Camden Council in the Pocket of Paymasters?

Written by Staff Reporter
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Councils have been urged to take care when consulting medical advisers who have not met the patient. 

Imagine you have an illness, and your specialists agree your home life is causing your health to deteriorate. Your GP and your specialist agree you would benefit from moving, but your local authority landlord refuses on the basis of the opinion of another GP who claims to have read some of the paperwork but never met you. 

It came as no surprise to me when I received an email off Daisy Akinlade a Camden Council Homeless Prevention Manager late on a bank holiday Friday evening. In her email she named the outside Independent agency assisting her in the "essential part of the review process" as the controversial company NowMedical

Now Medical is based in Chiswick, London. On its website it offers councils and housing associations medical advice in cases of claimed priority need for allocation or transfer. It says it provides a service to between 50 and 100 local authorities and uses the expertise of five GPs. 

Their website says they charge 30 pounds for a medical report. They also provide prompt, professional advice to assist when medical and psychiatric issues are involved in part VII homeless - vulnerability cases. They also provide a report with reasons within one working day. My question is what sort of Cowboy Doctor will work for a company for thirty pounds a report? 

Defining Vulnerability. ‘Vulnerable’ is a word which invites a comparison so who should the homeless applicant be compared with and how should the comparison be made: The comparison must be with the ordinary person who is in need of accommodation and not the ordinary homeless person or street homeless person. (93),(57) - (59). Further the comparison is with ‘ordinary people generally, not ordinary people in the locality' (93). The ordinary person is robust and healthy (71). “Vulnerable” in section 189(1)(c) means being “significantly more vulnerable than the ordinarily vulnerable as a result of being rendered homeless (Lord Neuberger para 53). All people are at risk of harm from homelessness but the Act did not intend all homeless persons to qualify as vulnerable. The applicant must have something significant, that makes her/him vulnerable when compared to ordinary people generally. (cf 'substantial' in the Equality Act in relation to disability is defined as 'more than minor or trivial’). The assessment of vulnerability is... 'a contextual and practical assessment of his physical and mental ability if he is rendered homeless (which, as just explained, must be compared with the ability of an ordinary person if rendered homeless)'. (62). Close attention must be given to the particular circumstances of the applicant in the round i.e. not so much by reference to each of the applicant’s problems but by reference to them when taken together. (38). No account can be taken of the demands on the Council or its resources when making a decision on a homeless application (39). No statistics can be used as a comparator to measure vulnerability: 'The use of statistics to determine whether someone is vulnerable is a very dangerous exercise' (43).

My lawyer wrote an urgent reply to Daisy Akinlade. In her reply to Akinlade she said that this was very concerning, she asked Daisy to urgently send her a copy of her instructing letter to NowMedical and a list of documentation they will be provided with to undertake the review. A very quick reply to the sender Daisy Akinlade was met with an automated response from her email saying to contact her manager Jane Mullholland. 

A case online regarding Now Medical showed that the person who did the reviews Mr Keen was not a psychiatrist and in a lot of his “reviews” did not think the people he reviewed needed housing. Local authorities weighed his comments against the report of a qualified psychiatrist. It also states that the “Independent” agency does not meet with the individuals he just provides paper assessments. 

My medical experts told me without an examination of the patient, Now Medicals advice cannot itself constitute expert evidence of the applicant's condition. Further Investigations uncovered that NowMedical only employ one Psychiatrist. 

A tweet in March from a lawyer talking about a court case with NowMedical quoted a judge and said "NowMedical were wrong to look at what the applicant *didn't* suffer from when advising that she wasn't vulnerable". 

It is very clear that Councils around the Country  including Camden use this company for a reason….. To refuse as many people as possible and deny them of their truth. A lot of the cases online were referred to Court whereby the judge appears to have gone against Now Medicals findings. 

My Medical team and my specialist agree that I would benefit from being moved out of the Private Rented Sector. However, I am now faced with the potential of the local authority (Camden Council) refusing on the basis of the opinion of another GP who has read some of the paperwork but never met me going against. 

A desk-based assessment by an independent GP only offers a suitable, affordable and speedy solution for the Council that is paying them. It seems we are living in a world where almost everything is outsourced nowadays. Many are in the pocket of their paymasters. This is not a fair system for the Vulnerable. 

There is obviously a conflict of interest using this agency. How can a company being paid by the Council be “independent” to its paymaster? 

It goes without saying I have been physically sick am feeling sick to my core and am riddled with anxiety, at the thought of a desk based Doctor doing an "assessment" on me and deciding my fate. I am now feeling even more disheartened, and am awaiting my irrational and tainted medical review off a company who have never met me. 

A comment was put to the CEO Mike Cooke at Camden Council whose secretary said “ Mike does not deal with housing”. Another vital question lingering in my head throughout this process is, What does Mike Cooke actually do, whose salary is £163,350 per annum? 

Camden Council have done a pretty good job at making themselves look like morons 

Read 4327 times Last modified on Sunday, 14 February 2021 15:39
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Staff Reporter

Staff Reporter

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