The healthcare professionals who carry out disability benefit assessments on behalf of the government should be held accountable for failing to report what they are told accurately, MPs have been told.Members of the Commons work and pensions select committee were told repeatedly this week that assessors working for the outsourcing giants Atos, Capita and Maximus were producing reports that did not reflect what they had been told by the disabled people they were assessing.They were hearing evidence from four welfare rights advisers (pictured) as part of their inquiry into the assessment processes for personal independence payment (PIP) and employment and support allowance (ESA).Disability News Service (DNS) has been carrying out a year-long investigation into claims of dishonesty at the heart of the PIP assessment system, and revealed last month that complaints about the process rose by nearly 900 per cent last year.But Atos and Capita – which carry out PIP assessments – and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have repeatedly insisted that there is no dishonesty in the system.David Bryceland, from Oxfordshire Mind, told the committee yesterday that he and his colleagues saw “many inaccuracies”, including major factual errors such as someone who lived in a ground-floor, one-bedroom flat being described in an assessment report as living in a three-bedroomed house.He said: “Those are not easy mistakes to make, those are not slips of the pen.”Kayleigh Nor-Val, a benefits adviser for Citizens Advice in Merthyr Tydfil, told the committee that she and her colleagues came across “so many” inaccuracies in assessment reports.Martin Richards, a disability benefits adviser for the charity Involve Northwest, in the Wirral, questioned why healthcare professionals should be telling so many “untruths” in their assessment reports.He said: “I don’t understand the motivation for the reason behind that, because if I went to see my consultant and he wrote untruths down, then there would be civil actions and things in place.”Richards said the healthcare professionals “need to be accountable” for what they write in their assessment reports, and he said he believed they were “acting under orders”.He said that two clients with mental health problems in the last six months had been unable to cope when their benefits were reduced because of “inaccurate” assessment reports.Both of them had been sectioned because their reduced income meant they had had to reduce their care packages and “they couldn’t cope”.All four of the experts said they believed that Atos, Maximus and Capita should be held accountable when their assessors include inaccurate information in their reports, while Bryceland said he believed civil servants who make the final decisions on the benefit claims also need to “take responsibility”.Richards said: “I would agree that the contractor should be the one that gets penalized because I believe the healthcare professionals are acting under orders.”He said again that he believed there must be some kind of “motivation” for the assessors to record the information inaccurately.But Nor-Val went further and said she believed that individual assessors should be held accountable.She said: “There should be fines against healthcare professionals who are making inaccurate statements.“There should be fines, there should be repercussions for those healthcare professionals and those contractors.”Gary Edwards, from Southampton Advice and Representation Centre, said that “trust needs to come back into this system”.He said: “The trust is lost between claimants and the providers, the private contractors that the DWP use.”He pointed to a PIP appeal tribunal he had attended the previous day with a man with complex mental health issues, who claimed that his assessment had lasted just seven minutes.Atos and DWP had refused to say how long the assessment had lasted.The claimant had originally been given just two points (a claimant needs eight points to qualify for the standard rate and 12 for the enhanced rate, for both the daily living and mobility elements of PIP).The tribunal ordered that he should be given 11 points and 10 points. Until this week, he had been without any PIP since June 2016.Earlier, five disabled people who had themselves been assessed for PIP or ESA had also given evidence to the committee.All five said they would like to see all face-to-face assessments recorded, and claimants given a copy of those recordings.Three of the five raised concerns about assessors failing to produce accurate reports following their face-to-face assessments.Thomas O’Dell said his ESA assessor was “like a smiling assassin”.She had seen him being pushed into the room in a wheelchair by his father, and then take three steps while holding onto the table, but concluded in her assessment report that he could walk 50 metres.He said she had touched his leg, and told him she would not continue with further physical tests because he was in too much pain, but then claimed in the report that she had completed a full examination.O’Dell said she had “fabricated the whole assessment”.He also said that one of his assessment reports had been altered by another member of staff who had not even been in the room for his assessment.Another claimant, Amanda Browning, said her last assessment report had contained 21 factual inaccuracies.She said: “At my appeal the tribunal noted that the assessor had been selective in reporting my capabilities and awarded in my favour.”And Natalie McMinn told how the letter she received after her home assessment “was full of mistakes” and “contradicted itself”.She said she had been “appalled” by her PIP assessor, and added: “A lot of the information I had given her as well as putting on the forms wasn’t reflected or was wrongly recorded in the award letter after her visit.”Last week, Disability News Service (DNS) reported how the inquiry has produced more online written evidence from the public than any other investigation ever held by a House of Commons select committee.
Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.It was set to be a big Brexit day, but the developments on that front were largely overshadowed by a row over whether Labour MP Chris Williamson should be suspended. After a number of revelations around antisemitism – from the MP saying the party had been “too apologetic” about it to describing supporters of Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth as “white privileged” – top figures called for disciplinary action. Deputy leader Tom Watson, London mayor Sadiq Khan, the GMB’s Tim Roache and many backbenchers all demanded his suspension.At first, Labour would only say he should apologise. Then the party said he had been issued with a notice of investigation. Later, the decision was taken to suspend him and the whip was therefore withdrawn. This three-stage process, which itself followed many months of pressure from MPs and groups urging action, ensured that the story dragged on throughout the day and continues to do so. The Daily Mail, The Independent and Newsnight have all reported that Jeremy Corbyn was personally involved in the initial decision not to suspend Williamson, and that it was only reversed when – as warned in yesterday’s morning email – more resignations were threatened. Labour’s press team have strongly denied such reports, saying: “Jeremy Corbyn is not involved in disciplinary processes and did not intervene in this case.” What we do know is that Williamson’s approach to antisemitism issues hasn’t changed since JLM filed a complaint last summer. Only the likelihood of Labour MPs resigning over it has changed.This row dominated the news although MPs were set to vote on important Brexit amendments. Turnout was low, however, so Labour’s one laying out its Brexit plan was defeated by 83 votes – a larger majority than in January. (Check out last night’s full results and rebel lists here.) Commentators confidently pronounced: ‘and now, Labour switches to supporting another EU referendum’. But that isn’t quite right. As made clear by the “Our Alternative” videos tweeted by frontbenchers, and Corbyn’s reaction to the results, the party isn’t giving up on its own vision of Brexit. It intends to keep pushing its “five demands”. With Labour also backing a “confirmatory referendum” (i.e. pass a deal, then put it to a public vote against ‘Remain’), this raises the interesting question of how the party would campaign in that situation. For ‘Remain’, and against its own deal?We know that getting a ‘people’s vote’ through the Commons is currently unattainable, with too few supportive Tories and too many Labour rebels. Though neither believes it is, the leaderships of both main parties want the threat of another referendum to feel real – party unity reasons for Corbyn, pressuring Brexiteers for May. On an interesting episode of ITV’s Peston last night, John McDonnell claimed to think ‘PV’ will become more likely with rising panic among MPs. But if this ever did look to be the case, I’d bet the Prime Minister would do everything possible to shut it down, aided by the many Tories strongly and genuinely opposed to the idea. We may be closer to another referendum than ever, but it’s still very far from likely.Sign up to LabourList’s morning email for everything Labour, every weekday morning.Tags:Labour /Chris Williamson /Brexit /
0% Tags: arts • sunday streets Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% Pedestrians and cyclists took over Valencia Street on Sunday in the last event of its kind this season, and indeed, this year. With a melange of music, people, politics, and pets, the event was a hit, packing Valencia and some of its cross streets for hours.Check out some photos :
