May 282013
 

When I received the initial phone call, from the DWP, I was hopeful that my health would be assessed fairly. I knew nothing of Atos.

I was told that during the process, I would lose no money. That was the first inaccuracy of many to come.

I returned the completed health questionnaire and waited.

Soon after I was summoned to attend a medical assessment at Wolverhampton, to be conducted by a ‘health care professional’ (HCP). This turned out to be the strangest medical I’ve ever gone through. I was asked to squeeze the HCPs fingers; I was asked to squat, and was told that I could use the wall as balance if necessary.

What possible relevance could these exercises hold?

The HCP spent more time looking at the computer monitor than she did in eye to eye contact.

The assessment eventually ended and I left, with a feeling of impending doom.

When I received the decision from the DWP, I was a little shocked, I must be honest. I knew that I could not carry out constant functions over a period of hours. I knew how my symptoms displayed themselves.

I sought help at my local CAB centre and almost at once I felt a sense of relief that I was not on my own.

The CAB advisor spent over twice the time the HCP had done and she came up with a report which clearly explained how my health affected my ability to carry out day to day functions.

There was nothing so profound in the DWP report.

My first appeal, to the DWP, failed as was expected, and I was advised to appeal to the first tier tribunal.

I also contacted my MP, Valerie VAZ, who wrote to the DWP, arguing that the assessment had failed to consider the degenerative nature of my condition, and was therefore flawed.

Soon after I received a phone call from a Decision Maker (DM) at the DWP who, after running through the assessment findings, offered another assessment.

Subsequent I received a new date with Atos.

This was in June 2012.

Between then and May 2013 I attended a handful of appointments, all of which were either cancelled by Atos due to my falling poorly during an assessment or for some administrative reason, such as computer problems.

On one occasion I was conveyed from the assessment centre to the local AE dept., when my BP & Pulse Rate were exceedingly high, and I was experiencing chest pains.

I spent the rest of that day hooked up to a variety of machines in the hospital.

Days later I received another Atos appt., this time for 0900…there was no chance I could make an appt. so early in the morning.

They should have been aware of this. It’s mentioned in my medical notes.

These frequent journeys were taking their toll on my health. My GP was so concerned that he wrote to Atos, explaining and sharing these concerns.

The Atos response was to change my AC venue from Wolverhampton to Birmingham, which is further to travel, and to approve a taxi, for collection and drop off at the attendance centre (AC). I already had a lift too the AC. travel was NOT the issue.

Atos had, for whatever reason, misread or misunderstood the nature of the letter from my GP.

The next appt. was the first taxi journey to the new venue, Birmingham, and my appt. was for 1:15pm.

I rang Atos at 12:30 just to confirm the taxi was booked, and was told it was.

13:15 came and went with no taxi.

The taxi arrived at about 13:25, which meant I was already late.

I arrived at 1355. Almost 45 minutes late.

To add insult to injury, I had pre-arranged to meet my welfare advice rep. at Birmingham. He was not happy either.

Understandable really.

More complaints were submitted to Atos.

This time they responded, eventually, with the offer of a home assessment.

Great news? No!

By the time if my tribunal I had still received no appt. for the Atos doctor to attend my home for the assessment.

My appeal was heard by the First Tier Tribunal and I was successful.

As good as this news is, it must not be seen as a way out for Atos. They caused considerable stress and aggravated my medical conditions for over a year with the catalogue of errors conducted by their staff. Pure and simple.

This would not be tolerated in any walk of life, so why should Atos be permitted to behave in this manner?

Something needs to be done.

I am hopeful that someone reading this will be in a position to offer some advice and support.

I am very sorry for those who are still fighting Atos.

I understand how they feel and I hope that something can be done to help them.

Thank you for reading this.

If any journalists would like to follow up this story please contact mail@dpac.uk.net

May 252013
 

Any campaign from this Government which claims to support disabled people should be viewed with suspicion and the latest offering from the DWP is no exception.

The department yesterday put out a press release boasting: “Celebrities have joined forces with the government to help launch a campaign aiming to promote positive role models for disabled people.”

This campaign features a youtube channel where 50 videos have been posted which have “been produced with a focus on overcoming barriers”.  Many of these videos are unsurprisingly about disabled people who have high flying careers, such as Dame Anne Begg, or are stories of disabled entrepreneurs.

