Apportionment

Polemic on the Poll Results

Polemic on the Poll Results

“The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creatures that cannot.”
― Mark TwainWhat Is Man?

We asked the question in a previous post whether a person who is disabled in relation to earning capacity and then succumbs to a persistence vegetative state should have his life further questioned by a police pension authority?

The question was asked without real context.  We deliberately didn’t explain what the Regulations allow and we purposely left some cross-over with the possible answers; we wanted people to answer with what they instinctively thought was right.

This human touch is sorely lacking in those who administer injury awards. All too often HR managers and SMPs entirely neglect to consider the effects of their actions on others. A few of them seem to be be completely devoid of any moral compass.

For example, Staffordshire thinks financial constraints are a legitimate reason to review and a questionnaire is the way to vet whether the expense of sending someone in front of a SMP is worth the £2000+ expense payable to the doctor for his arguably pre-determined work to reduce the person’s award.

The procedures laid down in the Regulations have to be applied with individual assessment in each case at each stage. This is being ignored in certain forces, and we need look no further for examples than at Knowles & Wirz of Northumbria and Andrew Colly & DCC Baker & Staffordshire.

Any action has to be justified; and it is not sufficient to ask oneself whether the underlying procedure is legal. In respect of the review of degree of disablement there is a ‘shall’ in the Regulations which ignorant or ill-intentioned managers interpret as giving them carte blanche to review whoever they wish, whenever they wish, as often as they wish. Their lack of moral compass allows them to forget that the so-called ‘duty to review’ is strictly limited and contains a wide power of discretion.

In our earlier blog we gave the example of a poor man placed in a coma. Interestingly, 89% of respondents to our survey think it best to leave the man alone.  Only 8% think that it is appropriate to review and reduce the man’s injury award.  No person voted to remove the injury award.

We think it is the sadly indoctrinated view of the majority involved with, and in receipt of, an injury award that reviews only exist to reduce people.  As a charity one of our aims is to dispel this myth. We don’t think it right that those with an injury award have to live their lives in the shadows, frightened of attracting the gaze of the PPA and always prepared for the manilla envelope to drop in their doormat announcing a review.

Such statistics as do exist – and it needs to be noted that they had to be obtained by lengthy Freedom Of Information requests from forces – show that over the last five years, when reviews have been held, then 83% result in a decision of no alteration in degree of disablement. Some 6.2% produced an increase in pension payment, whilst 10.29% saw the pensioners concerned reduced in banding.

The fear of reviews has much to do with the intrusiveness and uncertainty of the process itself, together with a well deserved and natural suspicion that in some forces the entire process is unlawfully constructed and is indeed intended to manipulate a reduction in payment.

We in IODPA think there are too many reviews, and too many of them are pointless and should never have been held. We are not against lawful reviews, but we are firmly against mass reviews and would want to see scheme managers realise they must exercise discretion in deciding whether a review is appropriate.

Turning again to our survey, why didn’t anyone vote for the award to be taken away in its entirety? Was it considered to be morally wrong or did all the participants have in mind that there are very particular and extremely rare circumstances where an injury pension can be ceased?  Regulation 43 tells us that ‘. . . a pension or allowance shall be payable for life’ yet we know that some forces have threatened pensioners with suspension or even cessation of their injury pension.

In some instances these threats have been carried through – at least only for so long as it takes our legal representatives to explain to the PPA concerned the error of their ways.

We have witnessed SMPs who concocted entirely unlawful rationale that an individual should never have been granted an injury award in the first place. We have seen HR managers issue wholesale threats to pensioners that there injury pension could be reduced or suspended if they fail to complete a questionnaire. We have gasped in disbelief when a PPA has issued similar threats to pensioners who had the temerity to refuse to allow unrestricted access to their sensitive medical records.

It is no small wonder then that IOD pensioners generally worry so much about the security of their injury pension income.

Of late, there has been a new addition to the inventive fancies of HR managers who would like to have the power to reduce or cease injury pensions in circumstances which are not allowed by the Regulations. Where in the Regulations does it say someone with a duty injury can have their pension reduced to the minimum when another injury overtakes the disablement?  The person is still unable to earn. We’ve made this point before; does the person become 200% disabled?

To find why we are even asking this question you need to look to NWEF’s and Northumbria’s legal advisor, Nicholas Wirz.  In his training guidance to SMPs he tells them this:

e.g. if an individual were to have developed advanced Parkinson’s disease since the last review, such that he was unable to work by reason of the symptoms of that disease alone, then the uninjured earning capacity should be nil

The “disease alone” could be replaced by anything according to Wirz: a persistent vegetative state, cancer, even aggravated natural degeneration.  Where does this stop?  For Wirz, he’d rather force an ill 70 year into spending his twilight years appealing the reprehensible Wirz-influenced medical decision to make him or her a band one.

We will talk about case law in a minute.  But ask yourself why the administration of police injury awards is so riddled with high court judgements.  It is because the PPAs, Wirz and NWEF keep trying to disadvantage retired police officers and serving officers who are in need, hardship or distress who are disabled as a consequence of being injured on duty.

By discussing whether an award should be reduced or removed because someone has become severely unwell on another matter is asking the wrong question.  A question that need not be asked and is only asked because Wirz is influencing the SMPs to enact it.  The truth of it is the person being targeted has been injured and had their career taken away – the righteous man or woman acting as a PPA would let them live their life without further hardship.

But there is case law on this matter.  There are three judicial reviews which we need to look at to see how the Regulations have been interpreted by the courts on this matter.  The trouble is they aren’t clear.

The 2003 case of South Wales v Anton (Crocker) is the first.  This case concerned an original decision for an award that SWP didn’t like.

Paragraphs 53, 54 and 55 are the pertinent ones.Mr Justice Ouseley says:

So the question to be answered under the Regulations is what degree of the loss of earning capacity is the result of the duty injury? This seemingly simple question can give rise to acute problems of causation, even though the question of whether or not there has been a disability which the duty injury has caused, or substantially contributed to, has already been answered. A separate issue of causation arises at the apportionment stage, because the entitlement stage can be passed on the basis of an injury which substantially contributes to, but is not the whole cause of, disablement

The judge is saying that another injury may have some effect on the person’s capacity to earn.  We all agree on this.  An injury award should not compensate for injuries not received on-duty. If there is a mix of on duty injury and other injury, then the amount of disablement caused by the on duty needs to be determined.

However, it becomes more complex where an on duty injury exacerbates or aggravates a pre-existing condition. This is commonly referred to as the straw which broke the camel’s back. An officer may be fit for duty despite the pre-existing condition, and it is only when injured on duty that they become disabled.

Mr Justice Ouseley touches on the duty injury aggravating an non-duty injury:

The position is more complex where the total loss is attributable to the effect of a duty injury on an underlying condition, which may or may not be an injury within the definition in the Regulations, and which by itself may or may not have contributed to a separate loss of earning capacity. An officer might suffer from a condition which would not affect him or his earning capacity until aggravated by a duty injury.

