Aug 222011
 

Atos are the French IT outsourcing company who’s Atos Healthcare arm have been running Work Capability Assessment for the Department of Work and Pensions.

Lots of people are unhappy about Employment Support Allowance, about the assessments, and about the way that Atos run them. There have been protests outside Atos offices using slogans such as “ATOS kills” to express their feelings. Lots of people have explained why they are unhappy with Atos in blogs, on social networks, and in support forums.

It seems that Atos don’t like this. They have started issuing legal threats, and they have succeeded in shutting down some of their opposition. Various websites and forums have spoken out against ATOS and collected personal stories about them. After ATOS first received a take down request in May 2011. Atos lawyers recently threatened legal action against Paul Smith who runs the “Atos Register of Shame” website, accusing him of libel and claiming that “This is a direct attack on Atos and the name of the website in and of itself is implying that Atos carries on its business in a manner which is shameful.” You can see a take-down letter from Atos here.  http://issuu.com/atosvictims/docs/legal_letter_from_atos?mode=a_p

They have also shut down a support forum for carers, CarerWatch, by contacting their server host directly and having it taken down. This has removed a vital support network from many carers, presumably because of private discussions about Atos in members only parts of the forum. Apparently people are not even allowed to talk about Atos now, despite needing to do so to support each other when going through tests administered by Atos.

Following this action against them, CarerWatch have published their reply to Atos, which I reproduce here. (I hope they won’t mind.)

21st Aug 2011

FAO  – ATOS Legal Department

CarerWatch is an internet forum for sick and disabled people and their unpaid family carers. This is a private forum and only members are allowed to make/read posts.

We understand from the organisation that hosts our forum that they received a letter from your solicitors threatening to sue us for libel. The provider immediately closed our site down.

We have many members who are very fragile and the sudden disappearance of a support group has caused a lot of distress and fear. Some are ringing us in tears. We cannot get in contact with all of them though as we have lost their contact details through the closure.

All this distress could have been avoided if you had had the courtesy to contact us first and tell us what had been posted on our site that you considered libellous. Obviously if any post was possibly libellous we would have removed it and all this distress could have been avoided.

We imagine this distress is unintended and hope you will work with us in looking at the problem and finding a solution.

Please note that this letter, and any reply received from yourselves, will be posted on our website. It is the only means left to us to reach some members and keep them updated.

It is vital we have our forum up and running again to reach those that are isolated.

Frances

On behalf of CarerWatch members

Obviously, I don’t want my website taken down. I have been careful to state only known facts here. These are the facts that I know.

  • Atos Healthcare carries out Work Capability Assessments for the DWP.
  • The contract is worth approximately £100 million per year.
  • There has been a sharp rise in people found fit for work
  • There has been a sharp rise in people appealing that decision
  • 40% of those that appeal, win, rising to 70% with legal representation.
  • Although the decision over “fit to work” lies with the DWP,a government review found that the DWP are institutionally incapable of overriding the Atos Health Care Professionals. The Atos recommendation is, in effect, the decision.
  • Atos employ Health Care Professionals to carry out the assessments. HCPs are a mix of doctors, physiotherapists and nurses. Only people with certain problems will definitely see doctors.
  • Atos use their own Lima computer system to record the patient’s answers. Lima has been widely criticised.
  • The HCP fills in Lima by choosing keywords and statements from a list and then justifying them.
  • An Atos recruiter said “We don’t call them patients . . . We call them claimants.”
  • Twelve Atos doctors are under investigation by the GMC over allegations of improper conduct.
  • Two Atos employees are under investigation after referring to patients as “parasites” and “down and outs”.
In the end, although there is much to criticise with the way that Atos carry out ESA WCAs, they may really only be doing what the government expects of them. The descriptors that are used to make the decision of whether a person is fit for work or not are set out in the by the government. (See The Employment and Support Allowance (Limited Capability for Work and Limited Capability for Work-Related Activity) (Amendment) Regulations 2011) I personally question whether Atos accurately records if a patient fits the descriptors or not, and their ability to do so given the way that Lima Works or the staff that are used. Even if they do make an accurate record in line with the government’s descriptors, it is questionable whether the descriptors are an accurate description of being fit for work or not. Even then, it seems that decision makers at the DWP are “institutionally incapable” of taking into account all of the relevant information for the case as they are supposed to, instead simply rubber stamping the recommendation made by Atos. It would seem that the appeals tribunals are making a fairer judgement on this issue than Atos or the DWP.
Cross posted from Tentacles of Doom.

