The Atos nightmare gets worse

October 14th, 2012

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.

59 Responses to “The Atos nightmare gets worse”

  1. Keith Ramsat Says:

    I truly despair when I hear stories like these and sadly they are not isolated cases. No one is disputing the benefit system needs reformed but, there must be a fair and just way to decide who is and who is not entitled to benefits. ATOS and Ian Duncan Smith have some very serious questions to answer in the way they are dealing with deciding welfare claimants.

  2. Steve Preece Says:

    There are also a few more stories on our website.

    You can contact us at

  3. Jim Says:

    It is a really appalling situation and the rate of deaths have gone up from 32 persons per week as was originally reported to 73 persons a week bringing last years average total deaths to about 3,500 deaths in an 11 month period

  4. Elaine Says:

    I’m on my 2nd appeal. I had a breakdown the first one in 2010. I was in hospital when I was declared fit for work this time and my benefits stopped. Luckily I had just been awarded a community care grant to help me due to current health conditions to make my home safer and more comfortable to minimise the risk of being hospitalised. It was 10 weeks before any money was paid to me from ESA. CAB are dealing with the appeal for me as my physical health has made life just about surviving lately. I could do it much better with support and not punishment for having emotional, mental and physical health problems. I am still trying to recover well enough to sort my living conditions out. Thank you for speaking up for so many of us struggling to come to terms with illness and what feels like persecution on top.

  5. Paul Higgins Says:

    It’s time for Labour to ditch the Blairites and bloody well start to say and do something.

  6. jeremy williams Says:

    PM Mr Cameron & all MP’s
    Everyday disabled people from all over the uk try begging you to hear them. Every day you ignore them. Welfare reform of working age benefits is failing to protect vulnerable disabled people. It’s not a question of how this is inflicting suffering on disabled people, that much is obvious the words working and disabled dont safely go together. The question disabled people and their families need an answer to is why and how you choose to ignore people are dying. No one is saying that working age benefit dont need a reform only disabled people cant survive in a work related category or group. Millions of pounds wasted on testing and retesting tribunal costs retesting resulting in most decisions overturned some die waiting some have been forced to work dangerously. because changing the medical does not change the disability you ignore this its your ignorance that is inflicting a possible death sentence on every disabled person in the uk.
    In 2009 you gave a speech titled “How can we make life better for disabled people” if anyone read it without party names and personal refs they wouldnt ever credit it to any of you by the way disabled people are treated under your rule. That speech was awesome spoken from real experiences fully understanding the support and protection disabled people need to live as normal a life as the can. It is little over 3yrs since then how is it that disabled people are starving suffering and forced to take their own life over measures forced upon them by your party. in short the party you control is hurting disabled people which means everything you once stood for has gone. this you claimed you believed.
    1. i hope i’ve reassured you that though we are facing difficult economic time as a country though tough decisions will be made about what the state can and cannot do. It would run entirely against the grain of the Conservative party i lead to neglect the people who need our help the most.

    “ignoring disabled peoples cries for help when they only have you is total neglect”
    2. we can’t wave a magic wand to make everything better. If you or someone you love suffers from disability, life is going to be hard a lot of the time. But i do believe there are moments of despair, helplessness and frustration that could be directly alleviated by the work of the government.

    “esa medical assessments introduced by the dwp performed by atos costing millions have factors opposite that of ib. fail to protect a disabled person being forced into surroundings not safe to someone with disabilities. the only thing alleviated by the work of the government is benefit refusal. the assessments are not magic wands changing factors wont make the disability better.
    3. Its a fundamental conservative belief that one size doesn’t fit all.

    ” so why spend so much money on uc if you think the above disabled people for obvious reasons dont fall into a universal category that is why these people are dying they cant and dont possess the ability to perform alongside an able body or sound mind person. ib was designed with this in mind and did the job intended and protected disabled the way they deserve. short term sic need wrag to help with move back into work not people that have no chance of ever going to work. cutting the benefit of ib claimants putting into action the sink or swim idea is no way to separate who can go back and who cant. esa & uc will be to universal to be whats needed to protect disabled people as there are to many different illnesses that cause a person to become disabled.”
    4. i do believe that you judge a society by the way it treats it’s most vulnerable.

    “i dont realy think its right i answer this i do not know what every other person in society thinks about the treatment inflicted on disabled people. this one i think people should decide for themselves.”
    I know that no one in government will drop the ignorance the show us. in time when people look back at now every other thing this government will have done will be clouded by the possible death sentences inflicted on this generations disabled population. that is a shame because the reason for esa and wrag were right the intention to reduce unemployment right the target no where near, instead millions wasted testing and retesting the sic will give nothing in return disabled people are unemployable.
    so please can you tell the suffering why you think they deserve this so the next person to die will at least know why. you said when you took your son out people only saw the chair not the boy you called disabled people scroungers. that makes you worse because you know what that feels like now from both sides. anyone can see the love you have for your little boy as do we for our relatives grieving for them causes pain and anger how much more of this do people have to experience before anyone will hear their cries. no one is asking you to help those that wont help themselves just not to turn your back on the ones that cant,stop risking their life because without them there is no future. being disabled is not a crime punishing them for it is. have the people of this country got so selfish and full of hate that it pains them so much that they grudge helping a sic person not as healthy as us, one day it could all change and anyone of us could be where they are now. so to all mp’s these people need you the question is do you need them. i guess action not words will answer that question and action alone will prove just how much of a compassionate one nation you say we are.
    yours the suffering

  7. Bob Says:

    Mr Meacher, thank you for speaking out at last about this unbelievably awful process. However I’d like to make the point that although Atos carry out the tests, they are simply fulfilling a contract agreed by the DWP who, although being fully informed about the horrors, continue to employ them without any penalty for their appalling work. Look at the Organ-grinder, not the Monkey!

