Healthcare professionals who carry out disability

first_imgHealthcare professionals who carry out disability benefits assessments for the government complete as much as 60 per cent of their reports before they meet the disabled person they are supposed to be assessing, according to a disgraced former assessor.Paramedic Alan Barham was sacked after being exposed last year by an undercover reporter working for Channel 4’s Dispatches.But he has now contacted Disability News Service (DNS) to protest about the way he has been treated, claiming that he has been made a “scapegoat” by Capita, the outsourcing company he was working for, but which sacked him after the documentary was aired.He also claims that personal independence payment (PIP) claimants are frequently “ripped off” by assessors who fail to complete their reports fairly, although he insists that he was not guilty of such practices himself.And he claims that nearly everything he was caught saying by Dispatches – for which he now faces the possibility of being struck off by his regulatory body – was standard practice, and was therefore “driven by Capita”.Barham is facing a Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) disciplinary hearing over comments he was filmed making about the way he carried out PIP assessments.HCPC has decided that separate allegations that he lied in a report he wrote after assessing a disabled woman’s eligibility for PIP will not be dealt with by a disciplinary hearing.Barham claims he is innocent of most of the charges against him, insisting that he was only following instructions and guidelines laid down by Capita.And he says he is set to sue Capita for making him “a scapegoat for their protocols”, and that the fallout from the documentary has led to the break-up of his marriage and the loss of his business.He told DNS: “I hope they crash and burn, I really do. Capita is a monster. I’m not. They are.”Barham’s claims are just the latest development in an ongoing DNS investigation into claims of widespread dishonesty by PIP assessors working for both Capita and Atos on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).One of the most disturbing claims made by Barham during the hour-long telephone interview was that assessors are instructed by Capita to “pre-populate” their written assessment reports before they have even carried out their face-to-face assessments.This time-saving measure, he says, means that up to three-fifths of the 25-page reports are completed before an assessor has met the disabled person at the assessment.In the documentary, he had claimed that, on one assessment, he had “literally finished [the] assessment before I’d even walked through the door”.Now he says he was exaggerating, and that he had not completed all of the report before the assessment took place, but he insists that filling in large parts of it beforehand was, and is, standard procedure at Capita.He says it is called “pre-population”, and allows assessors to fill in as much of the PA4 report [the assessment report that drives the DWP decision to accept or reject a PIP claim] as they can from the evidence they have already seen.He said: “There’s lots and lots and lots of pre-population.”Barham also defended his claim – also caught by undercover footage in last year’s Dispatches documentary – that an assessor can usually “completely dismiss” most of what he or she is told in an assessment by the claimant.He said this was because assessors are told by Capita that they can use “informal observations” of claimants to draw conclusions about the accuracy of what they are saying.He said: “I’ve had people saying I can’t wash my own hair but at the end of an assessment put a hat on their head, or have taken a hat off prior to the start of the assessment. And this is what we’re asked to look for.”Asked if Capita tells its assessors to constantly set traps for their claimants and try to trick them into doing things they say they cannot do, he said: “Absolutely, yes, and this is why I rang you back.“Because I’m berated for what I was perceived to be doing, but I stood in a training room for a week with Capita in Birmingham being told to do all this.”In the documentary, he discussed how at one point, soon after the introduction of PIP, assessors like him who were paid as contractors were able to earn huge sums of money.He repeated that claim to DNS, saying: “We used to earn £80 an assessment for the first eight [assessments a week].“[Then they] doubled that to £160 an assessment for the first eight, then they went from eight to 14 at 200-and-something an assessment, and from 14 to 20 it was £300 an assessment, and 20 onwards it was £350 an assessment.”Barham claims that he was considered one of the top 10 out of 600 PIP assessors in the country and that in two years he carried out 1,000 assessments for Capita, although he refused to say how much he earned in total during that time.He said: “I’m not an animal. This is what’s really annoying me: Capita told me to do all this.