Disability groups are deeply concerned about a dangerous mental capacity bill rushed through parliament

The Tories have quietly pushed through a bill that seriously weakens the rights of people deemed lacking mental capacity.

The government has succeeded in quietly pushing through a bill that seriously weakens the rights of 300,000 people with learning difficulties, brain injuries and autism.

The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill – which passed in the House of Commons on Tuesday, without key amendments that would have added vital safeguards – has received little media attention or public scrutiny, but disability organisations like mine are worried it could undermine key freedoms that, instead, urgently needed to be strengthened.

The Tories first announced last summer that they would seek to pass a reform to the Mental Capacity Act 2005. While disabled people and their organisations are in agreement that reform is needed, the bill presented was immediately flagged as a dangerous threat to the rights of people deemed to be lacking mental capacity.

Last year Inclusion London started a petition asking people to support our call to protect the freedoms of people receiving care and support. The petition has nearly 200,000 signatures. But despite criticism from disabled people, advocates, lawyers, professionals, and academics, the bill continued its rapid passage through Parliament without pause.

The Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage MP, wrote to us in an attempt to mitigate some of our concerns and invited us to meet with her in early February. Neither the letter nor the meeting convinced us that the bill will adequately protect disabled people’s human rights, and our key concerns remain.

There are serious conflicts of interest as to who has the power to make important decisions about a person’s deprivation of liberty inherent in the bill, and this could mean that people are forced to live in care homes or be physically or medically restrained if it’s an easier or cheaper option for a local council or service provider.

There are also issues with access to advocacy and the right to information. Not everyone will have the right to an independent mental capacity advocate (IMCA) – there’s an assumption friends or relatives can act as an advocate. This should never be the default option, everyone should be entitled to an IMCA. Not all relatives will act in an individual’s best interests nor can they be expected to understand a complex system.

Finally, there has been a very short period of time for members of the public to voice their thoughts or concerns with the bill. The government failed to put the bill into easy read format, to make it more accessible to people with learning difficulties, until just two weeks ago. Easy read is a format designed for the people most likely to be affected by the bill.

Repeated requests for accessible information about the bill have been ignored over the last 6 months. One can only conclude that people with learning difficulties have been disregarded as valid stakeholders in this process. This is an unacceptable situation and one that would be politically and culturally unacceptable if applied to other communities.

We believe it’s unacceptable that the government ignored all requests to pause, engage and listen to our key concerns. Two hours for MPs to debate the Mental Capacity Amendment Bill is just the latest example of poor law-making that will weaken the human rights of disabled people in some of the most vulnerable situations.

Via Ellen Morrison | leftfootforward.org

Ellen Morrison works for Inclusion London, which supports deaf and disabled people’s organisations across the capital.

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The Hidden & Visible Worlds of People Living With Mental Illness

Liz Obert: Dualities looks at the hidden and visible worlds of people living with mental illness

The Secret Dual Lives of People Living With Mental Illness

For many years, Liz Obert woke up, got dressed, went to work, and acted as if everything was fine. Once she returned home, however, she found herself lying around depressed, feeling hopeless and full of dread. Diagnosed in her early 20s with depression, Obert said she tried therapy and medication, but nothing seemed to work until around five years ago when a psychiatrist diagnosed her with bipolar II disorder and put her on mood stabilizers. Although she’s had a few medication tweaks since then—“that’s kind of the life of someone who has bipolar”—Obert said she has for the most part been in a good place. Obert feels the dual life she led for so long isn’t unique for people who suffer from mental illnesses and who “must mask their symptoms in order to function in the outside world.” In 2013, she decided to begin a series that dealt with the realities of what it means to put on a brave face while simultaneously coping with forms of depression. Starting with herself, Obert took two photos: one that showed the person she chooses to present to the world, and a second portrait that presented an image of how she existed behind closed doors when feeling depressed. “I hope to give a glimpse to the viewer about the internal lives of people who struggle with disorders that are often misunderstood,” she wrote in an artist statement about the series “Dualities.”

Continue Reading… Liz Obert: Dualities looks at the hidden and visible worlds of people living with mental illness PHOTOS..

Fit-To-Work Benefits Test ‘Unfit For Purpose’

More than 150,000 people have raised serious concerns about fit-for-work tests administered by a private healthcare company on behalf of the Government.

