I am extremely grateful for the huge number of persons and organisations who have written to me both before and after the debate in the House on Atos on 17 January. If this campaign succeeds, and I believe it will, it will be entirely due to the determined and unceasing efforts of so many dedicated activists to make sure it does happen. Thank you all for that tremendous, and continuing, drive which is what gives momentum to any successful campaign. There are now several initiatives in the pipeline, and I wanted now to update everyone.
1 I wrote to Iain Duncan Smith MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, on 31 January asking for a delegation to meet him in his office to discuss the reforms that urgently need to be made. I told him in my letter that: “The debate in my view was one of the best that I have recently heard in the Chamber, being free of rancour and partisanship, but critical, detailed, passionate and well-focused on the need for reform. Nearly 30 MPs spokeand without exception on all sides of the House, whilst recognising there had been some improvements, they were deeply critical that the fundamental structures still remained deeply flawed causing profound upset, distress, indignation, anger and sense of helplessness, in many cases making sick people even more sick through anxiety and fear. Although many MPs targeted Atos Healthcare, it was noticeable that a singly MPdefended the DWP position over the descriptors, regulations and guidance handed down by the government to the private company”.
Not having had a reply to my letter at any time throughout February, I have now written a reminder to Duncan Smith that this is a matter of acute public interest both cross-party within the House and throughout the whole country, and that I now expect a very early response. If this is not forthcoming very soon, I shall put down a Parliamentary Question drawing attention to this unacceptable delay, and from my experience that always produces a reply within 24 hours or so.
In addition, I am working on a number of other initiatives –
* A further delegation to see the Minister from the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of General Practitioners, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists,
* An EDM demanding that all assessments should be in line with practice at Kettering which pursued the Harrington recommendations in full including just 4 assessments a day, not the 11 laid down by DWP targets, and produced almost entirely accurate results, not the cruel distortions generated by so many perfunctory examinations today,
* A further select committee inquiry, perhaps in conjunction with social media mobilisation of public opinion.
If anyone has any further ideas, please let me know.