09/01/2012 Inside Out South


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Hello and welcome to a brand new series of Inside Out. Here's what's


coming up tonight. Boozy Britain. Are our teenagers drinking


themselves to an early death? really scary and tragically, every


year, we sometimes fail to keep somebody alive. Radio 1's Scott


Mills has his last tipple, and turns all teetotal on us. Cheers!


Just the one? Just the one! And is the government crackdown on


disability benefits ONLY hitting the fraudsters? I mean there are


some people, yeah, that's mucking around. But a lot of people aren't


and we're the ones that seem to be suffering. Or do the new medical


assessments let down the needy? are so worried about what's


happening to people. They become destitute in many cases. I'm John


Cuthill and this is Inside Out First tonight, if you've been


battling the January sales, chances are, you'll need a stiff drink. But


that's together with the 500 other pints each adult has on average


throughout the year. And it's doing our livers no good at all. But we


can all give up, can't we? That's the challenge we set Radio One's


Scott Mills. BBC Radio One. Ten minutes from BBC Radio 1Xtra live


in London. As I come off air, the team wants to know why I've gone


all Peter Andre, with cameras following my every move. I am doing


a film, for the BBC. I am today giving up alcohol for a month.


what are you going to do? Are you just going to go out and? Drink.


And then not drink for a month. Over Christmas? And New Year?


Don't look at the film crew as if to say don't come round on


Christmas day because you'll have a little sherry. Could you not come


round on Christmas day? Yeah, do spirits count, or what? Well, I'm


not allowed to drink. Tonight's my last one. Are you coming out for a


bevvy? Hi, guys. Mohitos. Oh, my, gosh! Help yourself. Thank you.


Thank you so much. I know how this looks but I want you all to know


that we don't go out and drink cocktails every night. Yes! Wooh!


Now, I don't know what that is. I've done my share of drinking, but


don't drink half as much as I used to. Current government guidelines


say blokes shouldn't go over three to four units a day, women two to


three. But they're looking to tighten those to rein in the


estimated ten million of us who regulary go well over these amounts.


This is my mate, Chris, who is on my show on Radio One. We were just


talking earlier. He's actually got experience of one of his mates, how


old is he? 24. 24, and what's happened to him? He's just, his


stomach's pretty screwed up from booze. It's kind of wierd because


he's quite a close mate of mine and it's just a bit wierd because I


don't think he drinks much more than I do. Right. Last week he was


in hospital all week and this has been going on for six months now.


He's got to do tablets everyday. But the worst thing is, we all go


out, to be honest, get quite drunk. He can't really do that as much as


he used to be able to. So he feels left out. Yeah, it is a massive


social thing. It's rubbish, it's rubbish. So I wanted to see for


myself just how drink is affecting young people. At the age of 21,


Matt Maden from Bournemouth woke up from an alcohol induced coma. Years


of excessive drinking had finally caught up with him. I started


dabbling I suppose, experimenting with drink from a very early age.


From about 10/12 onwards. I would maybe have the odd glass of wine at


Christmas and that would be about it. Then my life sort of changed.


From the age of 15 my life revolved around social events. For example,


at a party I could drink, say, eight cans of lager and get drunk


on one occasion and then a year down the line it would take maybe


double that. Little did I know that alcohol in the end would actually


turn on me and that in effect it would start to control me. It went


from one point where I actually could control it and it gave me


confidence. But towards the end, it started to control me. Every month


Matt has to go to Kings College Hospital in London, for check ups.


His liver is shot to pieces and his only hope is a new one. When you


come and see me it's already too late because you've already really


damaged your liver. The problem is, if you had heart disease, for


example. Every time you get a little bit of damage from the


furred up blood vessels in your heart, you feel pain. You feel


shortness of breath, you know something's wrong. The trouble with


your liver is it keeps grinding away doing all this stuff and then


suddenly stops. Then you get very jaundiced, you get very sick, you


get fluid. But by that stage, you've knocked out 98% of your


liver. Kings has the biggest liver transplant centre in Europe.


