Saturday, July 25, 2009

I have a friend with terminal cancer. Of the kidneys. She has a life expectancy of 18 months.

She applied for early retirement on health grounds: and has just been refused.

Weasel words from the Scottish Public pensions Authority both acknowledging her disease; and yet denying it. Making a spurious argument that she could still work.

She is a drama teacher. Common humanity, common sense, common decency would all argue that she cannot work again. That she should be allowed access to her pension: which, at the end of the day, represents her money. Something she has saved for.

This breathtaking piece of vileness was accompanied by another letter from the Department of Employment telling her that in their view she is still fit for work and her allowance will be "adjusted accordingly".

And I have a memory of believing once that we lived in at least a semi-decent society.

I had a meeting not so long ago with a senior nurse responsible for introducing a concept called "Compassionate Care" in various "flagship wards" in the Lothian's hospital system.

Last time I heard from her she said she was almost totally engaged in costing. Working out the cost of compassion, no doubt, in extra man hours. And also, no doubt, trying to justify that extra spend because it led to quicker recovery rates.

The crassness and the callousness of the world we inhabit so horrifies me sometimes.

How can i find words strong enough to condemn it? Or powerful enough, or inspiring enough, to form part of a movement, to improve it?


This is dreadful but horribly common. Currently I am battling (have been battling for seven months) to get benefits OF ANY KIND for a homeless, penniless, sick friend. Everything has been refused, because he owns a tiny, semi-derelict and uninhabitable house in southern Spain, and so he has a "notional income". He has cancer, too, among other things. He has been living in my spare room since last December; the only alternative is the street or a homeless hostel full of drugs.

The System makes me sick. What happened to innocent until proved guilty?


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