If you are the kind of person who receives their worldly news through the BBC and The Telegraph, you’re probably wondering what this ‘thirty-thousand’ is. However, if you’ve been keeping track of news on social media or certain Internet forums, I’m sure you already know.
Thirty-thousand is a death toll.
Not from an earthquake, not from a tsunami, but from our own very government.
You see, in early 2016, researchers at Oxford and other universities were bemused by statistics that showed an excess of 30,000 sick and disabled people who died in 2015. That is excess deaths – deaths that went over and above the number of expected or easily explainable deaths.
After ruling out things like flu, financial demographics, state of their homes, fuel allowances, and many other factors, they eventually came to the only explanation they could find – cuts in health and social care were responsible. (Read more here and here.)
The government was responsible.
Let me just give you that number again – THIRTY THOUSAND.
And this is just through the cuts in health and social care – this does not take in the 2000-5000 predicted deaths that came about due to cuts and other changes in the benefits system, such as tightening up of sanctions, which lead to hundreds of deaths of the disabled through things like starvation, or exposure due to homelessness.
And while we’re on homelessness – there are twice as many homeless people on the streets today as there were during the last Labour administration – and there is half as much help available to them – so, naturally, the homeless are also losing their lives. On a daily basis I find myself reading about how people were “shocked” when a homeless person died on a busy street.
And then there are the suicides. Disabled people, homeless people, and people living in poverty are committing suicide at higher rates than ever before.
So, with death all around, how come so few people have actually heard the truth about this?
Firstly, you are more likely to be aware of these facts if you read The Guardian or The Independent. The right-wing papers are steadfastly refusing to publish anything about this, as it could be detrimental to poor Theresa’s career, and as long as they print whatever she tells them to print, they receive lovely tax cuts. There are some BIG questions currently floating around about the BBC and other news stations. The BBC has historically been seen to have more of a left-wing bias – but now, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything during this election campaign that has been complimentary to anybody but Theresa. In fact, on the day the Labour manifesto was published, Laura Kuenssberg incorrectly stated that everybody would be seeing enormous tax increases – not just the wealthiest 5% of the population, as stated clearly in the manifesto. Thousands of people watched that broadcast, and thousands of people now believe false information about Labour. Why is this BBC bias occurring? Nobody really knows, although the most popular theory of the moment is that the same billionaires who are bank-rolling Theresa are also bank-rolling the Beeb.
I mean, we wouldn’t want thousands of deaths to get in the way of billionaires having to pay fair tax, would we?
So, WHY has nobody asked Theresa herself about this? Why is she not addressing this? You may remember a few weeks back, it was announced that Theresa would NOT be answering ANY questions that had not been PRE-APPROVED. Other Tories have been questioned though, and you can read a bit about their response here.
Personally, this horrific news rings terrifyingly true to me.
Life as a disabled person under our present government has been getting worse and worse, and is now at the point of being almost completely unbearable.
Although I often talk about being disabled, I rarely talk about what it feels like.
I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Fowler’s Syndrome, Coeliac Disease, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Depression, some form of Depersonalisation Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and a mild case of Asperger’s. (I know, I collect diseases like some people collect postage stamps…)
I am in constant, relentless agony. It crept up on me over an entire lifetime, to the point where one pain specialist actually told me that if a healthy person was suddenly given the same amount of pain that I feel on an average day, the shock would make them lose consciousness.
I have big problems with my adrenal gland – I have an anxiety condition that gets so bad I’m often in a state of full-blown fight-or-flight terror. My body also can’t regulate its own temperature, so I’m always feeling like I’m boiling from the inside out, or frozen to the bone. If I’m in an upright position for too long without enough medication and water, I faint – I spend 90% of my (awake) life in bed because I have to be horizontal for my blood to be able to reach my brain. The pain and the terror stop me from sleeping. When I do sleep, I can’t get past the dream phase and into a deep sleep because of this – and my dreams, thanks to my adrenal problems, are always shockingly terrifying. So my exhaustion builds up and builds up until I sleep for literally days at a time. Usually, when I tell people I sometimes sleep for days, they tell me how lucky I am. But days of sleep means you wake up extremely sick from dehydration, you are shaky, and totally disorientated, and having been still for so long is unbearably painful.
