The Atos nightmare gets worse

As a result of my taking up the case of my constituent Colin Trayner in a House of Commons adjournment debate, who was an epileptic since birth subject to grand mal seizures and who at the age of 29 was declared fit for work but died in a grand mal fit before his appeal could be heard, I have now received several more heart-rending messages about many others who have been similarly appallingly badly treated.   I attach here a few notes about some of these cases.

*  Mr. A has been HIV positive for 15 years.   As well as symptoms of his disease, the side effects of his medication, which keeps him alive, consist of constant incontinence of the bowel.   The only way he is able to leave the house is to fast the day before.   He was called to a medical, and starved himself the day before so he could attend.   The medical took 2 hours, during which he explained the symptoms of his illness to the nurse.   She said she had enough evidence and therefore did not physically examine him.   When he received the decision, he had scored no points (you need 15 points to be declared unfit for work).

*  Mrs. B has fibromyalgia, Paget’s disease (swelling of the brain causing deafness inter alia), and rheumatism.   She can’t walk without severe discomfort, and is confined to bed 3or 4 days per fortnight.   She scored no p;oints.

*  Mrs. C has lupus, migraine, agarophobia, and gets anxiety and panic attacks.   She got no points.

*  Mr. D had diabetes, heart condition, and lymphoedema.   The DWP made 3 appointments for him because he had major walking difficulties.   The DWP then agreed that he could complete the ESA form in his car, though he had asked the DWP officer to come out to complete the form, which was refused.   Mr. D died while completing the form.

*  Mr. E has arthritis, diabetes, depression and anxiety.   He received the ESA form, and rang the DWP to inform them that he couldn’t fill the form in for the moment because his son had hanged himself 2 weeks before.   The DWP warned him that if he did not fill in the form and return it by a specified date, his benefit would be stopped.   

*Ms. F has two children aged 8 and 11.   She has a serious mental health problem, but can cope on benefit.   When she was seen, she had 29p left in the electricity meter and no food.   It’s not only adults who can be the victims of Atos, but children as well.

60 thoughts on “The Atos nightmare gets worse

  1. I thought that me waiting five months for an appeal hearing was bad enough but 11 months is ridiculous. I was told by a member of staff from the DWP (who seemed that young, she could have still been in nappies) that it would take 6 months for everything to go through.

  2. Hi Christine, I’ve applied in writing 3 times for Atos to record the WCA on CD as a “reasonable adjustment” and gave a reason. I included the request in my ESA50, a covering letter and a further letter to the DWP. This was on the advice of a friend who has had way too much experience of DWP/Atos shenanigans. If you go to tribunal (and higher) this will be evidence of unfairness at the very least if DWP/Atos ignore your request or do not provide you with a reasonable explanation of why your WCA went ahead without an audio recording.

    Message to Mr Meacher. Is it fair that people who have chronic physical and mental health conditions have to go through the stress of this awful cycle of “lose WCA win Tribunal”?

    I can fully appreciate that it is necessary for the claimant (with support) to put together a strong case with evidence from the start. However, since DWP/Atos are hell-bent on disregarding it- particularly if it comes from an experienced GP- in favour of their own scrawny version (the HCP Report ESA85s),the process discriminates against vulnerable people. It destroys dignity. This is worst when people have progressive neurological conditions or mental health conditions such as bipolar or autism etc. For many it is torture.

  3. Off topic slightly. I submitted a sick note to the DWP starting from 28th April for 2 months. I have received a letter today stating that that sick note runs out on 4th July. How? When I was fit for work, if I made as many mistakes as ATOS and staff from DWP call centres make, I shudder think how many jobs I would have lost.

  4. “I don’t want to leave anyone behind. The test of a good society is you look after the elderly, the frail, the vulnerable, the poorest in our society. And that test is even more important in difficult times, when difficult decisions have to be taken, than it is in better times.”
    David Cameron 2/5/2010 on the Andrew Marr Show

    There is a chance for Labour to throw this back in his face as an abject failure of morality (it was a pledge) and of policy. It also indicates that handing over responsibility to private companies like Atos only leads to abject failure.

    How can Labour have a similar pledge (which they must) without the public being cynical of its success? The coalition has blighted our faith in political parties’ pledges. what does that say about our ‘civilised’ society?

  5. Karen a great post. Thanks for reminding us of what cameron said. But pple have to realise and wake up and see that Labour will not change anything. Michael Meacher is in a minority. He cares about his constituents and pple in general.

  6. Thank you redmakka. I agree with you about waking up and realising the state we are in. I think Michael Meacher is doing sterling work. The Cameron quote is apt because it shows the moral gulf between Cameron and MPs like Mr Meacher.

  7. Sorry about the length of this post but it is worth reeding. It was originally posted at Black Triangle Campaign by Diane.


    Conditions of Practice
    4 July 2013
    Name of registrant: Mrs Ingrid O’Donohoe
    NMC Pin: 92Y1112E
    Part(s) of the register: Registered Nurse – Sub Part 1
    Adult Nursing – 09/10/1995
    Interim Order to be reviewed: Interim conditions of practice order
    Outcome of Review: Order confirmed
    Decision on interim order
    The panel decided to continue the current interim conditions of practice order.
    The panel carefully considered all the information before it and heard submissions by Ms Whyment on behalf of the NMC. The panel accepted the advice of the legal assessor and took account of the guidance issued to panels by the NMC when considering interim orders and the appropriate test as set out at Article 31 of The Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001. It may only make an interim order if it is satisfied that it is necessary for the protection of the public, is otherwise in the public interest or is in Mrs O’Donohoe’s own interest. The panel was mindful that its role was to undertake a
    risk assessment based on the information before it, and not to determine the facts of the case.