    It must be stopped. In my view this a humanitarian crisis.

  8. Roger Simpson Says:

    It’s a form of euthanasia.

  9. Syzygy Says:

    These experiences are horrific and widespread. The following was left on our website today. It just adds to those you report and what is happening all over the country:

    I went recently for an ATOS Medical and was treated like a cow in a cattle production line and nothing else. I was not treated fairly or humanely and was eyed with suspicion down the ATOS Advisors nose as soon as I got into the room! I was sacked from my previous job because I was ill and therefore unable to work but I scored 6 points only and as a result my ESA was stopped! I have a back condition that is so bad that my consultant won’t operate as it will make me worse. I am on Morphine and what employer would want me like that and I cannot sit/stand or walk far. I have been told to claim Job Seekers Allowance and find a job, this is government propaganda to get the disabled back to work and off the books of the government. I feel like slashing my wrists.

  10. Roger Allnot Says:

    I continue to be surpised at Mr Meacher’s approach. He writes about the ‘Atos nightmare’, but all the terrible situations he describes are caused by the policy of this government, carried out by the DWP. As I wrote in the past, I too have suffered from these policies.

    As an opposition MP, surely it would be far better if he called the minister and DWP to account? Or is it easier to blame a private sector contractor?

  11. Victoria Roche Says:

    There is no doubt that the benefit system needs review, but hitting the disabled is cowardly. May I suggest that the powers that be sit and watch Jeremy Kyle for a week, hard work I know but hear me out; there you will clearly see who the leeches are in our society! Those feckless layabouts sponging of the State to fund their existence, pay for their dope and booze, producing babies without a thought and all in the safe knowledge that the government will pay for it all. They freely admit to not working or even attemting to find work, so why do they get a free ride?
    I have a disabled son, autism/dyspraxia/sensory processing disorder/learning difficulties, and I have to jump through hoops every 2 years to prove that he is still disabled! I fear for his future under these reforms.

  12. The Atos Stories Collective Says:

    Thank you for highlighting these horrific stories. We’ve written 2 plays about Atos. If you know anyone interested in putting them on, let us know

  13. Findlow Says:

    “At a time when the government is embarked on a rash rewiring of the entire welfare system, it has decided it has better things to do than keep track of who does and doesn’t get the cash they need”.

    More and more contempt for claimants on the part of the ConDems.

  14. k myers Says:

    do they pay tax in this country on that money

  15. Paul Smith (Atos Victims Group) Says:

    I am also grateful to Mr.Meacher for highlighting this situation but it’s been going on for years, it was the Labour Party who brought us into contact with this disreputable company in the first place, the Labour Party have as much of the guilt to share over this matter as any of the other political parties.

    The present coalition government have done all they can to deny benefit claimants justice and fairness, I have campaigned on this issue for quite a while now and the responses I get from government ministers and the DWP are just excuse after excuse.

    I have continually pressurised the DWP and the former employment Minister Chris Grayling on the subject of having assessments recorded, both for the safety of those undergoing the assessments and for those Atos employee’s carrying out the assessments, the deceipt and lies that have been spewed out over this subject by the government and it’s ministers is disgusting.

    First of all the excuse given for not providing recording machines was expense, then after several FOI Requests I discovered it would only cost approx 250K to supply all the assessment centres with machines, surely a price worth paying to safeguard democracy and fairness for a group of severely vulnerable people in our society, not to the government/DWP, we know why they don’t want recordings made of the assessments as it would show the deception and lies to which Atos carry out the contract.

    As I’ve said previously in this post, Labour are just as guilty for not stopping this disgrace, they know of the torture that people are enduring, I use the term torture as that’s just what it is.

    The Labour leadership are too weak to stand up for what’s right, they keep on telling us that welfare needs reforming, maybe it does maybe it doesn’t, how many hundreds of thousands have to have their lives destroyed in the meantime?

    We often hear politicians describing those on benefits as the feckless or as scroungers, maybe the political elite should look closer to home when using such perjorative remarks, weren’t more MPs involved in expenses scandals only just this past week to do with properties that the public pay for?

    It’s easy to blame the poor and impoverished when we are going through a financial disaster, don’t forget that it wasn’t the poor or the sick or disabled that caused this problem, it was the incompetance of the city bankers which politicians have allowed to get away with murder for years that have put us where we are today.

