Author Topic: Vulnerable man 'suffers and dies' after benefits were cut  (Read 5266 times)

gus

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Vulnerable man 'suffers and dies' after benefits were cut
« on: February 28, 2014, 06:11:52 PM »
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/28/man-starved-to-death-after-benefits-cut


>edit to add 'possible trigger' warning

Title was 'Vulnerable man starved to death after benefits were cut' changed to something less descriptive so it is not so immediately upsetting to people who need to avoid such things > Sunshine
« Last Edit: March 01, 2014, 09:18:48 AM by SunshineMeadows »

JLR2

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Re: Vulnerable man starved to death after benefits were cut
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2014, 06:26:02 PM »
Do I hear the words, 'it is with regret and lessons will be learnt'' being uttered yet again by a government spokesman/woman?

KizzyKazaer

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Re: Vulnerable man starved to death after benefits were cut
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2014, 06:27:18 PM »
Disgusting an indictment as this story is on the 'new and improved' welfare system, for me it raises more questions than it answers - where was everybody else involved with this man during the four months in which he was slowly dying?  I am assuming his family weren't having face-to-face contact with him or they would have seen the physical deterioration.  It just seems odd that someone could be so totally isolated from the view of others for so long.

JLR2

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Re: Vulnerable man starved to death after benefits were cut
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2014, 06:42:13 PM »
"An Atos spokeswoman said: "Our thoughts are with the family of Mr Wood at this difficult time."

Sorry forgot that one.

Monic1511

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Re: Vulnerable man starved to death after benefits were cut
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2014, 07:37:24 PM »
David Cameron was this man's MP >angry<

Transcript of the article
The family of a man who starved to death four months after his benefits were cut off has called on the government to reform the way it treats people with mental health problems when it assesses their eligibility for benefits.
Mark Wood, 44, who had a number of complex mental health conditions, died at his home last August, months after an Atos fitness-for-work assessment found him fit for work. This assessment triggered a decision by the jobcentre to stop his sickness benefits, leaving him just 40 a week to live on. His housing benefits were stopped at around the same time.
The Oxfordshire coroner, Darren Salter, said that although it was impossible to identify the cause of death, it was probably "caused or contributed to by Wood being markedly underweight and malnourished". He weighed 5st 8lbs (35kg) when he died; his doctor said his body mass index was not compatible with life.
Wood, of Bampton, Oxfordshire, was not told his housing benefit and employment and support allowance (ESA) had been stopped, and struggled to survive on the 40-a-week disability allowance that remained. He was reluctant to ask relatives for help and they were unaware his benefits payments had been removed until shortly before he died.
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.
Dr Ward told the inquest the Atos decision was an "accelerating factor" in Wood's decline and eventual death, according to his family. Wood told housing association staff he was very distressed housing benefit had been cut off, and by letters about rising rent arrears and warnings from the electricity company his supply would be cut off. Many letters were unopened, so he was unaware he needed to visit the jobcentre to reapply for support, his sister, Cathie Wood, said.
He was a "sweet and gentle" person, she said. "He didn't deserve to die. He wasn't harming anyone."
Her brother had struggled with undiagnosed mental health issues all his life, which made it impossible for him to work. He was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder in his late 20s, and had an eating disorder and cognitive behavioural problems when he died. He was sacked from his first job because his employer said he was "unable to follow instructions".
"We worked for years to create a place for him to live safely. But that stopped when his benefits were stopped. He tried so hard to survive," Ms Wood said.
She is to write to David Cameron, who was her brother's MP, and to the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, to ask them to acknowledge that the system is not working for vulnerable people with mental health issues.
"I would like Iain Duncan Smith to stop talking about this as a moral crusade, and admit that this whole process of reassessing people for their benefits is a cost-cutting measure. I want and Cameron to acknowledge the personal costs of this flawed system. This is not just someone being inconvenienced this is a death," Cathie Wood said.
She is angry Atos did not seek medical evidence from her brother's GP, and made the assessment that he was capable of preparing to return to work after a half-hour interview at his home. The Atos report concluded his mental state was "normal".
Cathie Wood wants the government to put new safeguards in place for vulnerable people when removing their benefits. She believes her brother was unable and possibly unwilling to convey the seriousness of his condition to the Atos assessors and should have had an advocate to support him.
"He was quite a proud person. He would have wanted to be seen as normal. He was desperate to get by as normal," she said. He was reluctant to call for help from his family. "He didn't want to impose on our mother. He wanted to survive without her help."
Wood's vicar told the inquest that he was a man of "dignity and integrity".
Between April and August 2013, Wood's BMI dropped from 14.1 to around 11.5. The inquest heard that a BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy for a man. The inquest noted that he had developed an eating disorder.
"I am not saying that the government shouldn't reassess people's eligibility for benefits, but someone other than my brother should have been told that he had lost his benefits. This is an inappropriate process for people who are mentally ill. The Atos test is crude; they are not capable of making a judgment on complex mental illness in half an hour," said Wood.
Tom Pollard, policy and campaigns manager at Mind, said: "We were deeply saddened to hear of the death of Mark Wood. Unfortunately this tragic case is not an isolated incident. We hear too often how changes to benefits are negatively impacting vulnerable individuals, who struggle to navigate a complex, and increasingly punitive, system.
"We know the assessment process for those applying for employment and support allowance is very stressful, and too crude to accurately assess the impact a mental health problem has on someone's ability to work. This leads to people not getting the right support and being put under excessive pressure which can make their health worse and push them further from the workplace.
"We urgently need to see a complete overhaul of the system, to ensure nobody else falls through the cracks."
An Atos spokeswoman said: "Our thoughts are with the family of Mr Wood at this difficult time."
A DWP spokesman 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."
"Our sympathy goes out to the family of Mr Wood."
On Thursday, a government minister apologised after it emerged that the Department for Work and Pensions had written to a woman asking her to begin "intensive work-focused activity" although at the time she was in a coma.

