Atos adverts tug at heartstrings

At least, they try to. New style advert in the BMJ today. Previous ads have emphasised that working for Atos, as ‘disability assessors’ for their contract with the DWP, is good for ‘work life balance‘. The newly worked ad says that “you could make the difference that gives someone on incapacity benefit a brighter future…It’s a vitally important role that aims to change lives for the better.”

Applicants for the jobs should perhaps know first: a third of people appeal the decision, and 40% of those are upheld, so we could argue that the assessments aren’t very accurate.  (and what about the people who don’t have the ability to make an appeal or the resources to do so? Where agencies like Citizens’ Advice are involved, there is a greater chance of winning an appeal – meaning that the person who appeals without support is less likely to win. This would not support the idea of a fair assessment.)

Second, applicants should know that they will not have full access to NHS notes, and thus not be able to get accurate and full  information about diagnosis and treatment.  They should also know that they will be expected to make ‘point in time’ assessments. This can be very difficult, especially in  mental health diagnosis , which will include, for example, drop -down boxes to tick if someone is ‘sweating’ and ‘rolling’ in the chair, supposedly as sure-thing signs of serious mental illness. Doctors should know that mental illness can be chronic, can fluctuate, and can be treated; which can reduce some symptoms but will not always mean that a person able to work. Doctors thinking of working for Atos should have a look online at the many testimonials from patients who have felt that the basis for normal working in Atos- a computer based protocol tickbox assessment – is degrading and distressing. They should also read Professor Malcolm Harrington’s review and criticisms of the system.

6 Responses to “Atos adverts tug at heartstrings”

  1. Mo Stewart June 6, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    The numbers of upheld appeals rise to 70% for victims with representation, according to Citizens Advice.
    This Atos advert is simply marketing as a high calibre psychological misdirection. The claim that removing people from a life on disability benefit will lead to a ‘brighter future’ is the reason the Minister for Welfare Reform has been offered unlimited authority, his conclusions are never challenged and he demonstrates that he holds the chronically disabled in utter contempt. With a past history in finance, the Minister is simply balancing the DWP books at the expense of the most vulnerable people in the UK, most of whom are unable to cope with this obvious abuse.
    If the government want to redress this balance then why adopt an American insurance evaluation system, copied from Unum, who are identifed as the 2nd worst insurance company in America in the 2009 report from the American Association for Justice: referes.
    If a genuine assessment of the needs of the disabled was the real motive, a cost of in excess of £100million per annum, as funded by the DWP to Atos, could be removed simply by appointing medical adminstrators in the position of ‘Decision Makers’ as opposed to the basic grade, medically unqualified administrators now in post, who are totally incapable of comprehending medical input from GPs or Consultants, hence the fact that they simply “rubber stamp” anything provided by the Atos assessment, as identified in my research and confirmed by Prof Harrington. Costs could be removed at a stroke if GPs and Consultants were invited to offer their medical opinion as to if their patient was fit and well enough to consider a return to some form of employment.
    The Atos assessment makes no allowance for variable conditions, which almost all chronic illness or chronic disability is, and is demonstrably clinically unsound using a computer tick test instead of a detailed medical examination, and it is morally challenged by reputable medical practitioners.
    The clinical opinion of GPs and Consultants who, by definition, are clinical experts, are totally ignored by the Atos assessment, yet are accepted as “expert testimony” in every court in the land. Atos practioners have no access to medical history, medical notes or treatment criteria. The Atos assessments are dangerous, are copied from a discredited corporate insurance giant known as UNUM, are funded by the DWP and have been identified as government funded medical tyranny. See website.

  2. Paul June 10, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    I have contacted several government departments, ministers, and individual MPs to ask them about their parties involvement with Unum, I get the same response from all political parties, a complete lack of any decent response.

    I wrote to all the leaders of the main parties and asked them about Unum and Atos, Prof Mansel Aylward and the sponsorship of his Cardiff University department by none other than Unum, again they refuse to answer simple questions, questions which should be answered, not even going through my own MP do I get any answers.

    New Labour introduced this country to Atos and Unum, Tony Blair, Cameron all had a great respect for the “Wisconsin Welfare Model”, basically it means that after three years you’ve had it, you can never get any welfare benefits, it matters not even If you have children, all you get are food stamps, the amount of poverty has increased 10 fold, more mental health problems, homelessness, it’s a terrible situation, this is what basically “Chris Grayling” announced.

    The most vulnerable and weak of society need to watch out, the government are out to get you…

  3. Mo Stewart June 22, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    Tony Blair wasn’t actually responsible for introducing Atos to the UK as the previous DWP Chief Medical Adviser, Prof Mansel Aylward, was in talks with Unum as long ago as 1992 under the previous Tory regime and it was being developed long before the Blair government. Prof Aylward was reewarded for his devotion to Unum with his own “research” facility at Cardiff Uni, funded by Unum, which will report, guaranteed, that a large %age of chronic ill health and disablity is psychological…..that’s the whole point of the facility so the govt can justify removing benefit.

  4. Paul July 26, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    I may be inccorect but Unum did sponsor one of the Labour party conferences and it was Yvette Cooper who infact agreed and helped implement the descriptors to the WCA, Labour have had a huge part in attacking the disabled/sick of this country.

    As I’ve said previously we are heading for the “Wisconsin Welfare Model”, the work & pensions committee report into Atos does nothing to give confidence to all of us disabled people who have to survive on benefits, the whole Atos process is not an assessment it’s an interogation, the only difference is that your questioning is not given the same rights as If you were a criminal arrested by the police, all police interviews are conducted under certain conditions, one of the most important is that when your arrested and questioned your interview is taped and your given a copy, If only Atos and the DWP would agree to that, we would then not have all the mistakes and wrong decisions being made.

  5. Frances Coppola July 26, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

    All of which, Mo and Paul, just shows that there is little difference between Labour and Tory. Successive governments of both colours have attacked the sick and disabled because a substantial proportion of “middle England”, for whose votes they compete, resents people being supported by their taxes and wants to believe that these people are scroungers. Media hype promotes this too – including the BBC, which produced several appalling programmes which purported to “out” fraudulent benefits claimants. We need to campaign for more balanced reporting, at least by the state-owned BBC for goodness sake, so that the mistaken beliefs of “middle England” can be publicly changed and the culture of resentment and stinginess can start to change. Until this happens, sick and disabled people will continue to be attacked – whatever government is in power.

  6. Mo Stewart August 26, 2011 at 3:22 am #

    More detailed info is now exposed on a new website at: where groups such as CarerWatch had to move to once Atos unexpectedly removed their support group from the Internet, without warning. Detailed research reports about Atos Healthcare, Unum Insurance and the relationship with DWP now published on this website. Successive governments since Thatcher have been engaged in this destruction of the welfare state with the plan to move towards American style medicine. As exposed in my research, and now confirmed, Unum Insurance is about to implement a massive advertising campaign to encourage pople to purchase income protection (disability) insurance, despite the fact that the previous company, known as Unum Provident Insurance, were identifed as the 2nd worst insurance company in America and were banned from 15 states until 2008.
    Latest research has exposed the Lima computer tick test, used for Atos assessment, to be incapable of accurate confirmation of diagnosis or physical ability.