There are growing concerns that under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 the Court of Protection has been handed sweeping powers without adequate scrutiny and openess. This departs from the general principle of open justice held by other courts.
Holding its cases behind closed doors, the Court has the power to order that people with severe learning difficulties are sterilised, undergo abortions or have life-support switched off. It can even impose “experimental” treatments on these patients without their consent.
The Act also gives the Court power to order procedures “where that procedure or treatment must be carried out using a degree of force to restrain the person concerned”.
Previously High Court judges were asked to rule whether people with severe learning difficulties in the care of health authorities and councils should undergo treatments if they believed it was in their best interests. However, these cases were held in public and could be reported by the media.
According to sources Sir Nicholas Wall, the President of the Family Division sitting in the Court of Protection, ruled last week that a woman with cancer of the uterus must receive treatment even though she has a phobia of hospitals and needles. He stated that this was because she has a learning difficulty and so was judged to be incapable of deciding on her own “best interests”.
He then allegedly ruled that doctors should be allowed to sedate the 55 year-old in her own home, using a drug hidden in a glass of squash, and then detain her in a ward following the essential treatment.
The case was only the second in the Court to be made public.
And yes, this is in England and the year is 2010!
Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, is writing to all primary and secondary schools in England inviting them to become Academies and therefore independent of local authority control. This could mean thousands of schools leaving local authority control.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT (Teachers Union), argued that it was wrong to stop local authorities from having a say in proposals for new schools, and that [the proposal] represents a costly and unnecessary solution to a problem that simply does not exist. She added that such "Academies and free schools are a recipe for educational inequality and social segregation".
She's hit the nail on the head there ... For example, how many of these Academies are going to want to continue with integrating disabled children into main stream education when there'll be no financial incentive? Remember, these schools will be looking towards their local business community as part of their funding drive and these funders will expect to generating some form of profit from their investment. I wouldn't think that they'd take kindly to forking out for additional tuition and support for disabled children.
There's also going to be an emphasis on presenting as a school of elite learners and achievers, a 'corporate image' that will attract more high achiever pupils and investers. This is just an old Tory strategy dressed up as an exciting new way of looking at education in this country. We'll soon end up with an even bigger divide between the rich and poorer members of the community, and with the remaining state schools loosing their best pupils and teachers to the cash rich Academies.
It will be interesting to see what this government comes out with regarding disabled people specifically, apart from the general changes that they are proposing that will have inevitable consequences on our lives. Be sure that I'll keep my ear to the ground and report back on anything else that comes to light.
Please leave a comment at the end of this blog and let me know what your thoughts and feelings are about this issue and the others that are coming out of the woodwork.
Oh dear it's started. The slow but sure slide into a reduction in pretty well... well, everything!
Starting with the reduction in posts within the Civil Service, which means that whenever a Civil Servant leaves, they won't be replaced.
Now, as I understand it, the posts that have a higher rate of burn-out and staff turnaround are those in the front line of employment, welfare, benefits services, etc.
This means that the staff processing our applications for funding for support services, for example will gradually reduce leaving less people to do the actual work. This will inevitably have a knock on effect ... well, you remember what it was like under Thatcher I'm sure.
A reduction in the number of students being admitted to universities also has the Tory smell about it - a "Don't let the peasants get too educated. We'll have no one left to do the menial work" sort of smell. The list goes on.
And pretty well everything that is being cut, or being considered for cuts will have a direct impact on us crips. You'd better believe it!
For those of you who missed out on the Thatcher years, don't worry - here they come again!
I quite often get comments sent to old blog postings so it's well worth having a scroll back from time to time. One such comment has promted me to revist the issue of police brutality with regard to their handling of people who are experiencing mental distress. Next up folks ...
I've recently received an email from a Disabled equality trainer in Australia asking if she could use some of my cartoons about labelling within her courses. She hadn't come across the concept before and felt that it might help her to get across the equality message to both non-disabled and disabled Australians.
