Well enough to work

An article about Atos and their work capability assessments, in the BMJ, here.

I am finding, often, a distinct lack of co-operation when it comes to polite and basic questions being asked of companies who are contracted to provide services to the Government. I  wanted to know about Atos recruitment, audit and training; they didn’t want to talk. Atos are but one such company; other problems have been companies providing outsourcing healthcare services to immigration removal centres. They were not willing to talk.

In comparison, the press offices in the DWP or DoH are usually  efficient, helpful and clear, including when information can be applied for under FoI. But the DWP were not able to answer questions about Atos procedures because Atos is a private contractor. I don’t think this consequence of privatisation  is good for us.

42 Responses to “Well enough to work”

  1. Mo Stewart February 9, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

    Disabled veteran & medically retired health professional – unfortunately for Atos Healthcare and the DWP. A desensitised version of my disturbing and damning research report appears on my website, http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html, and you’ll see how bad it gets once you’ve accessed 9 months of research following a home visit by an AH doctor who produced a bogus report, claiming to have examined me when no examination had taken place. I think the penny has finally dropped with Atos that this is against the law and a breach of medical ethics, and the young man concerned is being investigated now by the GMC. All medicals by Atos have NO public accountability according to both the GMC & Healthcare Commission, and this is sinister. However bad you think it is, it’s worse. Take care. Mo Stewart

  2. ESA veteran February 10, 2011 at 5:35 am #

    Strangely a “claimant” can be awarded 21 points in November and be called for a further WCA six months later and be awarded 0 points.
    The claimants condition may be progressive,degenerative and incurable yet the different approach by the Atos HCP in the use of the LiMA computer dooms them to failure.
    The illness/condition has little or no bearing on the outcome.
    To say the DWP DM makes the decision is bending the truth ,as the DM is in possesion of more evidence than the Atos HCP one would have thought that in the majority of cases the DM would increase the points awarded ,this very very rarely happens in the intial ” decision” by the DM.
    The claimants previous working record is not taken into account ,in my case I had worked 44 years prior to my claim,working was my life,I did not choose to be ill,these people are making assumptions and not medically accurate reports.

  3. ESA veteran February 13, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    It would be understandable to believe that all complaints come from disgruntled claimants who had failed to obtain the necessary points to be awarded benefit.
    However in my case I actually passed,unfortunately there are people, who have much worse illnesses than I,who fail.
    In all honesty the Atos HCP could perform the assessment without the claimant being present,the answers to the questions are mechanically acquired from the computer and the HCP manually manipulates them to what they perceive to be the nearest fit.
    When a claimant receives a copy of the Medical Report more often than not they do not recognise it as their own interview.
    I believe it is time the Medical profession decided if they wished to be a party to this corruption.
    The time is always right to do what is right, morality may consist solely in the courage of making a choice.
    Please make your choice now before more serious calamity’s happen,many people are contemplating suicide because of the injustice of the system.
    Thank you

  4. judy February 16, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    I am one of thousands of genuinely ill and disabled people who are in fear of this assessment system, however there are millions more who are totaly unaware of what is happening now or is about to happen to them.

    With regard to the WCA, which you agree has proven to be so inadequate – Professor Harrington’s report on it has helped in a small way, but there are still some extremely worrying aspects to it. Add to that the fact that the government clearly state in their response that “In the Summer we announced a number of changes to the assessment, which will be put in place in March 2011”. Those changes include severely reducing the opportunity to score points for mental health conditions and drastically cutting the number of descriptors for physical health and come from an internal review done before the Harrington Report. If this is still to go ahead, as it seems it is, then it completely goes against Professor Harrington’s recommendations.

    As well as this, many of the recommendations are not to be implemented soon enough – a huge number of ill and disabled people have already been badly assessed and the 10,000 people undergoing a WCA from March 2011 will be subjected to the same test despite evidence that it does not appropriately assess needs. Except that now it will be even harsher as Chris Grayling has stated that “…We are committed to a process of ongoing review and improvement of the WCA and believe that it would be inappropriate to delay implementation of other pertinent recommendations while we await additional recommendations.” (Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 20 January 2011, c883W)

    So many thousands of people will be assessed without all the recommended changes in place. Inevitably this will lead to even more complaints and appeals and cost even more money. It must be remembered that these are not just numbers on a page or computer screen, but real people who will be put through untold suffering because of this.

    A recent report from the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion says that ‘The changes recommended by Professor Harrington in his review of the work capability assessment (WCA) should take effect immediately or, if this is not possible, the reassessment of incapacity benefits claimants should be postponed.’