    As the cemetaries start to fill up this winter with sick and disabled people who have been unable to feed themselves or keep warm because the Atos computer wrongly say’s No, I wonder how many MPs will have to suffer that?

    Eventually the people of this country will say enough is enough, demonstrations will take place like they are now on a regular basis, when people have nothing to lose they will go to extremes.

    The decent people of this country will not put up with this disgrace for much longer??

  16. What Sort of Country Do We Live In? | National Collective Says:

    [...] there is the man who had mobility problems but was still ordered to attend a jobcentre to fill in the form. … form out in the car.  He died in his car, filling out the [...]

  17. W.Ogilvie Says:

    What we really need is a public inquiry into the workings of ATOS of how or money is spent and is it work all the millions of pounds of tax payers money.
    What should also be available is if any MP`s have a vested interest in the company through third parties etc.
    If what we read is true and these people have a set deadline to refuse more that 70% of claiments which then goto a tribuinal and are overturned, does this not waste even more tax payers money. Im sure if in any line of business you cost the company more money then they got and you knew that it was illegal you would be fired and a possible police investigation ??.
    I think the saying “No one is above the law” comes into play here.
    This company doesnt really give a thought to helping people its all about profit margins and it does not matter that someone kills themself casue that just helps the government not have to pay them.
    Im really ashamed that i and many other let this tory/lib dem into power so that they can kill the disabled poor and boost the pockets of the rich.

  18. derek hoy Says:

    National disgrace,they know most of people are in pain.How can someone not a Dr make decisions and argue with Drs?

    How can they lie,not document real conditions all to meet qoutas? And on public bonuses of millions.

    Its verging on Nazism im disgusted to be British anymore.



  19. Kirsty Says:

    After 13yrs serving in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy and being medically discharged for being unfit for service I moved back home, signed off by my dr as unfit to work due to chronic ankle pain in both ankles and awaiting more surgery also suffer with depression I am a single mum to a 4 year old. To get my son to school my alarm goes off at 4am every morning so I can mobilise in time to get him up ready for school and into school every step I take is painfull some days I can’t function atall went for a medical with atos to be told nothing wrong with me and I am fit to work!!! I also suffered a stroke at the end of may this year. I live a life of constant pain I struggle to do day to day tasks but get them done eventually and I’m sure if it wasn’t for my son my depression would be ten times worse than what it is! I didn’t choose to be 33 and in agony struggling to walk!! I am currently awaiting my date in court thankfully the RBL are helping me with my appeal as the stress from it is far to much to cope with ontop of everything else.
    Yet I know of people who are claiming a lot of the system that don’t deserve a penny!!

  20. Janet Says:

    thank you for speaking on our behalf…my problem is not as serious as a lot of peoples,but I’m still disabled and feel so alone if I didn’t have people on some of the internet sites(atos miracles being so helpful)I think I would have given up long so we have’human rights’on our side?

  21. Jonathan Eyre Says:

    Thank you Michael to keeping to the truth on this ATOS issue, and the disability denial now engraved deep on the heart of this Government and the DWP.
    Is it because we is disabled? YES! If this kind of action was perpetrated against women or ethnic minorities it would be HEADLINE news.

    The Media it seems is happy to conspire with deep public feelings of disquiet over the ‘perks'(!) of those with disabilities whilst the human rights of those with disabilities are destroyed. It is never quoted that it is not the disabled who cheat the system, we are the victims of cheats and this Government, and when the disabled benefit fraud sits at less than 1%, MPs should consider their own professions before casting these ruthless, callous and discriminating stones….

    ATOS is embedded in the UK business sector and Public services. There has been a long campaign against the CO-OP for its blood partnership with ATOS who provide their HR. We have been demanding for ethical reasons that the CO-OP should end this contract, which is up for renewal. Could you look into this, contact their Chief Executive who has refused to respond to the campaign, and perhaps talk to some CO-OP MPs and get them on-side.

    Keep up the good work.

  22. mark blackburn Says:

    i would just like to point out the fact that it is not just ATOS that is lacking but also the DWP while reviewing evidence and comparing it to the ESA/50 form, people fill out and send in if they did you would have noticed that the whole section on metal health was not even filled in on my partners ATOS medical report but anyway here is my experiences

    I’m just going to post the medical supporting evidence i wrote out for our tribunal with the sensitive info removed.

    you will be pissed off

    Supporting Evidence

    Statement of supporting evidence
    First of all I would like to state that our evidence is lacking due to our time constraints as our ESA and ATOS reports only arrived two and half weeks before our tribunal hearing despite asking for them for many months before hand so our supporting evidence is not all that we would have liked to of presented at this hearing. This information we have been told to present first by Mr Russell Charnock our Citizens Advice Bureau representative who could not be with us today or write out this supporting evidence letter due to said time restraints. And to inform the tribunal that we currently have a complaint being processed with the DWP’s ESA’s Independent Case Examiner this is on-going.