May 312011
 

News about Steve Cram as Atos Origin 2012 ambassador

Disabled people are extremely angry with Steve Cram for accepting the post of ‘ambassador’ for big business privatisers Atos Origin in their capacity as IT partner for the London 2012 Olympics.

(from Les Woodward, Remploy Trade Union National Convenor )

DPAC wrote the letter below to Mr Cram to ask him politely to reconsider his position.

Sent to info@cram-alert.co.uk and
Steve Cram’s agent: info@missionsports.co.uk

Dear Mr Cram

With all the charity work you do and the fact that you have been involved with the paralympics,we find it very surprising that you have made the decision to be ambassador for any part of ATOS.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/feb/23/government-reform-disability-benefits please read this article.

You may or may not be aware that people all over the country have been and continuing to campaign against Atos for the horrendous work they are doing against disabled people.

http://www.dpac.uk.net/2011/05/national-week-of-action-against-atos-origin-some-reports/

They were campaigning against ATOS healthcare, part of ATOS origin, and the barbaric WCA tests they carry out on the sick and disabled and the notorious tick box LIMA computer system used by them for ascertaining people as fit for work or not.

And It may interest you to know that many Disabled People Organisations, disability groups, Medical Professionals, Scholars & Academics, Independent Inquiries & Commissions have made clear in unequivocal public statements that the Work Capability Assessment in it’s current guise is “NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE” but is willingly administered by ATOS Heathcare

To give you an idea of the type of experience disabled people go through at an Atos assessment, have a read of this website-
http://dwpexamination.wordpress.com/examining-atos/

Please withdraw your support for them and speak to any disabled people’s organisations to find out what the disabled community, charities and the CAB think regarding this company.

Please WITHDRAW YOUR SUPPORT for this company and if you could, publicise why!

Bearing in mind the increasingly voluble and angry voices of disabled people and their allies, we wonder if being an ambassador to Atos is worth the disappointment of the public and loss of the reputation you would have built over the years.

Thank you for considering this petition,

Yours sincerely
Disabled People Against Cuts

http://www.dpac.uk.net

——————————

The campaign is at Virtual Gherkin

the facebook campaign

Steve Cram’s Facebook page:

Apr 172011
 

Protests took place around the country on the 14th April as part of the Third National Day of Action Against Benefit Cuts.

An early morning demonstration in Islington saw a crowd gather outside the North London Atos testing centre, and demonstrations also took place outside Atos in Bristol as well as in Burnley, Poole and Truro town centres.

Photo from the Holloway ATOS protest

Holloway ATOS protest photo by PCS Euston

A demonstration of roughly 40-60 people gathered outside the Daily Mail head office in Kensington demanding that they end the lies they print about disabled people and benefit claimants.  Police initially prevented the protest happening  outside the Mail’s entrance and demonstrators gathered opposite the front door of the Daily Mail Group on the other side of the building instead.

As the protest became increasingly angry it managed to move to it’s intended location where the microphone was passed round and impassioned and diverse expressions of contempt were aimed at the so called newspaper.

Protesters then moved onto to Westminster City Hall where over a hundred people shared food, made speeches and vowed to defy any attempts to criminalise rough sleeping and the handing out of food in parts of the borough.

The Daily Mail’s Scotland offices were also targeted with activists invading their offices to distribute information and tell the faceless hacks personally what they think of the Daily Mail’s abuse of disabled people.  Prior to this the group has demonstrated outside the Glasgow offices of Atos Origin, the company responsible for health testing benefit claimants in an attempt to strip people of benefits.

