Thursday, September 17, 2009

I'm laughing for a change

A bit of an ironic laugh, it's true, but I thought I would share it with you all.

At last Gordon Brown decided to throw the towel in and resign. His cabinet colleagues decided it would be a worthy gesture to name a railway locomotive after him.

So a senior 'Sir Humphrey' went from Whitehall to the National Railway Museum at York, to investigate the possibilities.

"They have a number of locomotives at the NRM without names," a specially-sought consultant told the top civil servant. "Mostly freight locomotives though."

"Oh dear, that's not very fitting for a prime minister," said Sir Humphrey. "How about that big green one, over there ?" he said, pointing to 4472 Flying Scotsman.

"That's already got a name" said the consultant. "It's called 'Flying Scotsman'."

"Oh. Couldn't it be renamed ?" asked Sir Humphrey. "This is a national museum after all, funded by the taxpayer."

"I suppose it might be considered," said the consultant. "After all the LNER renamed a number of their locomotives after directors of the company, and even renamed one of them Dwight D Eisenhower."

"That's excellent", said Sir Humphrey, "So that's settled then...let's look at renaming 4472. But how much will it cost ? We can't spend too much, given the expenses scandal !"

"Well", said the consultant, "Why don't we just paint out the 'F'?"

Friday, September 11, 2009

More tales from the benefit queue

Has the Department for Work and Pensions run out of money for paying benefits? I'm left wondering. For the second time in a month, my ESA has failed to arrive in my bank account on the due date. The last time it happened, I called the DWP and was told ' it's a national computer problem - we don't know why or what causes it'. They said they knew about my missed payment and had already manually rescheduled the payment. It arrived 5 days late.

I asked what would happen if I had no money whatever and could not fall back on savings till the money was in my account. "You can go to your Job Centre and get a crisis loan". Oh yes, more bureaucracy.

WHY is this happening? WHY are people who rely on benefits to pay bills and feed themselves, be treated in such a throwaway manner? What are the problems with the payments system and when are they going to be fixed - Yvette Cooper you should tell us, it's your ship and your watch!

I also received the paperwork about my ESA appeal. When I read what the so-called health professional said I was incredulous. Was this the same medical assessment I attended or did this report talk about someone else?

For instance, one part of the medical assessment procedure referred to my ability to squat and kneel. I can kneel and get up again only with difficulty because of pain in my knees. I demonstrated at that assessment that I could only kneel and get up by leaning on the furniture and not taking all the weight on my knees. I also said I could not squat or sit cross legged at all. In the report I was stated as having no problems with these movements.

On my original form, I had left a number of boxes blank - probably due to the depressed state I was in. The assessment did not re-visit those questions, it simply made assumptions about the answers.

Statements were made about my hypothyroidism which demonstrated clearly that the assessor had no detailed knowledge about this condition, its symptoms or its effects and therefore was inadequately qualified to make any accurate assessment of my ability to work. She was a nurse, not an endocrinologist, or even a GP. The vet I take my cat to would have done a more competent assessment.

The most telling part of the whole report was the part that replied to my challenge that the assessor was incompetent to do the job, that it was not necessary to have a doctor's qualification to become an assessor making judgements about someone's ability to work. How long before we return to having butchers as NHS surgeons to save money?