A game that can be played in large meetings. The players write down management-nonsense word like “Out-of-the-box-thinking”, “Synergy”, “Content streamlining” etc. in a 5 by 5 square bingo card.
If a word or phrase is used during the meeting you check the box. When you get a five box line (horizontally, vertically or diagonally) you shout “BULLSHIT!” and win.
-Company Bigshot Fancypants: “And that is why this merger is going to benefit shareholder value by creating value driven content.”
-Eager But Dim Employee: “BULLSHIT BINGO!”
-Company Bigshot Fancypants: “You’re fired!”
It wasn’t long ago that Avon & Somerset HR employees stated in a meeting that their ‘procedures’ weren’t aligned with the Regulations.
I think they meant to say that they knew they were breaking the law.
On learning of that remark, IODPA dared to think for a moment that the ignorant had become a bit more enlightened. We were mildly excited. We were prepared to ignore the fact that the remark was good enough for a Bullshit Bingo award, and concentrated on its meaning rather than its delivery. We knew there was a still a lot of work for HR and their string-pullers to do – we’re worldly-wise and know how HR types operate – but we thought we saw the first faint flicker of light on the horizon.
Oh, but how we underestimated the force’s capacity to continue to muck things up.
Our internal source (God/Allah bless him/her) has informed us that the force is about to send out final reports for some of those under review. Remember these are the ones Dr Johnson has been ‘contemplating’ since May 2014.
When those reports finally end up on the doormat of the IODs the mistakes will bound to be numerous. In the spirit of Bullshit Bingo here is a list of errors only the truly ignorant can make – all of which are usually and inevitably wrapped up in phrases carefully intended to obscure rather than elucidate.
As Johnson’s reports arrive, let’s count how many times these errors are contained therein:
- Fresh assessment.
Everyone’s most unfavoured cock up. This error occurs when the SMP oversteps the mark and starts from scratch to assess and quantify degree of disablement. There are many ways to make this fundamental error, but the most frequent ploy is where HR gives the SMP a list of jobs and wages and the SMP compares the speculative, future, income that might result if the pensioner, say, moved to Aberdeen and became a lecturer in quantum physics, with either what he or she earned as a police officer, or what the average wages were seven years ago for the entire population of the UK, as set out in the NAE index.
OI! YOU! SMP! DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR JOB
IS ONLY TO CONSIDER SUBSTANTIAL CHANGE!
Not being able to read the notes of a doctor who retired someone 15 years ago is not a free pass to start again on someone. There is no excuse for this error, and, trust us, this will go to the High Court at some point.
Oh! hang on a minute. This was already decided – back in 2003, in the case of Crocker:
‘The task, in my judgment, in assessing earning capacity is to assess what the interested party is capable of doing and thus capable of earning. It is not a labour market assessment, or an assessment of whether somebody would actually pay him to do what he is capable of doing, whether or not in competition with other workers.’
The Judge’s binding opinion, which has never been challenged or amended, relates to the initial grant of an injury pension. At review, therefore, the SMP can not do what is prohibited when the pension was first granted. That would not only amount to a fresh assessment, from scratch, but a fresh assessment using an unlawful approach. Double whammy.
And as a footnote to this error, SMP, (and HR please take note) The National Average Earnings (NAE) Index stopped being a National Statistic in January 2010. The Office of National Statistics continued to publish this index until September 2010. Indices were published two months in arrears so the last index that was a National Statistic was that for October 2009 and the final index ever published was for July 2010.
The Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) measure was accredited as a National Statistic in January 2010 and, consequently, it replaced the National Average Earnings Index as the headline measure of earnings growth in the UK.
So, please do tell – where, exactly have you been getting these figures which you claim are from the NAE Index?
How much case law is there which states clearly that apportionment cannot be reapplied?. Has any SMP actually bothered to read the most helpful body of case law which has accumulated? Evidently not.
- The straw that broke the camel’s back.
