Programme for action over Atos

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.

25 thoughts on “Programme for action over Atos

  1. I was not aware of the Kettering experience, but what worries me is keeping a system open to political manipulation and abuse. It is what the descriptor system is, as these descriptors can be tightened at any time, by any political parties.

    That was predicted in 2007 by a conservative MP, talking about the Personal Capability Assessment :

    …At the moment, we have the latter, at least in principle, and that is what is proposed in the personal capability assessment. However, I can imagine circumstances — Ministers might say that they are inconceivable — in which a future Minister, under financial or even political pressure, might wish to say, “We will introduce a norm. We are not going to have, by definition, more than 1.5 million people on employment and support allowance,” and the tests will, in effect, be geared to deliver that result.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa

  2. I suspect the delegation to meet IDS from the Royal College of Psychiatrists would have most success if they met him in their professional capacity. Watch him here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20519140 blythely assuring everyone no taxpayers money is at risk on the work programme as payment is only by results. Then read the-work-programme.pdf from the DWP which says clearly the WPPs get a start fee of at least £400 per claimant. It’s clear from this alone something is very, very wrong at the DWP.

  3. Big Bill is right. there is something drastically wrong at the DWP. some days ago, BBC ran the story that IDS had asked the DWP to look again at the disability side of things. then georgie boy had the bad news about his sale going end over apex by over a billion, then we had the DWP denying that they were looking again at the suggestion of IDS. the DWP seem to be unsure who is in charge,, and so am i,, is it IDS or georgie? while all this to and from stuff is going on, time is ticking away, people will get caught up in all sorts of costly cuts and taxes, and IDS DWP GEORGIE and DAVE are all blaatantly lying to us wholesale with the thought in mind “tell them anything, but make sure its nothing”. and at the end of the day, thats how its gone since day one. each and every word about anything they care to speak of is simply a delating tactic. their goal is to get ALL reforms into place before anyone can turn them around for the good of the people. once they achieve that end, they will start on the next round of cuts. conservative tactics are now well known thanks to the lies and deceit of the government. the coalition partners are losing votes hand over fist. its common knowledge that the pensioners are next,, and they know it. they are alienating votes across the board. the grey vote will disappear entirely in the blink of an eye. but hey, i dont mind, i wont vote tory as lik=ng as all of the above are in there, along with gove, hoban, grayling, clarke, and may, and those are just for starters. either way, and back to the point, the whole ATOS thing needs to be sorted out and fast, the natives are getting restless and it wont be long before unrest kicks in and takes over. too many people are dying because of this government and ATOS,,, april will be the month of turning, april will be the time the conservative party realise just how much of a liability DAVE is,, april is when the real battle starts to reclaim this country in the name of the people. the government are usually elected to serve the people,, that is their mandate full stop. DAVE has NO mandate to do anything without asking our consent first. the line was drawn at the election, he went over that line with all speed. the conservative party is doomed to go into the history books of this nation with all speed. me personally??? i would love to see this country back on its feet and happy again. i dont care who does this, as long as its done, and soon. it would be interesting to know too, just how many people are on sanctions as we speak with regard to benefits. its my guess that these people are not counted in the unemployment figures as being unemployed and as such, the number of these people should in fact be added to the final figure. name and shame i say, name the department, and shame them into admitting the truth so this country can see just who is lying to who! as a footnote, i have to say, i have always been a labour voter, until the last election, and the labour party had NO policy that i could find regarding the disabled. that was the issue that affected me and i wanted to see some committment, there was NONE. no labour candidates have knocked on my door for over 15 years,, and to be fair, they need to. if they do, and they say and mean the right thing, i may return to voting labour,,, and i know i am not alone on this.

    great work in the commons, i watched that day and it was refreshing to see and hear that for once, politicians were appearing to stand up for the voters,,, it doesent happen often.

  4. I am following a number of websites and reading up as much as I can. I think you are doing a wonderful job. At the moment I am finding in my own personal capacity that DWP as a department is coming across as being in a huge muddle with what appears to be influx of new rules and regulations. DWP admits that they are the primary decision makers of a benefit award. Atos on their own do not help matters in “helping DWP” to make good decisions. On common theme that seems to happen across individuals’ experience highlights very clearly.