Unfortunately, business is booming. With more and more patients in


their twenties. It's actually really upsetting coming here and


seeing what people look like. I actually couldn't look left and


right then, it was too horrific. But he was saying this is just the


tip of the iceberg and we probably are facing an epidemic and there's


just not enough organs. You're 24 now? Yeah. How much do you reckon


you drink a week? You know how much I drink a week, that's it. But I


don't think I'll be drinking the amount I drink now in 15 years time.


I think it's something that will eventually wear out and I'll be


fine. But experts say that any period of excessive drinking can


cause health problems. I tried giving up, remember? And that


didn't really. Didn't work. He'll come in and be, "Oh, I'm giving up


booze." Then the next day he'll have gone out and had a pint. Do


you drink every day? I don't drink every day but I tend to say I'm


going to give up booze when I am hungover and that's probably not


the best time to decide to give up booze. Never drinking again. It's


because people are drinking more heavily and in more eratic patterns.


And clearly drinking more alcohol. And it's a very complex argument.


It's about availability, pricing, all those other things. There's no


question that culturally, as a country, we don't treat alcohol


with respect. And we don't use it in a sensible way. I'd never call


it an epidemic because an epidemic is something that happens to you.


Getting drunk is something you do to yourself. You didn't catch it


from anybody. You made a decision to go out and get very drunk.


it's so widespread with young people. It is. So, why are we


drinking to excess? Whether we're young or older, there is a cultural


problem we've got to get over. I think with young people a lot of it


is due to low self esteem, low confidence. We have an odd


relationship with alcohol. We define a good night out by getting


drunk. Pretty much every young person in my view, from what I see,


is out there every weekend to get smashed. So you're a Radio One DJ


and you know better than me. How do we persuade young people that not


drinking is as cool as drinking? Meanwhile, my last night of


drinking is going well. I've had two cocktails in about 15 minutes.


Which is quite good going. I'm not sure what to drink next. They don't


do cocktails in here, surprisingly! In our local, it's time to fess up


to what we really drink. Big night out? Probably... This is really


hard to say. If any of my mates are watching I feel like I need to


round up a little bit, isn't that sad? I'd probably have four or five


pints. And although these regulars say they rarely drink at home, they


do meet here about four times a week. Probably a couple of pints a


night. Five, six of these a night. I try to drink about 15 pints on a


Thursday night but only get through about five. Do you know what,


thought? I don't think it's so bad if you're not drinking every night.


But that's probably wrong. Yeah, that is wrong. There's a bit of


fluid there. As Matt knows only too well. So what I can hear is really


you're not getting a lot of air into the base of your lungs. And


that's because you've still got fluid here. You've had to have it


drained once from this side and you couldn't breathe properly. There's


still some there even though the shunt is actually doing a lot of


the work. That's just a sign of the fact your liver's still damaged.


And with his liver barely working, other crucial organs are struggling


his stomach, heart and lungs. He's had a little plastic tube, a shunt,


put into his liver. To release the pressure from all the veins in his


stomach. They pop and he bleeds. He has bled three or four times. They


are life threatening bleeds. You can literally bleed to death in 30


minutes. He's had that three or four times already. I'm in my 30's


and don't consider myself a big drinker these days. But now seems


like the right time and place to get my liver checked. So, what josh


is doing, Scott, is he's putting the probe between your ribs. That's


where your liver is, inside. Then fire off pulses and see how bendy


your liver is. So, do I want a bendy liver? You want a bendy liver.


And what kind of period of time would you have to be drinking


heavily for, for that to happen? Well, we used to be told it takes


10/20 years. We are now seeing patients who are in their twenties


with hard knobbly livers. Cirrosis. Life threatening complications.


