Monthly Archives: September 2012

Patient Power beats Ministry

Minister forced to climb down

English: Iain Duncan Smith, British politician...

Iain Duncan Smith,



Ian Duncan Smith, Minister for Work and Pensions, has been forced to give in to campaigneers such as Macmillan.


Now, those undergoing cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy or raqdiuotherapy, will no lomger be expected to look for work during treatment.

Whereas before their benefits were taken away.

What made IDS climb down?

Could it have been public outcry, headed by Charities such as Macmillan?  If so, well done everyone who wrote to their MP. Lobbied etc.  Patient Power really does work!



Following a Government consultation, Work Capability Assessment: Accounting for the effects of cancer treatment, that closed in March, the Department of Work and Pensions has released its formal response,  Mike Hobday, Director of Policy of Macmillan Cancer Support, says:

“We welcome the Government’s announcement that more cancer patients will avoid having to face stressful medical assessments or back to work interviews while experiencing the effects of gruelling treatments.

“Macmillan campaigned vigorously for greater protection for cancer patients who are too sick to work.  We are delighted the Government has listened.

“As the response makes clear there is still work to be done to ensure these commitments become a reality.  We look forward to continuing to work with the Government to implement these important changes.”

Give us work

The ironic thing is that msnycancer survivors would like to work from home during treatmernt.  Type of work that would be pasrticularly suited would be anything needing IT skills.

However, when the NHS set up the  pathetic National Cancer Surviors Initiative, the NHS said they couldn’t get cancer patients to set it up (even though Macmillan  didn’t support using those cancer survivors with IT experiencet;  it might have ensured the website was more interesting and relevant to what cancer survivors WANT AND   NEED).

Excuse given?  It was showing  ‘discrimination’ to use cancer survivors, but if NHS and Macmillan read the Act, they will see reverse discrimination IS allowed.


Enhanced by ZemantaArticle author:  Verite Reily Collins

When will NHS recommend exercise?

Year 4~Day 342 +313/365 AND Day 1438: Water Ae...

Water Aerobics Class


‘wonder drug’


which can make all the difference to recovery.”  Accoerding to Susan Morris, general manager for Macmillan in Wales.

She says new research showed that the message was still not being passed on to cancer patients about just how important it is for them to keep active.

“It’s hard to encourage people to think about keeping active during and after gruelling cancer treatment but, increasingly, many patients will need our help to bust the myth that resting up is always the right thing to do, ” said Ms Morris.


Macmillan backing scheme

According to a BBC report, in Hydrotherapy session at a swimming pool,  Patients are encouraged to take more exercise such as hydrotherapy.

Yet Chelsea and Westminster Hospital has just closed their Hydrotherapy pool;  excuse is that pool floor is breaking up, even though it is less than a year since a new lining was installed.  When patients complained at yet another closure, they are being kept in the dark and don’t know when it will re-open.

However, in Wales Cancer patients are being encouraged to take more exercise in a pilot scheme aimed at boosting their quality of life and independence.

Single cancer diagnosis patients in north Wales, Cardiff and Swansea will be assessed by a “physical activity champion” under the year-long scheme.

Macmillan Cancer Support said research showed greater fitness reduces stress, fatigue and clinical dependency.  Exercise could make all the difference to recovery.

The scheme is being trialed by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board and Velindre NHS Trust.

As Susan Morris Macmillan Cancer Suppor says, “tIt’s hard to encourage people to think about keeping active during and after gruelling cancer treatment but, increasingly, many patients will need our help ”

Among those taking part is Fiona Lamb, 80, of Blackpill in Swansea.  Diagnosed with inoperable ovarian cancer last year, she has been attending hydrotherapy and gym exercise sessions at the Wales National Pool.

“The hydrotherapy programme includes a series of muscle-strengthening exercises and keeps me exercising every Wednesday,” she said.

“I enjoy it as I used to do a lot of swimming and it gives me the chance to meet other people in the same boat and have a good laugh with them.”

Miss Lamb said prior to her diagnosis she had always kept herself fit.

“My cancer is inoperable, although I have been extremely lucky as I’ve had no real pain,” she said.


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Does Atos stand for arrogance?

Or for ‘new’ politics?