    1. DWP (Job Centre Plus staff)often refuse to process a claim stating that they are not entitled to JSA because they are too ill and should claim ESA.

    2. ESA tend to do the opposite! ESA state “no you are capable of work claim JSA.

    This clearly is DWP in a muddle and the real victim is often a sick/vulnerable person who ends up in no man’s land and unable to claim for any benefits at all. So an appeal process is started and often this person has NO money for weeks and months.

    This is unacceptable practise and DWP should be made to work in a more coherent manner supporting clients and not messing them about.

    Judging by the comments by IDS and his team, they are either unaware of this mess, or are aware and dont care.

    Welfare reform is needed but not the mess that we seem to be entering into that causes huge hardship and puts the sick and vulnerable into dangerous situation that is now increasingly a breach of their basic human rights and right to a support network of Basic Welfare principles.

    We are now getting information that the benefit claimants are now being asked to pay approx 20 to 30% more money of their meagre income towards Council tax (when this was supposed to be frozen?) and towards the “bedroom tax”. This actually brings their income to below that of basic poverty levels just to feed, heat and cloth themselves.

    Then of course the appeals process cuts their money even further which is a form of blackmail by Government. On top of that Legal aid is cut for such cases.

    This is the worst case scenario of a potential DWP as a failing department and certainly not ready for the so called improvements of the Welfare reforms.

    These are not Scroungers but genuine people.

  5. I have to say that the DWP is a waste of time and money, I was given a “medical” (I use that in the loosest term) by ATOS last June, where I was in tears due to the pain I was in, caused by having to travel 14 miles for an exam, at the “medical” I could not perform any of the tricks asked, I could not get on the couch/bed as it was to high. The examiner looked me in the eyes and said “I can see your quality of life is not very good and I can see you are struggling just being here”, I was then put on the WRAG! and ordered by punishment of having my (12yr) disability stopped if I did not attend, I had no sleep that night due to my being terrified of going to bed and not being able to get up and thus not getting to the job centre (at my expense £20 = 2 weeks food) so on arrival he (Adam) took one look at me dragging myself to his desk and said “I have no idea why you are her, why they put you on the WRAG, do not bother coming again” so I was sent home and told not to attend, when I asked what this all meant he told me I would “have to appeal in 12 months”, then I received a letter telling me he would phone me to do an interview. He rang me once and we discussed his holidays!!!! he then said he would ring again and let me know via letter when that would be, I never got a letter, I never got a call, what I got was a letter saying he had to cancel the phone call and would be in touch (last november) I heard nothing until Feb 2013 when I got a letter telling me my 12 months was up in June 2013 and my money would be stopped, after 12 years and 12 medicals for DLA and INCAP they now said I was fit, ignoring all my medical evidence that shows I am deteriorating not getting better every year, they ignored all previous medical findings. Now my head is in bit’s, I am on the edge of suicide due to living in pain 24/7 is hard enough to get through the day without being victimised for having broken my body working very very very hard for years! If I lose my home (which I will if they stop my money as I simply cannot get out of bed most days let alone work) that’s it. I cannot live on the streets when I cannot walk, move or do anything without pain, so they will force my hand, die slowly from cold and starvation or end it quickly with the morphine I live on (how I am expected to work whilst taking morphine is beyond me, does a boss want that liability on his hands when someone gets hurt because I’m on opiates?)
    The next argument would be if I am so fit for work why have the job centre not found me a job, had me attend interviews, go to WRAG meetings? because they, the job centre say I am unfit for work, my doctor says I am unfit for work and am only getting worse, my neurosurgeons reports stated my condition would deteriorate but somehow, someone with no medical qualifications can say that none of them know what they are talking about, with a combined knowledge that spans decades they know nothing compared to ATOS.
    So when receiving this letter my 1st thought was to die, my 2nd thought was “what about my mum?” my 3rd thought was to phone them, I was told you can appeal, so I appeal only to have them send me a letter asking why they should consider me as I should have appealed last June, if you remember I was told by the WRAG advisor I could not appeal until June 2013, so one says this, one says that and in the meantime people are dying.
    If I have been judged disabled do they not think I have enough to deal with? why are we having to go through this mental TORTURE? where I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, every day I think “should I just give up, who would care?” not my government, they are the ones torturing us, in the knowledge as a direct result of their actions 75 people a week are dying because of this welfare reforms, they are deliberately trying to kill us off so they can solve the housing shortage, we feel abandoned, unheard and unworthy of living…..my mistake was to work as a doorman, work on the drays for Tetley’s humping barrels of beer around for 14 hrs a day, work in a furniture factory, work in a double glazing factory, work as a printer, all heavy lifting jobs, all 12 hr days usually working sat & sun overtime, paying my dues in full until one day my body said no more, you are broken, that was my mistake, doing what I was raised to believe was right, work hard, get married, buy a home, have children…….well I did that & now I cannot walk, I have no wife anymore, I have no chance of ever having children now, so I sacrificed everything for what, FOR NOTHING that’s what! Just left heartbroken and destitute, “thanks for everything now bu”er off if you can’t make us money you don’t deserve to live”