The accompanying press release includes a gushing quote from Emmerdale actor Kitty McGeever explaining how after becoming disabled it ‘took some time to get back into work’ but she managed it with the help of the Government’s Access To Work scheme.

This scheme provides funding for workplace adaptations, travel or some care needs for disabled people in employment.  The number of people benefiting from Access To Work has plummeted by over a third since this Government weren’t elected showing the true situation for disabled people currently seeking employment.

Whilst this campaign may be a cheap attempt to improve those figures, it comes against a background of savage cuts to benefits, services and housing for disabled people.  It is a campaign run by a government which is declaring hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people to be ‘fit for work’ with the aim of stopping their benefits.  A government which has been only too happy to force sick and disabled claimants onto workfare as part of the Work Programme -  with no public scrutiny of where they are being sent or for how long.  A government that is set to force potentially hundreds of thousands of disabled people from their homes due to the bedroom tax, benefit cap and other measures.

And when Personal Independence Payments (PIP) fully replace Disability Living Allowance, this is a Government which will have slashed completely a vital benefit for 20% of disabled people.

This move alone is likely to mean that over 50% of disabled people are forced to leave work as funding for specialist equipment, care and transport disappears*.

Vast numbers of disabled people are set to be plunged into poverty by these measures, and it is this which reveals the true intentions of this latest DWP run project.  One of the charities involved in the campaign is quoted as saying that the “project is about showing what disabled people can do – not what they can’t”.

This is eerily similar to David Cameron’s line when interviewed shortly after the opening of the Paralympic games when he said: “It’s about the inspiration and it will change people’s minds and that’s what matters. It’ll teach people about what they can do, rather than what they can’t do.”

It is also the line used to justify the benefit-stripping Work Capability Assessment which according to the DWP focuses on “what an individual can do despite their health condition, rather than simply what they can’t.”

Minister for Murdering Disabled People, Esther Mcvey also pops up in this week’s press release, and whilst not quite so explicit, her underlying message is the same:  “young disabled people tell me they want to see more inspiring role models to show where disabled people have achieved their ambitions despite the odds being stacked against them”

For young disabled people the odds are stacked against them like never before due to this Government and in this context the true nature of the DWP’s latest campaign becomes clear.  This is not about providing role models for young disabled people or helping people fulfil their potential or even changing perceptions of disabled people as is claimed.  This Government doesn’t care about any of that.  This campaign is yet more insidious DWP propaganda attempting to give the impression that those plunged into poverty due to the ruthless cuts to disability benefits will only have themselves to blame.  If only they’d learnt to play wheelchair rugby, or been a fucking Dame, then they could afford to put the heating on.

The campaign also has a facebook page which might be a good place to share experiences of what people can no longer do due to the vicious cuts to benefits: https://www.facebook.com/Rolemodelsinspire

Dawn Willis writes well about this kind of narrative: ‘I’m not Stephen Fry, how damaging is that?’ from Dawn

*this figure comes from a survey carried out by Disability Rights UK (DRUK) which reported that 56% of those asked said they would have to leave work if they lost their DLA.  DRUK are notoriously in the pockets of the DWP, with Chief Executive Liz Sayce writing a report which recommended the closure of the Remploy factories.  The survey relating to the number of people likely to leave work due to PIP seems to have disappeared from DRUK’s website, for which there is surely an entirely innocent explanation.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

With massive thanks to the brilliant Johnny Void for letting us re-post

See more from Johnny at http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/achieve-your-potential-or-starve/

 

May 172013
 

Atos and the Department for Work and Pensions’ much criticised work capability assessments for Employment Support Allowance continue to present a never ending saga of misery, disbelief and despair.

A recent post on the False Economy blog talks of meetings to try and discover mental function champions (MFCs). These are claimed to exist but so far none have been produced or found that adequately satisfies that burning question of where MFCs are or what exactly they do .

In addition, both the BMA and more recently, the RCN have voted to stop the process of Atos assessments, due to the harm they are causing.

On Thursday the 16th of May, Dr Greg Wood an Atos worker told most of us what we already know: Atos assessments are biased. He decided to resign and go public despite having signed a confidentially agreement with Atos, something they put in place after nurse Joyce Drummond also went public and said of her role at Atos:

‘‘I apologise from the bottom of my heart to all those people I had to assess during my five months in the job but the decisions were out of my hands. Once I realised how manipulative the assessment system was, I got out immediately. The stress of it all made me ill and I have not worked since.”