Atos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Let’s hope the legscy left by the Olympics is to stand up to bullies.

Atos is being challenged

It has cost the Government £50 million to defend challenges against Atos-recommended withdrawals of Disability Benefit with 38 out of 40 cases going overturning Atos rulingd.

The Guardian  Newspaper recently commentet that they were surprised that Atos had chosen to sponsor the Paralympics. As a company tasked by the Government to carry out the controversial assessmentd of Disabled people, it semed a bizarre choice.

But this typifies the new way of running anything political and/or Government-run.  When a Government realises that reforming one of their institutions, such as the NHS, was what they thought was needed – thinking seems yo be to throw taxpayers money at this, then stand back and let the company that is going to make a fortune take flak from the public. 

Witness :  the massive amount  Olympic security was going to cost;  then get a company such as G4S to run the contract; when it all goes pear-shaped, stand back and let G4S take the flak.  And don’t worry, G4S will be offered other contracts to compensate.

The same principle applies with reorganising the Benefits system.  And re organising the NHS – instead of working hard with  those already working in the industry who must know where skeletons are buried, and what needs to be changed.  Doing it the sensible way, taking  time, and supporting those who have worked in the field for some time. Instead just grab a fistful of taxes, scatter them into some CEO’s pocket, and let them handle this.  They will be shamed into giving back some dosh as a sop, but nothing like the huge amounts they are going to make.

Good News

A HEALTH professional signed off work by her doctor in “excruciating pain” lost all her benefits and was judged fit to work following an assessment by Atos.

The mother – she lives in Camden but wants to remain anonymous – said she had been pushed to the limits of despair by the Government’s £100m contractor:  Atos Healthcare

Currently the agents of the Coalition’s welfare reform and Paralympics partner – is under intense criticism for assessments campaign groups who say they are forcing seriously ill people over the edge.

The mother has worked all her life until a serious workplace injury forced her to quit. She regularly sees a hospital pain management team for her pain but after being assessed by Atos she was told she no longer qualified for Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

Her child tax credits, housing, council and employment benefits were cut off in the same week.

She said: “I am in extreme, excruciating pain. But for three months I didn’t have any money at all. At first I thought this was a joke. I was asking for help from friends – but the worst thing was I couldn’t give my two children anything during the holidays.
How do you explain to a child about this sort of thing?

“I was so proud to work – I went to school, university, I have studied. Now the kids are crying for you and it makes you so upset. When they stop one benefit, the others also stop.”

She added: “These assessments – the trouble you have to go through – they are leaving people with mental illness.

“I cannot carry shopping bags. I can’t stand for long and cook so I sometimes buy ready meals. I told them this and they said: ‘Oh, because you can put things in the microwave you can go to work.’

“They score you on communication, sitting and standing, about whether you can read your email, can you talk on the phone, walk 200 metres?

“It is like speaking to a robot – they ask you what you can do, but not how you are. I was assessed by a nurse – fitness to work should be assessed by a doctor.”

Disability benefit assessments were formerly done by a registered GP.

Lost papers

After challenging the decision, she was told her appeal papers had been lost. With help from the Kentish Town-based campaign group WinVisible, some of her benefits have been restored.

Clare Glassman from WinVisible said: “One of the main problems is that Atos do not get penalised when they get things wrong.

Women are terrified and it is very, very serious. They don’t count pain levels or the difficulties of getting around. None of that. Being in a wheelchair is now classed as being mobile.

“The BMA [British Medical Association] has called for these assessments to be scrapped. We have got results for some people, but there needs to be a wholesale change because this is happening on a massive scale.”

She said she had spoken to women living in Camden who had physical disabilities but also “terrible psychological” injuries that were not taken into account under the new system.

She said “equality” – a principle championed by New Labour – was being used to argue that it was “patronising that the severely disabled cannot work”.

A week of protest ended when more than 400 protesters demonstrated outside the Atos headquarters in Triton Square, Euston.  Then George Osborne was booed by tens of thousands of Paralympic fans as he handed out medals in the Olympic Stadium.

A spokeswoman for Atos said: “We don’t make benefit decisions – we are small part of the overall process. We send a report off to the Department and they decide these are parameters set by the Government – that is all Government policy.