    The DWP currently have a backlog of 29,700 complaints about ESA which have not yet been referred to a tribunal. The next highest backlog is for DLA complaints with 9,600 outstanding. Outstanding complaints about all other benefits administered by the department number just 19,750.

    These figures were revealed by Maria Miller, minister for disabled people in October 2010. As many more people have since been put through assessments since then, it is reasonable to assume that the number has risen greatly. And this is before the proposed changes to DLA have even begun, and the new harsher WCA test brought in.

    Yet despite this Atos Healthcare has been awarded a three year contract extension worth over £300 million by the DWP. Not only that, but Atos has now also been named on the commercial framework which will procure the Government’s new Work Programme. Does this not represent a conflict of interests – being paid to find people fit for work and then being paid again to find them the jobs you have just said they are fit to do.

    The government persist in ignoring the advice and opinions of all the Disability experts and Charities despite their repeated attempts to convey their serious concerns about Atos and the WCA. See below a letter to Chris Grayling from The Papworth Trust, co-signed by 40 plus Charities.

    http://www.papworth.org.uk/downloads/jan11lettertochrisgraylingmp_110124105526.pdf

    This test is being used currently for ESA, but if the government succeed in their planned abolition of Disability Living Allowance, it will probably be used for assessing people on their eligibility for it’s replacement “PIP”. Here is what Disability Alliance ( a membership organisation of over 200 groups and charities) has to say –

    http://www.disabilityalliance.org/dlareformpress.htm

    I urge you and all other real medical professionals to take a stand about this and tell the government that what they are sanctioning is totally unethical, inhumane and contrary to the ways of a civilised society.

  5. Diana Leighton February 16, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    Thank you for your well written article.
    I think another aspect of this assessment is that nobody knows when they will be called for the assessment.On top of this is the sword of Damocles of will you or wont you be passed unfit for work. This has a seriously damaging effect on the persons/family’s homelife as they live in a period of uncertainty. People like my husband and I for example. My husband who has Multiple Myeloma had worked for 35 years before he became ill. I had a good career as a psychologist which I gave up to look after him. I have now just retired and will loose my carers allowance. We had taken out critical illness insurance on some things but not all. Now we do not know what will happen in the future. I received a small lump sum for my pension and was looking forward to using it for a holiday(which may be our last together) and for various things. Now I cannot/dare spend as we do not know whether my husband will pass the test or not. It is psychological torture. If he fails the test…even though he has a terminal cancer(but was in remission for 7 years) it is possible…we will loose our car, our house, everything all because of a government ideology. I cannot tell you how depressed and worried we are. We live in fear of this company called ATOS. I think it is unethical to put disabled people through this psychological torture. I would have thought that the GP who knows the patient well and the consultant(s) or in our case surgeon who performed spinal fusion on my husbands crumbling spine would be better experts than some impersonal computer package along with anonymous form filler to decide our future life. I tell you this I cannot go on much longer like this – the worry is slowly killing me and my husband and I suspect thousands of other disabled people too.

  6. Jade February 16, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    Thank you for this article. Having looked into these matters recently I find the lack of transparency, particularly in Atos’ case, to be shocking. Their working practise and methods seem to be hidden behind “Commercial Secrecy”; they are the sole providers of training and examination for the “Recognised Professional Qualification in Disability Assessment” which they recommend their doctors should gain; and so much else – which has just disappeared from my recall in the time it has taken to type this.

    http://fullfact.org and http://www.arbitraryconstant.co.uk are useful sites and both quite thorough in providing links to sources for their research articles.

    Again, thank you and all the best for your continued investigations.

    J

  7. Mo Stewart February 16, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    It may be helpful to access the DWP contract with Atos Healthcare, available online at: http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatos.html. It’s a similar web address to mine simply because the web designer kindly offered me space on his website to expose evidence of the way disabled veterans are treated by the private contractor.

    The contract is very revealing, not least because any and all medical evidence from GPs and Consultants can be “resisted” and you have to wonder why this is allowed? Mo Stewart

  8. Draco. February 16, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    There’s thousands upon thousands of adverse opinions regarding ATOS on dozens of blogs and forums, Thousands of vitriolic comments denouncing ATOS as corrupt, accusing them of fabricating medical reports on behalf of the DWP.

    If you were running a company, and someone, anyone accused your company of corruption.
    Well, would you not instruct your lawyers to deny your company is corrupt, and if anyone has proof of corruption regarding this/our company, then please show us it and action will be taken to stamp it out, if you cannot provide proof, then please refrain from accusations of malpractice and corruption. Or we will sue you.
    Not so ATOS healthcare, not once as far as I know have ATOS healthcare challenged anyone at anytime to refrain from accusing them of corruption or malpractice.