  6. It’s difficult to understand why there are no calls for a public enquiry regarding the Atos/DWP death toll.

    Such deaths are not accidental. It is simply not credible that 73 needless and avoidable deaths could be allowed to take place every week, at the hands of government agancies, without that government condoning it.

    Look how fast IDS changed the workfare regs after it was ruled illegal. That is how fast he could bring an end to this holocaust — if he were only willing to.

    If 73 people died, say, in a train crash, there would be an outcry.

    How many more state-engineered murders will it take?

  7. Thanks for the hard work Michael, It is so very appreciated.

    Nice to see that a new independent reviewer of the WCA has been appointed………..*sarcasm ad infinitum)

  8. I recently had the results of an ESA assessment following a medical with ATOS. I asked for a copy of the medical report and an explanation of the decision.

    Over 3 weeks has passed and no documents have been received, so I rang the DWP and asked why there was a delay because I wanted to appeal and I needed to see the documents requested in order to give full details of the basis of my appeal.

    I was told that it could be well over a month before I got the documents “because they had to get the medical report from ATOS and they have quite a backlog of similar requests at the moment”

    I asked how the DWP were able to make the decision they had without seeing the full medical report and was told they only get the scores from ATOS before making a decision.

    Surely this is wrong as there are various exceptional rules which allow someone to be put in either the WRAG or Support Group, regardless of points scored. The decision maker at the DWP would have no idea if the medical assessment had made mention of factors, other than the basic score, that would affect the result. It certainly seems to suggest that contrary to what they say, the DWP is just rubber-stamping ATOS decisions based on scores supplied by them, alone.

  9. sir I had hoped for this atos dwp pact to be shown up for whot it is restricting you from any benefits and for those who do get some will eventually go to atos for assessment but now found fit to work thuss taking another away from benefits so while they play about with our illnesses and disabiltys we get sicker by the day losing some along the the way to worry death and suicides yep its a wonderous life being sick in modern Britain today,and to throw another beating stick bedroom tax yep you cant heat your house or flat up but now expect yo uto pay this tax for their needs ,eat or heat but now bedroom tax were will it end are we to loss more through it ids doesn’t think so how cruel this man can be if ones lucky to get a benefit he now takes it back wonderfull being alive in todays modern society we are not the social scroungers wouldn’t it be better to look inwards to thy selfs jeff3

  10. Well done don’t let IDS off the hook his regime are responsible for more misery and ill health than anyone. Plus goodness knows whats its costing the NHS in costs caused by the flawed WCA and ATOSs inflexible attitude

  11. I am concerned that Iain Duncan Smith along with DWP and the likes of Cameron & Osbourne seem to think they are not answerable to anyone, I was always left to believe that when an MP contacts them they had a duty to efficiently respond? However they ignore correspondence my own MP as wrote a few times and then as had to send reminders through no reply from Ian Duncan Smith. Who do these people think they are they are accountable and should be made to tow the line. If they ignore fellow MP`s what chance as the public of getting a response to letters?

