DWP Ministers run frit of seeing delegation on Atos Healthcare

This week something happened which is without precedent in my 40 years of Parliamentary experience.   On an issue of acute public importance where there had already been a Parliamentary debate revealing a total cross-party consensus solidly opposed to government policy, a Departmental minister then refused to see a delegation to discuss the matter further and to consider necessary changes in procedure.   This issue, the work capability assessments carried out by Atos Healthcare, has been a top-line matter on the political agenda for many months now.   I had therefore written to Iain Duncan Smith on 31 January asking him to receive a delegation from some of the key campaigning and analytical groups (I had, regrettably, to restrict this to three).   I heard nothing for more than 5 weeks and therefore put down a Parliamentary Question on the Commons Order Paper asking when he proposed to answer my letter.   As a result I got an immediate reply from Mark Hoban, the junior minister dealing with Atos matters, saying “my current diary requirements mean I am unable to accept your invitation at this time”.   That is simply civil service-speak for a flat No.   But I have taken the matter further.

I therefore waylaid Hoban in the lobbies after a vote and as soon as he saw me, he said immediately “I’m not seeing you”.   I was taken aback at his aggressiveness and said “But you can’t possibly do this , this is a matter of the highest political importance and it’s your responsibility to talk to and listen to key disability organisations about this matter, however contentious it might be”.   He simply replied blankly “I’m not seeing you”, and repeated it 3 0r 4 times.   I kept on insisting ‘Why not?’ and finally he said “I’m not seeing Spartacus”.   Again I was taken aback and asserted that in my view Spartacus had analysed hundreds of cases, prepared a very detailed and thoughtful analysis of the implications arising from these cases, and even if he disagreed strongly for whatever reasons it was his responsibility to meet them.   To this he simply kept repeating “I’m not meeting Spartacus”.

After thinking over this exchange later I decided to apply for an Adjournment debate, not on Atos as such, but on ‘Ministers’ refusal to accept a delegation on Atos Healthcare’.   I also went to see the Speaker about what I consider to be the unprecedented and wholly unreasonable and unacceptable behaviour of DWP ministers, and he listened carefully.   I am now very pleased to say that I have obtained an Adjournment debate next Thursday, 21st, at 5pm in the Commons chamber.   I intend to use this opportunity to bring this whole matter to a head.

111 thoughts on “DWP Ministers run frit of seeing delegation on Atos Healthcare

  1. Mr Meacher,
    I am not one of your constituants, neither am I disabled, but I have been following this issue closely as my neice is disabled and I have been witness to her appalling treatment by DWP and ATOS. I would like to thank you for the stand you have taken on this matter and other ministers would do well to follow your example and attempt to attain your level of integrity.

  2. We, the outraged, need to do something and need to be organised to do it. What can we do? Please don’t tell me to write to or go to see my (Tory) MP.

  3. Where are Atos finding all these callous, cruel bullies for assessors and why are they STILL getting away with inflicting so much misery on people?

    Surely what they are doing is against these peoples human rights. If any other section of society were being subject to this it would not be tolerated.

    I can understand anyone being afraid to lose their jobs but far too many of these assessors (they certainly are NOT medics) seem to relish being offensive and patronising.

    I hope they all find them selves at the receiving end of such brutal treatment and more, it’s the least they deserve.

  4. It appears Mark Hoban has forgotten he is a servant of the people.

    Don’t let him put you off. Judging by the massive response to your blog strands the people are behind you. Just try and influence others in your party that claimants can be “strivers”. We are part of society- we are parents, carers, volunteers and many other things- striving to make our communities better- at the same time as battling disability.

  5. There’s a good bit near the end of To Kill A Mocking Bird where Scout is told its best to step into someone’s shoes and walk around for a while (well, words to that effect).
    This is what all MPs should do mentally before they pass judgement on people who claim benefits. Certainly before they open their mouths in front of an audience of millions.

  6. A friend of mine who has used crutches to walk for twenty years, and also has a serious heart condition was targeted by ATOS as being fit for work. His DLAs were stopped, he was put on job-seekers allowance and sent for interviews. Three weeks later he had a serious heart attack and is now in hospital. This event has made no difference to his status, he is still being regarded by ATOS as fit for work.

  7. Time for Labour to get this right ! Before UKIP beat you in the general election in 2015. Coalition Government are not listening to the people of the uk. Labour must act now on all issues concerning welfare, disabuility Rights, and many many other important issues. Ed wake up, he must be clear, concise and strong……

  8. How many people have to ‘ Die ‘ before the government take notice? Or is this their way of getting the welfare reform down, By people not being able to go on any longer? People at the end of their wits and taking their life and saving the government a fortune in benefit payments!

  9. I have many,Grave concerns,about the treatment we have all received,no medical evidence,was ever obtained,and ATOS,asking you for it is a breach,of patient confidentiality,they have no rights to look at it,also there nurses asking me why traveling to a Function,in London is none of there,concern every disabled person has human right to travel,and there breaking, human rights asking,making insane suggestions,to the DWP,without seeing any proper medical evidence,as far as i am aware only the DWP,are allowed records,and that’s if you sign to let them,in any case,how can it be possible, medical records take 40 days to get,from a GP,and why should i pay for my own Records to show them,the whole process took 3 weeks,and my entitlement gone,couldn’t sign on,because i had a sick-note telling me to refrain from work,the whole process,is insane and UN-professional,causing a lot of distress,one DWP,worker slammed the phone down because i complained the call was costing,yet if i had been a new claimant the call was free,those calls were very expensive,being put on hold,the whole assessment is seriously flawed,from start to Finnish,in 40 mins,of your life,someone is going to get seriously hurt and have,done.the medical needs doing by a fully qualified consultant,by a trained specialist of your particular illness injury’s,i had recently seen a neurologist who in his report said i might need surgery,the atos,nurse did,not even know the complaint i was suffering from,its outrageous,really,previous to this assessment,i passed two,others unanimously by a law courts tribunals,on this test i scored nothing,with further medical problems,dear Sir,i hope my tiny bit of evidence will help you,because i could write a book on the mistreatment i have had,and its distasteful and ugly being branded a scrounger,by the coalition when clearly iam not,Thank you.

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