Attacks on the Long-Term Sick Must Stop

Posted: November 28, 2011 in anti-cuts resistance, politics
Tags: , , , ,

John Harris is fed up with the Tories’ scapegoating of the long-term sick (so am I):

Last week, there came early news of the official sickness absence review– commissioned by the prime minister back in February, and published today – which advocates eligibility for sick leave being decided by “independent assessors” rather than GPs. Moreover, in its vision of things, anyone signed off sick should be placed on jobseeker’s allowance rather than employment support allowance (the successor to incapacity benefit), and thereby have to prove that they were actively seeking work, despite being officially confirmed as being ill. Newly stringent requirements as to what “actively seeking work” actually means will presumably apply. As far as I understand it, this will mean lots of incapacitated people limply tramping the streets looking for jobs that do not exist.

As for the assessing, we can presumably look to the work being done on welfare-to-work by Atos, whose treatment of benefit claimants has created a seething mass of anxiety and fear, and been roundly criticised by MPs.

It’s outrageous to suggest there should be ‘independent assessors’ – since when are GPs anything other than independent? I think his assessment of the story is quite right – it’s a vile smokescreen to take (yet again on ideological grounds) responsibility for determining sick leave away from doctors and into the hands of their corporate buddies. As he points out it’s not like it hasn’t been done before! It’s spin of course, an attempt to make the country believe that the economy is taking because of workshy layabouts who, in their hundreds of thousands, conspire with their doctors to avoid work. And that’s simply not true – the economy is tanking because of Chancellor Gideon’s inflexible austerity agenda.

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