So for example a person with a dodgy cervical spine injury, that is mainly asymptomatic and intermittent and does not affect his capacity to earn and is still a fully operational police officer, receives a duty injury that aggravates it.

In this example Mr Justice Ouseley says apportionment for the aggravation and acceleration is not appropriate

  1. I do not consider that the question of apportionment should be answered by trying to attribute a share of the loss of earning capacity to any underlying condition which, on its own, had not, or did not, cause a loss of earning capacity. The loss should be attributed wholly to the duty injury which, albeit because of that underlying condition, has directly caused the loss of earning capacity.

Let us return to the poor individual in the persistent vegetative state.  We are only  talking about this because Wirz has taken the above judgement and twisted it to mean that if a person becomes further disabled through the trials and tribulations which life throws at a person then then the unfortunate soul should not be compensated for the injuries received on duty – even though the injury on duty still exists

The Ouseley judgement does not speak of this.  Wirz has picked up the baton and lobbed it into a field of nettles.  It is an invented concept of Wirz that he feels he wants to test upon disabled and vulnerable former officers.

The Walther judicial reviews (there were two of them) also touch on the matter of apportionment and acceleration.

In Walther v The Police Medical Appeal Board & Anor [2010]  Mr Justice Irwin declared that:

  1. A short acceleration of the onset of a permanent disability is unlikely to be held to be a “substantial” contribution to that disability. Acceleration to any degree is some contribution, but not likely to be regarded as substantial. The opposite applies, it seems to me. A significant acceleration – taking the extreme case, an acceleration of a decade or more – clearly would be a significant contribution to a permanent disability. Where the dividing line comes must be a matter of fact in each case. In my judgment such an approach is consistent with the language of the Regulation and with common sense.

Just because a non duty injury or condition has been accelerated, without it being substantial, it matters not and in any case common sense reigns.  The trouble we have is that Wirz has no common sense and the moralistic determinations of some SMPs are zero.  With a predetermined desire to reduce, they will go to whatever lengths to justify apportionment.  Understanding the whole picture by demanding (with threats of suspension of an award) full medical records from birth  is their favoured way of introducing apportionment.  In effect this is a alwyer’s trick to carry out the unlawful act of revisiting causation.

The second Walther judicial review Met v The Police Medical Appeal Board [2013] was instigated by the Met in 2013 who attempted to remove the award granted to David Walther by the PMAB tasked to revisit the question after the 2010 judgement won by Mr Walther.

The judge this time, Mr Justice Collins, said this:

Only if there will be no loss of earning capacity resulting from the injury when the officer is medically retired will it be likely to be the case that there was no substantial contribution.

In the end Justice Collin’s agreed with the PMAB and David Walther kept his injury award.

But, rather contradictory, instead of the decade stated in the first case by Mr Justice Irwin, even if a duty injury had caused only an acceleration of symptoms of 18 months to 2 years, if at the time the question was being considered by the SMP, the disablement was the result of the injury, then the officer would be entitled to an award.

But the interesting point is what Justice Collins said about Regulation 37. The basis for Collins J’s view was that he considered regulation 37, which provides for reassessment of injury pensions where there has been substantial alteration in the degree of disablement, enabled there to be a later assessment as to whether an underlying condition had overtaken any disablement resulting from the injury.

Specifically he is referring to David Walther’s problem of degenerative disc changes of the L4/5 and L5/S1 discs and prominent disc bulges at T12/4, L4/5 and L5/S1.  All these were explicitly listed when Mr Walther was retired.  It does not follow then that injuries not listed, or not known about, when the medical retirement was given can be reintroduced by a later review.  This would be contrary to the Laws and Pollard cases.

Of course, the existence of Regulation 37 helps everyone when the duty to review is used correctly. It is a provision which can be sparingly used, with plentiful discretion, to help ensure the correct level of injury pension is paid. It forbids all need for speculation about what might occur in the future. An injury pension is granted at a rate commensurate with what has occurred in the past and what disablement the individual exhibits in the here and now.

It says nothing whatever about the extra-regulatory wage comparison exercises practices by some PPAs which remain the aspect of reviews which create the most persistent and most aggressive forms of abuse of the Regulations.

Another area of particular difficulty arising from the second Walther decision may be the Judge’s interpretation of regulation 37, central to his reasoning overall, that it permits a reduction for David Walther’s injury award once a period of simple acceleration has passed. Collins J did not refer in his judgement to the decision of the Court of Appeal in Metropolitan Police Authority v Laws and the PMAB.  We will never know how a review would affect Mr Walther as the Met do not review unless a person asks to be reviewed.

And here lies the problem.  The two Walther cases do conflict somewhat even though David Walther won both. Nicholas Wirz, without regard to what is right or just or reasonable, is trying to populate the void that now exists by using the contradiction to reduce injury awards.

Even though both Walther cases involved the original decision and applied to someone with co-existing duty and non-duty injuries at the time of the award, Wirz seemingly wants SMPs to apportion everyone and to use Regulation 37 to do it.

IODPA is certain that a further judicial review will clarify the issue for once and for all but we again return to the example of the man in our question of PTSD and a coma after a car accident.

The question on the legality walks in parallel with what is morally right – the spirit of the law is phrase often quoted.  IODPA is a much-needed counter to people like Wirz and part of its role is to shout out quite clearly that legal questions with a moral content are usually easy to answer if the person invoking the questions does so with a just mind.

The law itself is no more than a codified expression of moral standards. It arises and lives as a demonstration of the combined moral core of the people. The law should not be a plaything for the likes of Wirz, Colley and Baker. IODPA has the will and the means to see that they, and others who try to bend the scope and intention of the Regulations into unrecognisable shapes will always be challenged, and will always be made to mend their ways.

Otherwise Healthy

Otherwise Healthy

“A committee is the only known form of life with a hundred bellies and no brain.”
Robert A. Heinlein, Methuselah’s Children

The March 2017 NWEF conference displayed a clear example wherein decision making becomes internally focused, defined by the needs and beliefs of the group.

Everyone nods their head and no-one in the audience calls out “that doesn’t sound right“.   Called “groupthink” it critically clouds decision making and of course the point about groupthink is that, if you are part of the group, you don’t realise that it’s there until it’s too late.

The legal advisor to NWEF, a person at the heart of the Fisher judicial review, harped on about the clarification given in the hearing he lost (note he says it was the PMAB who were the last decision makers, but this review of Mr Fisher’s injury award had Wirz’s fingerprints on it since 2008)

NW [Nicholas Wirz] provided an update on the recent high court judgement Fisher v Northumbria and PMAB. He highlighted the outcome of the judgement confirmed the case law brought about in the cases of Anton, Ayre and Walther (1).
Ground 1 of the Fisher judgement related to comparator and the use of Police Salary, the high court judge quashed the PMAB determination for the reasons that the comparison between injured and uninjured earnings was not analysed sufficiently and there was no rationale as to why police officer salary was not used.
Clarification is provided by this judgement that police officer salary would be the correct comparator where the former officer has only one qualifying injury and is otherwise healthy.