    I think the reason is patently obvious, the evidence they are corrupt is overwhelming, with thousands of people all over Britain willing to step forward at anytime and show the proof their medical assesssment carried out by ATOS healthcare was fabricated.
    ATOS have taken the view that opening a can of worms is not in their best interests, and they are right because they would without any doubt whatsoever lose any litigation attempt !!

  9. stan February 17, 2011 at 12:09 am #

    Having had 2 years experience of the ESA system (as a customer) the overwhelming evidence is that the ESA WCA form ESA50,the assessment itself , the descriptors and the rules and protocols in the LiMA computer programme have all been extremely well planned.
    Not to provide a Fair and Reasonable Assessment of a claimants condition and ability but to be loaded in such a way that a claimant will fail themselves either by filling in the ESA50 or by the very attendence at the assessment or by answering the loaded questions in the interview honestly (the answers will be altered to suit what the HCP wishes anyway).
    Far from the DWP DM awarding points the Atos HCP with the aid of LiMA awards the points, as points are the criteria for a “pass” or “fail” the decision is made prior to the DM receiving the Medical Report.(provable).
    The Atos HCP does not take into account any other evidence,The DWP DM must by law.In this situation it is reasonable to think after the DM scrutinises the other evidence most points awards would be increased.
    I can find no evidence of this happening on the initial, supposed, Decision by the DM.
    I believe the decision making has been sub-delegated to Atos Healthcare sub-delegation of decision making is ILLEGAL regardless of it being done purposely or unwittingly.
    The whole system was created with the intention of removing at least 1 million sick and or disabled people from benefit regardless of their illness.
    For the public and the Medical Proffession to turn a blind eye to this will only allow the powers that be to move on to whatever they have planned next,already DLA is at risk ,with 25% of claimants to be removed.
    No one knows what the next plan is,I hope I am not here to see It.

  10. Mo Stewart February 17, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    Atos is a copy of the assessments used by UnumProvident – an American insurance group -banned in several American states, and half a dozen countries, including New Zealand. If you want evidence of litigation take a look at:
    http://www.accfocus.org/international/item/2193-unim-provident-denied-disability-claims and you will see that Unum has paid out $millions.
    Evidence that Unum are consultants with DWP for this nightmare with Atos can be seen at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/tpca.pdf – but be quick. This is the only reference still left on line showing Unum consulting with the DWP – clearly another DWP administration error. Mo Stewart

  11. Mo Stewart February 17, 2011 at 12:29 am #

    The DMs DO NOT MAKE ANY DECISIONS, as confirmed in the Harrington Review and my research – see website evidence:
    http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html
    All the DM can do is to “rubber stamp” any Atos Healthcare decision as DWP use junior, basic grade, unqualified civil servants who are not trained in medical administration. What is needed is medical administrators, who can then confirm input from GPs and Consultants etc. Getting the correct assessment decision would reduce costs of Tribunals, so the budget should be able to fund medical adminstrators until we can get Atos removed from the UK. Parent company, Atos Origin, is a corporate giant and market leader in IT who just happen to have ‘won’ the lucrative IT contract for the Olympic Games. What a surprise. Mo Stewart

  12. ESA veteran February 17, 2011 at 12:42 am #

    Sad to say that when migration of IB claimants starts in the near future the exact same percentage of claimants will be denied benefit.
    The month on month figures of support group,wrag,fit for work,hardly ever alter at all.
    It would be reasonable to believe that as in Medical Centres and Doctors surgeries the illness levels would spike or fall at certain times.This is not the case with Atos Healthcare,I do not proffess to know how they control the figures but the figures themselves show they are under some kind of manipulation.
    As Dr McCartney has stated throughput is the main aim of Atos Healthcare understandable as that is where the money is.
    In the beginning people laughed at some of the things that were recorded on medical reports……….
    A man with a missing leg was told it may grow back!!
    Can set alarm clock with help of friend ?
    Can do gardening for 1 minute every 2 hours!
    sat in chair with no arms for 30 mins when the whole assessment lasted 27 mins?
    These are a small example, the list is endless.
    The fact is with the aid of the scroll down feature and the mechanically acquired answers ,the Atos Healthcare HCP can and does put anything they wish,senseable or not.
    The Atos blurb says it is a Logic Intergrated Medical Assessment, where is the logic most decisions are illogical.
    Ask Atos to supply you with the rules and protocols that run the LiMA programme ,but first prepare yourself to be bamboozled by them,they do not supply them because they are aware they will not stand up to scrutiny.
    My God how much evidence is needed to bring about a Judicial Review?