  12. Dear Mr Meacher
    First I must thank you for standing up for justice which seems to be lacking in British politics today.
    I would ask you to consider along with the ATOS issue the governments latest attack on welfare. As of April the assessment rate will not be paid on request of appeal against a WCA assessment. Instead a reconsideration will take place first. IDS has stated that during this time no money will be paid but the claiment can sign up for JSA. This seems at odds with a claiment who is unfit for work and has been assessed poorly or innaccurately. Add to this that there is NO TIME LIMIT for a reconsideration.
    We are now in a situation where a sick or disabled person has been given less than fifteen points and having no other income being told to sign on or starve. Now if I am correct then the very act of signing up for JSA is declaring ones self fit for work. How? We know the WCA is flawed, and now we are told that there is no money for you either(for potentially an unlimited time). Are they trying harder to kill people? This must be addressed as it is against all that the welfare state was set up for in the first place, to protect the vulnerable.
    I wish you well in your task.

  13. According to the Daily Mail, it seems the NHS has been employing foreign nurses with fake qualifications.

    Interestingly, ATOS also employs foreign nurses and medics – often because even such qualifications as they (claim to) hold do not meet NHS standards.

    So could the DWP/ATOS’s murdrous and inaccurate WCA tests in many cases be carried out by staff with fake qualifications?

    ATOS has already cost thousands of innocent lives.

    There needs to be an investigation. NOW.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2290920/Freeze-foreign-nurses-NHS-chiefs-admit-idea-lied-qualifications-experience-using-fake-IDs.html#ixzz2N7aTXHcX

  14. Dear Mr Meacher, I echo the thanks that people have offered for your commitment to this cause. The Work Capability Assessment is flawed for people with Asperger’s or High Functioning Autism. It is very narrow in its scope and can’t possibly identify someone’s ability to work where that individual has obvious abilities at lots of different levels, but hidden disabilities at lots of different levels. Furthermore, the administrative process seems to be a shambles with left hand not knowing what right hand is doing, often leaving very vulnerable people in utter distress not knowing who to turn to for help. The current system is void of compassion or understanding, tolerance or patience. It sets out to financially punish people as a priority instead of helping people. This government have done an amazing job of undoing decades of positive work for people with disabilities in a very short time, fuelling the demonisation of people who, through no fault of their own, rely upon the State for help. The attitude of Mark Hoban towards your request epitomises the attitude of the entire coalition towards sick and disabled people – there are none so blind as those who will not listen. Thank you again for your personal efforts.

  15. I have an hereditary disease which widens with time. I am in the support group. My niece who has had numerous operations including to life saving ops to repair a dissecting aorta twice, heart valve replacement . Now has 2 more aneurysms, one in carotid after, one in abdomen. Nearly died with first aneurysm, lost use of kidney due to bleed, cannot feel right leg. Now awaiting aortic repair in 4 weeks in London. Attempted suicide twice. Hospitalised in mental health unit many times . Very unstable, very frightened. Filled in ATOS form. Has 12 month reprieve until New assessment. She is in her forties, saw her dad die at forty, her grandmother at same age, it’s hereditary, . The assessments are making her worse, her head is all mixed up. She is intelligent, has a degree, but the government cannot miraculously get her better and make her job ready.

