not a good look

Crying on the street that is.

A city centre street, full of offices and groomed people. And me, with unwashed hair, no make up, snivelling. How to feel good, guys.

I’d just come out of an office, where I’d been for a health assessment. Such face to face appointments are necessary as part of the UK benefits process. Those of us unable to work have to regularly demonstrate our illness, our vulnerabilities, our failure. We struggle to complete complex forms, to gather statements of support (i.e. beg for help from the goodwill of people we know). On days like today we struggle to make sense of questions, to remember all the important things, to twist and turn in ways we don’t normally, to remember all that we can’t do.

But I’m one of the lucky ones. Despite years of fatigue, pain and emotional turmoil, I’m lucky. I have a chronic illness, not a terminal one.

The current definition of ‘terminal’ for benefits payments a prognosis of 6 months or less. This is based on a medical report. What if one’s condition is incurable and will kill them, but with an unclear prognosis? What if there’s an unexpected rapid decline? A person whose illness will be the death of them, but not obviously in the next 6 months, has to complete the forms, have the extra assessments, wait months for a decision, maybe even an appeal, just to get the limited additional resources to help with personal independence.

60 of our local clinicians are suggesting a change in policy. These are the folk who know how skewed the system is, how they can’t always judge, and how unfair these processes can be.

Please, support changes in policy. Talk to those who may have influence. If you have an MP who is prepared to vote against UK government policy, please use them. Most of us in NI don’t have that.

An uncompassionate society, limiting the quality of life and access to support for its most ill and vulnerable- that’s really not a good look.

3 thoughts on “not a good look

  1. My heart goes out to you all who go through this – I hear about it from my family members also, even though I myself am OK enough, and help as your family and friends also help. The humiliations and frustrations are so gross, it is obscene, and I do not blame the service agents [or not all of them] but the idiotic directives from those bean counters above who are never themselves in the face-to-face spaces. Hostile Environments are not inevitable nor effective, they are created by ignorance and lack of compassion, failure to say there but for the grace of God go I. I am so glad you post, share, tell, but so sorry that you are subjected to it.

  2. I am always very sorry to hear of your physical and emotional struggles, Fiona, but hearing how they are compounded by bureaucratic frustrations is such a shame. In the United States it’s not any better. One friend, in particular, calls me at least once a month to check in and it’s clear she’s emotionally overloaded navigating a complex and underperforming healthcare system. Meanwhile, her health is compromised by the added stress. I hope with some of the proposed legislation you’ve mentioned, perhaps there will be an opportunity for some positive changes. I am always hopeful…I rarely see evidence, but somehow I hold onto hope! ๐Ÿ™‚

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