Look at the sentence highlighted bold.  The Fisher JR doesn’t say the police salary is the only correct comparator. It says the police salary should be the start and, if the tests have been passed for the quantum to be calculated, as much effort should go into defining the uninjured as the injured earning capacity.  Uninjured earning capacity could be higher if the person was under-employed as a police officer.  We examined this with an example of an Oral and maxillofacial surgeon  in this blog.

But let us examine the other nonsense about being “otherwise healthy”.  What is Wirz trying to imply here?

glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is a measure of how efficiently kidneys filter the waste from our blood. Healthy young people commonly have GFRs of about 120. A GFR lower than 60 or another marker of kidney damage for more than three months means chronic kidney disease (CKD). At which point, patients become scared. 

But wait a minute. Kidney function declines with age in almost everyone, and the proportion of older people with GFR readings below 60 approaches 50 percent, studies have found. As the older adult population grows, the prevalence may rise even higher.

So there is an age-related decline in kidney function; however, not all individuals will develop CKD with advancing age and not all patients diagnosed with CKD need to worry about dialysis, because that’s what they associate with kidney disease.

When you’re told you have a disease, that’s a bad day.  A doubly bad day for you in the warped world of Wirz:  On the day your kidney disease was diagnosed, you woke up that morning with at least an uninjured earning capacity of a police officer – you went to bed without it, indeed supposedly with no uninjured earning capacity and therefore a default reduction to a band one.  

Should a diagnosis of CKD effect your injury award? No? Yes? Maybe…?

Nicholas Wirz thinks it should because now you are not “otherwise healthy”.

We can hear Wirz shouting at us!  ‘Don’t use your kidney disease example to misrepresent NWEF’s position’.

A “straw man” is when an argument is put forth —usually something extreme or easy to argue against—that is known that the opponent doesn’t support. You put forth a straw man because you know it will be easy for you to knock down or discredit.  We can’t find a word that describes when the argument actually pulls a punch compared to the true position maintained by the opponent – some sort of inverse straw-man.

Chronic Kidney Disease? Pah!, Wirz trumps that with neurological disease, namely Parkinsons.

So let us highlight the guidance Wirz has been providing to SMPs since 2014.

Wirz writes:

e.g. if an individual were to have developed advanced Parkinson’s disease since the last review, such that he was unable to work by reason of the symptoms of that disease alone, then the uninjured earning capacity should be nil. Alternatively, if an officer were to have become generally less fit by reason of advancing age, such that he was no longer able to undertake a physically demanding job, or no longer able to work full time, then the uninjured earning capacity would be reduced accordingly.

“[…] then the uninjured earning capacity should be nil.” That line is worth repeating.

The uninjured earning capacity is the alternative universe “you“.  The you that wasn’t injured; the you that excelled at life; the you that aspired to be the best and had no injury holding you back; the you back in the day when the world was your oyster. It is not the you in the real world, as you are now with co-morbidities. Co-morbidity is the presence of one or more additional diseases or disorders co-occurring with (that is, concomitant or concurrent with) a primary disease or disorder.

Is Wirz a time-lord?  Can he categorically say you would have suffered from Parkinsons (or chronic kidney disease) HAD YOU NOT BEEN INJURED? Maybe the trauma led to the additional disorders?  Who knows.  This is as ridiculous as it gets.

Do you see what Wirz is trying to insert into the brains of those who listen to him?

A former officer has physical injuries all caused on duty.  His injuries have only deteriorated and he has struggled with chronic pain and mental health issues directly related to the chronic pain.  He has taken tricyclic antidepressants for long term analgesia.  He has chronic kidney disease because of the decades of reliance on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

On his fifty-eighth birthday, he is diagnosed with early onset of Parkinson’s disease.  Just when he, and his family, needs his injury pension, Nicholas Wirz wants to make him a zero percent band one and remove thousand of pounds from their income.

But his duty injury is no better!  Is he now two hundred percent disabled? Yes, he has a further disability but this has nothing to do with his permanent disablement for carrying out the full duties of a police officer.  In effect, to reintroduce any concurrent disablement is tantamount to revisiting causation and apportionment.  Such lawyer tricks have been already declared unlawful.

Wirz wants to carry his corruption to the high court in order to “clarify” how things, in his world, should be.  A vulnerable person will be taken through hell just because Nicholas Wirz thinks the law needs to be tested.

This is what IODPA is dealing with.  If only other organisations, those there for the support of those injured on duty, will take up the clarion call and help us to stop these abuses.

 

 

 

 

The Wisdom of the Pension Ombudsman

The Wisdom of the Pension Ombudsman

“He who establishes his argument by noise and command, shows that his reason is weak.”
Michel de Montaigne

In 2016, the months of September and October has seen two interesting decisions handed down by the Pension Ombudsman (PO).  In both decisions it is clear the arrogance of the pension authority involved led them to think the forcefulness of their command would conceal the lack of reason within.

One decision concerns Thames Valley Police and how this force (and vicariously by the SMPs they appointed) incorrectly apportioned an on-duty injury by trying to imply that the complainant, Ms E, had a pre-existing vulnerability to mental illness.  The infamous  Dr Cheng is in the centre of this particular stagnant mire.

The second Pension Ombudsman decision we are going to discuss here isn’t about police injury awards but it does involve ill-health retirement.  Mr Y complained to the Pensions Ombudsman that NGF Europe Pension Fund’s refusal of an ill-health early retirement pension was maladministration.  The Ombudsman upheld Mr Y’s complaint and directed the employer to make the decision again.

The points raised by the PO in these decisions have huge implications for police forces. Each will be discussed but let us first look at Mr Y’s case.

The PO found that NGF relied too much on it’s own occupation health clinician and ignored the expert opinion of the patient’s own clinicians:

NGF’s view that it is entitled to prefer its medical advisers’ opinions when there is a conflict of opinion between them and those of Mr Y’s GP and the consultant treating him, demonstrates that NGF saw its medical advisers’ own opinions of Mr Y’s state of health as at least equal to those of a specialist in a particular field of medicine. https://www.pensions-ombudsman.org.uk/determinations/2016/po-13059/ngf-europe-pension-fund/

Effectively, the PO is saying employers can not simply rely on the recommendations  of their own ‘in-house’ medical advisers and that it is not…

“[…] rational to give considerable weight to a prediction that had not been fully explored and was outside the adviser’s remit”. https://www.pensions-ombudsman.org.uk/determinations/2016/po-13059/ngf-europe-pension-fund/

The decision says that, whether or not the employer (or regards to injury awards, the police pension authority) is understandably concerned about if the treating doctors of the patient have understood the definition of total incapacity, it can not give undue considerable weight to the opinion of it’s own assessor.