But all of this is nothing compared to the stress of how I am treated by the government.
Because, to the government, I am a burden. I am less than human. I do not have any rights. And despite the fact that I slaved my guts out at school and university for twenty years because I was NEVER going to be financially dependent on anybody but myself, my life is still studied under a microscope. This is because, instead of understanding that being bedridden and in agony is actually not very pleasant, I am treated with scepticism because I’m just trying to be a money-grabber when I plead for help.
And so, my life is filled with assessments and filling out forms thicker than The Lord Of The Rings. If I miss an appointment because I’m too sick to attend, then I’m written off. If they miss an appointment that I’ve stayed awake for with extra medication all day, then ah well, I’ll just have to wait another few months until someone can come over then.
The thing that upsets me more than anything else though, is that I am one of the lucky ones. I am so, so lucky to be in the position that I am in, because many people do not have what I do.
A family and support network.
When I was 23, my illness got very bad, very quickly, and a weekend at home for recovery turned into what has become seven years. We had to get wheelchairs, a stairlift, shower stools, the lot, and without any help at all.
And I had to apply for benefits. Me, the woman who grew up knowing she would be strong and independent. That she would have a career that might enable her to help other people. Reduced to begging for just enough scraps to keep me alive.
It took FOURTEEN MONTHS from the time I first applied to the time I received any money.
And this is why I am so lucky – I had a family who could take me back in, and were financially able to make sure I had food and warmth. Without them, I would have been on the streets, I would have had no other option. And with that list of conditions, being out on the streets would have killed me within days.
Every day, there is someone on my online support group saying something like;
“I had my assessment today, but even though I’m bed-bound and I told her I couldn’t cook, I saw her tick the boxes that said I COULD… what do I do?”
“Is there anybody in London with wheelchair access who could perhaps put me and my daughter up for a night? I lost our housing benefit and my disability allowance and we have nowhere to live… I’m so scared I’m going to lose my daughter.”
“I had the Disability Living Allowance, but when they changed it to the PIP, I was assessed and turned down. Because my wheelchair was on the government’s Motability Scheme, I was forced to give it back a few days ago. Now I’m stuck in my bedroom and have to crawl to the bathroom, and I don’t know how I’m going to be able to survive, what do I do?”
THIS is what it’s really like to be disabled under the Tory government. It is constant, relentless HELL. It is a life filled with nothing but panic about what will happen at the next assessment, what the next step is if we’ve lost our home or wheelchair or money. It’s a life where we are treated as a burden; we are people who are just there to take the taxpayers’ money – we are sucking the country dry.
And so, the government forced the cuts that led to the deaths of thirty-thousand (plus) disabled people. We are a burden, and we are being killed off. And believe me, I do not say that lightly. Without my parents, I would be dead. That is a fact.
The Tories have not ruled out further cuts for health and social care.
I will be writing more about what’s been happening to the NHS later, and what challenges and terrors us disabled lot face when we actually get to hospital (I’ve written a lot of words already!) but please, however you’re thinking of voting, please bear this in mind;
To the disabled population of this country, this election is not about tax or Brexit – it is about SURVIVAL. Actual life versus death.
If the Tories win this election, my future is bleak, and it will probably be short too. Our hospitals do not have enough people capable of caring for someone in my situation, and I’ve almost died in a hospital bed once before because of it. My life, and the lives of my disabled friends, are fraught with terrifying medical situations, and a full-on fight to get funding, medical help, and just a nod that it’s ok for us to exist at all. Because it feels like our government has committed fully to killing us off for the benefit of the economy.
Let me just say it again; THIRTY-THOUSAND. Thirty-thousand in just one year. For the sake of comparison, the full death-toll of 9/11 was 2,996.
I apologise that the content of this post is not my usual funny stuff. But with this coming election, a lot of lives are at stake – the Tories have already refused to rule out further cuts to health and social care. So more of us will die.
Please, think very carefully before you tick that Conservative box – a lot of lives depend on how you vote….