    Information we contest within the ATOS Medical Report

    • ATOS medical report page 1 states that the medical was just over 33 minutes long when in fact it was only 17 minutes

    • In the ESA50 03/11 Limited Capability for work questionnaire
    Louisa Gallagher clearly states on page 3 that she suffers from Depression (Bipolar Disorder)
    However in the ATOS medical report has no information on this fact at all this section seems to have been missed. So the medical examination was not completed in full. Also in the questionnaire Louisa states that she is on cipralex 10mg (Escitalopram) this was omitted from the report but the examiner took the pills off Louisa because she did not know how to spell the medication. But is now currently on (Quetiapine) a high split dose of 700mg per day 300mg in the morning and 400mg in the evening these pills make her extremely tired and docile and affects her concentration levels throughout the day this information is on page 1 and the top of page 3 of Louisa’s Risk Assessment & Summary file from when she spent a month at Hollins park psychiatric hospital June 8th 2012 till July 5th 2012 this file has been provided

    • In the ESA50 03/11 Limited Capability for work questionnaire
    Louisa Gallagher clearly states on page 3 that she suffers from Colitis this should have said (ulcerative colitis)

    ATOS medical says that Louisa is not on any medication regarding her colitis Louisa is and was currently on two sachets a day with a maximum of five a day prescription laxatives (laxido) which give her loose stools every day and has had accidents while out of the home in the past while walking around her local town center and spent entire days running to the toilet. With the rectal bleeding that comes with (ulcerative colitis) she is uncountable with abdomen pain daily and is also on (co-codamol 50/30 mg) maximum dose which can cause constipation but the laxatives help with this. This has been on-going documented problem for about 4 years this was discovered after a sample was taken while having a colonoscopy. She is not under a specialist and just managing day to day. ATOS report also says colitis is well controlled with diet. This is not correct what was said is that diet was changed to take into consideration laxatives

    • In the ESA50 03/11 Limited Capability for work questionnaire
    Louisa Gallagher clearly states on page 3 that she suffers from back pain due to P.D.S. Pubic Dysfunction Syndrome during difficult pregnancy
    This problem affect her lower back even two years after her son and is currently waiting on MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) Scan Results after a fall from a suspected trapped nerve that caused numbness in her left leg. She sees a Physiotherapist at Ocats Warrington NHS center once every two weeks. She has been told that her back is being pulled to one side by the muscles in her back causing her pain on a daily basis limiting her walking speed and range
    The ATOS report states on page 7 Louisa has reduced moment in her left leg this is due to being hit with a car when she was 16.

    Occupational History
    ATOS medical report page 4 says she Worked in a bakers this information is not as important but is also incomplete she worked for many years in a specialists BUPA EMI Ward as well.

    Description of a typical day
    Contested Discrepancies
    • Usually goes to bed at different times. This is incorrect we always go to bed at the same time Louisa does not like to be downstairs by herself she feels unsafe.

    • Usually gets up at different times. This is correct but to be more clear Louisa (Quetiapine) means that she only wakes up between 12pm and 2pm because of sedation
    • No problems doing house work. This is incorrect she has problems with bending and kneeling due to back pain sitting for prolonged periods of time and standing for periods of time. This also applies to section five on page 4 of the ATOS medical.

    • No problems going shopping. This is incorrect Louisa is not able to carry any shopping her partner mark carries all the bags. She can become very anxious in crowds and is prone to panic attacks. This also applies to section five on page 4 of the ATOS medical

    • Walks around, which takes about 20 minutes. Not really sure what this sentence means it makes no sense. What was actually said is that Louisa can walk a maximum of about 20 minutes before becoming sore and then needs to take regular rests.

    Behaviour Observe during assessment
    Contested Discrepancies all on page 4 of the ATOS medical report
    • Was able to get onto the couch without assistance. This is incorrect Mrs Lynda Barron the registered nurse did in fact help Louisa Gallagher onto the examination table after an initial stumble
    The medical report says in one part that Louisa did not need the step but in this sentence it said she did that is a contradiction.

    Relevant features of clinical examination section 21 page 13 ATOS medical report
    • Did not require prompting at interview. This is incorrect several questions where asked twice and even rephrased to make it easier for Louisa to answer.
    • Did not make rocking movements. Louisa was constantly shifting in her seat and was incredibly anxious.
    • Spoke at a normal. Spoke at an increased rate.

    Social Interaction – Activity Outcomes
    Coping with social engagement due to cognitive impairment or mental disorder – activity 16
    • ATOS medical report states none of the above applies. When in fact Louisa said in her ESA50 questionnaire she has depression for over 6 years. The letters of support from the Harrison center and guardian medical along with the reports from hollins park state that Louisa has bipolar and is currently in recovery under the guidance of a CPN.

    Appropriateness of behaviour with other people. Due to cognitive impairment or mental disorder – activity 17
    • ATOS medical report states none of the above applies. but it does
    The letter of support from Louisa’s GP at guardian medical center states that Louisa is fragile and might pose a risk to herself or others around her due to her bizarre behaviour. If put in any stressful environment.
    Social interactions – supporting medical evidence
    Prominent Features of functional ability relevant to daily living.
    Louisa can suffer from both Visual and Audio hallucinations and memory problems as stated in her GP’s letter of support. And is still under the care of a CPN as stated in the support letter from Louisa mental health doctor as the Harrison centre.