Atos Origin were the focus of many protests around the country.  Their testing centre Edinburgh was picketed whilst over 40 people protested outside their premises in Dundee.  The protest at Atos’ Scotland Head Office in Livingston turned out to be a red herring, with a large police presence arriving to discover everyone had gone to Dundee instead.

In Brighton the Computer Says No play was performed outside Atos offices to an enthusiastic crowd and heavy police presence.  Liverpool and Leeds both saw demonstrations outside Atos, organised by local Solidarity Federation branches and the Black Triangle Anti Defamation Campaign.

The Armchair Army, Virtual Resistance and Troll A Tory ensured that those unable to attend protests in person could make their feelings heard.  Hundreds of online activists wrote to MPs, media outlets or trolled Tory websites throughout the day.

Anti-benefit cuts camapaigners are now calling for escalation.  A week of action against Atos Origin has been called beginning on May 9th.

Please put this date in your diary.

—————————–

Source: http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/

Islington demo report on Islington Tribune

Photos from PCS Euston

Photos from Pete Riches

Photos and report from Daily Mail protest Howard Jones at Demotix

Photos and report from Daily Mail protest from Peter Kirk at Demotix

Photos and report from Islington demo from Peter Kirk at Demotix

Photos at DPAC Flickr

Apr 092011
 

Thursday 14th April is the next day of action against welfare cuts. In Islington there will be a protest at 8.30am to 9.30am outside the Atos Healthcare assessment centre at 1 Elthorne Road, just off Holloway Road, 2 minutes walk south from Archway tube.

This private company gets paid millions to carry out dubious medical assessments for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), which is replacing Incapacity Benefit.

Later on the same day there will be a protest outside The Daily Mail at 2pm on their defamation of benefits claimants; their head office is on Young Street, off Kensington High St. And at 5pm to 9pm there will be a food giveaway outside Westminster City Hall to protest the banning of soup runs – see http://www.dpac.uk.net/2011/04/day-of-action-14th-april-3rd-national-day-of-protest-against-cuts/

All benefit claimants and supporters are welcome. Bring music, drums, whistles, placards and maybe even some breakfast to share!

Please help spread the word, invite your friends and join us!

Stop the attacks on benefit claimants! Stop the cuts!

More info:

This is part of a National Day of Protest Against Benefits Cuts, with groups up and down the country demonstrating against savage cuts to disability, housing, sickness and welfare benefits: http://www.dpac.uk.net/2011/03/3rd-national-day-of-protest-against-benefit-cutsapril-14th/

See also
non-facebook details of troll a tory and the two London events are both on there

http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/protest-outside-the-daily-mail-stop-the-defamation-stop-the-lies/

http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/national-troll-a-tory-day-3-and-rat-on-a-rat/

http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/2011/04/10/protest-outside-westminster-city-hall-mass-food-give-away/

Atos Healthcare has been awarded a £300 million contract by the government to carry out ‘work capability assessments’.

It’s claimed that assessments are to test what people can do rather than what they can’t. The real purpose is to strip benefits from as many people as possible.

This testing system has already led to people with terminal illnesses and severe medical conditions being declared fit for work and having benefits cut. GPs are ignored in favour of decisions made by Atos’s computer.

Plans announced for the scrapping of Disability Living Allowance mean this intrusive testing is likely to be extended to everyone on some form of disability or health related benefit.

Apr 042011
 

The 3rd National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts has been called for April 14th 2011. …..BE THERE!

from http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/

Brighton

Thursday April 14th 2-5pm

Churchill Square Brighton

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=210782635605158

Bristol

Thursday April 14 · 12:00pm – 5:00pm

Benefit Cuts Hurt Protest – 3rd National Day of Protest

Government Buildings, Flowers Hill, Bristol, BS4 5LA

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=199413500079998

Leeds

Thursday, April 14 · 10:30am – 2:00pm

Meeting @ Leeds Train Station 10am before moving to picket ATOS from 10:30 for an hour then move onto A4e/BEST for a couple of hours. The last picket was a great success and we hope to have another good day. Bring banners, flags etc.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=155593464493862&

London

Thursday, April 14 – 2pm
Protest Outside The Daily Mail – Stop the Defamation – Stop the Lies

Daily Mail Headquarters, Young Street (off Kensington High Street), London W8 5TT

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=161556473898500&

Protest Outside Westminster City Hall & Mass Food Give Away!

