Monday, June 11, 2007


My stress has wound down several more notches, thanks to fantastic support from Steve, and from my family and friends here, and also (I realise this sounds cheesy) because of the blogger support.

A commenter on an earlier post linked me to Benefits And Work, and a quick Paypal of £16.50 later, there was an absolute wealth of useful information at my fingertips.

As well as all this information and support, I believe I've established the difference between a Reconsideration and an Appeal. I'm not doing an Appeal. An Appeal is a scary thing full of solicitors and panels and hearings and tribunals, yeeech. I'm doing a Reconsideration, which as I understand it, just means that a different Decision Maker will look at my case in 28 days time from when I phoned them. I can use those 28 days to submit any additional, supplemental or new evidence that I would like a Decision Maker to look at. Or not. But either way, it doesn't have to involve comprehension of legalese on my part.

I've had a good think about what evidence I would like to include that they don't already have. Here's my list:

- A step-by-step refutation of their reasons for the non-award decision ("you said [this], in fact the case is [this], as backed up by [evidence].") although I can't make a start on this until I get their written list of reasons, which could take another week from now.

- The report from the specialist ME/CFS clinic at the hospital. It's over a year old, but it includes such handy phrases as "Mary has classic chronic fatigue syndrome" as well as information about my pain and activity levels. I already have the patient copy of this document.

- A proper written explanation of the issues with the locum doing the GP's report, including a reminder that I flagged this issue at the time and well before they made the decision to not award DLA, or in other words, that I'm not making up issues because I'm all upset by their decision.

- A written statement from Steve regarding my care and mobility needs from his perspective as someone who sometimes looks after me. Mum already did one (albeit a short one), as part of my original renewal forms. I'd ask Pip too, but he's got a lot on his plate at the moment.

- The forms and GP's Report (by my actual proper GP) for my successful Incapacity Benefit renewal back in February. I have requested to be sent these, although I am warned it may take "a few days" as they have "probably gone to the storage facility already".

I also rang my GP's surgery and asked if I could have a copy of my notes for the last three years. Unfortunately the receptionist said I had to ask my GP, or in real terms, I had to ask the infamous Dr M. It was agreed that Dr M would call me back, which she did, when I was in the middle of my nap and in no position to deal with anything let alone start insisting. She told me that my notes would only be relevant if I went to an Appeal and my solicitor made a formal request for them. I do not have it in me to fight her. So I do not have access to my medical records. However, I'm toying with appropriate wording to explain in my Reconsideration covering letter that I believe there may be additional supporting evidence for my claim in my medical notes, but have been unable to gain access to them. Not sure.

Hopefully, this will be enough.

In better news...

I've finished the cable pocket on the knitted knitting needle case. Only one real hiccup, that was when I started looking at the wrong place on the page and knitted the final few rows that should have been on the Fair Isle pocket onto the end of the cable pocket. But it was easy enough to undo. Oh, and if anyone knows of an insanely simple explanation of Fair Isle online, please do recommend it in the comments.

My houseplant is still thriving. At this rate, it will see me through moving to Steve's (still no date set so don't get excited), which will be the third house-move it's done with me.

For dinner I had salad and a lasagne. Asda own-brand straightforward lasagne (in other words, not Extra Value or Low Fat or any other faff), microwaveable, £1, and it tastes bloody lovely. I would go so far as to say it's the nicest microwave lasagne I've had, and trust me, I know what I'm talking about. I shall have to buy more.

And now I'm off to bed, and I have ALL the bed to myself. Swings and roundabouts...


erasmus (aka jiva) said...
is a good blog for knitting techniques and two colour knitting. glad to hear things should be getting back on track. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

Anonymous said...

Relevant or not I would have thought you had a right to access your medical records, I don't know for sure but that was the impression I got, they're your records so you have a right to see them. I'm willing to be proved wrong by someone who actually knows though as I'm just speculating.

Good news with the knitting though, I used to do lots of it when I was younger but could never get the hang of casting on and off which is basically the reason I gave up

Mary said...

Cheers erasmus, I will have a look at that when I'm having a better day.

Roxy, as I understand it you are allowed access to your medical records but there's several ifs and buts. I don't know if I get caught out by an if/but that I didn't know about, or it's just Dr M feeling contrary, or the admin staff saying "please, no, we're swamped with work, put her off", or what.

Carie @ Space for the Butterflies said...

If you want to see your medical records write to the records manager of your NHS trust and state that you are making a request under the Data Protection Act 1998 for a copy of your medical records. They cannot withhold your records without a seriously good reason and if you want me to e-mail you some technical jargon to put in a letter then give me a shout

Mary said...

Thanks for the offer Carie, but I'll decline for now. Within the next few days I should be receiving a bundle of paperwork from the DLA (their evidence and reasons for the non-award) and a bundle of paperwork from Incapacity Benefit (the evidence and reasons for that, positive, decision), as well as the detailed statement from Steve.

I then have about a week and a half to go through ALL of that and form coherent evidence-based arguments as to why the non-award is wrong.

If I was healthy, this would be the work of a day, possibly two. Unfortunately if I was healthy I wouldn't need to claim DLA, and thus the paradox of inaccessible accessibility services continues... so I need to prioritise.

Priority #1 is dealing with the DLA reasons and evidence. That's the only really central thing. Everything else is supporting evidence. I think that if I'm lucky I'll be able to process the IB stuff too, before my send-it-all-off deadline - at least I'll be able to identify and photocopy the important bits to send. But I can't wade through my medical records too, in the time allowed, and they won't look at all my records for the last three years as a single document. :(

Still, it does mean a lot to me that people want to help, so seriously, thanks :)

Philip. said...

For dinner I had salad and a lasagne. Asda own-brand straightforward lasagne (in other words, not Extra Value or Low Fat or any other faff), microwaveable, £1, and it tastes bloody lovely. I would go so far as to say it's the nicest microwave lasagne I've had, and trust me, I know what I'm talking about. I shall have to buy more.

I'm now speeding off to Asda if it is that good!!! :-)

Philip. said...

How to access medical records -

Anonymous said...

"Civil servants making mistakes and cutting corners, due to staff cuts, useless IT, and pressure to meet unrealistic targets"?

You might very well think that Mary. I on the other hand couldn't *possibly* comment :D

Mary said...

Thanks Philip.

Sir Francis... I didn't say that, and I have no idea where it came from. So your comment leaves me a little confused, to say the least.

I'm sure civil servants, in their capacity of being human, do make mistakes, particularly when under pressure. I don't have a problem with a single one of the people involved in this mess, except ones who have actually been rude to me.

I do, however, think that there is something to be desired - be it with the people, the training, the IT, the other resources, the system, whatever - because what's happening to me at the moment is in no way unusual.

Anonymous said...

Its called covering one's back dear child.

For example, if one were a civil servant it would be a beach of standards of behaviour to comment on any problems endemic in the system.

If however, one were to make inferences based on your experiences, and those were coincidentally the actual reasons why so many people need those Work and Benefit chappies, then that would be a different matter altogether.

I certainly did not suggest you had said those actual words, and apologise if that was your perception of my previous posting.

And may I wish you the very best of luck with your reconsideration.

Mary said...

Sir Francis, please accept my sincerest apologies for having misconstrued your earlier post. I have had difficulties with malicious commenters on a regular basis in the past and as a result I can be quick to get a bit, ahem, defensive. Thank you for your kind wishes.