Tags: 20th Street Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% Several thousand people showed up today to the 20th street block party sponsored by Noise Pop, a Mission-based music promoter. The party was also a chance to celebrate education and immigrant right activist Rosario Anaya, and raise money for the Mission Language and Vocational School that will be named in her honor.Food, vending, and music filled the four block radius and the line for entry went around the block by the time I had left.Photo by Lola M. ChavezThere were some great food stands at the block party. Photo by Lola M. Chavez Photo by Lola M. ChavezPhoto by Lola M. ChavezPhoto by Lola M. ChavezWhitney Sharpe at thelatchkey.com selligng her wares. Photo by Lola M. ChavezPhoto by Lola M. ChavezAtlas, the cafe on the corner with a 20 year history in the Mission. Photo by Lola M. ChavezFierce Face painting. Photo by Lola M. ChavezPhoto by Lola M. ChavezWhich way to go? Photo by Lola M. ChavezPhoto by Lola M. ChavezA woman takes a selfie in front of Mission de Flores’s wall of flowers display. Photo by Lola M. ChavezPhoto by Lola M. ChavezThe lines at 2 p.m. Photo by Lola M. ChavezMore on 20th StreetExpanded Party Honors SF Mission Icon, August, 19, 2016SF’s 20th Street Becomes the Place to Be, August, 2015 0%
Halfway to the closure date of the sub-acute unit at St. Luke’s Hospital, many of its patients still don’t know where they’ll be going.Families told representatives from California Pacific Medical Foundation on Thursday that the list of Bay Area facilities they had been given by hospital staff to choose from failed to offer real alternatives nearby. “You’re supposed to be working with families, finding sub-acute care. Is there a list of anything that is available?” one person asked. “My sister looked into it, and says nothing is available in the Bay Area.”Liz Cong, California Pacific’s clinical manager, said patients had been given two lists, one with facilities within 25 miles and one with facilities outside that range. “You’re correct, a lot of them, at the time, didn’t have any capacity,” she said.Some families have been offered placements at a facility in San Jose.California Pacific runs St. Luke’s, and patients in sub-acute care there were notified in early June that the facility would close Oct. 31. Equivalent care will not be provided at the new hospital being built next door, which is due to be completed sometime in 2018. 24 of St. Luke’s 40 sub-acute beds are still occupied.Since June, families, doctors and advocates have voiced outrage at the prospect of moving these medically fragile patients, many of whom cannot walk, speak or care for themselves. CPMC representatives have repeatedly stated that they would not be endangering patients by moving them.Sub-acute patients are particularly tricky to place because they need round-the-clock care and specific services — like attending to tracheotomies — that many hospitals don’t offer. California Pacific has, for years, operated the only sub-acute facility in San Francisco. CPMC’s CEO, Dr. Warren Browner, said the new St. Luke’s won’t include a sub-acute facility because of a reduction in the nonprofit’s beds — part of a 2013 agreement with the city that dramatically downsized a new hospital being built at Van Ness Avenue and Geary Boulevard.Browner pushed back on the notion that the closure of sub-acute care was due to cost-cutting.“One issue that comes up frequently is that this is somehow about money. It’s not about money, it’s about beds,” he said. “If you knew that you were gonna close six [sic] years ago … why weren’t we told that when our loved ones were brought here?” asked Rick Vallejo. “Instead of dropping this bombshell on me all of a sudden? Why weren’t we informed the day that they were brought down here that this place was going to close?”“It has been a privilege to be able to care for your loved ones for that period of time. I think all of you realize there are no other subacute facilities in San Francisco,” Browner responded. “For the past many years, you and your families have enjoyed the privilege of being in San Francisco. So I’m not really sure you would have made a different decision, even back then.”He added that state regulations restricted California Pacific from announcing the closure sooner.That did not sit well with patients and their families.“You didn’t do me a favor by letting her be here. I made the mistake of bringing her here, and now she’s been here for six years, and now you want to put her out?” Vallejo said.Beyond frustrations that the hospital will close, families are also upset that hospital staff didn’t do more research on the options available.“My understanding of talking to the families, there were many places listed that are not sub-acute, that did not do that level of care,” said Terry Palmer, a geriatric doctor who has been advocating for the St. Luke’s patients. “Why was that done?”