Fit for work, fit for nothing (part2) *Guest Post*

21 02 2011

*Guest Post*

I had the pleasure of writing the first ranty blog on Grumpyhatlady’s blog Fit for work, is work fit for me? . It’s been widely read and linked to by a variety of blogs and websites. It was interesting to get feedback from the hat lady on peoples reactions to the post.

I have been reassured that I’m not alone in my fears but I still fear all the benefits changes ahead and the Work Capability Assessment I will inevitably face.

Many of the reports and stories I’ve read have focussed on physical disability and I’m by no means belittling the difficult and often humiliating experiences of living with a physical disability in a society that does not cater for differences. However, it appears to me that there is becoming an acceptable hierarchy of disability in the UK. Those with visible disabilities receive wider acceptance for being disabled than those with invisible disabilities. There are arguments in forums, blogs, on tv and radio shows over who is more deserving of help.

The selfish attitudes of each participant is disappointing.

I heard a radio show where people in wheelchairs said that the mentally I’ll aren’t really disabled and they should be made to do the crappy jobs noone else wants to do, while in the same sentence complaining that people using a blue badge and disabled parking space don’t look disabled so they shouldn’t have the right.

When I read of work capability assessments it’s stories of people who can pick up a pen or walk a few steps. I can do both of these rather well, hell, I could run up stairs in my partners heels if I wanted.

My problems are slightly more surreal than that. My fear is when I attend the work capability assessment that if I tell the truth about my condition and how it affects me they’ll take my family away from me or put me under state surveillance in the form of unwanted and unnecessary social worker visits or hospitalise me, when don’t really need it.

If I lie, I’m wrongly found fit for work.

What am I to do?

The medical practitioners who know me, know I’m no danger to my family or the public. They know my family want for nothing in terms of care but how do I know that the ATOS doctors will listen to anything my regular doctors say. They seem to ignore everyone elses doctor.

The government have already showed a lack of faith in the abilities of NHS doctors to evaluate their regular patients fitness for work in favour of target driven doctors paid handsomely per consultation.

And instead of making use of resources that already exist, they spend millions on private contracts, millions that could be directed to the needy NHS and existing gps/consultants for the same service.

From what I’ve read, the work capability assessment doesn’t take into account many of the issues with mental health problems. My psychiatrist tries to console me by saying that having a severe and enduring condition like schizophrenia, I will be taken more seriously than some of the less serious mental health conditions but how can someone tell in a half hour visit?

And if I do get the support I need, how will that fare with someone with a physical disability who has been deemed fit for work? Will that widen the hierarchical gap? It certainly won’t enable disability solidarity.

And I guess my final bugbear are the career disabled. I’m not known for judging people often but i do have to question those who have the time and skills to write regular daily blogs and research statistics better than most professional journalists who then claim they are too sick to ever work.

I would love to be able to work. I’d love to have the writing and research capability and more importantly the networking ability they seem to have that I will never have. If I had those skills, I’d do what I could to earn when I could, rather than sit and moan about how the state doesn’t give me enough money.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand better than most that conditions are variable but I don’t understand why these people aren’t freelance writers or journalists. I don’t understand why they don’t sell their talents in an attempt to earn money when they can and why the system cannot be set up to support people like that to be able to do so.

The system is so black and White, you can either work or not work.if you cant work you will either never work or you will be given help to get to the point where you can work.

What about those who can work sometimes but not all the time?

If the system had an efficient means of dealing with variable conditions, the people I have labelled for the purpose of this rant as career disabled, would have a higher ability to earn in their periods of wellness or ability.

I know what I’ve said won’t be received too well. It’s my opinion and my rant, we’re all entitled to those.

This was typed up by GHL&C after receiving a hand written letter by the author. The author is going through a period of paranoia about surveillance thanks to the publicity surrounding benefit claimants and fraud in the national media. He would like his story and thoughts heard but he fears doing so himself.

If there are typos, GHL&C apologise, also if the text hasn’t been typed up properly, as at times the handwriting was a little unclear, GHL&C will fix it when the author gets a chance to read it. This article may be amended in the future.




One response

22 02 2011

I have a physical disability AND an unseen disability. My physical difficulties cause problems with unfamiliar doctors too. In the very cold weather my hands get so swollen, I cannot pick anything up or tie a shoelace. Repetitive action causes my elbows, wrists and shoulders to freeze, but ask me to raise my arm once twice or three times I can do it – hey no problem, ask me to stack shelves for five minutes or write notes or type for more than five minutes consistently, I’m in sheer agony. A simple assessment of what I can do will achieve nothing – an assessment of how long I can do it for will achieve more, but still not give a realistic view. Dont even get me started on being touched (or even brushed accidentally) by strangers – it freaks me out totally. Try explaining that to a quack that knows nothing about you….

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