  13. Margaret McCartney
    margaretmccartney February 17, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    thanks for your responses
    please think about leaving a rapid response to the article on the BMJ website (no subscription required) where it will be seen by doctors.
    I have had to remove a couple of comments which were of legal questionability: I think you are right to be angry but being sued by atos would not help much!….
    best
    mgt

  14. D.W.P. Examination February 17, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    ATOS and the DWP are working hand in hand under the guidance of this (and the previous) Government to reduce the number of UK residents accessing sickness and disability Benefits. The Work Capability Assessment is unfit for purpose and is administered by alleged Health Care Professionals who can be anything from a physiotherapist to a specialist. ATOS claim all its employees are fully trained in Disability Assessment and are competent to carry out the WCA. ATOS use the Lima computer system to generate reports; the HCP asks a question, the claimant answers specifically and in detail and then the HCP selects an option from a drop down menu which he feels best suits the claimants answer, this often generates bizarre comments in the report sent to the Jobcentreplus Decision Maker. The reports are so vague that the DM simply follows the points awarded by the ATOS HCP and Benefits are usually denied. In his inaugural speech as Chancellor George Osbourne declared war on what he described as “Welfare Benefit Scroungers”, his use of this derogatory and discriminatory term in the House demonstrates the contempt this present Government has for the disabled. We are being singled out for “special treatment” and as a minority group we should be protected from this under Law as others would be. For further evidence of the abuse carried out by ATOS please visit http://www.dwpexamination.wordpress.com or http://www.dwpexamination.myfreeforum.org Thank you for allowing me to express my concerns and for reading this comment. Please help me stop this abuse of disabled peoples Human Rights now!

  15. judy February 17, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    hi Margaret, iIsee that my comment is “awaiting moderation” still, though it was the second comment posted on the 16th. Could you let me know why this is? Is mine one of the comments of “legal questionability”? If so, could you tell me why? I have posted similar things elsewhere and if I have said anything which could be illegal I would be very grateful if you could tell me! I certainly don’t want to get into any trouble!! Many thanks.

  16. Margaret McCartney
    margaretmccartney February 17, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    sorry – there were a backlog of comments, approved now.
    as you know libel laws in this country are in need of reform: it’s not hard to get into difficulty even if you are in the right. sometimes it’s all about the phrasing…

  17. judy February 17, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    thanks Margaret, but do let me know if I’ve said anything illegal! I know nothing about the law, just trying to put my point across in the best way I can.

  18. Dino February 17, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    Having had 2 interrogations, as I call them, at the hands of ATOS the first HCP said a side effect of my condition (muscle weakness) was basically a lie as there was tone and definition to the arms, as far as I am aware tone & definition have nothing to do with strength or weakness.
    The second HCP said there was no reason why I shouldn’t be found fit for work, then a few pages later the report said that I shouldn’t return to work in the longer term.

    ATOS & the DWP will not give out any information on LiMA I doubt they will even say how old the original program is.
    The interrogation claimants are put through by ATOS is now called a REPORT OF MEDICAL OPINION they use the word opinion because an opinion is never wrong and I believe this allows them to put anything in the reports they like and then it is up to the claimant to provide evidence to disprove this, if the claimant is unable to do this even if their conditions mean they cannot get to the places they need to go to get the evidence then ATOS wins and the VICTIM is declared fit for work.

  19. D.W.P. Examination February 17, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    As a disabled rights campaigner, I constantly receive emails from people who feel they have been mistreated by ATOS and the DWP. Many tell me stories which at first glance seem unbelievable, but are true. I would certainly recommend anyone who feels the decision to cease their Benefit payments is wrong to appeal, but be aware that you only have one month to do so. The number of disabled people who win is on the increase and at last count the figure stood at 40% of all appeals being found in favour of the appellant! This means ATOS or the DWP were wrong 40% of the time when denying benefits. These figures speak for themselves, don’t despair, fight for your rights and those of your children because if you don’t, there will be no support for them in the future.

  20. Carruthers February 17, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    I signed the petition against the replacement of DLA by PIP, and asked others to do so, but the overt point of the petition is completely hopeless, as anyone who has followed this debate will know. The DWP has been very careful to “seed” the press, and some newspapers have been only too happy to jump on the “fake a minor disability and get loads of money for life,” bandwagon.

    What we just might be able to achieve is two or three small changes in this legislation. It is my belief that we should continue the public protests against the huge injustices that ATOS is inflicting, in the hope of changing the climate of public opinion, but not expect it to help in this particular battle.

    So what changes do I suggest we try for?