One diabolical mistake after another :-( >steam<

Dic Penderyn

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Re: Vulnerable man starved to death after benefits were cut
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2014, 07:52:38 PM »
Quote
A DWP spokesman 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."

And then all that evidence is tossed in the bin and they make the decision on a whim.

I was going to say and still they get the decision so totally wrong but its worse than that their decisions often are completely perverse.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2014, 07:55:21 PM by Dic Penderyn »
Be careful in what you wish for, God has a sense of humour

JLR2

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Re: Vulnerable man starved to death after benefits were cut
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2014, 11:33:15 PM »
"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."

And having said that he should have added, 'because Atos have not enough staff (qualified staff)  to carry out such ''thorough'' assessments they are now seeking to terminate their government awarded contract early'.

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Vulnerable man starved to death after benefits were cut
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2014, 12:53:34 AM »
I can only suppose that the family lived a long way away from him. Who'd let their brother starve to death?  If my brother were starving, I'd be doing anything I could, from sharing my money to taking him to foodbanks to going to his MP.  So I rather suppose there was a good reason for not seeing him.

His vicar said what he was like - that suggests he was a churchgoer.  What sort of society do we live in where someone with severe mental impairments of whatever sort can stop going to church and nobody pops by to see if he's ok?  We live such isolated lives.

I'm not knocking any individual.  We never know the circumstances.  Someone says they'll be ok and they need some space and they'll be in touch whenever.  Then maybe their phone is cut off and they say they'll call you on someone's mobile when they feel they want to talk to you.  The next thing you know, they've gone from underweight to dead.

What a very lonely world we live in.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

Fiz

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Re: Vulnerable man starved to death after benefits were cut
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2014, 03:47:37 AM »
Vicars gather information from the family so they have something to say about the deceased at the funeral so it's possible the Vicar may not have known the man personally but that's how he knows what he is like.

I have gone 3 days without food recently when I had no money, I'd never have told anyone or asked for help. Food banks wouldn't be any good for me, the foods they dish out are things I'd never eat. So I guess it is my choice to go hungry but disordered thinking about food and calories doesn't help along with the lack of money because the healthy foods people with ED often eat are fresh and expensive.