How often is a one-sided view taken by a SMP?  Every-time that SMP is trained or advised by certain elements within NAMF is the answer.

It is a well recorded fact that often SMPs deliberately disregard what a former officer’s General Practitioner or treating consultant have said.  Indeed Nicolas Wirz, solicitor for Northumbria police has been so unguarded as to write in his NAMF approved ‘guidance’ to SMPs that:

SMPs are likely to be more skilled at resolving disputes of medical fact [Para 4.12 POLICE PENSIONS (SMP) DEVELOPMENT EVENT 31 JANUARY 2014 MR NICHOLAS WIRZ PRESENTATION]

and

A common occurrence is for the treating physician to “fudge” the issue [Para 4.14 POLICE PENSIONS (SMP) DEVELOPMENT EVENT 31 JANUARY 2014 MR NICHOLAS WIRZ PRESENTATION]

In other words, a highly qualified, experienced specialist consultant’s opinion is nothing compared to that of some money-grabbing quack who has jumped on the gravy train of doing SMP work. Moreover, said consultant will be biased, whereas the SMP will be squeaky clean unbiased.

Come off it Wirzy-boy, pull the other one, it’s got bells on. Do you really think that you can fool anyone other than the intellectually-challenged likes of Cheng and Nightingale, etc. with this sort of manure? You have got dear old Karen thinking she is a High Court Judge who can ‘direct’ people to do her bidding, and good old Billy Chung Wing prefers not to engage his brain other than to remember where he has stashed all his illicit earnings. The rest of the medical profession have wisely elected to give SMP work a wide berth because of you.

But we digress – the case of Mr Y shows that the PO disagrees with Mr Wirz.  In fact it leaves Mr Wirz’s claims naked.  His imagined invention of an aura of being ‘judicially all-powerful’ is simply his cloak for SMPs to wear. Cloaks that make them feel better about themselves.  Not only delusional cloaks, if cloaks can be delusional, but clearly not in accordance with fact that the SMP is acting as an employer’s agent.

An agent with a role defined in statute – but an agent of an employer nonetheless.

The SMP is no more a presiding judge than, say, a Custody Sergeant with his duties defined in the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.

The PO declared that when it comes to Mr Y’s ill-health retirement there were relevant questions which should have been asked and that the employer and his medical adviser should not apply a selective restriction to the reports provided by the patient’s clinicians.

The PO’s decision could be exactly applied to the erroneous methodology preached by Wirz.  The PO has said it is wrong for pension authorities, like NGF, to only take into account its medical advisers’ opinions as this, by it’s nature, will also take in irrelevant considerations.

So yet again the proclamations of Nicholas Wirz are proved wrong – SMPs must resist being brainwashed by the outpourings from this darkly dubious source into thinking the Regulations are too complex for the patient’s clinicians to comprehend.  If the SMP has suspicions the clinician doesn’t understand the statutory question then he shall not dismiss the opinion outright, he should seek clarification.  Put plainly, the PO says they should just ask:

It would not have been difficult to ask them, but this was not done; https://www.pensions-ombudsman.org.uk/determinations/2016/po-13059/ngf-europe-pension-fund/

In the PO’s judgement NGF Europe held a dismissive view of important reports and it was wrong for it to claim that it had enough evidence already and clarification was unnecessary.  This arrogance conveys the impression that the decision not to award a total incapacity pension had already been made.

And so, onto the decision in respect of Ms E’s complaint to the PO.

This concerned the granting of an original injury award.  The first SMP, Dr Leeming-Latham, made the  decision to apportion Ms E’s injury benefit on nothing more substantial than than the appearance of a single entry in her GP’s notes dating from 1988 stating, “Depressional neurosis”.

Despite being told that a reconsideration of Dr Leeming-Latham ‘s decision (under regulation 32) would be a paper exercise, Ms E had the unfortunate experience of attending an appointment with Dr Cheng.  Not only did Dr Cheng think the apportionment applied by Leeming-Latham was reasonable but he also considered the 1988 notes demanded an apportionment bedfellow, and commented that:

general formal grievances that were not upheld and disciplinary proceedings should not be classified as an injury on duty”. https://www.pensions-ombudsman.org.uk/determinations/2016/po-5477/police-injury-benefit-scheme/

You can see how Dr Cheng’s brain was working … when you are asked to review a complaint of inappropriate apportionment, why stop at one.  Why not add further apportionment and then you can try to apportion the whole award away?

Seizing the chance with both hands to go gaga full-bore crazy, Dr Cheng continued by saying Ms E actually had a problem with her wrist, which was incorrect.  On top of all this Ms E had expressed concern her papers might have been mixed up with someone else’s. She also said that Dr Cheng had told her he never gave anyone a 100% degree of disablement.

This was all taken to a PMAB, where the basis for the appeal was that Ms E disputed Dr Cheng’s opinion that her disablement placed her in Band Two for an injury award.

Ms E won the appeal and was awarded a band three award.  The PMAB found Dr Cheng was wrong and concluded that the psychological impairment arising from perceptions of work events were the only factor contributing to permanent disablement and that apportionment was not appropriate.

A victory against the odds!  The PO mentioned in his judgement that Ms E raised concerns that the PMAB appeared to exhibit bias.  Ms E specifically called into question the unnecessary time delays, the lack of female presence, that there was no mention at the hearing of her being put under surveillance while on sick leave, nothing submitted relating disciplinary proceedings whilst she was on sick leave and the horrendous situation of the conflict of interest that existed as TVP’s Pensions Manager and Dr Cheng both sat on the national HR board for the PMAB.  Ms E was awarded £750 for all the maladministration.

And now we can weave together the similarity between Ms E’s decision and Mr Y’s.

Just like NGF Europe Pension Fund’s modus operandi, both TVP and the PMAB “cherry picked” Ms E’s documents.  Favourable reports from a Dr Logsdail were not considered and personal development reviews, papers relating to her grievances, newspaper articles criticising her, and emails from senior staff criticising her were all ignored by Dr Cheng and the PMAB.

Sound familar?  TVP, as a pension authority, had a duty not to have a predetermined decision in mind.  But they used Cheng and Leeming-Latham to get the result they wanted by ignoring everything that contradicted their point of view.

This is exactly what the PO is getting at in the decision of Mr Y.

The simple message for all police pension authorities is to keep this in mind: you only get one chance to do things right the first time.

Why not dispense with your biased SMPs and save money and improve the quality of injury award decisions by making fewer mistakes and learning more from those you do make.  Tell the SMPs you use to look objectively at all the evidence placed in front of them.  Stop using Dr Cheng and the number of appeals will plummet.

