Hey followers, I hope that you are okay and that you had a nice as possible Christmas and new year, mine was fairly good I spent it with my father who seems to be feeling slightly better (will do an update on him soon, thank you so much to all of the people who helped with the fundraiser.)
Anyway, I have some very good news! The people that follow me on Facebook and Twitter will probably have already seen this but let me say it again loud and clear for all of my blog followers- I GOT MY MONEY BACK THAT THE NHS KEPT HARASSING ME FOR. Yep, and I’m so happy. Too damn right. Getting anything back from these people is a rarity, so I guess I’ll take a photo and frame the moment. Why were they harassing me for money in the first place? Well, for the past four or five months I have been receiving very threatening letters from the NHS prescriptions department demanding that I owe hundreds and hundreds and need to pay ASAP because I claimed various prescriptions when I wasn’t on an eligible benefit. Not on an eligible benefit? I thought to myself, I’m on ESA for my mental health issues and claim low rate PIP. I‘ve never had to pay for my prescriptions in the entire eight years that I’ve been on state benefits. I immediately rang the DWP to ask about this, hoping that they would simply say it was a computer error and that I didn’t owe anything after all. Nope. A tired sounding woman with a thick welsh accent told me that since I was on ‘contributions based ESA’ I in fact did need to pay for my prescriptions. I was horrified and totally confused. I had never worked in my life, had no savings yet I was on contributions based? How the hell did they work that one out? Bizarre. I explained all of this, and stressed my dire financial situation and the fact that, after buying food, gas, electric and paying all of my bills I hardly have anything left anyway- how the hell was I supposed to pay for this? Some days I can’t afford to have two meals never mind fork out money for my mental health medication that keeps me stable! I asked her to explain to me clearly why I wasn’t on income related ESA but the woman wouldn’t give me an answer. I also explained all of this to the prescription people, but they just wouldn’t have it either. So, I just ignored the letters for a few weeks as I couldn’t mentally cope with the stress of it. I believed that I was being deliberately targeted yet again by the NHS, given my horrific history of abuse from them. I was now in debt for simply taking the medication that I needed, yet another cruel thing that they had done to me, ripping my life apart even more.
After a few months, the letters quickly piled up, and at one point I had five letters all asking for over a hundred pounds each. It was getting scary, and now the letters were threatening court action if I didn’t pay. I rang the NHS prescriptions people numerous times, desperate, begging them to stop as I was on the wrong benefit, had never worked in my life and really needed the medication. They heard my words but they wouldn’t have it and were still threatening to take me to court. I stopped taking my medication and gave in to the constant threats of court action. Over the Christmas period I ended up forking out over a hundred pound from my Christmas money because I was so scared and anxious about going to court in January and ending up with yet another criminal conviction. I put twenty pound on each separate debt with the hope that they calmed down. Sadly, they really ruined the mood of Christmas for me. It’s a fact, these people pry on people with anxiety issues like myself.
However, in the new year I sought serious legal advice who rang the DWP on my behalf. With the support of this person, the DWP fully admitted that I had been on the wrong benefit since August 2010 and was in fact entitled to a large back payment, which would be a payout of a few thousand. (I won’t hold my breath.) They also got the NHS prescriptions people to agree to pay back the money that I shouldn’t have paid in the first place. Good. A week ago I received the money back into my bank account and felt so, so relieved. I am not normally a person that can easily be pressurized into giving away the little money that I have, but this seriously got to me because it was the oh so wonderful NHS causing issues for me, yet again.
The way I was treated was both disgusting and dangerous. The medication that I take is seriously strong mental health medication which gets rid of my suicidal thoughts, lifts my mood, helps me sleep and increases my concentration levels. Due to all of the stress of being threatened with court action, I ended up feeling like I was unable to take it and ended up getting very depressed, anxious and hopeless. The NHS prescriptions people shouldn’t be legally allowed to harass and threaten vulnerable people like this. Without the professional legal advice that I obtained, I probably would have ended up in court, not taken my medication ever again and ended up really, really mentally ill all because of a bureaucratic error. The whole welfare system is a mess. These letters were just sent out to me automatically by a robot. There is just no thought into the long lasting impact that such letters could have on people and this really needs to change. More and more things are now being done automatically by robots/computer systems, but the simple fact of the matter is we are not robots. We are humans. We are all so different from each other with different needs, hopes and circumstances. We can’t treat everyone the same. Just because a box isn’t ticked on a screen things are done without people even knowing and letters are sent out to people without a care in the world, but what if that decision or very letter is what tips them over the edge to suicide? It really is that serious.
Recently the NHS has taken to falsely accusing hundreds of thousands of people of ‘prescription fraud’ when this was just not the case. Again, it was down to a bureaucratic error. Data confirmed that 342,882 penalty notices were subsequently withdrawn because the patient was entitled to the free prescriptions after all.
‘The penalty notice system is dysfunctional' warns head of patients’ group.
I will end by saying that I’m kind of glad in a way that this has happened, as it caused the DWP to relook at my whole benefit claim and admit once and for all that I am owed thousands. (I await this with baited breath.) I am not a person that can easily be conned or manipulated, so, nice try NHS. I will keep campaigning for a fairer, less discriminating welfare system for the rest of my life and I will keep you all updated on the back payment situation.
Thanks for reading, peace.