Some of those people have only been drinking seriously for four, five,


six years. It may be that we are beginning to see that you can screw


up your liver quite quickly if you go for it. In the end this and


other tests show I do have a springy liver, which begs the


question, is it worth me giving up drinking at all? If you were to


give up drinking for an amount of time, even weeks, could your liver


improve? Even with really bad damage, you can improve by stopping


drinking. By stopping poisoning your liver. In someone like you,


who I assume is fit and healthy, we might not be able to pick up any


differences, but without any doubt, your liver will be grateful. Even


though Matt has not had a drink in four and a half years, his future


is still really incertain. The grim fact is for Matt, when I meet him


and say we've listed him for transplantation, we quote a one in


five chance that you'll never get to having a transplant. There's a


one in five chance you'll die on the waiting list. Bleeding


complications. The coma that comes out of liver disease. Serious


infections are a real problem in patients with this, your immune


system doesn't work properly. And of course, this fluid. The


shortness of breath and fluid accumulating in the belly, those


are horrible things and really life threatening. We're one week into my


no drinking experiment. It's easy at the moment because there have


been no Christmas parties. I've stayed in all week. However, as the


weeks go by I know that I've got things planned where I could easily


crack and have a drink. So, let's see what happens. It's now been


three weeks since I had a drink. I've lost weight, I'm sleeping


better. But generally I'm doing all right. It's OK. But that's not


what's happening on the street. It's Christmas week and everybody's


going for it. Pubs and clubs, obviously they're still busy, but


the supermarkets in the High Street are doing a roaring trade in cheap


booze so young people tank up before hitting the town. As well as


the long term damage to our health, there's also the cost to the NHS to


consider. 2.7 billion a year in mopping up the casualties of a


night out. And they reckon 50 billion per year to the economy. In


Guildford's A&E yound drinkers make up a large number of the


emergencies. There was an intoxicated female, 15-year-old. I


assume these people get alcohol from, from parents, from friends,


or older friends. I think that's the problem with parents these days.


They're both out working, nobody's bringing up the kids. So, alcohol


brings them up, doesn't it? What's your name? I'm Mark, one of the A&E


doctors. Don't want to talk to me, huh? The very busiest times, it's


probably the case that the majority of people coming in have had


Domestic violence. There are mental health problems as possible


consequences of alcohol. So a dangerous drug from our point of


view. Getting patched-up, a 20-year-old


student. It is going to hurt a bit. I fell over getting into a taxi and


cut my leg. I've never been in A&E before. The funny thing is I have


been more drunk than this. It was unfortunate today that I fell over.


I saw some data a short while ago which suggested an adult could get


through their weekly recommended level of alcohol for �4 or �5.


And a teenager could drink so much that their life is at risk, for


just �7. We met this guy called Matt who his


26 and he is on the waiting-list for a liver transplant. Surely


these policies are just tinkering around the edges? The thought that


a 26-year-old can drink so much, that is a huge amount of alcohol,


to be on liver transplant waiting list is an incredible tragedy. It


is a tragedy to me as a parent that someone of 26 thinks so little


about themselves that they can drink that much. There's also a


thing there about culture changing and personal responsibility so we


will be publishing a plan on what we're going to do about alcohol in


the next few months. It is a licensing and a justice issue. It


is a health issue. It is an education issue. It is something we


have to tackle all together but we also need people like yourself. You


have reach into an audience that I need to talk to. How do I persuade


young people that when they go out on a Friday night, I don't want to


stop people having fun, but they have to take responsibility for


keeping safe. So we've spoken to the government.


What would you do about it? I think we've got to look at the minimum


price per unit of alcohol. Because those cheap drinks are designed for


people to get drunk on. Not for normal drinkers. And if we brought


in a minimum price for alcohol we know that that would reduce the


level of harmful drinking in the country.


I'm at my Christmas do with my mates and it is hard, there's no


drinking. I'm on water. Cheers. It has been a drink free December


for me which has been an interesting experiment. I've been


able to give up so I'm one of the lucky ones, I guess. But it is New


year's Eve, I'm about to go out so I'm going to have a cheeky half.


Cheers. The people we are talking to are young people drinking huge


amounts of alcohol and that is a complex thing but I think part of


it is ease of access to alcohol. Part of it is how cheap it is. Part


of it is the culture that we create where it is good to go out and get


hammered. And there's something wrong with telling young people or


making young people feel that the only way they can have fun is to go


out and get totally blitzed. I did not grow up like that. I like


alcohol in moderation but it is not something where I choose to get


blitzed. Meanwhile Matt lives day-to-day


with his phone constantly by his side hoping to get the call from


his transplant team which could save his life.


