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Today on Dr Phil…Peverley

One of the major problems for mental illness sufferers today is how GP’s simply don’t understand the benefit process. Unfortunately there are some that are not just ignorant, but wilfully so. Dr Phil Peverley is one such person.

It appears the good doctor finds it a bit of a hassle to deal with what he calls the ‘unworking well’, a rather clumsy and deeply inaccurate statement. His issue seems to be that processing such people through the benefit system via ill health is too much work. But that isn’t our fault, Dr Phil; it’s the fault of the government. We didn’t ask for the Work Capability Assessment and we certainly didn’t call for it to be administered by untrained incompetent and ignorant profiteers like ATOS. In fact the BMA has joined the chorus of common sense calling for an end to this. Perhaps you should consider some solidarity, Dr Phil.

He doesn’t strike me as the sort though. Sadly I’m catching a whiff of the libertarian here. He is the sort that believes wellness is achieved by eschewing and withdrawing support mechanism. He, in a clumsy moment of bizarre humour (I assume), quips that he considered putting a picture of Stephen Hawking up with the slogan “this bloke is not on the sick”. That’s how exasperated having to deal with all of this has made the poor dear. Perhaps he might like to consider just how exasperated the people that this directly affects (hint: it’s not well paid GP’s) feel. Professor Hawking, though profoundly disabled, is not indicative of anyone else – that’s why he’s so successful. If we were all that smart, he’d be out of a job. It’s a ridiculous example.

One of the most glaring errors that Peverley makes is summed up by his clumsy phrase ‘unworking well’. The WCA is not a clinical test; it’s intended to discern what a person can do – and it doesn’t even succeed at this. So it is entirely fallacious to label people thus. They are not ‘well’; they have problems. I pity anyone that calls him their doctor given this attitude. If he is ignoring the genuine issues suffered by people that are trying to claim ESA he is not doing his job properly. These problems are not diminished by virtue of working, though he subscribes to the ‘arbeit macht frei’ ideology it seems. Work will cure you of all your ills. That’s a hell of an assumption: do zero hour contracts ease people’s stress? Does working a 12 hours shift all week for the minimum wage help? I don’t think so.  

Assuming that people are well because they fail the test or because you think they don’t deserve support shows an irresponsible and fundamental misunderstanding of ESA. As I have described it isn’t even an out of work benefit. Unfortunately Dr Phil isn’t alone; the government don’t understand it either (or don’t understand what they’ve put on the ESA webpage). This is a rather toxic mix: ignorant doctors and ignorant politicians. However by doing his part and colluding with this ignorance he is fundamentally letting his patients down. ESA is intended not just for those that cannot work (though he clearly believes no such people exist); it is intended as a means to help those that have problems. Unfortunately his denial simply leaves people in dire straits. That he doesn’t care should be enough to have this incompetent lazy fool struck off.

He makes the mistake of subscribing to the ‘just world’ fallacy which is compounded by the ignorant belief that it’s the sole duty of the DWP to find work for the ‘unworking well’. It doesn’t occur to him that the genuinely well that aren’t in work number in the millions and that, by not supporting people, he is just sending them to the back of a very very long queue. This doesn’t take into account issues of underemployment either. None of these concern him because it’s not his job. He doesn’t care and as such I contend he is utterly unsuited to the job he doesn’t seem to enjoy. It’s about compassion sir, something you clearly lack if you are taking out your frustrations about your job on the poor and the sick that are not responsible.

This is the fragmentation of our society though; the compartmentalisation of support. Suddenly it isn’t the job of actual doctors to help people when it comes to certain areas of life, like employment. Conveniently for him he can dismiss anyone with a problem it seems by arguing that they can do ‘something’. But we’ve been through this before: that is an entirely disingenuous attitude. Sure I could do something, but that’s not how life works nor is it how the world of employment works. Given that neither the support nor the will are there to help build a career and a sustainable future as an independent taxpaying citizen, all Peverley is doing is compounding someone’s misery. It’s simply not my problem, guv.


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