    Please consider all the information/evidence that I have provided and in the format it has been presented I have no real idea what we are doing due to all our time restraints. And the fact that we have very recently moved home and some documentation such as appointment letters have been misplaced.

  23. Robin Van Nieulands Says:

    I am very worried about my old school mate who was on facebook and she had got a letter from DWP regarding ESA and all of us have not heard anything since….I am trying to find someone who can visit her as I can’t physically as she is known to be suicidal…

    This is not the first friend I have lost to DWP/ATOS decisions. I am so angry that I am speechless!!

    Also for the first time in my life due to Government’s bad speeches…I became a victim of Disability Hate Crime and called a scrounger…I had to leave my home of 20 years…and yet I worked for Civil service for 20 years…
    I lost my job and home.

    I thank Cameron for his hatred of my existence despite the fact that I am a “striver” now I have nothing left…I will never forgive this Government.

  24. Phil Green Says:

    After viewing the above I feel blessed I’ve only broken my wrist. However I can’t help feeling that this government has missed the point about dole dossers. They have gone for the soft option yet again.

    My story. I have trained as an engineer worked at a senior level for several multinationals in the automotive line for many years. I was technical sales manager for Europe. I have during this time had ibsd ( irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhoea ) this at its worst was going to the toilet 7-15 times per day. Imagine a journey to another country let alone a normal life. I also had since the age of 21 serious spinal issues due to three inverted slipped discs ( this is reoccurring and progressively being intrusive to this day. ) as a result of the latter I finally had to give up this lucrative profession as driving standing and sitting for any length if time increases pain I am on morphine for this now. I retrained myself at my expense to become a foot health practitioner in 2005. This has allowed me to reschedule my work around my illnesses. Until July of this year when I had a fall and broke bones in my wrist causing me not to be able to work. I won’t bore you with the detail about my wrist but all is not going well. It requires an operation now with potentially a further 6 months off of which I cannot afford being as I am self employed. I was a forty percent tax payer whilst I was employed. I ploughed all my money into being the best I could with extra training. As a small business owner to which this government attest to be a champion and a member if the FSB. I see no evidence of any help. Anyway. Atos – filled the form in for my wrist as this was my only option in my opinion. This was the only thing I saw as stopping me doing what I wanted to do – continue to grow my business. However I attended a farse of a medical. I had my blood pressure took because I had had a TIA Mini Stroke in 2007. My reflexes tested in my knees. Leg raise. Oh and I took the brace off my left wrist to dorsifex and plantar flex my hand. Then i proceeded to answer questions re can I make a cup of tea etc. no medical records were asked for. I am still seeing a specialist at the fracture clinic and having physiotherapy. I have just undergone an MRI on my hand. I have a hospital specialist generated not fit for work note. Note not my GP. Not decrying my GP here. I cannot AT THIS TIME CARRY OUT MY BUSINESS TO WHICH I HAVE TRAINED. My medical insurance will not definitively give me a yes or no answer to if I am covered if or should I do any accidental damage whilst scalpeling anyone whilst I am unfit for work. So do I give up yet another career? This is a long drawn out mail. But you have have the history before you. Although not all the detail. How can this approach be fair? How is this supporting small businesses? And oh by the way my business bills as well as my personal bills are still coming rolling in.

    The Atos benefit ESA was helping. This is clearly just a numbers manipulation game and a means to get rid of benefits in toral. If all the deaths attributable to this process were covered and happened in one spot. It would be front page news. Just like hillsborough or a plane crash. This destructive process is not getting to right people but harming the defenceless and vulnerable omongst us . End this witch hunt the sick will drown anyway or is that what a caring government does? Kill the weak, kill the sick and infirm. Then only the producers the productive tax payer will be left.

    Did I appeal Er no why because its futile. I have up until this point in my 56 year old life never had a penny from the state have raised my children to be fiercly against scrounging. because I worked, they work. I want to do the job I retained for. All I’m asking for is some support until I’m fit to resume my business. . The minute I did need some help it was stopped. Cheers for that HMG. Happy New Year. For you at least!

  25. wendy Says:

    Two yearss ago my brother killed him,self because of this racial attitude from this Government towards the sick. My brother was dying and was so frightened of having to lose what little he had in his one bedroom flat that he paniked thinking he was going to lose his flat and little bit of money he was getting that he starved himself to death. Now they are starting on me. I didnt ask to have a brain condition and my brother didnt ask to have Motor neurone desease. I too am now feeling the way my brother did “Suicidle” because this government is going to take my home and money simply because i am ill. in 2012 how on earth can this be even classed as human x

  26. Jackie Luckman Says:

    I am a single disabled mum with a herniated disc at c5/6 in the neck and unstable fractures/broken neck at c1, lower prolapsed discs and other digestive, deppression issues related to the high pain relief and pressure of constant appeals and assessments.
    In the past i have lost homes, cars and mobility, amongst others. This appeal has taken 11months so far and i have not heard a single thing.
    Consequently, i have lost my home, and dont have another to go to, my daughter has now had to go live with her father in a one bed flat for security, the heartbreaking stress has me in crushing pains in my chest daily, and shaking like a leaf most days, trying to get rid of all my belongings, and make good the home which had all things raised to make them accessible.
    Ive been in this situation before, but never has there been so little hope, because even if i win, as i have done on evidence after 9month appeals so many times before, the cut off of DLA in April will put me right back there facing homelessness again. So even if I manage to move to a home now, there is little point struggling to furnish it, as I would just have to give it all away again. At this point i am thinking that Hitlers methods were more humane, than the slow torturous processes of our present government-I pray for their empathy.

