Saturday, 19 November 2011

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.

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 assess people for time off work.


  1. Just deciding on the reality you want to believe in regardless of actual reality is a hallmark of Psychopathy.

  2. If it leads to an increase in the risk of employee deaths at work, company insurance will go right up.

    Perhaps we should bring the employers in on this and outline the hidden downside of the Tories' sick, deviant, Dickensian plans.

    I won't forget that it was a Tory who helped James Purnell come up with this disgusting campaign in the first place, but that Labour are wholeheartedly behind it all regardless - and will probably worsen things once they get back in power.

    This really needs to be taken to the ECHR.

  3. And these jobs are where> Why can't my GP who has access to my medical records and has known me since I was a young child, be trusted; but someone who has seen me for 10 minutes can be?

  4. This is terrifying, I'm utterly disgusted. How on earth people are meant to deal with these kinds of changes without their impairments getting worse, I've no idea.

  5. ATOS is probably behind it: As though it could be anyone else... *sigh* (Thanks to @quarridors on twitter for this link)

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. @Alex The human rights act seems to be all the is holding the Tories back in some cases. Unfortunately they are trying to smash that up too. BBC: Ken Clarke hopeful of deal on European human rights laws

  8. ATOS? perhaps because the powerful dont give "ATOS" ?

  9. Thats because tyhere is a whole host of nasties comign down the line.

    GP Commisiong as they call it is the tearing down of nhs pct's is costing hundreds of millions of pounds ? I got a ifgure and beleive me it is huge just for one pct.

    Where one website was being setup and maintained, you have each surgery employing their own web designers and setting up a website, seperate hosting etc costing money ?

    Oh and A big cut in funding that is going to make the doctors the scapegoat. Though I cant say for certain but it is likely to be around 30 billion pounds ?

  10. Ugh. It was difficult enough with the current system where I ran out of SSP and sick pay and had to claim ESA while still employed.

    I point blank refused to see anyone from the job centre about looking for a "better" job, pointing out that I already HAD the perfect job, which had all the support necessary paid for by access to work, all the support from my employers including flexi hours and working from home. All that was needed was me getting well. Unless they were offering me a miracle cure there wasn't much more to be done!

    It was very difficult to get them to see this. It seemed they would have preferred me to make myself voluntarily unemployed from just about the only job I was capable of doing while in a better health period. Now these new proposals seem that it will make it compulsory. Total madness.

  11. What a great idea this isn't - and sure to both save money and further emasculate GP's!

  12. I would also like to know how politicians are going to assess how certain drugs have different effects on different people. Side effects have as much an influence in my life as my disability, however I am prepared to accept these as without my pain would be unbearable. How do you explain to an employer? "So sorry I can't come in today because my medication is making me drowsy/sick/nauseous/dizzy..... and my illness is making me feel grumpy/irritable/depressed on top of the pain and discomfort I usually bear so graciously"

  13. Well said Disabled and Proud :)))))

    I have chronic heart disease (Angina attacks weekly) and also a LARGE protruding, disfiguring lump in my stomach, causing hellish pain and distress. I rarely go out as I'm not fit to.

    My medications make me sleepy, dizzy etc as you mentioned, but without them, I could not cope. Awaiting more major surgery at the moment.

    I WAS accepted for the new benefit after they LOST my doctors/consultants letters. But NOW am getting the SAME pink form every 2 months (last 23rd December 2011)!!

    They told me to STOP taking my medication to attend an interview!!! This is NOT an option I told them! I am only 42 (near 43), what is it they want? To KILL people?

    When I phone, Atos blame Jobcentre Plus, they blame Atos. But I found out (over 20 calls later) that Atos are ONLY doing what the Benefits Agency TELL them. IE Medicals, Forms etc etc.

    JobcentrePlus were nasty with me on the phone, and I was so breathless, I could hardly talk. Said I'd keep getting same form every TWO months! I said it was hounding me, and the woman put the phone down on me!

    I'd LOVE a paying job!!! But WHAT employer is going to put up with me having to lie down, sleep (on the job...I'd have to... daily) or as you said, "Sorry I can't come in today...due to pain, angina attack, medications etc etc"

    Catch the REAL work shy!!! Leave the HONEST sick and disabled alone!

    Annoyed Scottish Lady