She added: “At Atos we have proudly supported the Paralympics Movement for a decade. We hope people will view the Games, as we do, as an opportunity to celebrate sporting achievements.”

“We fully respect people’s right to peaceful protest and we understand this is a highly emotive issue.

So who are they?

Go on the Atos Website and it is obvious they don’t want to publicise that they are a foreigtn-owned compay.  But the dead give-away is the telephone codes used.  But one wonders why they are so coy? When you go to Google, the UK website that comes up does its best to hide its origins.

But ironically, their attempt to gain more clients by sponsoring the Paolympics may have highlighted the company’s failings, and given protesters a focus-point where to aim demonstrations.  The company weren’t helped by the heavy-handed policing of these protests, with media pictures of people in wheelchairs being manhandled.  Never good publkicity.

Meantime, now that Lansley and his pathetic team have been booted out, idn’t it time to go back to transparency, and awarding Government contracts to British companies who have a proven record, and can be held accountible?

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Macmillan survey delivers a shock to cancer patients


Macmillan Cancer Support Logo

Macmillan Cancer Support Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)





Macmillan Cancer Support have used results from the Cancer Patient Experience Survey 2011/12 to find the ten best and worst performing Hospitals.  An analysis of responses to the the Cancer Patient Experience Survey 2011/12 shows that nine of the ten least satisfactory NHS Hospital Trusts fall within the London Strategic Health Authority (SHA).

Macmillan Cancer Support ranked Trusts according to their patients’ responses to questions in the 2011/12 survey, the results of which were published on 17 August, and listed the ten best- and worst-performing hospitals according to the number of times they fell within the top and bottom 20% of all Trust.


Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust fared worst, falling in the bottom 20% for responses to 56 of the questions used in Macmillan’s analysis, and in top quintile just once.


Whipps Cross University Hospital and King’s College Hospital were ranked second and third worst respectively, completing an all-London SHA bottom three.


The highest scoring Trust was Harrogate & District NHS Foundation Trust, which appeared in the top quintile for 55 questions, and was never in the bottom 20%. South Tyneside scored second highest, and Papworth Hospital third.


Macmillan also used their ranking system to find the ten Trusts making the biggest improvement between 2010 and 2011.


Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust fared best, having seen its ranking improve for responses to 20 separate questions, without falling in any other areas.


Guy’s & Thomas’ also saw increased scores in 20 areas, but patient satisfaction fell for one question. Tameside Hospital was the third best according to Macmillan’s system, with 17 improved scores and no falls.


The results of the Cancer Patient Experience Survey themselves showed an upward trend in satisfaction, and 97% of the 71,793 respondents indicated that, overall, their care was either excellent (54%), very good (34%) or good (9%).


A number of areas requiring improvement were also highlighted. 38% of patients with cancer of the brain or central nervous system (CNS) were not referred to a cancer specialist until after three or more visits to their GP.


This was compounded by the fact that just 61% of brain and CNS cancer patients said their health either improved or stayed the same while they waited for their first hospital appointment – the lowest proportion across all cancer types named in the survey.


The lowest scoring question was that of whether or not patients had been offered a written assessment and care plan, with just 24% indicating that they had.


The breadth and quality of information given to patients regarding their cancer type and any operations required varied considerably between cancers.


50% of patients with sarcoma indicated they had been given written information about their type of cancer, compared to 78% for prostate cancer patients.


Patients with prostate (93%) and breast cancer (92%) said they had received written information about their operation, whereas brain and CNS patients (56%) and those with sarcoma (55%) gave the lowest scores.
CPES age comprehension Younger patients felt they were not able to understand explanations of what was wrong Illustration: Cancer Patient Experience Survey 2011/12


Disparities between age groups and ethnicities were also evident. Cancer patients aged 16-25 were shown to be the least likely to have understood the explanation given to them of what was wrong, and comprehension rates rose with each older age group.
CPES financial help More younger patients than older patients said they were informed about financial help Illustration: Cancer Patient Experience Survey 2011/12


The opposite was true of financial help, however, with a higher proportion of 16-25-year-old patients indicating that they were given information on how to get financial help than of any other age group.
CPES ethnicity 2 Differences in response acording to respondent’s ethnicity Illustration: Cancer Patient Experience Survey 2011/12