I know I can't change the past. It is what I do today and for the


future, you know. I try and be a bit more selfless as opposed to


being selfish. I reckon they are more millions of


people who are part of the way through the journey that Matt has


described. How many kids do you know who drink socially and then


use it for confidence? That's really common. All he has done is


kept going up that pathway and I think there are millions of people


like that. Details of the BBC help line on


alcohol coming up at the end of the show.


Next, it was designed to weed out benefit cheats, but it is causing


real problems for some of those people who desperately need it.


The test to see if you're fit enough to work is causing real


concerns for some welfare charities. There are all sorts of cases that


have hit the headlines. This is Clare Jones, tandem skydiver and


disability benefit cheat. This is Paul Appleby, unable to


walk without two sticks and largely confined to a wheelchair.


This man was filmed on the golf course after claiming he could


barely walk a few yards. And only some caught on camera.


This footage of a Manchester dance contest was captured by fraud


investigators. Mr Reid told benefits officials he could barely


walk due to crippling arthritis. The government crackdown is part of


the huge drive to get people off sickness benefits and back to work.


Ending the something for nothing culture. Promised made, promise


delivered. But while cheats are being


prosecuted, some major charities are raising concerns that many


claimants are being declared fit for work when they have genuine


disabilities. We fully appreciate that the


benefits bill is a huge one for the country and that the issue has to


be addressed. We have seen quite a lot in the media recently about


people having yachts, but that is not our experience. We are seeing


people would real health problems and disabilities and their benefits


being stopped. The problems came to light when a


new benefit called the employment support allowance was introduced to


replace the old incapacity benefit. In order to get it, the majority of


people have to have an independent medical assessment and score at


least 15 points to qualify. This is all about taking some of


the 1.6 million people we're going to be reassessing and helping them


make something more of their lives. We are faced with a binary choice -


either we leave people on benefits for the rest of the lives or we try


to help them back into work. It may be different what they did before,


maybe somebody with a back problem who can no longer do a manual job


could do something else. Tony Hind, a plumber from Gosport,


did not need to be reassessed as he never claimed sickness benefits


before. But when he developed severe back problems he decided to


go on benefits to tide him over until the got better.


I couldn't bend and I was literally climbing up the stairs on all fours.


I could not lift toilets, basins, baths. Boilers, radiators. Couldn't


do it. So in the end in January I went to the doctor and I had the


physio, scans, which all proved I had three prolapsed discs.


Unable to continue working, Tony applied for employment support


allowance. That meant going for an independent medical. He was not


impressed with the things he was asked.


A lot of questions about nothing, really. How were you able to take


your dog for a walk! I told them the park was four minutes from me.


Just because you have a bad back, it doesn't mean you can't walk. It


was painful when I was walking, I was limping. People used to ask me


how I was, they could see I was in a lot of pain. Tony answered his


medical questions as best he could but failed to get enough points to


qualify. He's not alone. Portsmouth CAB says in the last year around 20


people a month have asked for their help saying that their assessments


were wrong. What the clients are reporting back to us is that the


way the assessment is administered is very much a sort of yes or no


answer. And actually it is not as simple as that. If you think of


someone who has had a stroke and the left side of their body is


affected and they are asked questions about mobility. The


answer for the right hand side of the body would be very different to


the left-hand side of the body. And how do you express that in a simple


format in a reply to questions on a form?


When Pauline Bennett from Portsmouth retired from work for


medical reasons and she hoped that the benefits system would help her


out. I have night blindness, tunnel


vision, so I cannot see anything from the top and bottom. My


eyesight won't be getting any better, it will get worse. I had to


retire from the Post Office because it was getting too dangerous for me.