    1) The right to have ANY PIP (or WCA) test recorded – using the DWP’s own equipment to produce two recordings. Even the knowledge that they were being recorded could help with the current dishonest results being produced in the ESA assessments. The principal use of the recordings would be that they could be used in evidence at a Tribunal. We would have to remove the right of ATOS Health Care Professionals to object to this recording. Policemen are not given the right to object to having their interviews recorded. Claimants are not allowed to object to CCTV in the assessment centres. The only reason that ATOS is so protective of the feelings of their HCPs is so that they can be told they must veto any recording, since ATOS wants to retain the only record of the “interview” in their computer program.

    2) An assertion that the DMs must use all the evidence available, including submissions from the claimant’s own GP and consultant. This should undercut the defence that the DM “can’t over-rule ATOS, because they’re the doctors”, since there will be other doctors to whose reports they have to listen.

    3) An “encouragement” for the DWP to examine its decision review process. If they are concerned about the number of cases going to appeal, and the percentage of those appeals which succeed, then the obvious step is for them to improve the steps taken inside the DWP. If the initial DM is always going to rubber-stamp the ATOS “judgement”, then a reviewing DM should not just rubber-stamp the first decision. If they took a more careful look at the original decision, they could probably spot some which the Tribunal are almost certain to over-rule, and grant them anyway. They could also spot those which would get thrown out without a second look, and so rule – possibly explaining in detail to the claimant or their representative the reasons for that decision – which might discourage “hopeless” appeals.

    This would be cheaper for the DWP, as proper review is a lot cheaper than going to Tribunal.

    I would also like to see the independence of the Tribunal service guaranteed, and backed up by a ruling that they may not allow officials from the DWP, or any private company, to inspect their records on any cases still before, or to come forward, for any level of Tribunal – i.e. only settled cases to be examined. I’d exclude them altogether if I could, but I’m guessing that that pass has been sold – see the story on Benefits and Work about the Tribunal service allowing DWP officials, together with ATOS HCPs, to inspect any records that the Tribunals service holds. This ought to have the legal eagles jumping all over it – one party in a dispute given preferential access to records and being allowed to advise the independent” judge what to do!”

    Perhaps we could also encourage more ATOS “whistle-blowers” – we badly need testimony from people who have carried out these “medical” tests, even if they can only contribute anonymously.

    I shall probably try to push this agenda on other sites, so please excuse me if it looks like cross-posting.

  21. judy February 18, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    Carruthers – as far as I’m aware, after much campaigning, people do now have the right to record their medicals – but whether they are aware of this, or will ever be made aware, is another matter, and I think most people would be fearful of doing something like that anyway.

    I totally agree with what you say about the Tribunals being independent, but are you aware that this Government have proposed to abolish Legal Aid for all Welfare Benefits matters? So most people will not be able to pursue an appeal or tribunal because they won’t have the money or access to expert help. Yes, they are closing down all our avenues of support.

    I think one of the most important things that needs to be done is to raise public awareness of what is actually happening. Only a tiny handful of people are aware of it and if the public and the medical profession knew I think the vast majority would be horrified.

  22. judy February 19, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    Demand for fairer benefits tests as two die

    HERALD SCOTLAND
    19 Feb 2011

    The deaths of two people who were waiting for appeals to be heard against the loss of benefits has prompted calls for a fairer assessment system.

    The two claimants, both from West Dunbartonshire, died from the conditions which caused them to claim Incapacity Benefit (IB) while waiting for appeals to be heard against cuts to their benefits.

    One was deemed fit for work during a work capability assessment, despite having a deteriorating chronic illness, and lost both incapacity benefit and disability living allowance.

    When his support worker appeared at the appeal tribunal she had to report her client could not be there because he was dead. The appeal was upheld and the backpayment will become part of his estate.

    The other had a congenital condition which caused difficulty in walking but was assessed capable of work and his incapacity benefit was withdrawn. He was waiting for a date for an appeal tribunal when he died.

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/demand-for-fairer-benefits-tests-as-two-die-1.1085915

    This is after another man died – reported here –

    http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2011/02/sick-who-gives-atos.html

    He was put on the “work related activity” group where he got the lower rate of benefit and special help finding a suitable job.

    But months later he collapsed and died of a heart attack, the day before another Atos medical. His widow is convinced the stress of claiming killed him.

    SOMETHING HAS GOT TO BE DONE ABOUT ATOS AND THESE TESTS!!

  23. yooyoungtodietooilltolive February 20, 2011 at 11:31 pm #

    Thank you for your blog and BMJ article. The sick and disabled need GPs and other doctors and the BMA to speak out against the farce of these ATOS medicals. They are causing much inreased ill-health through unremitting stress of never knowing when the hammer will fall or how hard. Any decent doctor would have nothing to do with this company and target driven “medicals.” Any doctor’s first duty is to the patient, wherever they are seen and for whatever reason.