“I’ve done this, as per Capita, as per guidelines, as per my contract, as per my employer… and there’s rules when you’re employed, and you follow them rules and you will keep your job.”Barham’s one admission of regret was about making an offensive comment about an unnamed PIP claimant, who he was heard describing as “so fat she can’t wipe her own arse” and who he said had a “disability known as being fat”.He said this was just “a generic comment to a couple of colleagues in an office that happens every day around the country in lots of offices”, and that it was “not detrimental to her”.He said: “It was just a personal opinion. We have all said things we shouldn’t say.“I regret it 100 per cent, and like I said, I’m a human being, we all make derogatory remarks. Rightly or wrongly, we all do it. It’s something I shouldn’t have said.”Barham said that he would provide DNS with 134 written documents that would prove that nearly all of the comments he made in the documentary represented standard Capita procedure.But he changed his mind after the interview and said that handing over the documents to DNS would “jeopardise” his defence at the HCPC hearing.Two weeks ago, DNS reported the concerns of David Nicholls, from Northampton, the husband of one of the PIP claimants who had been assessed by Barham.DNS has seen Capita’s response to Nicholls’ complaint about the assessment report Barham wrote following an assessment of his wife, Jacqueline, in March last year, a month before the Dispatches documentary was screened.As a result of the assessment, she was found ineligible for PIP.It was only after the documentary was aired and DWP agreed to allow her to be reassessed that she was granted the enhanced rate for both the daily living and mobility components of PIP.In its response to the Nicholls complaint about Barham, a Capita senior complaint handler wrote: “You stated that you disagree with the content of your assessment report and that you believe [Barham] had made inaccurate assumptions and had lied in his report…“Based on the outcome of my investigation, I uphold this element of your complaint.”In his report, Barham repeatedly stated that what he was told by Jacqueline Nicholls was not backed up by the tests he carried out during the assessment.But David Nicholls has told DNS that Barham ignored the impact of his wife’s brain injury on both her physical and mental functioning, including her seizures, her confusion when asked too many questions, the lack of feeling in parts of her body, her memory problems, and her tendency to get lost when on her own.Barham reported instead that she could plan and follow routes, understand complex written information without any help, and make her own budgeting decisions.Nicholls said Barham had “misled people with the findings in his report in the worst possible way” and that his assessment had given “no consideration to brain injury at all”. He said that the effect of dishonest assessors like Barham on disabled people was “devastating”.Presented with the words of David Nicholls, the conclusion of Capita that he had lied in the assessment report, evidence from medical experts, and the results of the second assessment, which awarded Jacqueline Nicholls the enhanced rate of PIP for both mobility and daily living, Barham insisted to DNS that his assessment had been correct, according to Capita procedures.He claimed that he had no choice but to take her answers as she gave them to him, even though her husband had told her that he needed to take account of her brain injury.Barham said: “I stand by my judgement at the time because I did not receive any of what we call further medical evidence to back up what she was telling me.”But David Nicholls says that Capita had been sent a letter from an epilepsy nurse outlining the impact of his wife’s condition, and that Barham had insisted at the start of the assessment that he had read this letter and that he had all the information he needed.Nicholls said this week: “The system is not fit for purpose and he has exploited it.”Barham also told DNS that many PIP claimants were being “ripped off” by their assessors, who were completing unfair assessment reports, although he said he had not done so himself.He said this was because assessors were given only 45 minutes to carry out their assessments – and often have to carry out five a day – and then have just 24 hours to write all of those reports.He said: “They are under pressure, their managers are on their back all the time.“You [carry out] an assessment and you’re given 24 hours to turn that assessment around and present it to them.”Barham insisted to DNS that he was “not a nasty person, I am a nice person.“I have been a paramedic for years and I love my job. I have letters galore from patients, thanking me for what I have done for them.“I feel like I’ve been absolutely smashed to bits and used as a scapegoat for Capita.“All I have done is, yes, I made a derogatory comment, I wish I hadn’t, wishing is not going to make it go away.“But I have done it, I have reflected on it and I’ve learned from it.