Absolutely atrocious he was turned down for benefits, so sad. That someone with MH issues just hasn't the capactity to fight the system is something I can totally relate to.

marfanannie

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Re: Vulnerable man 'suffers and dies' after benefits were cut
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2014, 07:32:13 AM »
In the papers today and just discussed on BBC1 on breakfast news.  At least they have actually spoken about it.  It was in the newspaper reviews.  I think it should have been in the news section.  If a child had starved to death due to benefit cuts it would be front page news.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2014, 09:19:32 AM by SunshineMeadows »

SunshineMeadows

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Re: Vulnerable man 'suffers and dies' after benefits were cut
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2014, 09:43:30 AM »
I edited the first and most recent post to change the thread title.

It is a very said situation but I think the man died because he was ill and unable to help himself when his benefit was stopped. This does not mean that the DWP processes, Jobcentre staff, Housing Association staff, his family, or society in general did not have a part to play in making sure this did not happen.

Having big structures like the DWP administering a system that is supposed to make sure people who need help ie money in order to survive day to day. This means people in society, local communities, neighbours and churches expect the system to work.


Monic1511

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Re: Vulnerable man 'suffers and dies' after benefits were cut
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2014, 08:10:56 PM »
I was told be a person that he would not accept a food parcel even if it was offered and since he had only received enough benefit to buy 2 power cards he had no food.   he then told me that he had been hospitilised in the past for malnutrition but if he won't accept the help Im offering I cannot force him.   I had to document the phonecall but it does disturb me.    Even if someone goes to church its no guarantee,  I attend church and when asked how Im feeling typically respond "fine" if someone says "your not looking well, are you sure" yes I'm fine just tierd.

You can't force people to accept help even when its in their best interest.  Yes you can report them to their doctors but that would trigger a check up and another denial that everything is fine, and then the person who called the doctors is no longer trusted so the person isolates themselves again.   

I don't know the answer but its hard to forcce anyone to accept help especially those with mental health problems as you often make then worse by trying to force help. 

I am not taking a swipe at anyone I just think its a terrible situation and unfortunately I see it more and more often in my council area, fortunately no one has died yet that I know of but still I know there are very ill people starving themselves and too (proud/ill/unaware) to ask for or accept help.
 >dove<
Monic

bulekingfisher

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Re: Vulnerable man 'suffers and dies' after benefits were cut
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2014, 03:00:33 PM »
Hello Sun Shine Medows

Will A.T.O.S be charged with involuntry man-slaughter ?

Fiz

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Re: Vulnerable man 'suffers and dies' after benefits were cut
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2014, 04:08:10 PM »
My local foodbank doesn't dispense a single food item that the vast majority of people with eating disordes would eat. The things I eat are some fresh/frozen vegetables, unsweetened almond milk, special k instant porridge and sugar free jelly, small amounts of the leanest low fat meat and fish. Meat in cans is way too high fat. I know I would (and have) gone hungry because I just wouldn't eat what is available to me. Really for an ED, you need money to be able to buy the foods that are acceptable to you. It's not good if someone negates the need of the person that is created by an illness by saying they offered something that doesn't meet the needs created by the illness. If that makes sense.

The help he needed wasn't necessarily (just) food, it was someone to understand his difficulties by spending time with him and helping him with the forms and in the gathering of information and evidence so that he could access the benefits he was clearly entitled to. That help is really hard to come by. People don't understand mental illness including eating disorders though sadly and that help isn't there.

Hurtyback

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Re: Vulnerable man 'suffers and dies' after benefits were cut
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2014, 04:51:45 PM »
One thing that I have often noticed is that people are 1) unaware that their housing benefit will be stopped when their ESA/JSA is stopped and 2) also unaware that they can reclaim on the basis of low/no income.


I don't know how people can be routinely informed about this, but they certainbly should be. Suddenly finding that their housing benefit has not be paid and not understanding that it can be reinstated causes a lot of extra, and unnecessary, anxiety.