Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Box-ticking twats

This may come as a shock to some of you but doctors don’t always tell the truth. Now I’m not suggesting that they go out of their way to deliver malicious falsehoods, but sometimes they don’t always tell you everything about your condition or how long it might take to put right.
Some of these lightweight porkies can be attributed to the fact that medicine is as much an art as a science. Everyone’s body heals at different speeds and mine just happens to be stuck in first gear with a gearbox full of sawdust.

It would appear that my four to six weeks in traction has now been extended to a minimum of eight weeks. This is getting dangerously close to Christmas and certainly means I’ll be celebrating my 48th birthday on my back without the benefit of alcohol or a meal at a nice restaurant.

However, every cloud has a silver lining and in this instance my silver lining involves putting two fingers up to the Department of Work and Pensions. The department’s website describes itself as ‘a large organisation’; I’d like them to add the words ‘useless, incompetent and vindictive’ to that description.

When I was first taken ill, I reluctantly agreed to apply for something called Disability Living Allowance. This is a laughably small sum of money supposed to help you with mobility and care costs. The most severely disabled person – such as a blind quadriplegic with brain damage – might be eligible for the maximum payment of £60. You see, I told you it was a trifling sum. But without work, and in the words of the great god Tesco' every little helps.

I duly filled in my 120-page form detailing my bowel and bladder habits along with a host of other deeply personal and totally irrelevant questions and sent the form off fully expecting to receive a cheque by return.

Eleven weeks later I did receive an envelope from the DWP. Unfortunately there was no cheque enclosed. Instead there was a letter telling me that I wasn’t entitled to any allowance as in the DWP’s view I would be better by November 6th. Brilliant. Why do we bother with doctors when some shiny arsed keyboard jockey of a civil servant already knows the exact date of my recovery?

I wrote back to DWP and told them they had got it wrong and suggested they try contacting my doctors.  Eleven weeks later they wrote back and said that I couldn’t have any money as they were still convinced I would be better on or by November 6th since they'd obviously looked up my condition in their I-Spy book of diseases.

I genuinely think that ‘fuckwit’ is too kind a description for these box-ticking apes who hold such power over my life. Did they come to visit me and see how ill I was? Of course they didn’t. Clearly they’re all bloody clairvoyants and medical geniuses.

I have now appealed (well begged, actually) for my charitable hand out and I’m told it will be another eleven weeks before they can get round to sending me a letter telling me to fuck off again.

Please excuse my lamentably bad language but I’m sick to death of the ridiculous series of nonsensical hoops that these sadists are making me jump through. Where are all these benefit cheats? Do you think I could get one to help me fill in my next form?


  1. Hope you enjoy this excellent post from the always excellent Anna Raccoon: http://www.annaraccoon.com/politics/feeding-patients-food-quality-in-hospital4096/
    By the way, I used to work for the DWP. Fill out any form with the worst case scenario as the DWP is "evidence-based" and staff assessing applications aren't allowed to use their judgement to appreciate when people are being stoical. My experience was that the whingers got what they wanted. Good luck and hope you're feeling better.

  2. You're right. I should have laid it on with a trowel and lied my head off. I was trying to be honest. I take it all back... I'm the fuckwit! :-) I'll know next time.

  3. I am convinced that they rely on the poorly not having enough energy to 'fight' their case! There is so much wrong with all this Mark, I feel you should get assistance and even back pay!! Keep at it, study the law on it and throw some acts at them, they really don't like it when people bang about that and know what they are entitled to. Be relentless!

  4. We only got Attendance allowance for my Mum when a friendly social worker filled it in for us - with my Mum saying - no, it's not really quite as bad as that and the friend and I saying YES IT IS!

  5. I too used to work for the DWP -before the stress of constant understaffing led to ill health.
    DEFINITELY appeal -most appeals are won, and always fill in the forms as you are on your worst day, not an average.
    DLA is points based, so every one of those deeply personal and irrelevant questions may gain you extra points if they do apply. Go through them again, you may find some apply on a bad day, and if so, you get extra points. And points make prizes.

  6. Looks like you is famous. Been reading your blog for a couple of weeks now (found the link on another blog I read). Hospital Food Bingo get's a mention in The Daily Mail. And so it should do, brilliant post and brilliant blog.

    Mummy x

  7. Eight weeks sounds a lot.

    We had a professor at University who dislocated a vertebra one morning while sneezing. Perfectly healthy he was admitted to hospital. He caught pneumonia and spent entire month there.
    Luckily he came back to tell the story. He advised never to go to a hospital unless you really have to.

    Have you considered any alternative treatments?
    Even fasting, maybe?

  8. I wonder how many other people have been turned down for benefits and help because the department are judging cases using a crystal ball!!!
    Of course if they were sacrificing animals to the great god MustaSavaMoney, then their conclusions would have been totally acceptable!
    Seriously though, it is appalling that the department that is meant to help people in need, is ignoring the actuals facts of a case and working on what might happen in the future!

