The difference between the DWP and the NHS is care, concern, compassion and KINDNESS
By Mo Stewart: Independent Disability Studies Researcher: For the past ten years I have conducted independent disability studies research demonstrating how Thatcher’s ‘dark legacy’ was continued by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), as neoliberal politics has dominated the domestic agenda with the increasing political agenda to remove the UK welfare state in favour of private health insurance.
Hailed by many as the creator of the New Right Conservative Party, and ‘the woman who changed Britain forever’, Thatcher’s ‘dark legacy’ was destined to grow to guarantee that every chronically ill and disabled claimant of out-of-work disability benefit will never again know peace or financial security in the United Kingdom (UK) when too ill to work. The death of many chronically ill claimants due to the brutality of DWP ‘welfare reforms’ was always inevitable when some of those in greatest need are, quite literally, killed by the state.
Little did I know that following the publication in 2016 of Cash Not Care: the planned demolition of the UK welfare state, the atrocities committed by the DWP would increase.
Their latest violation of the human rights of disabled people began with the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC), to be used to replace up to six social security benefits and to limit the cost of the welfare state. UC will successfully punish those in greatest need still further as being nothing more than a financial burden to the state, that no self-respecting right-leaning government will tolerate, regardless of the negative mental health crisis of the constant retesting of chronically ill claimants who can’t recover, regardless of state-sanctioned bullying.
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“This morning the government released mortality statistics – or rather, was forced to after several freedom of information requests – that show more than 80 people a month are dying after being declared “fit for work”. These are complex figures but early analysis points to two notable facts. First that 2,380 people died between December 2011 and February 2014 shortly after being judged “fit for work” and rejected for the sickness and disability benefit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). We also know that 7,200 claimants died after being awarded ESA and being placed in the work-related activity group, by definition, people whom the government had judged were able to “prepare” to get back to work.”
Death has become a part of Britain’s benefits system – Frances Ryan, The Guardian August 2015
So, it was with significant trepidation that this former healthcare professional was admitted to my district hospital recently for major surgery. The National Health Service (NHS) is not my area of research, and I had heard about all the government enforced NHS funding cuts…
People who are ill are vulnerable. Depending on diagnosis and possible treatment, a hospital can be a frightening place not least because an end-of-life diagnosis can cause a crisis, and I was fearing the worst.
However, my biggest fear was not knowing what to expect from the NHS staff, having reported for the past ten years the callous disregard of those in greatest need as demonstrated by the vicious and often brutal DWP staff.
A lifetime ago I was trained in the NHS and, despite a positive experience at the outpatient clinics, my expectations of inpatient care were not high.
However, on admission to the Peterborough City Hospital ENT ward, at the Edith Cavell Campus, what I discovered was the epitome of care, concern, compassion, understanding and, above all, kindness.
For a few days in October as an inpatient, I experienced an overwhelming emotional sensation due to the kindness of every staff member I met. These were not only the medical and nursing staff, but also the nursing support staff, the caterers, the cleaning staff, and not forgetting the technical team who conducted the MRI too.
“on admission to the Peterborough City Hospital ENT ward, at the Edith Cavell Campus, what I discovered was the epitome of care, concern, compassion, understanding and, above all, kindness”
For a few days, I realised that regardless of possible diagnosis and future prognosis, my care when an inpatient in the NHS was at a similarly high standard or higher when compared to when I trained. Compassion thrives in every staff member, and there is no-one to suggest that the patient is a drain on limited resources due to being too ill to work.
Upon my discharge, the Ward Sister offered me a survey and invited me to advise regarding the satisfaction of my stay at the hospital. When I gently refused the Ward Sister looked a little concerned. I then reassured her that her staff were far too important to be dismissed by the business requirement of a routine patient survey, and I promised to identify their exceptional care and kindness in a published article.
We are living in very dark times in a country dominated by a dangerous and extreme right-wing government, whose total disregard of human need is second only to their devotion to greed.
However, my few days in the ENT ward at the Peterborough City Hospital will live in my heart forever and is a testimony to the remarkable people we have in the NHS, which makes us a very lucky country and still the envy of the world.
Mo Stewart is a medically retired healthcare professional originally trained in the NHS. She is also a disabled veteran of the Women’s Royal Air Force medical branch and, since 2009, has researched the influence of corporate America with future UK welfare reforms. Mo is the lead independent researcher in the UK who exposed the long-standing plan to demolish the UK welfare state, to be eventually replaced with private healthcare insurance as successive UK governments were guided by Unum Insurance since 1992. ©Mo Stewart, 2019