In January 2013 another nurse who worked with Atos told Atos Victims Group :

“I could not live with the knowledge of what I was doing and the effect this could have on somebody’s life.   Although there are a number of people who are more than capable of work, the majority are genuine, sick people who need our help, not to be demoralised in this way.  I saw so many people who would cry in front of me, because they want to work so much, but couldn’t”. 

Now Greg Wood tells the Guardian, if Atos assessors: “show deviation from the official line they are instructed to change the report. In about a quarter of assessments important documentary evidence such as the claimant’s own GP assessment is missing but the assessments go ahead regardless.”

Atos and the Department for Work and Pensions trot out the same lines in response: can anyone in the UK believe them at all? Apparently, everyone is lying but them.

Not only are these assessments supposed to be joy on earth, they are claimed to be backed by a mysterious force called a mental function champion. False Economy say:

“In 2011, Atos introduced Mental Function Champions into the ESA work capability process to “improve” assessments for people with mental health problems. A group of us have spent six months trying to find out exactly how this MFC role works, if MFCs have “improved” work capability assessments for people with mental health problems and if anyone at Atos or the DWP can prove that the role has had any impact for people who must go through WCAs.

We’ve had very little luck. We did manage to get a meeting with Atos, someone who said he was an MFC and the DWP on the topic, but that was not particularly satisfactory, as you’ll see:

For months now, mental health service users and campaigners from the voluntary sector consortium group Mental Health Northeast (MHNE), Newcastle user-led mental health support group Launchpad and False Economy have been trying find out more about the work done by Atos Mental Function Champions”.

Read more at False Economy http://falseeconomy.org.uk/blog/mental-function-champions

 update: apparently Dr Wood may have been an MFC but as he has now left- if  anyone has had any other sightings or knowledge of an MFC we’d be interested in hearing about it

mail@dpac.uk.net

 

Links

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/nurse-makes-heartfelt-apology-after-1340838

http://atosvictimsgroup.co.uk/2013/01/31/ex-atos-nurse-reveals-the-real-inside-story/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/may/16/atos-doctor-claimants-biased-medical-assessments

 

 

 

May 122013
 

Grandmother Stephanie Bottrill was forced by this Government to find £20 a week that she didn’t have for the bedroom tax. She had lived in her terrace house for 18 years. Last Saturday she left her home for the last time to walk to Junction 4 of the M6 where she walked out in front of lorry- she was killed instantly. She is the first known suicide to result from the heinous bedroom tax imposed by the Tories. She left notes for her family in which she said: don’t blame yourselves, blame this government. Days before her death she told neighbours ‘I can’t afford to live anymore’. Read more of this harrowing story at http://www.cantpaywontpay.org/publish/?p=2655

A deputy head of a London school wrote to the DWP asking if they knew about the effects that sanctions were having. She described children who hadn’t eaten, children fainting from hunger, children unable to attend school because they did not have shoes.

http://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/dear-department-for-work-and-pensions/

This is 21st century Britain; a place where the suicides and premature deaths from the DWP and Governments regimes are increasing with alarming speed; a place where people are unable to feed their children or their selves.

On the day Stephanie’s tragic story was exposed by the Mirror, the Benefits Justice Summit2 was happening in London. The second of two successful summits and a model that has been replicated in local areas for a ‘fight back’ to this attack on disabled people and people on low incomes by the multi-millionaires and corporate companies running this country. A country that is the sixth richest in the world, but one which sees no end to the demonization and increasing desperation and destitution of ordinary people like Stephanie and many others. We cannot allow this any longer, we must all join together to fight these horrendous attacks on ordinary people!

May 052013
 

The Dail Fail published the above 4th May as the ‘workshy’ map

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2319355/Workshy-map-Britain-revealed-Thousands-incapacity-benefit-claimants-capable-working.html


The NOT fit for work Map above by Nick @Mylegalforum publised 5th May

The difference between propaganda and truth in the Atos/DWP war

See the full story on the Fail map at http://dpac.uk.net/2013/05/daily-fail-incites-more-disability-hate-crime-with-its-latest-act/

See more from the brilliant Nick at http://ilegal.org.uk/thread/7616/page/1/cut-slack-quit-media-lies

May 042013
 

Yet another Daily Mail FAIL!!