  27. Jane Young Says:

    The biggest problems with the WCA are those for which the dwp is responsible. The most major issue is the descriptors, against which claimants are assessed. They are deliberately drafted to ensure most are found fit for work. Another major problem is the frequency with which claimants are called back for another assessment. The reassessment dates are not adjusted to take account of the timing of appeals, so people are often called back to go through the process again only weeks after a successful appeal.

    It’s very important to remember that the identity of the private assessment company is immaterial. If the dwp has set inappropriate descriptors it wouldn’t matter who did the assessments, the results would be the same. All this villifying of Atos is in danger of letting the Government off the hook.

  28. Morag Hannah Says:

    @Phil Green

    Please do appeal – you’re obviously mentally and emotionally robust, but months of worrying about money and making ends meet may make you less so – think of your health and get the help you need.

    You are not a scrounger. This is the rainy day you paid all those taxes for. You paid for this, your whole life. You deserve this. If you need the cash to stay afloat, get representation and challenge the decision.

    With proper representation and support, around 60% of appeals against ESA decisions are successful, so it’s not futile – just irritating because you’ll probably be immediately reassessed and end up back on the same merry-go-round. But you probably _will_ get the cash, and it might mean the difference between your business sinking or floating. Don’t let them grind you down!

  29. Women don’t know anything about poverty, obviously | Edinburgh Eye Says:

    [...] you are poor, sick and disabled, whether you work or are unemployed, Iain Duncan Smith regards you as a shirker and a scrounger [...]

  30. Christine A Says:

    I went for an ATOS assessment in November 2012 and had my incapacity benefit stopped on 28th December. One of the many things that annoys me is the devious way they tested the grip in my hands. The assessor said that I could grip papers in both hands. As I have recently been diagnosed with arthritis at the base of my left thumb, gripping things in that hand is very painful.

    I had my right ankle removed in 1994 and in 1995, had a bone graft done which is still in place. According to the assessor, I have limited movement in this ‘joint’. As there is no joint there, how can I have limited movement in it?

    I also suffer from sero-negative arthritis which affects my lower joints but I have been found fit for work in three months time.

    Needless to say, I am appealing the decision.

  31. Christine A Says:

    In addition to my previous post, several years ago, I had two different assessments both of which were done by doctors who both said that I was unfit for work.

    In the letter I received from the DWP giving outlines of the report, it clearly states that I said I had a problem with going out. When I received the full report, the assessor didn’t say this.

    I also have cervical spondylosis and have trouble with neck movements. The assessor said that my neck movement was fine.

    I am supposed to be able to pick up an empty cardboard box. How big is the said Box? Where am I picking it up from? Am I picking it up from the floor, a low shelf, a high shelf or a kitchen worktop?

    Three times I have been asked to send in a medical report from my GP. However, my GP has told me that the DWP request the medical report from him. (My GP has said that I am unfit for work due to several joint problems)

    I have now had my benefit cut by £40 a week and I have been told that I should go to Workfare. They have totally ignored the sick note that I sent to them on 28/12/12. Not only that, the DWP have ignored all the questions that I have asked them.

    This welfare reform needs repealing immediately.

  32. Christine A Says:

    I see that ATOS have won the contract to do the assessments for the PIP which is replacing DLA. Heaven help us. They’re bad enough for Incapacity Benefit.

  33. john Says:

    The way to combat the injustice of this government policy ir thus:
    If Atos say that you are fit for work then take them, the DwP and the local health authority to court. If you have been found to be unfit to work previnusly by an Atos assessment then they must have wrongly diagnosed you. How can you suddenly be fit for work or not disabled enough at the time that is convenient for the policies of the government.
    If you have been diagnosed as unfit or disabled and now you are not then the DwP have wrongly told you that you should not work. Take them to court for this previous mis-diagnosis. You will be claiming for loss of earnings for all the time that you were told that you couldn’t work, the stress of the wrong diagnosis and the quality of life that you have missed out on.
    If every body was to do this then the government would have to stop this policy.
    You have not been to Lourdes and been miraculously cured and Atos have not worked a miracle on you, so you have been mis-diagnosed in the past, your quality of life taken from you. Sue them all.
    This is what I shall be doing.
    Sue the health authority that originally said you were ill, the DwP for endorsing them, and Atos for the same reason.
    If we all do this, watch the change in policy.

  34. Christine A Says:

    I have started two e petitions regarding a couple of points raised. One is entitled ‘Once an appeal is upheld over an ATOS ruling, claimants should not have to go through the whole process again’ and the other is ‘Benefits should not be docked whilst appeals are going through’.

