off to Atos Deathcare once more…

    If a millionaire, say, had a heart attack, he would go and see his private doctor.  The doctor would give him some medication, perhaps, and tell him to take six months off work.  Would he dream of saying, ‘You’ve had a heart attack, but it’s not up to me to tell you whether you’re able to work or not.  That’s the job of this agency called Atos Deathcare, who don’t know you from Adam and will ignore whatever I tell them about you anyway…’  The millionaire wouldn’t bother to go, would he, because he HAS HIS OWN MONEY TO LIVE ON.

    The whole thing about separating medical diagnosis from ‘ability to work’ is confined to those who have the temerity to apply for taxpayers’ money to put bread on their tables.  The PM told a bare-faced lie at this year’s Tory conference when he told the brain-dead Daily Mail readers present that under the old system, you could get sickness benefits ‘no questions asked.’

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