"No problem" I replied, and then began to wonder if other readers of this blog in other parts of the world were as ignorant of this concept as she was. With this in mind I've recreated a simple example and cobbled together some information about the subject for you.
The concept of labelling people, especially Disabled people has been with us since early times. Then we were made to wear labels that identified us as ‘witches’ or as the ‘familiars’ of bad spirits or ‘changelings’, or, if we were lucky, as the harmless village ‘dolt’ or ‘idiot’. Although if hard times came, such as a crop failure or something equally as harmful to the community, then the ‘idiot’ often became the 'scapegoat' and was disposed of to appease the gods.
As times progressed and society became more enlightened (Ed - our American readers should note the use of irony here!) we were seen more as figures of fun and were given the labels of ‘Jester’ or ‘Fool’. Those of us with mental health issues were also allowed to entertain the nobility, but were put on display in places like Bedlam and given the labels of ‘Mad’ and ‘Insane’ regardless of our actual condition.
We were also given the label of ‘villain’ in early children’s stories, usually with an eye or a limb missing, or labelled as the ‘weak’ or ‘needy’ character whenever sentimentality or charity were portrayed by such as Charles Dickens and other writers of his time.
Following the onset of the industrial revolution we were deemed ‘worthy poor’ and allowed to beg, and some argue that this is where the label of ‘handicapped’ (cap in hand) originated. The label ‘Invalid’ also appeared about this time and literally means ‘not valid’.
The medical professionals during the 19th and 20th century, deciding that we needed repairing brought with them their own labels. These ranged from the familiar ‘idiot’ to the ‘imbecile’, the ‘feeble minded’ and the ‘moral defective’. More labels followed as they began to split us into groups of impairment, resulting in 'Mongol’ and ‘Spastic’ to name but a few.
The more subtle labels remain to this day and are still used by those groups and organisations who wish to control us and wish to separate us from society. It is mainly the charities that rely upon the power of labelling, still portraying us as ‘vulnerable’ and ‘incapable’ amongst other disempowering descriptions. The medical profession also continue to play their part, although have changed some of their labels to appear more progressive; ‘Cerebral Palsy’ replacing ‘Spastic’ and ‘Down’s Syndrome’ replacing ‘Mongolism’ for example.
Remember, labelling people is about disempowerment and only works if the person who is given the label agrees to wear it.
I’ve had some correspondence recently with a colleague known in crip circles as Deaf Bitch. Her shared insights into Deaf culture have helped me to understand a great deal about the many forms of oppression that Deaf people face within our society.
Here’s some of what she wrote followed a recent programme about children having cochlear implants.
“I was watching a programme about a one year old boy who was about to have a double cochlear implant.
"During the programme we heard the mum say about her older daughter, who was also born deaf and who also had this done, that before the operation 'it was like she died'.
“This was followed by the surgeon saying that if the boy didn't have this operation he would be 'condemned to a life of sign and special schools'.
“I don't get into blaming people who want their children to have this invasive procedure, whatever my personal view, but this just made me jump up and down in sheer fury and distress.”
And here’s a sample of Deaf Bitch's outstanding poetry …
I’ve had enough....
suggesting gently in ladylike tones
hinting it might be a good idea if....
proving the business case
explaining the law
taking the barriers down inch by painful inch
brick by careful brick
I want to
all in one go on one perfect day of ecstasy.
Deaf Bitch 2010
Crippen is currently in the UK meeting up with his many contacts in the world of cripdom and
gathering fresh material for this cartoon blog and other projects that he has underway.
He'll be back with us next week, and in the meantime has left us with one of his typical 'us and them' creations!
Our hardworking Editor Colin has been on a drive to get membership of dao's facebook group site increased.
He's just got another 30 members to join in the past couple of days - so we're now up to 555!
To join, please click here and it will take you to the appropriate page.
Crippen has reworked his cartoon gallery and now has many more cartoons for you to use
within your own publications, training materials and newsletters.
Please click here to go to the new, improved Crippen web site.