  9. I love your use of language and considering the circumstances, think that you let them off rather lightly. Dim-wit-numbskull-nincompoop doctors, civil "servants" and the rest...fuckwit idiots all.

  10. welcome to the days of modern government management. every form must have an authority signed in triplicate before you can apply to have have the form that allows you to get the form that allows you to make an application for benefits. Then it has to bounce the mandatory 27 times between 2 desks, before it has to be lost and found 32 times and then lost in a place that is so dark and far away that they have to contract out to Indiana Jones to find it again ("Indiana Jones and the Temple of Lost Administrative Paperwork"... would make a great movie).

    Then and only then will it be placed on the dart board of decisions, where randomly selected darts saying "approve" or "deny" will be thrown at it from a mandatory 3 metres 38 centimetres. The ones that have the 'deny' dart launched on them will go to the highly efficient department of denials (also couples as the telephone operators for customer service) for processing and the eventual sending of the letter out.

    Approved claims usually end up in the dead letter office, because the department of approvals has changed address and nobody bothered to update the database. Eventually some one will come in and claim them and then they will be processed in a slightly efficient vetting process that is based on the current budget.

    Just remember that Rome wasnt built in a day because it was a government project.

  11. Hi,
    asses! when i went to claim dis 6 years ago i was told i wasn't sick enough because i looked fine and could get better at any moment (because organ donation is just SOOOOOOOOO common it could happen tommorow). i laughed in their face, i'm a renal patient, been waiting for a kidney donor for nearly 7 years. At the time of the interview i'd been out of hospital for a week or two, had a new born to cope with and i was travellilng to the hospital 3/4 times a week just for hemo dialysis where i spent upto 8 hours each day waiting to get on the machine, being on the machine and then waiting to get off the machine- and yes they force fed us that crap they call 'food'.

    So, i was sitting in the interview with a temporary vascular cathetar that went from my jugular to my heart hanging 2" out of the side of my neck. i'd just had another tube put into my stomach. This guy tells me i don't qualify for benefits and that i'm quite capable of working and holding fulltime employment. I look at him and state that i've work since the day i left school, pay tax never had a sick day and now your rejecting me? I must have looked like i was about to murder him as i've never seen a man run from a room so fast.

    Then as i'm pushing my huge pram out the centre i pass a huge line of junkies and long time unemployed who are all getting their papers stamped 'approved'. Never got disablility, eventually my partner and i had to move back into my mum and dad's house till i was well enough to go back to work, two years that took.

    So yeh, no matter the country, DWP, Centrelink what ever the name, it's all the same run by stupid people with stupid rules that only benefit the dregs of society and they can't be bothered to help the ones who actually pay for it in the first place.

  12. As you are now part of the benefit scrounging scum brigade (and at least we'll welcome you even if the DWP won't!) you might be interested in my blog and those linking to and from it. There's quite a network of disabled bloggers/bloggers with an interest in welfare benefit issues.
    Good luck with the DWP, the advice to appeal is right. Off the top of my head, something like 75% of appeals succeed, it's even higher when the person is able to attend the appeal...I doubt you'll make it to an appeal centre atm though! If you get really stuck perhaps try some of the disability organisations. Email me if you need further info.
    Best of luck, Bendy Girl

  13. Seriously, get someone from the local Citizens Advice Bureau to help with this OR if there is a Welfare Rights service (not operated by the DWP you understand!) in your area (it is likely to be run by your local council) they could help.
    The system is continually changing and these people have the experience and training to help complete forms and to help in cases of appeal. Appeals can be very complex due to regulations so expert advice really is essential.
    Maybe friends or relatives could help with this as your are stuck at present. At the very least the CAB can (given accurate information on your situation) give you the right advice about where to go next.
    All the best

  14. Well, I wasn't too happy at your description of the people who answer the phone at NHS Direct - they're trying as hard as they can, no doubt - but I completely agree with your description of the DWP. It must be a huge frustration when you're immobile and trying to deal with this faceless monolith which displays no sympathy and takes so long to do anything (nearly 3 months just to reply!) they might as well not bother....oh wait...perhaps it's deliberately designed to make people give up...it's all becoming clear now.

  15. Aww...diddums...
    I just sent you £2.40 so you can buy 3 jumbo sized Kit Kats
    I just hope this blog is a do-follow


  16. Make sure that when you get the enquiry form from the Tribunals Service you ask to attend the appeal hearing, this has a far greater chance of success than paper hearings. If your Drs can confirm that you are not able to attend the tribunal venue then they have to consider bringing the tribunal to you, which could be entertaining. This is called a domiciliary hearing. Remember that the DLA rules state that you have to have had your care needs and/or mobility difficulties for a qualifying period of 3 months before you start to be entitled to any benefit - and the Drs have to expect your problems to continue for a further 6 months. If you have the time and money buy this book


    Then you will know exactly what's going on.

