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Starved to Death...

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 jivago Photographic is off-line
28 February 2014 19:26
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Link:-   http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/11043378.display/?ref=twtrec

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A "VULNERABLE and fragile" man starved to death four months after most of his benefits were stopped and he was left with just £40 a week to survive on.

Atos Healthcare – which assesses peoples’ ability to work on behalf of the Government’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – assessed that 44-year-old Mark Wood, from Bampton, was fit to work.

But at an inquest into his death, Oxford Coroner's Court heard testimony that Mr Wood was far from fit to hold down a job.

Weighing just 5st 8lbs when he died of malnutrition in August last year, Mr Wood had obsessive compulsive disorder, Aspergers syndrome, phobias of food, pollution, paint fumes, and social situations, and cognitive behavioural problems.

His GP Nicolas Ward told yesterday’s proceedings: “He was an extremely vulnerable and fragile individual who was coping with life.

“Something pushed him or affected him in the time before he died and the only thing I can put my finger on is the pressure he felt he was under when his benefits were removed.”

Dr Ward, from Bampton Medical Practice, said he had not been contacted by either Atos or DWP about Mr Wood’s medical history, and revealed that if they had asked for his professional opinion he would have said Mr Wood was unfit for work.

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Mr Wood had been receiving housing benefit, employment and support allowance, and disability living allowance of £40 a week and had been living independently since 2006.

But in January last year Atos Healthcare assessed that Mr Wood was healthy and able to work. Following its assessment, in about April last year, Mr Wood’s housing benefits and employment support allowance were stopped by the DWP, leaving just the disability allowance.

The inquest heard he was not able to pay his rent of utility bills.

Mr Wood’s family claim their “gentle and sweet” son and brother would still be alive if his benefits had not been stopped.

His sister Cathie Wood, 48, from North Oxford, told the Oxford Mail: “Atos are completely to blame. If they had not evaluated him as normal he would have carried on in his own way and would not have died last summer.”

His mother Jill Gant, from Abingdon, explained to the coroner that the family only found out Mr Wood did not have any money a few weeks before he died and sent him £250.

Ms Wood said: “By then it was too late, he was so fragile and unstable. We didn’t realise how bad things were.

“He found it difficult to accept help from his family because he tried to live independently so he gave the money away.

“He had a lot of problems, but he was very gentle and sweet.”

At the inquest, Mrs Gant said: “I think he died of the severe effects of malnutrition, but there were precipitating causes.

“Extreme stress and lack of money caused by the removal of his benefits led to his eating problems, and malnutrition led to his death.”

Between April – around the time his benefits stopped – and his death his body mass index plunged from 14.1 to about 11.5. A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy.

Pathologist Clare Verrill told the court a BMI below 13 could kill a man but a cause of death could not be given because his body had decomposed. Mr Wood had last been seen alive on July 29 but his body was not discovered until August 9.

Oxfordshire Coroner Darren Salter gave a narrative verdict at the inquest. He said: “Mr Wood had an eating disorder and food phobia. It is likely that this caused or contributed to his death as he was markedly underweight and malnourished.”

He added: “I accept the evidence about something pushing him over the edge heard by the GP Mr Ward.

On the other hand we do know cash was provided prior to death, but because of his phobias he didn’t use that cash to buy food.”

His family are meeting Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood next Friday to try to find out why he was declared fit for work. Ms Wood said they may consider legal proceedings.

Atos Healthcare spokeswoman Tessa David said: “Our thoughts are with the family of Mr Wood at this difficult time.

“We carry out the Government’s Work Capability Assessment as professionally and compassionately as possible.”

DWP spokesman Ann Rimell said: “A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough assessment and after consideration of all the supporting medical evidence from the claimant’s GP or medical specialist.”

DWP figures show that between October 2010 and March 2013, more than 1,000 people across Oxfordshire stopped receiving employment and support allowance benefits.

Suzy Drohan, joint manager of Barton's Oxfordshire Welfare Rights, said: “It is terrible, I’m really concerned about how Mr Wood has fallen through the cracks.”

Between January 2012 and January this year Oxfordshire Welfare Rights took 312 cases to tribunal appeals against DWP decisions, and 281 were successful.

What ATOS does

Atos undertakes benefits assessments for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) called work capability assessments – most people are re-assessed once a year. The DWP then makes a decision based on Atos recommendations.
Over the last few weeks protests have been held outside more than 100 Atos centres including its Oxford offices in St Aldate’s.
Last week Atos revealed it wanted to quit its £500m Government contract early because of threats made to its staff.
Yesterday, it was reported in several national newspapers that Atos staff have been told to leave all current employment and support allowance claimants on their benefit, without repeat medical checks, until another company can be found to do assessments.
http://www.jivagophoto.com/


Profile Pictures is off-line
28 February 2014 20:37
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Whichever way anyone chooses to view all this, something(s) is dreadfully wrong with the way we run our country right now.


Paul thomas Ford is off-lineSilver Member
01 March 2014 02:09
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Need to save money to pay for "other" people that may "visit" this free for some country.


Neil Anderson is off-line
01 March 2014 05:47
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Quote from paulford
Need to save money to pay for "other" people that may "visit" this free for some country.