This means also put the Book of NAMF in the bin where it belongs.

It must be better, quietly and without fuss, noise and bluster, to aim to get things right in the first place rather than having to forced to put them right through expensive appeal and complaint processes. You may well think that the likes of Cheng and Wirz save you money. You would be wrong to think that. The legal challenges you are facing now are only the tip of the iceberg.

The Alchemy of Apportioning the same Injury to Itself

The Alchemy of Apportioning the same Injury to Itself

“Only a psychopath would ever think of doing these things, only a psychopath would dream of abusing other people in such a way, only a psychopath would treat people as less than human just for money. The shocking truth is, even though they now have most if not all of the money, they want still more, they want all of the money that you have left in your pockets, they want it all because they have no empathy with other people, with other creatures, they have no feeling for the world which they exploit, they have no love or sense of being or belonging for their souls are dead, dead to all things but greed and a desire to rule over others.”
Arun D. Ellis, Corpalism

In a nutshell, alchemy was a bizarre niche of “chemistry” before the periodic table.  The best-known goals of the alchemists were the transmutation of common metals into iron, gold, booze, and even the elixir of life, by combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) with straw and chicken dung in certain ratios.

The topic we are going to cover here is the unlawful way some selected medical practitioners (SMPs) go out of their way to pin other causes onto an on-duty injury just so they can use what is known as ‘apportionment’ to water-down the award.  This is reverse alchemy.  By starting with one single pure nugget of gold the SMP, who ignores the true purpose of apportionment, tries to separate the distinct ingredient into many test-tube silos of chicken dung.

Briefly, if the SMP gives an opinion that there was, deep in the medical history of an individual, some slight indication of an illness or injury that could now be said to have contributed to the disablement, then the degree of disablement will be reduce by some proportion. The fact that the individual was passed as fit to join the police, and served without any difficulty for years is dismissed in favour of a dubious medical opinion that some past event contributed to the on-duty injury.

We have to apologise in advance for the fact that this blog’s subject matter is so impenetrable. IOD pensioners and serving officers injured on duty are being deliberately bamboozled by some HR and SMPs who want to confuse and confound so that they can unlawfully reduce injury pensions or refuse grant of injury awards.

If you want to skip to the nitty-gritty, just read the last paragraph and  see how you can let some experts take on the worry and the fight for justice.

We are not talking about an on-duty shoulder injury and an off-duty ankle injury that both contribute to the degree of disablement.  Such apportionment is legitimate, relatively straight forward and was covered by the Crocker case back in 2003

SWP v Anton (Crocker) paragraph 52
…an injury award should not be paid other than for injury received and earning capacity lost in the execution of the officer’s duty. The assessment process should thus discount the effect of any other factors. It looks for the loss caused by the duty injury and nothing else.

This clearly talks about the on-duty injury received and none other injury defining the loss.  Fair enough. But this isn’t what we are talking about.

No, we are entering the shadows where dark forces reign and the dimly lit souls of SMPs wreak incredible havoc by attributing different causes to account for the on-duty injury and then apportioning the percentage degree of disablement accordingly.

PTSD? You only have it because you witnessed something horrendous when you were 8 years old so that accounts for half of the disablement.  On-duty Cervical spine trauma after a polac?  Now you have lumber disc symptoms that we think can’t have anything to do with the connecting column of 33 individual bones stacked one on top of the other that links the two ends together!

To tackle this subject, let us first look at the judicial review which talks about underlying conditions and causation.

David Walther had to fight for grant of an injury award.  He successfully quashed the refusal for an injury award in his first judicial review (Walther v The Police Medical Appeal Board & Anor [2010] EWHC 3009 (Admin) (23 November 2010)).  The judge sent Walther’s application for an injury award back to a selected medical practitioner for reconsideration.  Upon reconsideration the SMP again refused an award but this was overturned at the police medical appeals board.  The Met wasn’t happy with this and took the PMAB decision to appeal  (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis v The Police Medical Appeal Board [2013] EWHC 1203 (Admin) (17 May 2013)).  The argument of the Met was that David Walther should not have an injury pension as he would had eventually become disabled anyway, notwithstanding that he was carrying out full operational duties at the time a 15 stone officer jumped on him during officer safety training .  Not surprisingly, for a second time a judge decided in favour of Walther.

The whole dispute centred on a medical opinion of the possibility of David Walther’s predisposition for lumbar disc degeneration. A person has five lumber vertebrae in their spine.  Of these five, David Walther suffered from“degenerative disc changes of the L4/5 and L5/S1 discs” and prominent disc bulges at T12/4, L4/5 and L5/S1.

In this case the court gave further guidance on the assessment of police injury awards where an underlying degenerative condition has been affected by an injury sustained whilst on duty.

It was decided that acceleration or aggravation is not appropriate if there is a disablement which is permanent, and if the injury sustained on duty caused or substantially contributed to the disablement.

This nicely takes us into the judgement of Doubtfire and Williams.  In this case it was found that the SMP asked the wrong question namely whether “workplace events” might have led to Social Phobia.

The correct question was whether the permanent disablement had been caused by an injury in the execution of duty.

Doubtfire & Anor 2009 Paragraph 34
The questions that have to be answered clearly distinguish between (1) whether the officer concerned is (a) disabled and (b) likely to be permanently disabled (which I refer to hereafter as “the disablement questions”) and (2) whether the disablement in question is the result of an injury received in the execution of duty (which I refer to hereafter as “the causation question”). None of them requires the SMP or Board concerned to diagnose the infirmity or injury concerned much less do the regulations make any such diagnosis final. It is only the decisions (1) whether the officer concerned is (a) disabled and (b) likely to be permanently disabled and (2) whether the disablement in question is the result of an injury received in the execution of duty that are final.

So the question in Walther’s case wasn’t whether the lumber disc T12/4  (or which of the five) was damaged in safety training – the correct question was whether the disablement in question is the result of an injury received in the execution of duty.  The disablement was a undisputed fact that his spine was damaged and the on-duty injury was the proverbial ‘final straw’ that led to the permanency.

Justice Collins, in Walther II, mentions in his summing-up that Regulation 37 provides for re-assessment of injury pensions and the judge continues by saying that there is the opportunity for a later assessment as to whether the underlying condition had overtaken any disablement resulting from the injury.  His stance was that it follows that an injury award should be granted to an officer who may become disabled anyway in the future as a review enables the rebalancing of what is primacy reason for the loss of earning capacity.

Walther II 2013 Paragraph 15.
As I have already said, in my view Regulation 37 does enable a review and a reduction in the pension awarded to the former officer if the progress of an underlying medical condition means that the duty injury is not still an operative cause of any reduction in the former officer’s earning capacity.

