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HomeCOVID-19No time for vaccine claims, but plenty to complain to TCW

No time for vaccine claims, but plenty to complain to TCW

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AFTER we published our March 7 story detailing how security manager Tony Shingler, 58, had developed Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) post AstraZeneca Covid vaccine injection, the government department handling vaccine injury claims complained to TCW.

GBS is an autoimmune disorder affecting the nerves, and it can cause total paralysis. It starts with weakness and tingling in the arms and legs and rapidly spreads throughout the body.

My story, with the headline: ‘Paralysed by the vaccine, ignored by the state’detailed the Shingler family’s fight for compensation and the government’s failure to pay it, despite the fact it has been accepted that his injury was caused by the vaccine.

Subsequently the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) said that the following section was inaccurate.

It read:

The NHSBSA are overwhelmed and advertising for help offering a salary of £23,000 to claims assessment staff.

As vaccine injury lawyer Peter Todd said: ‘This is pretty low-grade money when you’re asking people to assess complex neurology and epidemiology. The medical assessors will work to a script, and they will be advised by the Green Book.

The NHSBSA said we were inaccurate because: ‘As we have taken over the scheme from DWP, we’ve had to recruit a new team to administrate the service.

‘We have also commenced work to scale-up, develop and streamline the scheme. This already includes putting additional resources in place to progress claims more rapidly and improve communications with claimants. We are also updating and digitising the claim process to further improve the process for claimants.

‘The article quotes vaccine injury lawyer Peter Todd who said: “This is pretty low-grade money when you’re asking people to assess complex neurology and epidemiology. The medical assessors will work to a script, and they will be advised by the Green Book.”

‘This is also factually incorrect. Claims are not assessed by our caseworkers. All claims are medically assessed by a third party of experienced medical advisers – registered doctors with a licence to practise. Claims are assessed on a case by case basis, according to the criteria for the scheme. Causation criteria are applied consistently, in accordance with accepted clinical guidance.’

In response to their complaint, I asked them several questions about why, if their team was so competent, have no claims been settled?

Here are their responses in full; it is important to note that to date, up to 15 months after some applications, NONE of the 920 claims has been fully assessed or processed. This is despite the fact many inquests have been completed and blame for fatalities and injuries accepted by Big Pharma, AstraZeneca in particular.

Claimants feel very much as though they have been plunged into a hostile environment, are being accused of being anti-vaccine and gaslighted.

One said: ‘I’d never even heard the phrase anti-vaxxer before I suffered a serious reaction to my Covid vaccine. I had the vaccine so how does that make sense? In fact, I’ve had all the vaccines the government has ever recommended so how I can be antivax I have no idea.’

All this is irrelevant to the government who have no empathy with the injured. The best they can offer is to say that ‘we understand their frustration and appreciate their continued patience’. These citizens have had their lives and livelihoods destroyed but I suppose it is comforting to know that the government understands their ‘frustration’.

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A spokesperson for NHSBSA said:

‘In response to your enquiries:

Would it not have made sense to use the old team until the new team were in place? This must be causing delays in payments. What kind of delay has this adjustment to the system made? Three months, six months? Please clarify.

The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) was formally requested by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to add the Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme (VDPS) to our portfolio of work from 1 November 2021, transferring over from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

As the NHSBSA is a separate organisation from DWP, we have our own dedicated team of caseworkers to progress each claim as quickly as possible. We are expanding this team to help scale-up, develop, streamline, and improve the claim process in any way we can.

This recruitment does not cause any delay to the claims being medically assessed.

What is the role of the caseworkers if not to assess the validity of claims? They are the first port of call and if the claim does not get past them then it will not reach the next tier. If that’s not the case, what is their role?

Caseworkers support claimants and progress claims in a number of ways, including:

·       preparing claims for medical assessment by an independent medical assessor

·       engaging with clinicians to request medical records and supporting information required by the independent medical assessor

·       communicating with claimants to provide updates on their claim and answer any questions they may have

·       reviewing and monitoring the status of claims to ensure claims are processed as quickly and consistently as possible

·       compiling claimant feedback for presentation to DHSC for suggested improvements to the scheme process

All claims are medically assessed by an independent, third party medical assessor – registered doctors with a licence to practise. Claims are assessed on a case by case basis, according to the criteria for the scheme. Causation criteria are applied consistently.

Caseworkers are continuing to do all they can to progress the COVID-19 claims and prepare them for medical assessment in the meantime.

When will the streamlining be complete? And when will the first payments be made?

The average, non-Covid-19 related claim takes around six months to process from the date we request a claimant’s medical records. This is because we need to wait for claimants’ GP, medical providers, local authorities, or other relevant healthcare providers to gather records and send them to us and this can take time. This can vary from case to case, and we are unable to provide a more accurate timeframe for Covid-19 claims at this time. We understand the frustration this is causing for claimants, and we appreciate their continued patience.

It seems as though this is just another unnecessary delay, perhaps deliberate? Either way, it does not seem to have been thought through. The MHRA were aware that they would not be able to cope with the number of Yellow Card reports and ordered extra software. Even so, their response to the injured or to families of the deceased, has been extremely poor too.

We appreciate the continued patience of claimants at this difficult time and can assure claimants that we are working with DHSC to do all we can to progress each claim as quickly as possible.

We are unable to comment on the MHRA, the Yellow Card scheme, or the policy and legislation that governs the scheme. You would need to contact the MHRA and DHSC press offices directly.

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Instead of splitting hairs and wasting time complaining to TCW who have been highlighting the plight of the vaccine-injured,  the NHSBSA should be concentrating on doing the same, elevating their claims to emergency status and not leaving these poor people high and dry for the astonishing further six months they say it will take them to sort and review the cases. That way, we would have nothing to investigate, citizens would feel validated and would have no complaints.  

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Sally Beck
Sally Beck
Sally Beck is a freelance journalist with 30 years of experience in writing for national newspapers and magazines. She has reported on vaccines since the controversy began with the MMR in 1998.

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