What a valuable and concerned comment!
You exemplify the sad state of this country.
It is a fine Yorkshire tradition to blame foreigners for the everything .
I bet 'some of your best friends' are foreign and everyone in your bier keller agrees with you.

.... and as you want to be zenophobic why not focus on the fact that ATOS is a french company taking huge sums of our taxes to do a very poor job.
Like any dealer he was watching for the card that is so high and wild he'll never need to deal another...


Profile Pictures is off-line
01 March 2014 09:30
profilepictures
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I really can't believe that neither (Atos- who I sent staff to in a previous life, for assessment, and found to be a total waste of time) not the dwp made contact with this gentlemans GP before making their decision. I'd have thought a GP remains one of the few public figures highly regarded by every walk of life. Plainly their decision was not based on medical advice and plainly they now recognise the ambiguous and irrelevant nature of their 'expertise' and are trying to wiggle out of the contract. I firmly think this becomes a case of negligence and that someone be held responsible.


Neil Anderson is off-line
01 March 2014 09:56
stolenfaces
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Very similar to the 'Girl in coma passed fit for work' case also reported this week. The main difference was that she ended up in a coma rather than dead. It was stress of being told she was 'fit for work' that put her in a coma.
I think they don't ask GPs in case they are sympathetic (subject to an admin fee of course). The onus is on the subject to present evidence, which is difficult when the subject is vulnerable or has any sort of learning/mental issues.

It is obviously a grossly inefficient use of taxpayers money, spending all this money on incorrectly assessing thousands of people to save a pittance from a few who are genuinely playing the system. The people who are really ripping off the benefits system are the rich, both as landlords (Queen, Prince Charles, Duke of Westminster, various dodgy off-shore entities...) and as entrepreneurs who don't pay their workers a living wage so the taxpayer subsidies their wage bill and their healthy profits. If a company can't afford to pay their workers they are not viable and shouldn't be propped up by stealth subsidies.
Like any dealer he was watching for the card that is so high and wild he'll never need to deal another...


 jivago Photographic is off-line
01 March 2014 11:24
jivago
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Quote from stolenfaces
Very similar to the 'Girl in coma passed fit for work' case also reported this week. The main difference was that she ended up in a coma rather than dead. It was stress of being told she was 'fit for work' that put her in a coma. I think they don't ask GPs in case they are sympathetic (subject to an admin fee of course). The onus is on the subject to present evidence, which is difficult when the subject is vulnerable or has any sort of learning/mental issues. It is obviously a grossly inefficient use of taxpayers money, spending all this money on incorrectly assessing thousands of people to save a pittance from a few who are genuinely playing the system. The people who are really ripping off the benefits system are the rich, both as landlords (Queen, Prince Charles, Duke of Westminster, various dodgy off-shore entities...) and as entrepreneurs who don't pay their workers a living wage so the taxpayer subsidies their wage bill and their healthy profits. If a company can't afford to pay their workers they are not viable and shouldn't be propped up by stealth subsidies.



Apposite! - It is only right to remember the cost of cuts - And that they are not being born by this Government.

http://www.jivagophoto.com/


01 March 2014 11:29
JadedRed
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Quote from profilepictures
I really can't believe that neither (Atos- who I sent staff to in a previous life, for assessment, and found to be a total waste of time) not the dwp made contact with this gentlemans GP before making their decision. I'd have thought a GP remains one of the few public figures highly regarded by every walk of life. Plainly their decision was not based on medical advice and plainly they now recognise the ambiguous and irrelevant nature of their 'expertise' and are trying to wiggle out of the contract. I firmly think this becomes a case of negligence and that someone be held responsible.



From the Guardian:

"Concerned about his patient's condition, Wood's doctor, Nicholas Ward, wrote a letter for Wood to pass to the jobcentre in support of his benefits application, stating that he was "extremely unwell and absolutely unfit for any work whatsoever".

The letter, presented to the inquest, stated that his anxiety disorder and obsessional traits had been made "significantly worse" because of the pressure put on him by benefit changes. It continued: "Please do not stop or reduce his benefits as this will have ongoing, significant impact on his mental health. He simply is not well enough to cope with this extra stress. His mental and medical condition is extremely serious."

It was not clear whether the letter reached the jobcentre."

So we can assume they didn't since the GP felt the need to contact them. I think they stopped involving actual doctors in benefit decisions when they kept giving answers they didn't like.



Profile Pictures is off-line
01 March 2014 11:49
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And this to garner favour with the 'hard working families of Britain'? Which tax payer wants to see the most vulnerable and needy die through lack of £40 a week?

Or Is it the anti fraud theme? That sum of sneakily won monies contained within the 4 billion total spend on welfare? That'll fix our problems more easily than making Vodaphone pay their tax bill?

I mention no political party here, the matter is beyond political colour now and in the realms of business riding roughshod over democracy and any kind of decency. It's a global story.


Paul thomas Ford is off-lineSilver Member
01 March 2014 15:07
paulford
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Doncaster

Quote from stolenfaces

What a valuable and concerned comment!
You exemplify the sad state of this country.
It is a fine Yorkshire tradition to blame foreigners for the everything .
I bet 'some of your best friends' are foreign and everyone in your bier keller agrees with you.

.... and as you want to be zenophobic why not focus on the fact that ATOS is a french company taking huge sums of our taxes to do a very poor job.




Sort of reply to expect from a southern softie.



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