Neither of the Walther cases touched on the reviews in a way which is helpful.  Of course, if the disabling effects of the recorded duty injury or injuries have lessened, but the individual is still unable to work because of some underlying medical condition, then the SMP will have to make a very considered decision.

The important thing here is to relate it to the decision that is sovereign concerning Regulation 37 heard in the Court of Appeal, Metropolitan Police Authority v Laws & Anor [2010] EWCA Civ 1099 (13 October 2010).  This held that the SMP was not entitled when conducting a review under Regulation 37 to re-open clinical judgements as to causation or apportionment made in earlier decisions .

Even NAMF accepts this is verboten post Walther.  In their complexly titled document “Procedural Guidance Notes for Assessing and Re-assessing the Degree of Disablement as a Result of an Injury Received in the Execution of Police Duties” , section 4.5.3 states:

It should be noted that apportionment can only be considered at a reassessment if it had been applied at the initial assessment and any subsequent reassessments. The SMP cannot start from scratch by including apportionment, if not previously applied.

Therefore, in relation to Walther II, the underlying condition would have to exist and be identified at the initial granting of the award for it to be ever be decreed that it has overtaken the on-duty injury.  It also is reliant on the duty injury no longer being an operative cause of the disablement – on other words, the see-saw on the duty side has gone down (condition improved) and the opposing side gone up (condition deteriorated).

Now if someone has a degree of disability of 100% but some residue of underlying non-duty injuries, it is nonsense on steroids to ever claim that the duty injury has been overtaken when the duty injury is still just as symptomatic.  For this to happen the person would have to have a degree of disablement of 201% – 100% for the injury and 101% for the worsening underlying condition.  Even in this sinkhole example of financial wizardry the underlying condition has overtaken the on-duty condition by a single percent – this is nowhere near substantial.

Keeping with the theme of black magic, this sort of numerical alchemy is just as great a travesty of making things from nothing than the witches’ brew of derivatives, swaps and collateralised subprime junk that caused the 2008 financial crisis.

In the case of David Walther, the underlying condition did not mean he received a 20% degree of disablement for the duty injury of a single vertebrae and then apportionment of 20% to each of the remaining four discs.  In other words, he wasn’t denied 80% of his award.  This would be ridiculous.

But the real horror is the current trend of SMP necromancy.   Some of these so-called doctors are using the argument of underlying conditions to slide in the addition of one more incredibly seductive apportionments when they grant the award.  They know the Walther judgement stops them from denying the award flat, so to please their HR buddies they load the dice.

To misquote Warren Buffet these are “medical weapons of mass destruction.” Forensically examine all the medical history from birth to identify a vague and invented co-morbidity that previously had no symptoms whatsoever, spew this potion of apportionment all over the calculation of degree of disablement, and hey presto: a band one.   With the added bonus that the apportionment can be used to never allow an increase to a higher band if ever reviewed.

A traumatic childhood, cancer diagnosis, bereavement, sudden illness, an accident or an assault, or even a natural disaster can be emotionally devastating- these are all traumatic experiences which can upset and distress us. They arouse powerful and disturbing feelings in us which usually settle in time, without any professional help.

The word “trauma” is derived from a Greek word, which means “to wound” or “to pierce.” It is most often used to describe any sudden physical injury.  The intensity or violence of the wound is such that the consequences are long-lasting.  Just as the body can sustain a physical trauma that can devastate its defences, so too, can psychological trauma overwhelm one’s normal coping mechanisms indelibly into an illness that manifests as post traumatic stress disorder with eventual transition to an enduring personality change.  When that traumatic incident is on-duty and results in a police officer being permanently disabled from performing the full role of a police officer then they become entitled to an injury award.

It is now becoming more common for selected medical practitioners to ‘apportion’ PTSD.

Yes, you heard that right.

They are now claiming that being permanently disabled with severe PTSD – caused on duty  – is the same as the underlying lumber disc degeneration condition in Walther; blatantly ignoring the Doubtfire ruling that the disability has primacy over the diagnosis; ignoring the definition in Crocker that defines apportionment for another injury, and apportioning the same injury based on the fact the person would have become mentally unwell anyway – even though no previous mental illness existed.

Have you had any difficult personal personal trauma in the past two decades and gone to see your GP about it?  Well now, even though you retired this year with PTSD from a horrific incident 2 years ago and you are totally disabled from working ever again, the SMP will now say 49% of your condition is due to your police service and 51% because of ‘that other issue that you took 4 weeks off work for back in 2003‘.  You are a band two.  And you are too bewidlered and poorly to argue the contrary.

The planets will be forcibly aligned by HR and the SMP at any future review and you can bet that the ‘other condition’ will eat further into the apportionment and, even without any improvement or ability to earn, a reduction to band one will be on the cards.

Why are they doing this when the Regulations or case-law do not allow for such a thing?

We come full circle back to NAMF and their  February 2014 procedural guidance notes:

Section 4.5
More than one injury within the same condition causing loss of earnings capacity – Apportionment may also be appropriate where there is no other medical condition, as mentioned above, but where it is found that there has been more than one injury involved which causes loss of earning capacity and where not all the injuries were received in the execution of duty. In such a case the percentage of degree of disablement should be apportioned, applying the same proportion that the injury or injuries in the execution of duty have contributed to the loss of earning capacity as a result of the disablement.

The Plain English Campaign would have a field day with that load of gibberish. Notice the nonsensical weasel words of trying to invent a new concept of injuries with the same ‘condition’.  ‘Conditions’ within a ‘single injury’ is purely a synthetic position that is created artificially.  It is nothing but alchemy, simulating something out of nothing – just in the same manner that the derivatives of the last financial crash, like collateral debt obligations, were smoke and mirrors .

The relationship to the injury and the condition is in fact one to one.  They are one and the same – the condition is the injury; is the disability.  And the Doubtfire case confirms the question for the SMP is all about the disability, not the diagnosis. Further, the Walther case confirms underlying (separate) injuries can not be apportioned when the  injury sustained on duty caused or substantially contributed to the disablement  But SMPs trained by NAMF now use this financial instrument to corrupt the rightful award.

But who is there to help bring this abuse of the Regulations to a halt? It is an error to think NAMF, HR professionals and SMPs regulate themselves.  The field of social psychology provides a possible answer. In his classic 1972 book, “Groupthink, ” Irving L Janis, the Yale psychologist, explained how panels of so-called experts could make colossal mistakes. People on these panels, he said, are forever worrying about their personal relevance and effectiveness, and feel that if they deviate too far from the consensus, they will compromise their career and derail their gravy-train.

Throw into the mix malevolence, more greed, self-interest and a manic ‘zeal to reduce the financial pressure to the public purse’ (what better a thing for an ambitious HR manager to put on their LinkedIn CV in times of austerity) and you have a maelstrom swirling together in a toxic cauldron of incompetence.