    Please if you are a doctor, fight this injustice and stand up for your own profession – that your opinion on the state of your patient’s health should not be overidden or ignored by government ideology or medicals driven by the profit motive.

  24. Black Triangle Campaign February 21, 2011 at 3:18 am #

    That had better not be Gillian Carruthers.

  25. judy February 22, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    hi, my comment left on 19th still waiting moderation again??

  26. Margaret McCartney
    margaretmccartney February 22, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    apologies Judy.
    What was apparent at the open evening was that atos said they could look at whatever ‘evidence’ was brought to them. However it’s clear that most patients don’t have their full medical notes with them.
    There seems to be a real problem here: how do you know there isn’t something decision changing in the evidence you don’t see?
    If all patients were to take full copies of their medical notes/correspondance/verifications from witnesses about how illness affects them/photographs/diaries/etc to atos and insist they were read as part of the assessment,….(copying medical notes this would take up a huge amount of GP practice time (not just photocopying time but a GP has to go through notes removing all third party information etc). I’m not suggesting that (before I incur the wrath of gps everywhere) ….but I wonder how much time it would take atos to read, assess and document what they said they would have to read…..

  27. Draco. February 23, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    It doesn’t matter what medical evidence you take and show the ATOS hcp at a work capability assessment, they dont even look at it, and they certainly dont pass them on to the DWPs decision maker.

    And when anyone ever challenges them and asks why they dont look at it, they are ready for you/them with the answer…because it’s not a medical assessment !!

    It’s a work capability assessment according to them, then they move on to bamboozling you with a lot of American inspired jive talking like ‘It’s not what you can’t do, it’s what you can do’ and wait for it, heres my favourite ”People need much more support to manage their condition’s and get help to find work and moving them on to ESA is the best way to do that” of course this is a blatant lie, because hardly anyone is being found unfit for work (THEY HAVE MANIPULATED THE FIGURES FOLKS) unless you are so ill you can’t even walk, in fact if you can walk at all, then according to ATOS healthcare, DWP or the Government (take your pick because their all the same) this means in their twisted logic that you can do some kind of work, so dont deserve enough points on their idiotic point scoring descriptor system to warrant ESA and as promised some help back in to work.

    And ironically enough the reason for ESA in the first place is supposed to be, some help back in to work.
    If it’s not about a persons health problems then, but a case of can you do some work, then I could do the WCA, anyone with more than a cople of brain cells to rub together could do it, they dont even need so called HCPs because as they will tell you themselves it’s not a medical assessment, it doesnt matter if both your eardrums are burst, it doesn’t matter if you have a brain tumour, doesn’t even matter if you have a brain tumour and lung cancer at the same time, according to these cowboys you are fit for some kind of work and they use that excuse (that you can walk or lift your hands) and that it’s not a medical assessment -to deny you the neccesary points to be eligible for ESA and therefore some kind of help back in to the workplace.

    One has to BE READY LEARN THEIR STOCK ANSWERS and have ones wits about them while dealing with these foxes !!

    John Evans from Evan Johns and the H bombs in one of his songs said ”SWEETEN UP YOUR GAME”

  28. Peter Benson February 27, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    I am totally surprised and amazed that any medical practitioner would work for ATOS.Not only is ATOS making the Benefits system look corrupt in its eagerness to get individuals of Sickness Benefit or whatever the Government of the day chooses to call it.But Medical Professionals that join this regime only lower peoples perspective of them and their compassion and competency in their chosen profession.
    A Doctor or Nurse that joins this outfit obviously thinks more of money than of the peoples lives and health in whom they sit in judgement on.They seem more like Traffic Wardens handing out well notes instead of parking tickets.In their zest to make easy money.Certainly the Doctors should go back and re-read the Hippocratic Oath.First do no harm.
    The BMJ should shame this outfit for what it is.If not,at the end of the day,when history records.It will be the BMJ along with the Government that will be shown to be as the Pontius PIilate they have become.

  29. Vicki March 3, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    @Peter Benson, you say

    “I am totally surprised and amazed that any medical practitioner would work for ATOS”

    You shouldn’t be. These are times of high unemployment, and even medically trained people have to take work where they can find it.

    Remember also how many people’s testimony includes mention of “poor understanding” – usually, one presumes, from English not being their native tongue. If you are (say) an unemployed midwife in Lithuania, night you not come to the UK and get a well-paying job with ATOS. What you see is an affluent society, and people who want more money.

    All you have to is to tick the boxes and then sign off a report which you are not given the time to read through. What happens after that is not your problem. If you’re asked about it you say, “It’s there to stop benefit cheats,” or “I just do the interview, it’s up to someone else to take the decisions.”