Figures obtained exclusively by Sky News show the charity Citizens Advice has been inundated by huge numbers of complaints about assessments carried out by Atos.

Atos Kills. More than 150,000 people have raised serious concerns about fit-for-work tests administered by a private healthcare company on behalf of the Government.

It warns that genuinely disabled and seriously ill people are being stripped of benefits following inadequate tests.

Meanwhile, doctors are warning that the service is “unfit for purpose”.

Gillian Guy, the chief executive of Citizens Advice, warned: “Atos is failing to do its job properly, failing to give taxpayers value for money and worst of all, failing thousands of sick and disabled people who bear the brunt of wrong assessments.”

It comes as a woman widowed just last week tells Sky News about how the decision that her husband was fit for work was not even overturned while he was dying from a rare and aggressive cancer.

Lyn Coupe’s case was raised in Parliament this week by her local MP Dennis Skinner.

The 81-year-old Labour politician famed for his passionate performances in Parliament implored David Cameron to “abolish this cruel heartless monster called Atos, get rid of it”.

The Prime Minister admitted that every MP had heard similar stories in their own constituencies.

Mrs Coupe, from Calow near Chesterfield, said she felt compelled to speak out even while organising her husband David’s funeral.

He was assessed as able to work late last year despite ulcerated legs, back pain that left him in agony, diabetes and heart problems.

Mrs Coupe said the couple were forced to sacrifice food and heating to deal with the cut in benefits.

“We didn’t have any heating on in the winter like other people would have had. We sat with coats on or blankets. I would go to bed at about 8am in the evening to try to get warm.”

Food was also sacrificed, and the couple never went out.

The Coupes tried to launch an appeal but were told they would have to wait at least 10 months because of a backlog of cases.

Once Mr Coupe was diagnosed with terminal cancer that would kill him within months, his wife contacted Atos again but still the appeal was not brought forward.

Continue reading…

Via Sky News

Get Well Soon David Attenborough

Get Well Soon David Attenborough xx

Get Well Soon David Attenborough xx

Veteran BBC broadcaster Sir David Attenborough underwent successful heart surgery to fit a pacemaker in London today.

The 87-year-old, who was forced to cancel a trip to Australia, had been told by his cardiologist “that he is in urgent need of a pacemaker,” according to a statement from his publicist.

A spokesman for the naturalist said the TV star was doing well following the procedure today.

He said: “Sir David has now had the operation and his doctors are satisfied with his progress.”

The presenter of award-winning programmes such as Life on Earth and The Living Planet was due to embark upon a sold-out speaking tour of Australia next week.

The trip, which was due to start in Brisbane, has now been cancelled while Sir David remains in the UK for treatment. The statement expressed his “extreme disappointment” at its postponement and said he hopes to reschedule the tour as soon as he recovers from surgery.

His spokesman earlier told PA that Sir David was still his “lively self” and the described the operation as a “minor procedure”.

Sir David has spent six decades presenting programmes for the BBC. He recently unveiled a new slot for Radio 4 called Tweet Of The Day. Each episode lasts a minute and a half and features the song of a particular species of bird.

Speaking in January about his age, Sir David said: “I’m 86 now and I’ve been broadcasting for 60 years. I don’t want to slow down. Retirement would be so boring.”

The broadcaster, who was born in Isleworth, London in 1926, is the only person to have won a Bafta award for programmes in black and white, colour, HD and 3D.

Sir David has been named Britain’s greatest living national treasure.

source: The Independent

Judges find DWP ‘fitness for work’ test breaches the Equality Act and is illegal

Vox Political

A judicial review has ruled that the test used to decide whether people are fit for work actively discriminates against the mentally ill.

The tribunal concentrated on the issue of supporting evidence, and found that – under the current system – no matter how ill or even delusional a person may be, they are responsible for gathering their own medical evidence and sending it in. Otherwise, the material will not be considered. For someone with a severe mental illness, this may prove impossible.

Paperwork documenting a patient’s history of mental illness may be ignored and their ability to work will be judged using evidence from a 15-minute interview with a stranger who probably has no mental health training and no idea what the experts have to say.

Reporting the victory, the Black Triangle Campaign wrote: “The judgment that the DWP is in breach of the Equality Act is…

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