Any IOD pensioner, or serving officer who sees the word ‘apportionment’ used by a SMP should get in touch with IODPA, who have excellent solicitors and a formidable Queens Counsel who can take up any cases of injury pension maladministration.

 

Apportionment & Revisiting Causation

Apportionment & Revisiting Causation

Human Resources and SMPs simply are not getting the message. They are ignoring the Regulations, determinations by the Pensions Ombudsman and binding decisions in the High Court. They think they can revisit and amend earlier final decisions on the causes of injury. IODPA is ready and able to fight all such abuses. We speculate on the adverse impact of injury pension maladministration on the morale and efficiency of serving officers

“Can we say, in this case, that the cause of a cause is the relevant cause?” ― Johnny RichThe Human Script

Let’s talk some more about reviews of injury pensions, and the deliberate mischief that SMPs and HR get up to. We believe that injured on duty pensioners are often subjected to an unlawful fresh assessment of their degree of disablement.  It is clear the inexperience of HR departments and SMPs leads some of them into thinking that on review, they can calculate degree of disablement from scratch.  They can’t.  And this is why.

At review, the only task of the SMP is to determine whether there has been any alteration in degree of disablement since the question was last decided. It’s like looking at a clock – it tells you the time now is so many hours, minutes or seconds different from the last time you looked. You don’t tell the current time by calculating from the big bang when the universe was created. The SMP is required to take the previous decision on degree of disablement as a given – as the starting point. He can’t second-guess the why or the how of the duty injury. He can’t try to find fault in the decisions made by the earlier decision-maker. Those decisions are, in law, final and not subject to question.

Some SMP think they can revisit these decisions and believe they are entitled to look again at the cause of the disablement – the ‘causation’ as it is known. Some SMPs forget they are not there to conduct a diagnosis, and are thus forbidden from speculating whether the disabling injury occurred as a result of the execution of the officer’s duty or from some other cause. The High Court has made it clear that causation can not be revisited, but some SMPs think they can ignore the law.

The consequence of such a root and branch departure from the strictures of the Regulations is so dramatic the consequences cannot be emphasised enough.  Once a SMP makes a mistake it condemns the former officer to a long drawn out legal battle to undo something that should never have occurred.  True to form, once a bad decision is made a Police Pension Authority will always blindly defend it to the end – even if they know they are wrong they seem incapable of a climbdown. It can take years to sort out.

So what prevents a SMP who has a casual disdain for the Regulations and case law from going back to medical records from birth and stating an injury was caused, in part, by you falling off your bicycle when you were 7 years old?

I’m not exaggerating.

In a recent case a SMP tried to make out that a former officer who had a mild episode of anxiety when he was just 7 had a ‘pre-existing condition’ and thus his PTSD some thirty years later was not solely cased by on duty incidents. This sneaky little ploy is called ‘apportionment’. It can be used to cut a band four pension down to a band one.

SMPs need to be told in no uncertain terms that they must comply with the law, which includes binding decisions made in the High Court.

In the Court of Appeal in the case of the Metropolitan Police Authority v Laws and the PMAB [2010] EWCA Civ 1099,  it was held that the SMP was not entitled when conducting a review under regulation 37 to re-open clinical judgements as to causation or apportionment made in earlier decisions under the 2006 Regulations.

To put this simply, the question of causation or apportionment can only be considered at the time of the original decisions, when the injury award was granted, or on appeal against the original decisions to a PMAB, or if a reconsideration is made under regulation 32. A SMP cannot, years later, trawl through medical and other records in an attempt to re-think and amend those final decisions.

Once decided, the cause of the injury or any application of apportionment is final and at review the SMP is not able to even remotely go anywhere near those matters.  Even when the SMP would like to have full medical records because they want the ‘full picture’  – whatever that means – they can’t.  It is the equivalent of open prejudice in the sight of the jury or bench. It may be due to the training doctors get – treat the whole person, look for all the causes, check out all the possibilities – but SMPs must put that training to one side when conducting a review. Once a SMP has seen medical records he shouldn’t have seen he can’t conveniently forget them – doctors are not trained to forget medical history however much they claim it won’t influence them.  By accessing records they are not lawfully entitled to it instantly corrupts and prejudices the decision he/she is supposed to exclusively focus on, which is whether there has been any alteration in degree of disablement.

In  the case of R (on the application of Pollard) v The Police Medical Appeal Board and West Yorkshire Police Authority [2009] EWHC 403, Silber J found that Regulation 37 does not enable the police authority to reach a different conclusion on the issues specified in Regulation 30(2)(a), (b) or (c).

But what happens when an SMP does what they aren’t allowed to do?  Inevitably complaints are made to the Pension Ombudsman. Happily, in the vast majority of instances the pensioner wins the case.

Here is a short, but typical, sample of three PO determinations:

1.

PO-828 [SMP] Dr Zubier found that Mr Diamond was “based on his level of functioning as a result of his fibromyalgia, … unfit for all work”. However, because he took the view that Mr Diamond’s Fibromyalgia was not caused by an injury on duty, Dr Zubier apportioned the injury award. This was not the correct approach to take under the Regulations

2.

87657/1 Despite having noted that they should not revisit causation, the PMAB’s ‘Detailed Case Discussion’ included a lengthy discussion on the likely causes for Mr Marsden’s symptoms. The PMAB stated that they found it bizarre that they were not allowed to revisit causation, but said that they accepted that this was required by law. Having discussed likely causation at some length (and made it obvious that they disagreed with the previous decision), the PMAB then failed to ask the question they were required to; namely, whether there had been any substantial alteration in Mr Marsden’s condition since 2006. The PMAB instead moved on to consider whether and what type of roles Mr Marsden might be able to undertake. They had asked NPA to supply details of alternative roles Mr Marsden might be expected to undertake. However, the record of their discussion does not suggest that they asked whether those roles had become accessible to Mr Marsden since the 2006 review, either by changes in his medical condition or changes in the roles themselves. I find, therefore, that the PMAB’s consideration of Mr Marsden’s case was flawed and that this should have been apparent to NPA.

3.

84102/2 It is clear that the SMP based her report on medical evidence which predated the date of the last review, that both the SMP and the PMAB were questioning the validity of the original decision taken by MPA to award Ms Beale an injury benefit. In addition, although the PMAB noted “Ms Beale could work 50% of the time (less than 20 hours per week) in an appropriate environment with necessary adaptations for wheelchair access”, it then failed to ask the question it was required to; namely, whether and what type of roles Ms Beale might be able to undertake and whether those roles had become accessible to Ms Beale since the 2001 review, either by changes in her medical condition or changes in the roles themselves. I find, therefore, that the PMAB’s consideration of Ms Beale’ case was flawed and that this should have been apparent to MPA. I find that it was maladministration for the MPA to reduce Ms Beale’s benefit on the basis of a flawed review.

