What is ‘fit for work’ then?

So. During the last two years, more than two and a half thousand sick and disabled people have died shortly after being found ‘fit for work’ by the government sanctioned miracle workers, ATOS.

That’s over eighty sick and disabled people every single month for the last twenty-four consecutive months.

Eighty families devastated by the loss of a loved one.

What is ‘fit for work’ then? Physically capable of undertaking any job? Mentally capable of leaving the safety of home and doing a full day of work? Fully able to enter any workplace and be a safe and productive colleague for other workers and for British industry?

And who is deciding this. Disabled people themselves who are living with their condition on a daily basis and understand the limitations their condition imposes upon them? The general practitioners and consultants who know them and have treated them throughout their illness? The medical professionals and specialists that have been treating these people for what, in some cases, can amount to many, many years? People who have studied and trained and worked tirelessly to become experts in their field? Or, could it be, people who have never met these sick and disabled people before and who have no understanding in that particular disabled persons individual condition. As far as this Government is concerned it appears to be the latter.

Does the term ‘sick and disabled’ mean nothing in Tory Britain any more?

I was taught that ‘sick and disabled’ meant being unwell. Unfit. Not in the best of health. And that if someone was deemed to be ‘sick and disabled’ they were not really capable of going out to work. They were physically or mentally unable to do what is required in a workplace to be considered productive.

As far as this Government seems to be concerned sick and disabled seems to mean benefits cheat, liar and scrounger. It seems to mean that someone is ‘pulling a fast one’. It seems to mean someone who should be hounded and bullied and penalised until their medical condition kills them or they feel they have no other option left but to take their own life It seems to mean someone who should be disbelieved from day one.

When did we become such an uncaring nation? When did we become so cynical and disbelieving? When did we stop looking after our own? What has made us this way?

Sick and disabled people are what they say they are. They are people who are, in some way, too unwell to go out to work. They are people who need the care and support of others. They are people who have rights and who need to be included in everyday life even if they are unable to work. They are not a type of second class citizen who is out to cheat their healthier neighbours in some way. They are not trying to get something for nothing. They are not people who should be locked away and forgotten.

The Government needs to show some compassion, some understanding for the people they are supposed to be protecting. The Government needs to make it so sick and disabled people want to go on living, not making life so untenable that they have nothing to live for. If the Government wants to see more sick and disabled people become well enough to return to work, provide them with the support they need, not push them over the edge so they can take no more.

And if someone is too ill, too physically or mentally unwell to do anything, accept it and help them live the best life they can. Help them get the treatment and support they need. Please don’t make it so their condition deteriorates to such an extent that they pass away and die leaving their families and communities poorer for their loss.

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