    This case was referred to the NMC on 26 March 2012 by ATOS Healthcare. This is the fourth effective review of an interim conditions of practice order imposed on 17 April 2012. The allegations relate to Mrs O’Donohoe’s behaviour at Chelmsford Medical Examination Centre on 19, 20 and 21 March 2012. It is alleged that Mrs O’Donohoe’s behaviour was inappropriate when she was checking someone’s identity, and that she asked inappropriate questions of a claimant at the examination centre. It is further
    alleged that Mrs O’Donohoe became agitated and stressed and began shouting and
    (Page 2 of 2)
    swearing when carrying out another assessment. The police were called to this final incident and Mrs O’Donohoe was allowed to leave the building.
    It is alleged that this conduct was caused by a return of serious health issues.
    Ms Whyment drew the panel’s attention to the on table documents sent in by Mrs O’Donohoe’s representatives. This included:
    • A letter from Mrs O’Donohoe’s General Practitioner dated 20 June 2013.
    • “Final Report” from Occupational Health dated 26 June 2013.
    • A letter from Mrs O’Donohoe’s Line Manager dated 3 July 2013.
    Ms Whyment accepted that Mrs O’Donohoe has fully complied with all of the conditions. Therefore as there is no new information to undermine the current interim conditions of practice order, it appears to be effective, workable and adequately address the concerns raised in this case. Ms Whyment therefore invited the panel to continue the current interim conditions of practice order on the grounds of public interest, and it being otherwise in the wider public interest. Ms Whyment also asked that it remains in Mrs O’Donohoe’s own interests.
    This panel was not bound by the decisions of the previous panel on 5 April 2013. However, the panel heard no new information that undermines the continuing necessity of an order. In all the circumstances the panel has concluded, on the basis of the information before it, that there remains a risk of harm and repetition and the need for an interim order to remain. The panel noted the letter from Mrs O’Donohoe’s Occupational Health Advisor dated 26 June 2013 contained in the on-table document. This states that ‘Ms Donohoe’s health is stable at present and she will require ongoing treatment, support and follow up. Due to the nature of the condition, I am concluding that the symptoms may ‘flare up’ in the future, but I am unable to predict the frequency or severity of episodes.’ Accordingly the panel concluded that due to the seriousness of the allegations in this matter an order remained appropriate and proportionate on the grounds of public protection and
    the panel also concluded an order is otherwise in the public interest to protect the
    (Page 3 of 3)
    reputation of the professions and to declare and uphold proper standards of conduct. The panel also determined that an order was necessary in Mrs O’Donohoe’s own interests.
    The panel next considered whether an interim conditions of practice order remains the appropriate and proportionate response in this case. The panel recognised Mrs O’Donohoe’s compliance with the conditions and was of the view that they effectively addressed the concerns raised in this case. The panel noted that both parties were content with the conditions imposed and it saw no reason to depart from them.
    The panel considered whether the current conditions of practice order would provide the necessary level of protection and concluded that there having been no material change in the circumstances of the case an interim conditions of practice order remains the appropriate, necessary and proportionate response in this matter. The panel was of the view that the public would remain suitably protected by the continuation of the following
    1. You shall only work as a registered nurse for Atos Healthcare;
    2. You shall use your best endeavours to provide a report to the NMC from your line manager, prior to the next review of this order, which comments on your conduct and performance as a registered nurse;
    3. You shall use your best endeavours to provide a report to the NMC from
    Occupational Health or your GP prior to the next review of this order which comments on your engagement and compliance with any management of your ongoing health care needs;
    4. You shall inform any employer or potential employer whether for paid or unpaid nursing work of the conditions imposed in this order.
    This order will run for the period remaining on the original order
    At any review the panel may revoke the order or any condition of it, it may confirm the order, or vary any condition of it, or it may replace the order with an interim suspension order. In certain circumstances, it may be possible for the order to be reviewed by a
    (Page 4 of 4)
    panel at an administrative meeting. Mrs O’Donohoe’s case officer will write to her about this in due course.
    Mrs O’Donohoe should notify the NMC immediately of any material change of
    circumstances that may affect the interim order.
    At any time, Mrs O’Donohoe or the NMC may ask for the order to be reviewed by a panel if any relevant new information becomes available.
    This decision will be confirmed to Mrs O’Donohoe in writing.
    A panel of the Investigating Committee has still to deal with the allegation that has been made against Mrs O’Donohoe. The NMC will keep Mrs O’Donohoe informed of developments in relation to that issue.
    That concludes this determination.

  8. Mrs O’Donohoe’s case shows the probable result of working conditions for Atos employees. Also it means she will continue to assess claimants with physical and mental health problems and put under pressure by line managers to find them fit for work.

  9. I’ve noticed this thread has being going a year. Still no real change. Anyone reading this please please sign, and get your friends to sign the WoW epetition. One of the rquests is to end the Work Capacity Assessment.

  10. I was examined by a woman claiming to be a doctor re. DLA entitlement and a short time later I received a letter telling me that the existing allowance had been stopped. I recently got a date for the appeals tribunal, which will take place soon, 4 days short of 10 months after the payment was stopped.
    The “doctor” spent 25 minutes examining me and claimed to have spent a further 90 mins writing up her report. I have a copy of this report, and I would suggest that most if not all of this report was written up at the time of the examination as she was filling it in while she conducted the examination.
    I complained to ATOS who replied to me providing the “doctor’s” comments on my complaint. There is too much to go into here, but she stated in the report that I could walk at 50 metres per minute. She did not even ask me to walk, and in her reply to my complaint, she stated that I looked like I could walk at that speed.
    All in all, she lied and misrepresented my case in the report as her reply to my comments proves. My overall condition has deteriorated since then and I look forward to the tribunal with dread.

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