“Any questions you have with facilities on the list, we’ve got a team that’s very capable to sit down with you answer questions about what those facilities can and can’t provide,” responded Susan Bumatay, another CPMC administrator.But with the October closure date looming, families are becoming antsy. “If we don’t find anything that is a good fit in time, what is your plan?” someone asked. “Come Oct. 31, if we haven’t found appropriate facilities, we’re going to continue working with families,” Cong said.“No one is going to get kicked out. We will work responsibly with every patient,” Browner said.Raquel Rivera, whose sister has been in the sub-acute unit for seven years, asked if CPMC would postpone the closure date.“As soon as I can come up with a plan I know will work, I’m happy to postpone it. … It would be irresponsible for me to make believe that postponing will solve the problem,” Browner replied.Keeping the facility open indefinitely, however, does not appear to be an option — Browner said the hospital license from the old building will need to be transferred to the new one for it to operate. The Health Commission will hold the second of two public hearings, the first of which drew hours of testimony, to evaluate the impact of the facility’s closure, on Tuesday, Sept. 5. Tags: health care • St. Luke’s Hospital Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% 0%
LONDON Broncos may only have two wins on the Super League ladder but are a formidable team according to Saints Head Coach Nathan Brown.The two sides lock horns at the Twickenham Stoop this Saturday (1pm) desperate for the win.“London played really well at the back end of last year,” Brown said. “Craig Gower was out for them but now he’s back he is a crucial player. They have a formidable team when fit with a lot of experience and young English London-based players.“Gower, Chris Bailey, Antonio Kaufusi, Michael Witt and Kieran Dixon (pictured) – they are good players. Every time Dixon plays he gets better. He is an eye catching player who is improving all the time. He’s scored 14 tries and that is a great effort. When London string wins together you can only imagine how many he will score. He is a good young talent.”Brown will hand Luke Thompson a debut in the clash with Nathan Ashe starting too. Adam Swift is likely to return and Mark Percival will be in contention for the other wing spot.He will be missing Francis Meli, Jon Wilkin and Ade Gardner through suspension, whilst James Roby, Jonny Lomax, Josh Perry, Willie Manu, Mark Flanagan, Anthony Walker and Gary Wheeler are unavailable through injury.Brown continued: “A few things didn’t go our way on Saturday but the guys’ effort and commitment to fight back and get in front was terrific. But we need to channel our energy a little smarter in different areas. At 12 men we made one bad decision and they got us from a kick at the end.“We need to channel our energy better and we do that by kicking the ball well and gaining better field position. We have been competing hard but have to be smarter in some areas.“Injuries and suspensions are part and parcel of the game. I have been coaching for a long time and have been through it before; it’s waiting for when the end comes. The young kids are gaining more experience than they would have and that will put pressure on the returning players too.”One player who Brown singled out for his performances over recent weeks is Tommy Makinson.The youngster has stepped up to full back in the absence of Jonny Lomax.“Tommy’s full back play has got better,” Brown added. “You could see the difference between the last time we played Hull KR to the cup game. He has really stepped up. When everyone is fit he is a younger player in the squad but now (in the present situation) he is quite an experienced player.“He’s done himself proud in the last couple of weeks and has benefitted from the situation we are in. It has made him a much better player, more capable of playing a number of positions.“He had an unfortunate game against Hull FC and Gardsy (Ade Gardner) was behind him waiting for a chance. Tommy then went and played for Whitehaven, got man of the match, and did the same for Rochdale. He’s handled himself well.“When Jonny Lomax coms back he will be at full back – but that isn’t because of Tommy – that’s because we all saw where Jonny should play.”