Thursday, April 14 · 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Westminster City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QP

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=186039361439862

Poole

Outside the Jobcentre at noon. Everyone welcome!

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=161332900587762

Everywhere

National Troll A Tory Day 3 and Rat On A Rat!

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=173026406078054

If you are planning an event in your town or city please add details in the comments below to be added to this page and the facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=164277070288955

You can also send details to notowelfarecuts@yahoo.co.uk

If you would like to see action locally, set up a group, event page or ask below. We will do out best to promote and co-ordinate all activity.

We are fighting for our homes, our livelihoods, our very survival. It’s time to show these public school parasites and their poverty pimp collaborators we mean business.

Mar 092011
 

by benefitclaimantsfightback

The 3rd National Day of Protest Against Benefit Cuts has been called for April 14th 2011.

Millions are set to be affected by savage cuts to housing, disability, sickness and welfare benefits. People with disabilities, illness, the unemployed, single parents, carers the low waged, part time students, volunteers, homeless people and college students are all likely to see a devastating drop in disposable income with many slipping even further below the poverty line.

The poorest and most vulnerable are being asked to pay for the mistakes and extravagances of the richest. Meanwhile poverty pimps like Atos Origin and A4e are set to rake in hundreds of millions on government contracts to bully and intimidate people from claiming the pittance handed out in benefit payments. Many disabled people have threatened suicide if these cuts are allowed to continue. Some have tragically already carried out that threat.

The first two days of protest against benefit cuts have seen demonstrations, meetings, unemployed discos, public pantomimes and occupations in cities across the UK. Atos Origin have been forced to close offices, protesters have gathered inside and outside workfare sharks A4e and demonstrations have taken place from Downing Street to local town centres such as Lydney and Crawley.

This time we have two months to organise for the biggest day yet. We call on all claimants, as groups or individuals, to organise and take action around the country on April 14th.

If you are planning an event in your town or city please add details in the comments below to be added to the facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=164277070288955

You can also send details to notowelfarecuts@yahoo.co.uk

If you would like to see action locally, set up a group, event page or ask below. We will do out best to promote and co-ordinate all activity.

We are fighting for our homes, our livelihoods, our very survival. It’s time to show these public school parasites and their poverty pimp collaborators we mean business.

Actions/events are being discussed and organised in Edinburgh, London, Birmingham and Nottingham so far.

UPDATE: First to call, the fine folk of Leeds

Thursday, April 14 · 10:30am – 2:00pm

Meeting @ Leeds Train Station 10am before moving to picket ATOS from 10:30 for an hour then move onto A4e/BEST for a couple of hours. The last picket was a great success and we hope to have another good day. Bring banners, flags etc.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=155593464493862&

Supported by:

o Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign
o Brighton Benefits Campaign
o Cardiff’s Unemployed Daytime Disco
o Carer Watch
o Carer Watch fb page
o Crippen – Disabled Cartoonist
o Diary of a Benefit Scrounger
o Disabled People Against Cuts
o Dundee Unemployed Workers
o Free London Listings
o Goldsmiths in Occupation
o Haringey Solidarity Group
o Ipswich Unemployed Action
o Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group
o Lancaster and Morecambe Against the Cuts
o London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP)
o Mad Pride
o Norfolk Community Action Group
o Nottingham Claimants’ Union
o Nuneaton Against Benefit Cuts
o Oxford Save Our Services
o Squattastic
o Tyneside Claimants Union
o Welfare Action Hackney
o Welfare Rights 4 u (UK)
o Work Programme & Flexible New Deal Scandal
o World Homeless Day

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