    Good luck!

  17. It’s my first time on job seekers allowance for five years having been made redundant in our "no more boom and bust" economy and no sooner had I began to sign on that they stopped all of my payments.


    Because I hadn’t applied for two out of the sixteen vacancies I took home from the job centre and applied for. This apparently means I am not entitled to a penny now until February?!

    The two jobs in question that I did not apply for were a graduate position (I don’t have a degree) and to work as a sign on agent for the DWP under an 18 month contract, i.e. when they start cutting back on the public sector to plug the 175Bn Black whole next year, workers like those are going first.

    It’s a shame as I really am going to miss food...

  18. If you're in traction, why not get a nurse to take a photo of you all wired up, then send it to the DWP as 'proof'.

  19. Once again I sympathise. My experience is totally consistent with yours. See my own blog post about it here where I relate an inane telephone interview with the DWP:


    Brilliant idea about getting a benefit cheat to fill in your form. Wish I'd thought of that. I got the nice lady from my local hospice to do mine. Maybe she does a sideline? If not then maybe she should. She could make a mint.

  20. Join Benefitsandwork and use their fantastic guidance to filling in the DLA forms. Costs around £18 a year (I think - need to renew my membership) but worth every penny.

    Good luck with your appeal - as Bendy Girl says the majority of appeals are won.

    Best wishes from Liverpool

  21. I'm going through similar crap with Employment & Support Allowance. I'm absolutely furious with the whole system.

    It's fantastic how they treat everyone as a benefit cheat/illness faker. I particularly love how after filling out the long form to get the benefit they immediately send you another form (ESA50) that asks the most rude, black and white, patronising questions going and threatens you with a medical (because their Doctors are far more credible than my own consultant) at which you'll probably be told you're fit to work even though you're still sending them HOSPITAL sick notes. Can they not speak to the hospital I've been admitted to 6 times in 9 months? No, the box tickers/score totter uppers are obviously far cheaper than someone who might have enough brain cells to think to ask your consultant what your situation is.

    It's downright disgusting and it's tempting to try to get back to work to escape this crap, even if I my condition is ongoing with my hospital and I am not ready for work. They'd love that, and I imagine I'd have to go through the claim process all over again if my unpredictable condition hospitalised me again a week down the line.

  22. Do you know that Disability Living Allowance isn't payable whilst you are in hospital, so even if they agree you meet all the criteria it won't be paid till you get out? (and then they might stop it if they say you have recovered)

  23. Greetings from San Francisco! So sorry to hear they are making it so impossible for you, Traction Man. I recently spent the summer trying to get care fo a relative over here in the States, as well as disability pay, and we failed miserably on almost all fronts. Sure, they loaded my relative up with pills and sent her home after keeping us in the emergency room all night on two seperate occaisions, but they refused to actually keep her and take care of her, as they simply didn't have the room or the time. I'm so sorry you have to stay in the hospital for so long, but I'm happy that you are actually being seen to. Over here, we begged for a bed and were denied, only to be sent home with a sick person who got much much worse at home and had to be brought back into emergency. And she has insurance!
    And for god's sake, can't they give you a piece of fruit at least? Seriously, a plate of whatever food they have down in their mess UNCOOKED would be better than what they're giving you! Here's hoping you do get out by November 6, just so you can go and get a proper meal of recognizable foods.
    Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  24. Claiming health insurance is just as bad. Took me literally months. And when I complained they just lied and told me I would get my check soon. Like an idiot I waited. Didnt come. Called again. Apparently had no record of me complaining I hadnt received payment. Told to call back in a few days. Put on hold for ages. Told it was sorted. Money didnt come. Called again and the process was repeated. That probably happened at least 10 times. I dont know which is worst....being told your not going to get your money or falsely getting your hopes up. Only got my money after I went ape and threatened to call consumer affairs and recorded all the phone calls and names of the people. These people seem to want to kick dirt in your face when your already down. In the end I probably would have made up the claim money in phone bills and the time and energy spent

  25. Um! Sounds familiar. My stepmother (suffering from Alzheimer's, breast cancer, chronic bronchitis and malnutrition -incidentally, she has lost a further stone in weight while being in hospital) was assessed and denied long-term NHS-paid for nursing home care on the grounds that she did not have enough acute medical problems!!! I'd have thought that they would have run out of boxes to tick for her!
    We've appealed!
    Bonzoic one

  26. They only issue you a blue badge if you're permanently disabled... I couldn't get a blue badge after an operation and I had to use crutches for 6 months..

    I asked the council 'so how/where does someone park after a surgery requiring him to be on wheelchair for six months?'

    Council said 'you have to be permanently disabled'

    Wish they have temporary blue badge scheme...