Tuesday 26 October 2010

BendyGirl on BBC Radio Leeds

Following on from BendyGirls letter to the Prime Minister and the setting up of Broken in Britain, BBC Radio Leeds contacted BendyGirl to discuss the welfare cuts being made Government.

In this radio interview, she talks with Martin Kelner and Katherine Hannah about the Jamie Merrett case and the cuts to DLA mobility component. The interview starts at 1hr 46mins...

While Jamie Merrett case isn't directly linked to DLA mobility cuts, his case shows that having an inexperienced carer puts lives at risks and with the pending cuts, questions are being raised as to whether this could happen more often.

With people losing benefits, they may have to restrict their care packages or use cheaper agencies who may not necessarily have best interests at heart.. We know from press coverage that some care agencies put profit first and deliver the bare minimum.


KH: Katherine Hannah. MK: Martin Kelner, KF: Kaliya Franklin

KH: So we've been taking a look over the last few days about how the spending review is impacting people in different sections of society around West Yorkshire. Uh, the Chancellor announcing details of how it could take shape last week. This morning we're taking a look at how it could affect people with disabilities. We heard earlier from Kaliya Franklin she's got Hypermobility Syndrome and Ehler's Dahnos Syndrome a condition which leaves many suffers facing crippling pain as a result of limbs which easily dislocate because of joints that bend in different directions.

MK: She recently campaigned to try and save the service that treats people with this condition at Chapel Allerton hospital in Leeds. But now in her blog she's turned her attention to the Prime Minister and how the Government spending review could affect people with such disabilities.

KH: And we can speak to Kaliya this morning. Apologies is that how you pronounce your name?

KF: No it's Kaliya but thank you

KH: Thank you, apologies. Must get that right. Thank you for joining us this morning. Now we're taking a look at how the spending review is affecting different groups within society. Your initial reaction to George Osbourne's announcements last week?

KF: Shock and horror, basically. Having made a lot of noise about how they were going to protect the most vulnerable in society, particularly disabled people, the coalition government have disproportionately targeted disabled people with all the spending cuts they're making.

KH: so give a few examples. What issues in particular worry you about this?

KF: I'm particularly concerned about the removal of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance from people living in care homes. Yesterday the news was full of the tragic neglect that happened to a man called Jamie Merrett who was dependant on a ventilator and his nurse turned it off because she wasn't sufficiently trained to know how to operate it. It was approximately 40 minutes before the paramedics were able to connect it and Jamie was brain damaged by that time.

MK: We saw the footage on the news last night and it was as you say, truly shocking. But that wasn't necessarily as a result of the cuts in mobility allowance that you were suggesting was it?

KF: No it wasn't

MK: That was a poorly trained nurse wasn't it?

KF: It was, supposedly. But she didn't have the specialist training that she needed to use the ventilator. Jamie's just an example of one of the many people who have disabilities of that level and the vulnerability that it means that they live with. People living in care homes if the removal of mobility allowance goes ahead, they'll be facing not just that kind of vulnerability but looking at their four walls and nothing else all day, every day.

MK: And what does this mobility allowance, what did it offer? Is it access to a cheaper car or to transport?

KF: It's access either to a vehicle, perhaps a wheelchair adapted vehicle. But many disabled people use it to purchase power wheelchairs. As they're so expensive, the NHS is not able to cover the cost of such specialist wheelchairs. So it may be confining people, not just to their rooms, but to their beds.

MK: What the coalition government are arguing is that if you are in the situation that you're being cared for in a home that has that specialist background that they will often have their own transport facilities to be able to keep the mobility and to go out of your four walls and to visit places, family, shops, museums and the like.

KF: In some cases that's true. But in some homes they actually supply that services by pooling the residents higher rate mobility allowance because they don't have separate funds to do it. But also just because people have physical needs that mean they need to live in residential care it doesn't mean that they're not capable of participating in social or work environments independently. Taking away their ability to purchase powered wheelchairs or wheelchair accessible vehicles is going to prevent those who can go to work from doing so which seems contrary to the other changes that the government are trying to make.

KH: it's a sad fact though, Kaliya, that people do abuse the system and the government will argue that we also need to change things to stop people abusing it. So would you agree with that to a degree?

KF: That's very true but I think if we set out to create a system that's based on stopping people defrauding it, all we will ever achieve is damaging those who really need it. Disability Living Allowance, the fraud rate is actually only half a percent. These are the DWP's official statistics. So less than 15,000 claimants, according to them, are fraudulent. Even if they were out by a factor of 10, that would leave over 350 thousand genuine claimants who will no longer be entitled to disability living allowance because the government have made it very clear that they are going to change the eligibility criteria.

KH: And you've set up a new online campaign to try and draw attention to some of these issues. What are you hoping to achieve through that?

KF: We have. Disabled people don't have a very clear voice in media or in politics. So we're hoping to unite the broken of Britain - which is a play on David Cameron's Broken Britain society - to give people a voice. To explain that most people claiming benefits have worked all their lives, have paid national insurance and tax and that they would love to work but through no fault of their own are no longer able to do so.

KH: There's a huge amount of issues there to discuss. Thanks for joining us this morning. That's Kaliya Franklin, disability campaigner on the show with us today.


Anonymous said...

Have just listened to the interview (had to go to BBC Iplayer as the embedded link above is not working) and actually thought that the interviewers took a very uninformed negative view and were quite patronising. Well done to Kaliya to have the bravery to face the media and I think this interview just demonstrates how far we have to go to get people to appreciate how these changes are going to affect people with disablities (not just in terms of the mobility component of DLA removed for adults in residential care homes, but also the proposed time-limiting of contributory ESA, even though people have worked hard and paid their NI to be able to get this).

Unknown said...

Apologies for the embedded link not working... I've now changed to a pop out link so hopefully that will be better..

Anonymous said...

Well done for talking to the Media. Disability is a very unsexy word and people don't like to talk about it in case they catch it! Let's keep it in the spotlight and keep shouting....they will have to listen.
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