TICKETS for Friday’s crunch First Utility Super League Semi Final are selling well.Saints will travel to Headingley for the crucial tie this Friday October 2 (8pm) to take on Leeds Rhinos for a place in the Grand Final.There, the winners will line up against either Wigan Warriors or Huddersfield Giants.The Champions’ initial batch of tickets sold out in hours on Saturday – and we have received a further batch this morning.Fans have also been snapping up travel to Headingley too as the club has subsidised trips to Leeds at just £5.Tickets are now on sale from the Ticket Office at Langtree Park, via 01744 455 052 or online here.Season Ticket Holders are entitled to a £2 discount on their tickets – but can only purchase through the Ticket Office if they want to claim it.Only full priced tickets are available online.Coach travel is just £5.Prices are:West Terrace – Season Ticket Holders – £20 Adults, £13 Conc, £5 JuniorWest Terrace – Non Season Ticket Holders – £22 Adults, £15, £5 JuniorMain Stand – Season Ticket Holders – £27 Adults, £20 Conc, £5 JuniorMain Stand – Non Season Ticket Holders – £29 Adults, £22, £5 Junior
THE final part of our review of the year looks at international call ups and the preparation for the new season.OctoberSaints players made their tips for Man of Steel – with Danny Houghton the squad’s popular choice.Atelea Vea moved to Leigh whilst Dougie Charnock joined Barrow.Internationally, Calvin Wellington, Ben Morris and Regan Grace were named in Wales’ World Cup Qualifier squad whilst Jonny Lomax and Mark Percival received England Four Nation’s nods.Matty Smith inked a three year contract to return to his hometown club whilst Adam Walker joined him from Hull KR.Adam would later be selected for Scotland alongside new signing Luke Douglas.In other team moves, Saints said goodbye to 12 players who were part of the first team squad in 2016 and announced the signing of Tommy Lee from Salford.NovemberPaul Sculthorpe MBE joined the England Rugby League staff.Aaron Smith, Liam Cooper, Jonah Cunningham, Ben Morris, Josh Eaves, Rob Fairclough and Matty Lees all put pen to paper on deals that saw them promoted into the first team squad for the 2017 Betfred Super League campaign.Kyle Amor and Jon Wilkin signed extensions; Amor remaining at the club until 2020 whilst Wilkin penned a two year deal.And pre-season got underway in earnest with Keiron Cunningham and his coaching staff putting the players through their paces.A frosty run in Liverpool was soon superseded by brutal sessions at Altcar and the now traditional Christmas run which took place in Formby in December.Many thanks to all Saints fans who have followed the club this season – onwards and upwards to 2017!
However, thankfully none of the Saints 17 were worried by the reputation of the visitors and for the first time in a long time they played as a team for each other.As the U19s found out last year when you’ve been riding high and having things your own way for such a long time sometimes you’ve never been tested and can find it hard to cope.That’s what the Saints did to the Tigers as they opened up a ten point lead with two well taken Sam Royle tries.The first came with the Saints first possession of the game. Great drives from stand out props Evan Bullen and Matty Lees led to a penalty and on the last a fabulous grubber from Rob Fairclough was chased by Royle who touched it down just before the whitewash.His second came after another charge from Bullen put the Saints on the front foot. Fairclough took control putting Royle through a gap to score.The Tigers hit back almost straight away as danger man Jacob Trueman dummied his way over on the left.The Saints missed a try down the left flank from a scrum in the Tigers half when Matty Costello uncharacteristically was sleeping as Kev Brown made his gap for him.The Tigers drew back closer with their second unconverted try seconds after the sin-binning of Cam Brown for holding down after a Tigers break caught the Saints short.When the Saints got a penalty of their own for holding down in front of the Tigers sticks the opportunity to waste time and take the points was too much and Brad Billsborough extended the lead with his second goal of the half.The Saints were looking forward to taking a well-deserved lead in to the break when the Tigers scored their third try despite a suspicion of a forward pass.However, if you’re a connoisseur of these missives, apart from having some issues of your own you will also know that this team has been in these positions before at the interval and been found wanting in the second half.But there was something different about this team tonight and they started the half as they had finished the first with determination and lots of effort putting the pressure onto the Tigers who couldn’t handle the Saints forward power.The turning point came with the introduction on 48 minutes of Paul Nash who quickened up all aspects of the play the ball and also scored the try which broke the visitors.A half break from Ben Sims was taken on by Matty Lees who was stopped inches short. But a repeat set was gleaned and as Callum Hazzard was stopped short Nash was left at the play the ball.He through the biggest dummy you’ve ever seen