The DWP wants to get its claws further into our NHS

The DWP Jobcentre logo and NHS England logo
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The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is making plans to effectively harass social security claimants during NHS treatments. It comes on top of pre-existing co-working between the department and the NHS. And it also shows that the Tories are still pursuing the ‘back to work’ ideology used by successive governments against chronically ill and disabled people – despite the potential harm.

DWP: infecting the NHS

The Times reported that the DWP is considering:

ways to incorporate “work incentives” into some mental health treatment, and looking at ways that those with low-level conditions who could work can be helped back into work via treatment.

DWP boss Mel Stride had already mentioned this. In his evidence to the work and pensions select committee in November 2022, Stride said:

For those who are long-term sick, we have to work with the Health Department and employers and look at occupational health and very different approaches.

Further to this, the Times noted that the department is considering:

One possibility… that people referred for certain mental health treatments could be incentivised to go to a work coach afterwards, though this work is understood to be less advanced.

Read on...

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In other words, if the NHS refers you for something like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for depression and you’re currently claiming sickness social security, a medical professional will push you to go and see a DWP work coach as part of your treatment.

Co-working – nothing new

This co-working between the NHS and the DWP isn’t new. As the Canary previously reported, the idea came from the last Labour government. However, it was the Tory-led government that properly rolled this co-working out in 2014. As the Canary wrote, it did this via:

the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) scheme. This is where the DWP co-works with the NHS, by putting Jobcentre staff into therapy settings.

The government also extended this to so-called Individual Placement and Support (IPS) services, with the aims of:

  • Offering job finding advice.
  • Supporting patients’ job interview preparation.
  • Speaking to potential employers about a patient’s mental health.

Theses services now exist in NHS trusts across England. However, people are critical of the NHS being anywhere near the DWP.

Tories: ‘fulfilling the neoliberal dream’?

Clinical psychologist Dr Jay Watts previously told the Canary:

Mental health services are chronically underfunded. By ring-fencing new money for employment specialists, we reinforce the message work is the central goal of a meaningful life. This increases the shame, guilt and anxiety disabled people already feel. Even more so under a welfare system that equates worklessness with worthlessness. It is exacerbating mental health problems…

However, in recent years, policy has focused on returning as many patients to work as possible. This ‘back to work’ obsession places huge demand on patients to fulfil the neoliberal dream. One whereby health is linked to how much one can contribute to the public purse. But this is foreclosing the reality of long-term disability… So we must refuse the insistence that work is a meaningful health outcome in mental health services. We must instead recommit to patient (not government) centred care.

Now, it seems that the DWP and government want to further exacerbate the erosion of patient-centred care in the NHS. Overall, as the Canary previously wrote:

ultimately, what we’re seeing is a systematic plan by the DWP and the NHS. They’re tag-teaming, trying to get claimants/patients off benefits and into work… the DWP and NHS are also co-working in other areas already; for example, trying to “coerce” GPs into saying that their sick and disabled patients are fit-for-work.

NHS workers and trade unions should oppose any plans to further integrate the health service with the DWP – and social security claimants should approach this with caution.

Feature image via the DWP – YouTube and the NHS – Wikimedia 

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  • Show Comments
    1. This DWP – NHS collusion can only end in even more harm and death. Going to the GP nowadays is pretty much like sitting opposite a Job Centre work coach, in that GP’s regularly ask their patients to confirm whether they’re working or not and if not, when were they last working? There’s no looking at the patient’s medical history including diagnoses, upcoming referrals for potential diagnoses, reports from specialists confirming what would benefit the patient before returning to work, or any risk assessment report. Millions have been poured into ‘Social Prescribing’ where a patient is referred to a ‘link worker’ who is not trained in identifying how a patient presents with being on the autism spectrum, or with post-trauma symptoms, or any other ‘invisible disability / long-term mental health condition’ leaving patients without any safety net, should they become severely distressed whilst engaging in their ‘social prescribing’. There’s also scant evidence that social prescribing is benefiting the majority. It seems it’s yet another “let’s stick a plaster on your gaping, open wound and get you back to work, you’re now cured” approach, much like the IAPT approach whereby a few sessions of CBT is ‘the cure’. It’s also alarming that GP link-workers are being given patient medical record data without patient consent, leaving patients even more dis-inclined to trust their GP or NHS in general. It’s something many patients will not want to address because the truth is often so painful, it’s easier to deny it (cognitive dissonance) but we DO need to address this DWP – NHS collusion (covert collusion) as soon as possible. If not, the inevitable outcome will be more suicide attempts & avoidable deaths. Or perhaps this is all part of the plan? To ‘get rid’ of those who are not contributing to the economy, regardless of their health condition? In Canada, they have rolled out MAID (Medical Assistance In Dying) for those who are suffering with depression, anxiety, poverty-related stress, homelessness and long-term mental health conditions. Imagine that? Rather than support these people and respond with empathy, they assist them instead to end their own life. Euthanasia is currently illegal in the UK, but there are other ways & means to get rid of those who aren’t contributing to the economy. Just mix 1 part DWP with 1 part NHS and you have the perfect recipe for ‘population control’. Just saying….

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