I was tripping over chairs and boxes. Being run over by metal


cages. I had to go to ATOS to do my medical, to see how I was. And they


classed me as permanently unfit for work. With just a small pension,


Pauline needed benefits to get by. But for her assessment to get


employment support allowance it was ATOS Healthcare had carried it out.


The very same company who declared her unfit for work at the Post


Office. And guess what? This time they said she was fit for work.


I could not believe it, to be honest. They gave me 9 points and I


could not understand it. It was almost as if I had got better


without realising it! Without the required 15 points,


Pauline did not qualify for the full �90 a week benefit. But she


was not giving up. So I appealed. They then refused the appeal again


and I had to go to a tribunal. And finally they agreed that I deserve


the 15 points and that I could not see well enough to go to work. But


it has taken since April for it to be sorted out. So why was Pauline


declared unfit the first time but not the second? Well ATOS


Healthcare told us they had different types of medical


assessments with different objectives and criteria. The


occupational health assessment is there to test someone's capability


for a specific job or role. But the ESA assessment has been developed


by the government to see if someone is capable of work in general. But


of course it was Pauline's ESA assessment that was wrong. That was


the one that was overturned at appeal. So are these independent


medicals fit for purpose? Well, Tony also appealed to a


tribunal and like Pauline, his assessment was overturned. Six


months after his ESA medical, he finally got the full 15 points.


It proved what I was saying all along. I think they're trying to


get people off benefits, off these sickness benefits, but it is people


maybe that need to come off and people who are genuine. They should


not treat everyone the same. There are people who do go through what I


went through and for them to turn around and disbelieve you and


disbelieve your doctor, it is totally out of order.


The government says it has listened to the critics and has recently


brought in changes to improve the medical assessments.


None of the decisions that have been taken since we introduced


these changes in the summer have yet come to appeal. So all the


examples that you and others have come across where something appears


to have gone wrong in the process, that is all a part of changes we


introduced last summer. And I'm confident that when we see the


impact of those changes, working their way through the system, that


we will see we have made a big improvement in the quality of


decision-making. Despite these assurances, the CAB say even now


they are taking on new cases of people who are falling foul of the


assessments. People like Andrew Pay, an


epileptic who has spent most of his life out of work because he says


employers will not take him on because of his fits. He's also


asthmatic and suffers from depression and has anxiety attacks.


And his assessment score? No points at all. None at all, I


cannot believe it. None at all. what went on in the test? What did


they ask? If I could raise a hand above my head, if I could make a


cup of tea. If I could walk 100 metres and things like that. And of


course I can. Of course I can. I was trying to explain to her, I


said it is not physical, it's mental. It is in my head. I can't


show it. They wanted me to have a seizure in front of them before


they would accept it. And I can't do that. Is it quite upsetting?


Very upsetting, very emotional. It is. It gets to me. And in terms of


your day-to-day living, how much difference does it make? Big, I


can't treat my daughter to an ice cream or anything like that. I


can't afford it. Sorry. While Andrew waits for an appeal,


the CAB say it is people like him with long-term health conditions


who are suffering the most from the benefits clampdown.


Some of the changes we have put in place are specifically designed to


provide extra protection to people with mental health challenges. They


must be the most difficult cases to deal with appropriately. We have to


really understand the nature of that person's situation and make


sure we get it right. We introduced changes that have led to an


increase in the number of people with mental health conditions who


are now receiving long-term unconditional support. So this is


all about trying to do all we can to make sure we get the decisions


right for people. So the government says things are


getting better. And that the improvements are working their way


through the system. But with the appeals process costing between �50


and �80 million, all that has come at a high price in terms of time,


in terms of money, and stress. Basically, I have been unfit for


work. I have retired. I've been assessed as fit for work and now


I've been told again that I'm not fit for work. All it has done, it


has given me stress and panic and worry. And it has cost money and


time. I'm sure they could have spent that on someone else. Do you


feel let down? Very. Upset, very. Because all these years, and then


they decide, oh, you are well. It is wrong. That is just about it for


now but don't forget, if you've got any comments to make, you can email


me. I'll see you next week. For details of organisations that


can offer advice and support on alcohol, go online to


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