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The Department for Work and Pensions is being told to sort out its benefit assessment system after campaigners said it is rigged against people who suffer from Fibromyalgia.

The petition – ‘Change DWP Medicals for Fibromyalgia’ – may be found here.

Long-term readers will know that Fibromyalgia is one of the conditions suffered by Mrs Mike, partner of Vox Political writer Mike Sivier. She has hijacked this space to post the following message from the petitioners:

“In brief, the petition asks that Department of Work and Pensions medicals for Fibromyalgia be carried out by a qualified rheumatologist, and that the decision regarding the receipt of benefits not be based on the current point-scoring system.

“The full petition reads:

“‘We, the undersigned, call on the British Government to ask that DWP medicals for Fibromyalgia be carried out by a qualified rheumatologist, and that the decision made about the receipt of benefit not be based on a point scoring system.’

“‘At the moment the DWP are using an outside agency to carry out medicals on people with medical conditions, and using a point scoring system to decide whether or not people are entitled to benefits.

“‘Most of the medicals are carried out by a nurse or other healthcare professional in less than an hour by asking a few targeted questions. With a condition like Fibromyalgia, it takes a qualified rheumatologist to diagnose the condition and understand the treatment that needs to be implemented to attempt to manage the pain of the condition.

“‘A rheumatologist would understand the pain and associated problems that Fibromyalgia sufferers face on a daily basis. Yet the nurse or health care professional that fills in the forms for the medical sees someone for less than an hour with no understanding of the condition and how it affects each person individually.

“‘It is not possible for someone of this level to understand the issues that Fibromyalgia suffers face, and the medicals should at the very least be carried out by a rheumatologist.

“‘During the medical you are assessed on how much you can move in certain directions. At no point are they taking any interest in how much pain you are in whilst this is going on, or how many painkillers you have to take afterwards.

“‘A favourite question is, “How far can you walk without discomfort?” The answer for a most Fibromyalgia sufferers is over 200 metres if they absolutely have to. What they don’t ask is, “How much pain are you in?” Most Fibromyalgia sufferers are in pain before they start to walk; walking just increases the pain.

“‘The point scoring system is stupid and unfair and needs to be abolished. Fibromyalgia sufferers are being consistently turned down for benefits that they should be entitled to, as this is a condition recognised by the DWP – and I quote, “Professor Aylward, on behalf of the DWP, reaffirmed that the DWP recognises fibromyalgia as a real and disabling condition, and not just something that is ‘all in the mind.'” If this is recognised by the DWP as being a “real and disabling condition” then why are diagnosed sufferers being refused DLA and ESA?

“‘It has been reported that Fibromyalgia Sufferers often suffer more pain than people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

“‘Despite the DWP’s statement, Fibromyalgia sufferers are being discriminated against, as the condition is seen as “invisible”, like many other conditions.'”

To sign the petition, go to this site and click the “Sign the petition” button near the bottom of the page. For more Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Natural Wellness news, sign up for free HealthWatch newsletters.

That’s the end of Mrs Mike’s bit. As someone who lives with a person who has Fibromyalgia, dear reader, you may safely conclude that I know a fair few things about the subject myself. I sat in on Mrs Mike’s work capability assessment and I can vouch for the truth of the statements regarding questions asked during that interview and the physical examinations that take place.

Mrs Mike’s mobility was checked very thoroughly during her assessment but no interest has ever been shown in the fact that she spent the next three days on the sofa in our living room, unable to move because of the pain she was suffering.

The question about walking is far more subjective. Obviously, after the WCA, Mrs Mike couldn’t walk anywhere without discomfort but, even when she is well enough to move, pain always sets in within a few paces and the chance to sit down is regarded as a blessed relief.

Yet Mansel Aylward (for it was he) said the DWP recognises Fibromyalgia as a “real and disabling condition”.

While these tests are carried out by people who are not qualified to recognise the symptoms of the condition and the problems it causes, the DWP is only paying lip-service to its claims about Fibromyalgia.

Please sign the petition and help ease the lives of people with Fibromyalgia across the UK.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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