“Everything else is Capita-driven. Everything is Capita-driven. I’m sick to death of being a scapegoat.”He added: “I have lost my business, my wife has split up [with me], my whole life has split apart since April.“I have disabled friends. I have no problems with disability. This is the thing that’s driving me crazy.”He said that he was now set to sue Capita for making him “a scapegoat for their protocols. I have done everything I was asked to do, apart from calling someone too fat.”Capita failed to deny any of the claims made by Barham, but refused to respond in depth to his comments.A Capita spokesman said: “Capita’s focus is on undertaking quality assessments in an efficient and professional manner.“We expect all of our assessors to carry out assessments as outlined by the DWP.“If individuals do not meet our expectations we will always take appropriate action.”DWP also declined to comment on the claims made by Barham.A DWP spokeswoman said: “This is a commercial matter for Capita. We expect the highest standards from the contractors who carry out PIP assessments and work closely with them to continuously improve and ensure PIP is working in the best way possible.”last_img read more

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The government has sparked shock and anger after a

first_imgThe government has sparked shock and anger after appointing a controversial right-wing writer and free schools advocate – who made “insulting” and “extremist” comments about inclusive education and eugenics – to the board of its new higher education watchdog.The Department for Education (DfE) announced this week that Toby Young (pictured) was one of its last six appointments to the board of the Office for Students (OfS).OfS is the new regulator for the higher education sector, and the government claims that it will “put the student interest at its heart”.But the appointment of Young – known as both the author of the best-selling memoir How To Lose Friends And Alienate People and the co-founder of a free school – caused anger and shock this week, particularly among campaigners for inclusive education.Five years ago, in an article for the right-wing magazine The Spectator, Young wrote, in an article about plans to bring back O-levels, of how “inclusive” was a “ghastly, politically correct” word, which meant that schools had to have “wheelchair ramps… and a Special Educational Needs Department that can cope with everything from Dyslexia to Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy”.He added: “If [Michael] Gove is serious about wanting to bring back O-levels the government will have to repeal the Equality Act because any exam that isn’t ‘accessible’ to a functionally illiterate troglodyte with a mental age of six will be judged to be ‘elitist’ and therefore forbidden by Harman’s Law.”He later added a footnote that claimed he was not opposed to including disabled people in mainstream education and suggested that critics had misunderstood him.He has also written, in another article, of how he is in favour of “progressive eugenics”, arguing that “it is not through changing the culture that we will be able to solve the chronic social problems besetting the advanced societies of the West, but through changing people’s genes”.He adds: “What I’m proposing is a form of eugenics that would discriminate in favour of the disadvantaged.“I’m not suggesting we improve the genetic stock of an entire race, just the least well off.“This is a kind of eugenics that should appeal to liberals – progressive eugenics.”A series of disabled campaigners have spoken out to criticise his appointment.Rachel O’Brien, disabled students’ officer for the National Union of Students, told Disability News Service (DNS): “While Toby Young’s views are sadly not abnormal, it is striking that somebody with such a large repertoire of inflammatory articles and statements disparaging student diversity has been appointed to the Office for Students board. “Disabled students should have the right and opportunity to access all levels of education on an equal basis to non-disabled people – the problem is not that we have impairments, but that our education system is not inclusive.“The Department for Education and the OfS must not lose sight of the needs of students across the UK and focus on making sure that our education system is inclusive of all people.”Sue Bott, deputy chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said: “Whatever student interests Toby Young is supposed to be looking out for it is unlikely to be disabled students, given his track record of calling for the abolition of inclusion policies and his insults to disabled people. “Given the changes to disabled students’ allowance, it is a worrying time for disabled students. “What is needed in the new Office for Students is someone who will champion the interests of disabled people.”The disabled journalist and presenter Mik Scarlet said Young’s appointment was like giving the right-wing commentator and former reality TV star Katie Hopkins a say in the country’s immigration policy.He told DNS: “The appointment of Toby Young, who openly supports eugenics for the poor, wants to end inclusive education and has written asking to have the Equality Act repealed, is yet more proof that our current government holds disabled people in great disdain.”He pointed to comments made by chancellor Philip Hammond that blamed disabled people for the country’s poor economic performance, and government social security changes that had “targeted disabled people whether they are in work or not”.He said: “To give someone like Young, who has openly written about supporting ‘progressive eugenics’, a position over the futures of our youth is shameful.