  16. Sir, I would just like to say this, ATOS Doctors are a disgrace. they are not fit for purpose. If we have been diagnosed by NHS or private consultants surely that is enough medical evidence. Even when the consultants have gone to the trouble of writing a medical report for you. Even with a second opinion that matches the first. From another consultant.
    Why do the DWP and ATOS Doctors,and medical services think that our medical written reports from consultants who are experts in their medical field are not sufficient.
    These ATOS Doctors have no medical discipline, and are unprofessional if they go against the medical opinion of a consultant who has taken time to investigate and diagnose a medical condition which is chronic and may not show any outward signs of disability. We let these doctors into our homes, they do not even show us ID. They do not even ask to wash there hands. There written report’s are completely unreadable. They intimidate, tell you there is nothing wrong with you. They have no access to your medical records so how they conduct there reports is an open guess. They scoff at what our consultant have told us, they undermine the consultant that has taken the time to test and investigate and diagnose us. This is wrong. These so called ATOS doctors should be struck off and never be allowed to practice again.
    Vulnerable people are being treated disgracefully. We as a society should be looking after genuine adults and children that are really sick. Not putting them at risk and open to abuse by this system which is representing this coalition government.
    How many lives are going to be lost because of this unfair abusive system.
    It stems much deeper than the ATOS Doctors. When going to Appeal there is another example of wrong doing. Unfair and being abused verbally is the example that I was shown after
    Attending a recent appeal at a tribunal. Again the consultants reports where dismissed. Independent and impartial, no way.
    I was horrified and really upset. It caused me a massive amount of stress. Which made me more ill. I could not grasp why I was spoken to like I was a bit of dog shit.
    These appeals need to be monitored and governed by an outside governing body. They are open to corruption and abuse. The people on these panels need to be vetted by an out side body. All appeals at tribunals should be filmed, or some body else should be sitting in the room monitoring these events. Also these appeal panels should show us ID, and the Doctor who Sits on the panel should give us his GMC number and explain his medical C.V and explain what his medical expert subject is, and if he is not a consultant and just a G.P he should not be sitting on the panel.
    Also these people if really interested in sitting on these panels should be doing it for FREE. Not at the expense of the state or tax payer. They should be doing it because they are interested and give there time for free, a few hours a month.
    That is the only way they can be honest independent and impartial, and free from any out side corruption especially from the DWP. Giving a a few hours a month for free would in the end save a lot of money which could help pay off the country’s deficit. ATOS doctors are doctors who are not good enough to work for the NHS, or private practice. They are the reject Doctors in society who fail to get any of the best jobs in the U.K . They have no other alternative but to work for ATOS.
    No real compassionate Doctor would practice in the manner they do. They literally frighten vulnerable sick people. This can not continue. This has to stop. Nobody should tolerate this Neanderthal system, that takes the piss out of our NHS G.Ps and consultants. It undermines all that have worked in the NHS . Dave Cameron and Clegg Duncan smith and the rest of them go and rot in hell. God is our final judge not Dave Cameron. He is so going to get his ass kicked in 2015. Bring it on……..

  17. Sir here is an interesting concept. I thought I would put to you.
    National insurence contribution. If I like many many sick people are denied benefit DLA. And we have not worked for a few years. ATOS give us 0 points. However I like many are still in a bad way, so I can not do any physical work or get a job.
    We are going to miss out by not being able to pay NI contributions. This means we have massive gaps where we can not contribute. What an earth is our state pension going to be worth. My partner works has a goog job, I have worked and contributed. But now I am not. This is a very worrying situation for many people. It needs to be addressed.
    Some body needs to raise this problem as it will become epidemic. I have already been asked to pay £700 in NI to cover this gap or period of time while I have not work. This matter will be applied to many thousands of people who are not awarded any benefit, or if there benefit stops, bang go’s the national insurence contributions . This debark needs sorting. We as a sociaty are screwed. Thanks Duncan smith…you plonker…….

  18. I really think Ed miliband needs to be clear on his policy on welfare. What does he think about all this stuff that is currently
    Happening to our welfare system. What’s his opinion on these important issues concerning our welfare. He has been clear on issues concerning bankers bonuses, and other issues. What’s his stance on this welfare reform. Until he makes his opinions clear he is not going to get far with voters in the next general election. I have always voted labour through thick and thin, but in 2015 if he has not set out clear and consistent policy he will not gain confidence in us potential voters. On the other hand Nige from UKIP seems the only confident potential leader for the uk. I watch both Ed and Nige at the week end and I would say Nige is an excellent contender for the next PM. He is the Dark horse. He is talking about energy bills, and cutting imagination, closing our boarders, re lighting our coal fired electricity stations, because all the steal makers have fled to India. Thus we are not producing high levels of toxic waste into the environment. I think you should lobby Ed Milliband on this subject. He should be made aware of all of this Neanderthal system, and the abusive Atos Doctors and nurses. He needs to be told that people have taken there own life because of the DWP and Atos doctors. All the stress and upset that is happening. People having there rights to benefit denied, or the benefits stopped. People will end up on the streets homeless.
    This adversity need’s to stop.
    Come on MR Milliband help sort out a fairer system, help our plight. You have the potential to become our next leader.
    If you ignore this matter it will cost u becoming leader…..

  19. What if Atos healthcare practitioners had to abide by the same ethical standards as a GP, nurse or physio and regard the “claimant” as his or her patient? The Kettering experience might just (with a lot of hope) work nationwide. If Atos had to clean up its act and have the same duty of care there would not be as many cases going to tribunal. The coalition may actually benefit too. However, DWP needs to look again at its own duty of care to UK disabled citizens, many many of whom have been and are tax payers and are still strivers and active participants in society.

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