    Remember that Atos stressed at the recruitment session described that the “Health Care Professional” is not seeing “a patient”, but a “claimant”. They are not, says Atos, carrying out a medical diagnostic session, but a “functional evaluation”. This is designed to help those who understand the nuances overcome any scruples about what they are doing. Their responsibility is restricted to fact-finding; they are not even encouraged (or given time) to read any other doctor’s evaluation – that’s someone else’s job.

    If you really need the job, then this sort of thing helps you take it, even if you’re not sure about what you’re doing.

    I get the impression from some of what I read, that the HCPs who have been there a while find that Atos doesn’t treat them very well either.

    I see here that the HCP is told, “The average morning or afternoon session should consist of five assessments.” The claimant is told that the interview will take one and half to two hours. The phrase, “does not compute” comes to mind. Working at that pace probably leaves the HCP too tired to worry about the effect of the job on other people’s lives.

  30. Margaret McCartney
    margaretmccartney March 3, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

    Dear David
    I have deleted your recent comments because they were offensive and defamatory. I really would rather not spend my limited time moderating; it’s better spent elsewhere. Debate here is welcome, not abusive comments.

  31. DWPEX March 4, 2011 at 9:21 am #

    The exercise carried out by ATOS employees is little more than a box ticking exercise designed to get the claimant off Benefits and to allow the HCP to “pass the buck” when questioned. The description of what is happening on the day to the “customer” is confusing to say the least. Most people who come into contact with ATOS for the first time think they are going to be given a fair medical to assess their level of disability. The “customer” is led to believe they are attending a “medical” and when they find they have scored 0 points despite in many cases severe disabilities they are shocked. They don’t know what to do and are given as little guidance as possible on how to appeal. The General Public are not aware of the sham disabled people face and are fed misleading information by the media which further exasperates the problem disabled people are having in Britain today. The Government labelled us “Welfare Benefit Scroungers” and to emphasise it, George Osbourne used this term to describe those in receipt of Welfare Benefits during his opening speech in Parliament. This whole charade is little more than an attack on a minority group, if we were of a different nation or religion, they wouldn’t dare attack us in the same way. I am appalled to think that this Tory led Government can get away with singling out and treating sick and disabled people like this. We were workers too; we contributed to the upkeep of the UK and paid our taxes willingly. We now find ourselves in need of support from a system which is primarily designed to help us in our time of need, only to find we are being ostracised when we are temporarily sick, disabled or at the end of our useful working lives. It is grossly unfair of the Government to openly support a “test” they know is seriously flawed and will have an adverse effect upon the people it is meant to help. This is not support it is punishment. This is not help it is hindrance. This in not designed to assist any one with a disability at all, it is nothing more than a thinly disguised elimination process for disabled people. We are entitled to better treatment and will continue to campaign against this alleged medical until it is replaced by a fair and equitable test.

    I urge the people of the Unoted Kingdom the think carefully, think about your future and the future of your children! You or they could become sick or disabled at any time, if this Government get the chance to take away our rights to Benefits and destroy the Welfare system, there will be nothing there for you when you need it.

  32. Stan March 4, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    Dear Margaret ,It appears David and I have over stepped the mark with our comments.
    We invite you to read the dwp examination Myfreeforum where an apology has been posted,please read as a guest or indeed join as a member ,we are only lay people who feel we are getting a raw deal from the authorities,on top of which we are all ill in some form or other.
    2 years of having to fight for our rights does not help our conditions.
    Thank You Stan

  33. DWPX March 6, 2011 at 1:30 am #

    Vicki, I am very interested in your post, I assume you have some connection or experience of working for ATOS Healthcare, though you do not confirm this. My experience of ATOS is not very good, I have been classed as fit for work several times and had every decision the HCP’s have made massively overturned at Tribunal. I am concerned that you appear to be confirming that an understanding of the English Language is not an essential criterion for the post of an ATOS HCP and that the “assessment” is little more than a box ticking exercise.

    Throughout my life I have always been taught to have the greatest respect for Doctors and Nurses. My parents taught me that they were dedicated individuals who had our best interests at heart. I still believe this today and am grateful for the treatment I have received over the last few years from the real Healthcare Professionals working in the NHS.

    ATOS are a private company who employ (alleged) Healthcare Professionals to do a job of work for them, I am under the impression that some of those employed by ATOS are not Healthcare Professionals and are selling their qualification to be used as a rubber stamp for the sole Benefit of the DWP. This worries me as it is undermining the faith I have in the “real” Healthcare Professionals in the NHS who work hard to make my quality of life and health better every day.