which was bought not only by the whole of the Tigers defence but also seemingly by Nash himself as he almost butchered the try by ignoring the hole he’d created and stepping back into a defender. He managed to bounce off and fall over the line.Another penalty for a head high tackle was converted by Billsborough to open up a two score lead and when the Saints scored next the possibility of an upset became a real prospect.On the hour it was another fine kick from Billsborough to the right corner combined with pressure from Tom Nisbett which forced the Tigers to kick to touch.Three tackles from the resultant scrum saw Hazzard again held short. This time the ball was spread wide right were Cameron Brown showed great pace and poise to go around the cover and touch down within inches of the whitewash.The nerves were set jangling again as the missed conversion and a good try from the visitors drew them to within six points with a quarter of an hour left.But cometh the hour cometh them man as a brace of tries from Matty Lees finished the Tigers off.Both showed exactly what he is about, strong determined running giving defenders no chance of stopping him. But both came on the back of quick ball from Nash and drives from Bullen and Hazzard, exactly what had worked all day.This was a fabulously gutsy team performance from a side that for once believed in themselves and wasn’t prepared to be beaten.In addition to those already mentioned there were good performances from Sam Royle, and Nash’s compatriots off the bench Joe Sharratt, Ben Sims and Chris Kellett.Match Summary:Saints: Tries: Sam Royle (1 & 19), Paul Nash (52), Cameron Brown (61), Matty Lees (71 & 73). Goals: Brad Billsborough 5 from 6.Castleford: Tries: Jacob Trueman (23), Robbie Storey (28), Luis Johnson (38), Jack Render (65). Goals: Jake Sweeting 1 from 4.Half Time: 12-12 Full Time: 34-18Teams:Saints: 1. Kevin Brown; 5. Tom Nisbett, 3. Cameron Brown, 4. Matty Costello (C), 2. Luke Ward; 6. Ryan Horne, 7. Rob Fairclough; 8. Evan Bullen, 9. Brad Billsborough, 21. Matty Lees, 11. Sam Royle, 12. Mike Weldon, 13. Callum Hazzard. Subs: 14. Paul Nash, 15. Chris Kellett, 16. Joe Sharratt, 17. Ben Sims.Castleford: 1. Callum Turner; 30. Declan Sheehan, 3. Robbie Storey, 4. Pat Diskin, 2. Jack Render; 6. Jake Sweeting, 7. Jacob Trueman; 8. Rory Dixon (C), 9. Luke Million, 10. Jamel Goodall, 11. Joe Summers, 12. Luis Johnson, 13. Joe Fella. Subs: 14. Shay North, 15. Jack Ray, 16. Harvey Kear, 17. Jonty Glendinning.
First of the month check for a lump. Sarah Vaughan’s story “I’d always thought I was good at checking for lumps until back in Dec 17 I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. I was shocked at the size of the lump and how I’d not noticed it develop. I then realised it was probably months not weeks since I had last checked, I suppose i’d become complacent and had a “this won’t happen to me” attitude especially aged 43”.“I had a long road ahead of treatment and was almost kicking myself I hadn’t been more vigilant. I wasn’t alone, after talking to friends who also admitted they rarely checked their breast for changes or lumps it prompted me to raise awareness through a blog called @firstofthemonthcheckforalump which I began on the 1st Jan 18. The idea behind it is that if you check on a set date every month it becomes a habit.”“Any changes that are noticed can be checked quickly by your GP as early detection for any cancer increases the survival rate dramatically. I learnt a lot in those first few weeks. 55,000 women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis each year. Breast cancer can present as visual changes not just lumps and guess what men can also develop breast cancer although it’s around 400 a year.”So between chemo, getting married with a wig on and trying to remain sane, I got into the habit of posting on the first of every month to remind people when and how to check. It became a bit of a diary as I went throughout 6 rounds of gruelling chemo, surgery and then radiotherapy and although I brought dark humour and bared my soul to the blog it quickly became apparent that I was helping people and turning this negative experience into a positive.”“I received many personal messages thanking me for raising awareness as they too had found a lump or noticed a visual change and were now being treated with a good prognosis from early detection. A really good friend had found a lump in his testicle and went on to be treated for testicular cancer. He said he never would have checked if it had not been for my campaign. Recently I have designed two posters for the back of toilet doors to raise awareness of Breast cancer and testicular cancer.”We’re hoping that seeing this article can prompt people to get into the habit of checking every month. This is what you should look out for:Breast cancer – Feel For Lumps. Save Your Bumps.A lump in the breast or armpitDimpling or changes in skin textureInverted or weeping nippleRedness/inflammationChanges to size and shape Testicular cancer – Use your thumbs to check your plums.A lump or enlargement in the testicleChanges to size or shapeHeaviness/pain in the testicleChange in texture or the testicle becomes hardA dull ache in the back or groin