I hope the reader sees why IODPA needs to exists?  Because of the bungling machinations of HR drones and SMPs, disabled former officers face the lifetime prospect of entanglement with Police Medical Appeal Boards, complaints to the Pension Ombudsman, and even judicial reviews in the High Court. It can be a full time career to have the misfortune of being awarded an IOD.

Perhaps all who join the police should be told, ‘Welcome, and if you are ever injured on duty you’ll get what’s due to you. It won’t be sympathy, assistance, care or concern. You’ll be put on light duties, half pay, messed about, kept in the dark about your rights and then booted out. You will have to fight tooth and nail to get an injury award and then you will be hounded forever with endless unlawful reviews. Expect to spend the rest of your life dealing with the fallout created by incompetent, poorly trained, often downright nasty HR types, and SMPs’.

Do you think that, knowing this is a very real prospect, a fresh recruit would think twice about following a suspect in a foot chase down a dark alley, or confront the violent drunk who is brandishing a fence post, or try to stop a careering stolen vehicle?

Perhaps if they knew the truth they might think its better to stay safe than risk being injured and cast out with an IOD.

This group of police force HR managers, occupational health personnel and the odd force solicitor is supposedly concerned in its quarterly meetings with keeping the police workforce fit and well. The clue is in the name - it is supposed to concentrate on people who work. However, it spends time also considering matters relating to disabled former officers. Quite what legitimates this group's interest in disabled private citizens who are in receipt of a police injury pension is a mystery.

The mystery deepens when it is revealed that the Home Office and representatives of the commercial company which has the contract to run Police Medical Appeal Boards, HML, also regularly appear on the list of delegates. The mystery morphs into something smelling of conspiracy when the delegate list is entirely absent of any representative of any of the people whose lives the NAMF seeks to affect. There is nobody from the Police Federation, nor from NARPO, nor anyone from any disablement charity, mental health association, etc. etc. In other words, the NAMF is a one-sided talking shop. Even at that level it is not properly representative of all police forces, for we note that there are rarely, if ever, delegates present from every area.

Those of us with long memories, recollect that the Home Office claimed that it had conducted what it called a 'survey' of all forces, way back in 2004, prior to finalising its unlawful guidance issued as Annex C to HO circular 46/2004. The HO claimed that their survey showed that it was common practice for forces to review the degree of disablement of injury-on-duty pensioners once they reached what would have been normal force retirement age. This is what the guidance said:

'This Guidance is being issued to help ensure a fairer, more cohesive approach to the payment of injury benefits to ill-health retired officers who have reached the compulsory retirement age with their Force. A recent survey found that practice in this area was diverse. Some forces automatically reduced degree of disablement benefits to the lowest banding when this age had been reached - others continued to pay benefits at the same rate until the death of the Officer concerned.'

The plain truth, revealed through Freedom of Information Act requests, was that there never was any survey. The HO later tried to claim that the bold, unmistakable claim made in its guidance resulted from 'round the table discussions' at meetings of the NAMF. Yet nothing even hinting at such discussions appeared in the minutes and the HO could not produce a single scrap of data nor any record or any other evidence to show quite how it had come to the conclusion that some forces automatically reduced benefits to the lowest band at what would have been normal force retirement age.

Shockingly, further research revealed that absolutely no forces, not a single one out of the 43 in England and Wales, had ever reduced benefits to the lowest band at what would have been normal force retirement age, automatically or otherwise. The Home Office was caught out in a blatant lie. It was a lie intended for one purpose only - its actually intent was to give an air of normalcy to the huge change in practice which the HO wished to bring about.

This astounding act by a Government department tells us what the NAMF was then, and remains now. It's objective in so far as police injury on duty pensions is concerned, is to subvert the law of the land. The law cannot be changed retrospectively, so the inner circle work to find ways to unlawfully manipulate it through influencing gullible HR managers, and by training carefully selected corruptible SMPs how to refuse grant of an injury award and how to conduct reviews which reduce the degree of disablement of retired officers.

And so the machinations of the NAMF continue...

This group of police force HR managers, occupational health personnel and the odd force solicitor is supposedly concerned in its quarterly meetings with keeping the police workforce fit and well. The clue is in the name - it is supposed to concentrate on people who work. However, it spends time also considering matters relating to disabled former officers. Quite what legitimates this group's interest in disabled private citizens who are in receipt of a police injury pension is a mystery.

The mystery deepens when it is revealed that the Home Office and representatives of the commercial company which has the contract to run Police Medical Appeal Boards, HML, also regularly appear on the list of delegates. The mystery morphs into something smelling of conspiracy when the delegate list is entirely absent of any representative of any of the people whose lives the NAMF seeks to affect. There is nobody from the Police Federation, nor from NARPO, nor anyone from any disablement charity, mental health association, etc. etc. In other words, the NAMF is a one-sided talking shop. Even at that level it is not properly representative of all police forces, for we note that there are rarely, if ever, delegates present from every area.

Those of us with long memories, recollect that the Home Office claimed that it had conducted what it called a 'survey' of all forces, way back in 2004, prior to finalising its unlawful guidance issued as Annex C to HO circular 46/2004. The HO claimed that their survey showed that it was common practice for forces to review the degree of disablement of injury-on-duty pensioners once they reached what would have been normal force retirement age. This is what the guidance said:

'This Guidance is being issued to help ensure a fairer, more cohesive approach to the payment of injury benefits to ill-health retired officers who have reached the compulsory retirement age with their Force. A recent survey found that practice in this area was diverse. Some forces automatically reduced degree of disablement benefits to the lowest banding when this age had been reached - others continued to pay benefits at the same rate until the death of the Officer concerned.'

The plain truth, revealed through Freedom of Information Act requests, was that there never was any survey. The HO later tried to claim that the bold, unmistakable claim made in its guidance resulted from 'round the table discussions' at meetings of the NAMF. Yet nothing even hinting at such discussions appeared in the minutes and the HO could not produce a single scrap of data nor any record or any other evidence to show quite how it had come to the conclusion that some forces automatically reduced benefits to the lowest band at what would have been normal force retirement age.

Shockingly, further research revealed that absolutely no forces, not a single one out of the 43 in England and Wales, had ever reduced benefits to the lowest band at what would have been normal force retirement age, automatically or otherwise. The Home Office was caught out in a blatant lie. It was a lie intended for one purpose only - its actually intent was to give an air of normalcy to the huge change in practice which the HO wished to bring about.

This astounding act by a Government department tells us what the NAMF was then, and remains now. It's objective in so far as police injury on duty pensions is concerned, is to subvert the law of the land. The law cannot be changed retrospectively, so the inner circle work to find ways to unlawfully manipulate it through influencing gullible HR managers, and by training carefully selected corruptible SMPs how to refuse grant of an injury award and how to conduct reviews which reduce the degree of disablement of retired officers.

And so the machinations of the NAMF continue...