It doesn’t matter what causes the degeneration of a duty injury. If the index injury has progressively got worse a SMP can’t mitigate the reason why it’s got worse by ascribing the whole or part of the degeneration to a specific non-duty cause in order to try to reduce the banding.
A spinal disc compression sustained in dealing with a riot whilst on duty 20 years ago, which has become more severely damaged because a young child was lifted 5 years ago? This doesn’t mean you can reduce the band !!!
Degeneration of the index injury is just that – a worsening of the index injury. Where does this illogical SMP train of thought stop? Is age not allowed to be a reason for the degeneration? Without the original injury, age & time would not have caused the disablement in the first place.
- Disagreement with the diagnosis.
The last previous decision is a given. It is a final decision. Simples. What makes the SMP think he can say he disagrees with it? Apart from ignorance, a complete lack of professionalism and one eye on his pay-cheque, that is.
- The SMP reporting there is no change to degree of disablement and then changing the % degree of disablement.
Yes, they do this. Unbelievably. They consider substantial change, find there is none and then provide a new figure of degree of disablement. So you are a band 4 on 76-100% and there is no change? So now Dr Johnson says you are 85% or 90%, or any other figure in the 76 to 100 percent range that takes his fancy. Plucked out of thin air with no stated reasoning to support it. Just because the last SMP gave a range instead of an exact figure does not mean you can now give an exact figure. No change means just that – no change.
In fact, it seems obvious that the SMP has not realised the Regulations do NOT intend, or allow degree of disablement to be stated as a precise percentage. Perhaps HR and the SMP have also not bothered to read what eminent QC Scoffield wrote in his report to the Northern Ireland Policing Board recently?
‘However, there is nothing in the Regulations which specifically requires an SMP to give a percentage figure in any individual case. Their obligation under regulation 29(2) is to give a decision on “the degree of the person’s disablement”, which could just as easily mean a decision as to whether the disablement is slight, minor, major or very severe. Regulation 29 could have been drafted to indicate that the medical authority had to specify a precise percentage disablement; but it is not.
As I have also noted in Chapter 1, the calculation of a precise percentage figure is also an exercise with which the SMPs are not terribly comfortable, involving, as it does, something of an accountancy exercise. Indeed, the fact that the degree of a person’s disablement is a “medical question” under regulation 29 of the 2006 Regulations may also suggest that (what I have referred to as) the mathematical approach is not the correct way of determining degree of disablement under the Regulations; but that, rather, it is a broad judgment to be made by a clinician about the effect of the injury or condition he has examined in contrast to a much more detailed calculation based on earnings data.’
- Suggesting treatment.
Remember, if you are capable of remembering , SMP, this is really for you what should be point number one. Please feel free to print it out in large type and pin it on your wall next to your insubstantial certificates of qualification. It is worth more than any of them:
YOUR JOB IS ONLY TO CONSIDER SUBSTANTIAL CHANGE!
You have no jurisdiction to say a pensioner should see a consultant cardiologist, psychologist, psychiatrist, clinical nuerophysiologist, urlogist, gynaecologist, or any other ologist to cure all their ills. Not only are you unlawfully altering a previous decision but you come across as a slimy snake oil salesman – ‘take this elixir and you’ll be cured’. As if.
Pensioners, please email IODPA (email@example.com) if you have evidence of more errors or Bullshit Bingo-worthy scribblings from SMPs and forces. If the SMP scores full marks on a single report then a chocolate teapot will be sent directly by special delivery. This teapot will be pre-filled with hot tea for the doctor’s convenience.
And, as a special one time offer only, IODPA will also provide a thick book compiled from case-law, Pension Ombudsman determinations and the full unread text of the Regulations so the SMP can insert it into the seat of his trousers so that the spanking at PMAB for being such a muppet will not sting quite so much.
In all seriousness though, HR types, please read the reports your SMP has signed off. If any of them contain a trace of the bullshit terms and errors we have briefly outlined above then you can prepare yourselves for a few years of complaint, challenge, appeals and litigation. And that is from around a dozen reviews only.