The quality of decision making for personal independence payment (PIP), is being called into question following the revelation that hundreds of staff without the proper experience and training are being temporarily promoted to the rank of PIP decision maker.
The promotions are being made because Atos and Capita have taken on many more health professionals to clear the backlog of PIP applications. Without hundreds more decision makers the bottleneck would simply move from the assessors to the decision makers.
According to the Public and Commercial Services union:
“Pressure of work continues to affect PIP members in other ways. There are high numbers of staff on temporary promotion: at one site 50 staff are on TDA [Temporary Duties Addition for staff acting up to a higher grade]. There is an expectation that even more Decision Makers will be needed as reassessment ramps up. Despite this, there are no permanent promotion opportunities. Transfers out of PIP are being blocked. There are reports of a harsh Managing Attendance regime at some sites.”
The mass promotions appear to be having an effect throughout the DWP:
“PCS were recently informed that the training for new apprentices has been very poor: they have been given just two weeks’ classroom training. When the apprentices start their consolidation there are very few Band B staff available to help them because so many staff are on TDA as Decision Makers.
“Training for all grades was reported as poor.”
With poorly trained and under qualified staff being drafted in as temporary decision makers, it is even more vital that the difficulties you face are spelt out as plainly and in as much detail as possible in your PIP application and backed up with supporting evidence where this is available.
Source – Benefits & Work, 02 Dec 2014
Foodbank bosses fear there will be a huge rise in hand-outs during the school holidays as desperate families struggle to feed their children who would have received free school meals.
Families picked up almost a TONNE of goods from Hartlepool Foodbank in the first week of the school holidays.
The foodbank, in Church Street, usually hands out around half that amount each week to families on the breadline struggling to make ends meet.
But on the day many town schools broke up for their six-week break, volunteers at the Foodbank dished out more than 30 parcels to feed families.
Hartlepool Foodbank manager Al Wales said: “We were very busy this time last year, but as it was our first summer in operation it is difficult to say that is purely down to the school holidays as there are no previous figures to compare it to.
“But there is no doubt that the school holidays are a key factor in the increase in parcels we give out.
“Children who normally have their lunch at school are now at home, and they need to be fed.
“So the families are having to get more food than they normally would.
“We were extremely busy last Friday, and the collection on the Tuesday was also quite large.
“On a busy week, we can hand out about half a tonne of food across the week. “Last Friday, we did that in one day.”
The Foodbank opens twice a week, for two hour periods on Tuesdays and Fridays.
People deemed to be in need of handouts are referred to the Foodbank by health professionals, social workers or other agency staff.
Al added: “We carried out a collection in Morrisons recently because we knew we would be busy during the summer.
“The schools help us with regular donations, but when they are on holiday they obviously drop off.
“We’re well stocked, and we’re coping, but obviously more donations are always welcomed.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 26 July 2014
A private company that runs a Newcastle GP practice will end its contract more than two years early.
Grainger GP Practice at Elswick Health Centre was controversially taken over by Care UK in September 2012 and was committed to run the service until the end of August 2017.
The move sparked fierce opposition from health professionals and campaign groups as they claimed the company did not have a record of delivering high-quality GP care in deprived areas.
Now Care UK has announced it will exit its five-year contract halfway through its tenure and depart at the end of January next year. The company refused to give reasons as to why the contract was ending early.
Doctor Leah McAleer left Grainger GP Practice following the appointment of Care UK, and campaign group Keep Our NHS Public North East has always had concerns about the private company.
Martin Manasse, a member of the campaign group said: “It is shameful that Care UK is exiting their contract early, but I believe it was predictable. We said when the company took over that the money available from their bid was not enough for what they claimed they were going to do with the GP practice.”
Approximately 7,000 patients are registered with Grainger GP Practice and health chiefs have insisted that patients do not need to register elsewhere as they remain confident an alternative provider can be secured without any disruption.
The announcement by Care UK comes just weeks after nearby Scotswood GP practice was told that it is under threat following a recent contract review of its provider.
Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah said: “Patients deserve continuity of care if we are going to overcome health inequalities. Patients need to have trust in GP services and that comes by building up a relationship with those who run services. If care providers come in and exit for unknown reasons then that damages services.”
Patients registered with the doctors’ practice in Elswick have received a letter informing them of the changes.
A Care UK spokesperson said: “Since being chosen to run the Grainger Medical Practice we have worked hard to improve the service for local people.
“However, after reviewing our business strategy and having conversations with the commissioner, it was decided that Care UK will not run the service past January 2015. We are committed to working closely with the commissioner and whoever is chosen to run the service after us to ensure the practice’s 7,000 patients are not affected in any way by a change of provider.”
The Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear area team of NHS England is responsible for commissioning GP services in the local area and will seek the views of patients.
Dr Mike Prentice, medical director for the team, said: “We recognise the need for a GP practice in the area and are confident that an alternative provider can be secured in this time frame, and that there will be no disruption to patients.
“We have written to all patients to let them know about this change. There is no need to re-register with another GP, though patients do have that option if they wish.
“This is a good opportunity for people to let us know if there are things we can do to improve the service, and we will be contacting patients again in the near future to ask for their views.
“Ensuring continuity of access to high quality care and services remains our top priority.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle 03 May 2014