    Hopefully, if we can get the required number of signatures, something may come of it.

  35. Paula Says:

    Thank you Mr Meacher’s , it gives me hope, and courage to live with my disability , to know there are genuine MPs supporting all citizens -not just wealthy bankers etc, God Bless you.

  36. Karen M Says:

    Mr Meacher,
    I am grateful for your concern and support for those of us forced to endure the WCA.
    Reading the DWP Handbook and various Atos in-house guides it is no wonder so many fail to get or retain benefits. One of the reasons appeals win is because the so-called Healthcare Practioner only observes you within one hour on one day ‘a snapshot’and they are instructed to be suspicious of the “client’s” pain behaviours etc. So if you do show genuine signs of discomfort you are assumed to be acting. If you sit still because any movement is painful you are assumed not to have pain. My point here is for ‘observe’ read ‘assume’.
    The people to blame are those who allowed the contract to be renewed without proper audit and due diligence- what a waste of tax payers’ money! By the way I have CRPS, am partially sighted and have diabetic and other neuropathies and got 0 points even though the DWP had my ESA50.

  37. Christine A Says:

    The DWP have now sent my copies of my paperwork to the tribunal service. On the original paperwork I received from the DWP, I didn’t manage to get any points whatsoever. However, on the paperwork I have received today, I have managed 12 points.

    My sick note ran out on 28/1/13. The DWP wanted another sick note by 28/1/13 if I was still sick. They are well aware of the fact that I am arthritic. Do they honestly expect arthritis to disappear overnight? How I wish it would. Also, I was told by the DWP to take a sick note to my local job centre on the 28/01/13. What they didn’t tell me was that I needed an appointment to take the said sick note in. When I rang for the appointment, I asked the person I spoke to why I wasn’t told that I needed an appointment. He wouldn’t answer the question as he said it was irrelevant. I thought that it was a perfectly logical question to ask but he obviously had other ideas.

    The DWP still haven’t got any medical evidence which I would dearly like to let them have but I have just been messed about by them all the time. I’ve been told that they request it and I have also been told that they don’t!! I have asked my GP who has told me that the DWP will contact him for any supporting evidence.

    I was totally honest at the ATOS assessment and I have been totally honest with the DWP. There is no way that honesty pays.

  38. HH Says:

    The Atos Assessment centre in Birmingham has no wheelchair access !!!!!!

  39. Gary Seddon Says:

    I think it’s great Mr Meacher has highlighted what’s going on.

    What’s not so great is the deafening silence from the labour front bench and specifically the Shadow minister for disabled people, (who isn’t even listed on their website any more) or Liam Byrne the shadow for the DWP. Deafening I tell you, more interested in voting for a 32% wage rise over and above the 60+K salary and expenses they are already on instead of protecting those least able to defend themselves..

    Parliamentarians best wake up before we the people take the privileged positions we voted you into off you again. I suspect we may not even wait for the next election, we may just kick you all out before then. Any parliament stupid enough to allow it’s citizens to be bullied and treated like idiots is going to get it’s arse kicked into touch sooner rather than later.

    People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.

  40. Paul Cha Says:

    I cannot believe how a mentally unwell friend has been treated by this sadistic regime. She was beginning to show signs of recovery, but being cut off from benefits, then having games played delaying reclaims and causing eviction process have destroyed her. It is all I can do to restrain myself from seeking simple revenge. I will never support the barbaric remnants of this brutal empire and pledge to oppose and fight it at any opportunity. I now fully understand the causes of extremism.

  41. Karen M Says:

    Despite the debate in Parliament MPs are still keen to pass the buck to Atos. Don’t forget that when a claimant sends their ESA50 off it is sent on to the DWP. It is the DWP that decides to call the claimant to a WCA. They don’t seem to routinely look at the chronic conditions a claimant discloses- any neurological conditions, for example, should automatically trigger a call for adjournment and further medical evidence from the GP or specialist named in ESA50. This quite plainly is not happening.

  42. Karen M Says:

    I’ve read some of ‘A Fair Society?’ by the Centre for Welfare Reform and came across statistics from,among other sources, the DWP:
    21% of the population is in poverty and will bear 39% of public expenditure cuts, 9% of the population is disabled but will bear 29% of the cuts and, worst of all, the 2% of the population that is severely disabled will bear 15% of all cuts.

    This should surely be discussed in both Houses ?

