[image quote]: "“There’s quite a lot of people who will never be able to work, and that’s fine, they shouldn’t be made to feel bad because of it. But [Iain Duncan Smith] would say 'Labour had made people dependent on the Welfare State.’" - Beth, episode 26: on disability cuts in the UK

[image quote]: "“There’s quite a lot of people who will never be able to work, and that’s fine, they shouldn’t be made to feel bad because of it. But [Iain Duncan Smith] would say 'Labour had made people dependent on the Welfare State.’" - Beth, episode 26: on disability cuts in the UK

CW: Suicide
26 Disability Cuts in the UK (episode page)
Description: Beth talks about the current disability benefits situation in the UK. We talked about the cuts to disability programs, the recent surprise resignation of the mastermind behind many of these cuts, and the NHS approach to pain management—or lack thereof.

[intro]

Hey there and welcome to In Sickness + In Health, a podcast about chronic illness, disability, medical traumas, and everyday uncomfortable healthcare experiences. My name is Cara Gael; I’m not a doctor or medical professional, I’m just a person and a patient who really wants to talk about this stuff more.

Nothing said on this show should be considered medical advice. If you’re experiencing a medical issue, please seek qualified medical help. I know the system sucks, but I wish you a lot of luck. Every person is different, even within disease groups, so none of my guests should be regarded as official representatives or spokespersons for their conditions. Please respect their very personal choices, and unless they ask for it, please don’t make suggestions about treatments or lifestyle changes. Unsolicited medical advice is never not annoying.

In this week’s episode, I talk to Beth about the current disability benefits situation in the UK. Over the last few years there have been cuts and measures introduced to reduce the amount of government spending on disability assistance and the NHS. We talked about the cuts to disability programs, the recent surprise resignation of the mastermind behind many of these cuts, and the NHS approach to pain management—or lack thereof.

Most of my listeners are Americans, for whom the kind of social supports available in the UK—even as they are cut more and more—are unthinkable. In the US it is quite difficult to get any sort of social support like disability payments, and the assistance leaves the majority of those on it in poverty. Disability assistance rarely makes it into the national political discourse, except for when politicians scapegoat those they believe are taking advantage of the system. Due to the economic turmoil of the last decade, sadly this attitude is also growing in the UK and other countries with far more robust social safety nets than the almost nonexistent one we have here in the US.

The different approaches to the idea of a welfare state largely comes down to different attitudes about the role of government in society, taxation and how those funds should be spent. The seeds of the welfare state in the UK were planted in the late 19th century and have been revised and reformed repeatedly over the years, with what is considered the modern welfare state introduced after the second world war. It was during this time that the National Health Service, or NHS, was established along with several other programs to alleviate the issues of poverty, homelessness, hunger, and disability. Over the years, as Beth points out in the interview, almost as soon as many programs were introduced, they were modified or dismantled by those in the government wanting to reduce costs.

I would really love to do more episodes with international guests. Here in the US, we get so little information about other systems, and they are often either demonized or idealized, when the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. So if you’re in another country and want to talk about your healthcare system and experience in it, or you’re from one place and living in another and want to talk about how your healthcare in either place compares, I’d love to hear from you. Write me about it at insicknesspod@gmail.com, or get at me on social media @insicknesspod. Tell me where you’re from, what your experience has been, and if you’d like to be on the show! Because talking about the american healthcare system all the time is really just depressing.

I already talked to Beth in England for this episode, and Arianne in Vancouver, CA in episode 09. I’d love to hear from other provinces in Canada, other parts of the UK, and literally anywhere else in the world! I know I have lots of international listeners, so I’d really love to hear more from you!

Check out our other episodes about chronic pain and pain management, episode 11 with Dr. Jill, a pain psychologist and chronic pain patient herself, and episode 22 with Jen, who talked about needing narcotic pain medications at a time when they’re public enemy number one here in the US. I actually just redesigned the website a bit, and now there’s a search field, and you can browse by category from the home page. Check out insicknesspod.com to try it out, and find resources and more from us.

As always, find links to more information about some of the stuff we talk about in today’s episode in the show notes, and if you can, take a few moments to subscribe, rate and review us on iTunes, which helps other people find the show!

A quick content warning, the topic of suicide comes up a few times in this episode, so if you find that upsetting or triggering, you may want to skip this one.

Now to understand more about what’s going on right now in the UK with disability benefits, I started out by asking Beth about the political parties behind these changes and reforms…

[interview]

[outro]
Thanks for listening to In Sickness + In Health. Find resources and more from us at insicknesspod.com and on social media @insicknesspod. If you’re an international listener that would be interested in talking about your experience on the show, contact me! I’d love to hear from you.

And don’t forget to be excellent to yourselves and each other.