    The important thing to remember here is that ATOS are in the employ of the DWP. The DWP instruct ATOS who then act on that instruction. If the Government say they want to migrate 1 million from sickness Benefits to ESA, ATOS will do all they can to achieve that target. So you see why I am interested, if you do or have worked for ATOS tell us the truth and help us to change what is clearly an unfair and biased test.

  34. Margaret McCartney
    margaretmccartney March 7, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    I think Vicki is trying to understand what’s going on.
    Thank you for the above; I hope to write about this again and will definitely be talking about the denigrations of medical professionalism in the book that I’m (still) writing.
    v interesting reply from gmc – see post several above. mgt

  35. peter mcdade March 7, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

    ATOS have a policy to only employ nurses from the Adult/General part of the NMC Register. A large proportion of their work is to assess people who are presenting with mental health conditions. There are many subjective observations that are made with regards to how the “claimant” presents themselves and very often they go against the claimant, i.e the absence of stereotyped behaviours. Seems to deem a person to be O.K. I would be very interested to know what training is given to nurses in the field of mental health assessments within the 5 days. From what I have read it seems to be watching videos of rain man and the one who flu over the cuckoos nest. Thanks for highlighting a very important issue here.

  36. DWPX March 8, 2011 at 1:30 am #

    This is a very emotive subject and is the primary reason for the existence of the dwpexamination blog and forum. There are many interesting cases within both which highlight the plight of disabled people who fall into the hands of ATOS and are then seemingly, suddenly capable of work.

    The simple fact is that the General Public have no clear impression of what actually happens during one of these Work Capability Assessments. They are mislead by articles in the press relating to the number of disabled people who are found fit for work, the press do not balance this by stating the figures relating to the number who successfully appeal the original decision.

    In all fairness both figures should be publicised. I worry that the General Public are being manipulated and deliberately incensed by the press and TV and as a result, temporarily lose their long term perspective. In short they focus on the now rather than the consequences of allowing this immoral assault upon the human rights of the sick and disabled, later. The upshot of this is the loss of any Benefits for them, their children and their grand children. It is their future entitlement they are throwing away, not just ours.

    I suppose the real issue here is unless you actually experience a WCA or one of your friends or relatives do, then you will not fully grasp the gravity of the situation. People with varying degrees of disability are mistakenly being judged as fit for work in the space of 20 minutes by an alleged Health Care Professional they have never met, has no access to their medical records and no personal experience of their particular case. Time and time again people with cancer have been passed fit for work, people with brain tumors, Multiple sclerosis and other debilitating and terminal illnesses are found fit to work and are put in the unfortunate position of having to appeal.

    How can this be fair? How can this be rationally described as helping people back to work? How can this be allowed to happen? Please support our campaign for a fair test.

  37. Stan March 8, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    Dr McCartneys feature has at last opened a debate,I feel the comments made by Edward .S.Cooper are very enlightening and fair.
    However how we can tell what is honest and what is dishonest in the Medical Report ,it is not always straight forward,the HCP is often rushing and trying to form sentences to input into the computer, this does not always reflect the answers given by the claimant (patient).
    Mine for instance stated “walks to the shop everyday for milk” .My milkman ,who has delivered to me for 37 years found this quite amusing.
    Is it lying ? I do not know but clearly it affects the decision which will be made.
    I ask Mr Cooper why in all honesty does he believe this comment was entered into LiMA by the Atos HCP?
    How would I defend against it at a Tribunal?
    Tens of thousands of people report answers which they have never uttered and answers that are so outrageous they are certain the reason is to deny them benefit.
    The nuances of the law may be simple for Mr Cooper to understand ,for claimants in general it is not ,we are afraid of the Tribunals and of those who sit on them.We believe we are not treated fairly by the DWP and ATOS and we will not be treated fairly by Tribunal.
    All we ask is a fair and reasonable assessment,we are being judged and so should the quality of assessment not in secret by Atos and the DWP but in the open.

  38. ken September 22, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

    And to top it all off, they put the evil Grayling in charge of tribunals – Chris Grayling, the man who has lied numerous times, who is intent on stripping people of their benefits, who ignores evidence, and fabricates the truth.

    God help us all.

  39. luan November 19, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    i had report back from atos recently.completly fabricated nonesense.biggest joke meeting lasted 26min,apparently i sat with comfort for 23min and stood for 1min yet in his report he comments on clinical findings when lying down. i have actually questioned this with dwp and they are still happy that his
    report is truthful.love to know the qualifications of the d m in my case the system is a joke god help the
    people on dla when pip is introduced ?????????

    report is

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  41. Joyce Drummond May 2, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    Hope this is of some use.
    https://www.facebook.com/#!/SupportNurseWhoBlowsWhistleOnAtosAssessments

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