  43. Alison Says:

    My cousin, age 39, died from a heart attack in an air ambulance. She had just been passed fit for work by ATOS even though she had survived two previous attacks. The Death Certificate also states Lymphodema, a painful condition caused by retention of body fluid which meant her legs and ankles were swollen, creased and purple. She was over 24 stone in weight and couldn’t walk without a stick, couldn’t use the stairs and slept upright in a chair because of breathing problems. How she was passed fit is beyond comprehension. I can tell you that the last few weeks of her life were made worse by the fear and dread she felt because of ATOS. She did not live to see her appeal and her money was reduced while she was waiting, she was terrified her money would stop completely and that she wouldn’t be able to keep the roof over her head. Sick people more than any of us should avoid stress as it exacerbates their medical conditions. It is barbaric that sick people are made to suffer like this by their own government. Why aren’t these tragedies and there are far too many of them, making national headlines? I have written to the Queen as Head of the Church to let her know these terrible things are happening to the sick and the new Archbishop of Canterbury. Perhaps they aren’t aware of the suffering of vast numbers of sick people, so please write as well. At least Rowan Williams spoke out against the “anguish” these “reforms” are causing. This is a humanitarian crisis on a national scale, if only there were more MP’s like Michael Meacher.

  44. Christine A Says:

    The DWP and ATOS expect everyone to be honest with them throughout yet both the DWP and ATOS lie through their teeth. The DWP rang me on 12/12/12 and I rang them with a query on 17/12/12 and the DWP have no trace of either phone call. Convenient – not!! If we lied to them the way they lie to us, we would be in serious trouble. Also, the lies that both the DWP and ATOS tell are downright libellous. If I could afford to sue them believe me I would.

  45. Christine A Says:

    The DWP have excelled themselves today. My sick note runs out tomorrow and with it being Easter at the weekend, they wanted me to get a sick note from my GP dated today. Apparently, this is illegal as my next sick note is only due to start from 28th March. How many times have the DWP and ATOS broken the laws of this country?

  46. Cynical.... Says:

    Well it’s all well and good being aware of the horrible things Atos are doing BUT BUT and BUT again please remind us which party brought in Atos and its evil twin Unum , Labour did and why did Labour not ALL vote against the bedroom tax and other evil policy’s then ????? This is killing people and the public dont get to hear it. That poor bloke dying in his car…what is that then if not corporate manslaughter…where did they help that poor man.Fairness …reform…..pull the bloody other one .Labour brought them in…Lord Fraud helped them in their schemes and now Labour are enabling the monstrous beast to carry on. Shame on all of you..Labour ,Tory or whatever party you are in. And god help us if the backlash lets those even worse gain seats,or god forbid actually win office, such as Ukip etc. The laws of unintended consequences eh!!!!!!!!

  47. Tracey Says:

    I suffer from Social Anxiety, Depression and Panic Attacks and therefore receive IB and I have been called up for assessment. I am just awaiting a ESA50 questionaire and medical assessment. I have been feeling like utter crap since they called me up as I know their evil ways. Don’t know what I will do if they find me fit for work. There’s no way at the moment I can work as I would not be able to hold down a job as I cannot communicate very well and it was caused my my upbriging as my father was an alcoholic and he has damaged me psychologically. I am sitting here at the moment with my heart pounding almost crying again (Have been in tears a lot in week since I got letter cause I know what degrading, evil and inhumane treatment I’ll have to face soon and that’s if I don’t have a heart attack or stroke soon and die with the stress).

  48. Karen M Says:

    I am really concerned that the DWP/Atos does not consider objective evidence of specific disease or disablement. Imaging reports and GP reports naming the specific disease ARE objective: a GP has no interest in being subjective. My case is chronic Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/CRPS for which I was awarded 0 points. CRPS is recognised by Atos LiMA Protocols as a specific disease but there is no authorship to this document, it is out of date, rather vague and less complete or detailed than, say, Fibromyalgia.

    I am also concerned that people who cannot go to work for a reasonable number of hours because of the functional effects of recognised disablements caused by a recognised disease (to give this a more DWP language)are being found fit for work. This is illegal and morally wrong.

    Mr Meacher, is it possible to raise the issue of who independently scrutinises the LiMA Evidence Based Protocols on behalf of claimant?

  49. Karen M Says:

    Tracey, have you got your ESA50? All I can say is fill part 2 in as if it is your worst day- especially panic attacks and the horrible aspects of depression. Take your time and ask somebody you trust to read the questions with you. Get letters of support from all your medically qualified specialists and from people who know you well and empathise with you about your communication problems. Get your GP to put exactly what is medically wrong on your MED3 especially if you have depression,social anxiety, panic attacks so often.

  50. Christine A Says:

    Just found out that the ATOS boss is on £2,329,230 per year. And his hefty pay rise is included in that.

    ATOS assessors are under the impression that if a claimant wants a WCA recorded, if they (ATOS) can’t find a tape recorder within a month, then it doesn’t have to be recorded!!! I think that it should be recorded by law and the assessors shouldn’t have a say in it. Also, they don’t want them recording because it will show just how much they lie through their teeth. At my WCA last November, the assessor said that I had said I had a problem going out. I said no such thing. Instead, I said that I didn’t go out at night pubbing a clubbing it. I also said that I don’t go out when there is snow and ice on the ground either. That is just one of the many lies that they tell.

  51. Christine A Says:

    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.

  52. Karen M Says:

    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.

  53. Christine A Says:

    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.

  54. Karen M Says:

    “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?

  55. redmakka Says:

    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.

  56. Karen M Says:

    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.

  57. Karen M Says:

    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.

  58. Karen M Says:

    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.

  59. Karen M Says:

    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.

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