“We all know that some extremists on the right of politics believe disabled people are a drain on society, but it is becoming more and more clear that this kind of thinking is becoming government policy.“Toby Young should be seen as a dangerous extremist, not a person worthy of helping shape the future of education in the UK.“If the May government doesn’t remove him immediately, they are showing their true colours.“Disabled people have to take a stand on this appointment or things may get even darker than they are now.”Disability activist Aisling Musson said Young’s appointment was “triply insulting to students”.She said: “Firstly, he represents a political appointment made on the grounds of cronyism.“He is serially under-qualified to speak on educational matters and most of his successes can be traced to being well-connected.“Secondly, he is an out-and-out eugenicist and that the government would endorse his beliefs towards disabled people is appalling, but not surprising given their policies.“Thirdly, his attitude towards inclusive education is not only vile and repulsive, but outdated and at odds with Equality Act legislation.“The sheer contempt he has shown for disabled students is visceral, and his childish opposition to allowing disabled students access to education – a basic human right – smacks of Victorian era bigotry.”Young told DNS that he had expressed himself poorly in his Spectator column, and insisted that he was not opposed to disabled children being educated in mainstream schools.He said: “I am not an opponent of children with disabilities being educated in mainstream schools and, indeed, the four schools I have helped set up include children with a range of disabilities. “In that column, which was a defence of Michael Gove’s proposals to reform GCSEs, I was using the term ‘inclusive’ to refer to the dumbing down of the national curriculum by the last Labour government so it could point to the increasing percentage of children doing well as evidence of school improvement.“I accept that I expressed myself poorly and left myself open to misinterpretation as a result, but rather than rewrite or delete the original column I attached a clarification to the bottom of it.“As you say, not everyone is persuaded by this – they claim to have a special insight into what I really think – and it’s hard to argue with people who think they can see into your soul.“But please be assured, I do not possess the toxic views that have been ascribed to me.”When asked why he had included the comment about ramps, he said it was “a silly thing to say”, and added: “If I could erase it from history I would.”The Department for Education refused to respond to Young’s comments on inclusive education and eugenics, but said in a statement: “Toby Young’s diverse experience includes posts at Harvard and Cambridge as well as co-founding the successful West London Free School.“This experience will be vital in encouraging new providers and ensuring more universities are working effectively with schools.“The appointments to the board reflect the diverse needs of the higher education sector, young people and employers.“The OfS board’s broad range of skills and experience across the field of education will ensure it is able to deliver for students.”Picture: Toby Young being interviewed on Channel 4 News in 2014last_img read more

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Fabio Baldacchino – winner of Enemed National Hillclimb Championship second round

first_img SharePrint <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=a7617b59&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=128&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=a7617b59&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> On Sunday 14th April Island Car Club organised the second round of the Enemed National Hillclimb Championship at Mtahleb limits of Rabat Malta.Thirty-five cars challenged the hill in an event that was originally set to take place a week earlier but was postponed due to bad weather.As in the first round, Fabio Baldacchino sponsored by Tony’s Bar ended this event as the overall winner, followed closely by Mark Micallef sponsored by Avon Tyres and Mauro Portelli sponsored by Sullivan Maritime.The third round of the Enemed National Hillclimb Championship is set for the 19th of May.WhatsApplast_img read more

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