What is it with these journalists from the Daily Mail?

Why can’t they ever get anything right when it comes to reporting something factual over the government’s callous welfare reforms.  Here’s a really ‘slack’ piece of journalism from one of the Daily Mail’s finest, strangely enough he goes by the name of James Slack; slack by name slack by nature I’d say.

Read Slack’s factually inaccurate article here



The REAL facts with all the DWP links are here

Slack makes a pathetic attempt to try and get his deluded readers to believe that it’s the ‘lefties’ who are creating the myths over the dangerously hazardous welfare reforms which government is inflicting upon thousands.  Slack headlines his article ‘ What the Left doesn’t want you to know about Britain’s £200 billion welfare bill’.  He goes on to write the usual rubbish we’ve grown accustomed to reading in the gutter press, the particular piece which got my goat was Slack’s incredibly lazy attempt to rubbish what he absurdly pitches as a left – sided myth over those on incapacity benefits. Here’s an excerpt from Slack’s article:

‘Slack fact 1′

 

“THE TRULY SICK ARE NOT BEING FORCED TO WORK”

“CLAIM: New tests to check Incapacity Benefit claimants’ inability to work are having a devastating effect on the sick and mentally ill.”

“REALITY: Incapacity Benefit, which was renamed Employment and Support Allowance, is paid to people considered unfit for work. Only 232,000 — one in eight of those tested by doctors — have been deemed too unwell to do any work.”


Actually in reality incapacity benefit was never renamed Employment & Support Allowance at all

If Slack had checked his facts he would see that the Employment & Support Allowance here is entirely separate to the incapacity benefits found here.  If one had been renamed as the other the two would not continue to exist.    

‘Slack fact 2′

“Another 837,000 who took the test were found to be fit to work immediately, and a further 367,300 were judged able to do some level of work.”


In reality Slack is miles off the mark with this little gem.  In actual fact only 700,200 incapacity benefit claimants have been tested under the much stricter Employment & Support Allowance rules of which 496,800 (71%) were found to be perfectly entitled to the allowance.  the percentage figure varies each month – figures of 78% being recorded in October 2010, 77% in March 2011 and 75% in July 2012.   

290,200 were deemed chronically incapacitated and incapable of any work related activity whatsoever and 206,600 were deemed to have a severe limitation such that they qualified for ‘support’ from the government in helping them work towards a return to work – sadly very few end up getting the Support because the DWP is seemingly too busy feeding the press with the kind of garbage which incompetent journalists like Slack writes for the Daily Fail. 

‘Slack fact 3′

“Some 878,300 people — around a third of the 2.6 million who were claiming the benefit — have chosen to drop their claims rather than face a medical.”


In actual fact the figure relating to incapacity claimants, who for any number or reasons dropped their claim, is nowhere near 878,300 – it is 24,700 as per the DWP’s most up to date figures of August 2012.

‘Slack fact 4′

“One in eight of those tested by doctors”
In actual fact the DWP under it’s private and ‘commercially sensitive’contracting arrangements with Atos Healthcare recruits an abundance of nurses as well as doctors and the chances of everyone being tested by a fully qualified doctor is zero.



‘Slack fact 5′

“Some 30 people were claiming they were unfit to work because of blisters, while 60 cited acne and 2,110 said ‘sprains and strains’ rendered them unfit for employment.”


How on earth can Slack have had access to what should be highly confidential medical records relating to 30 individual assessments to know precisely what conditions they were citing as their one and only ground for claiming they were unfit for employment?

It bemuses me how the Daily Mail can make so much fuss about footballer Wayne Rooney’s £130,000 a week sprained sprained ankle with no reference or inference to the possibility of him ‘skiving’.

I also note the gutter press draws attention in previous articles to the tragedy of a 31 year old woman who committed suicide over what they describe as a ‘minor skin condition. The article describes how the woman’s mental health deteriorated to the point where, after two failed attempts, she sadly took her own life by jumping off the Humber Bridge.

I presume James Slack would not retrospectively imply the poor woman was ‘fit for work?’

Why not email Slack and tell him what a truly useless
journalist he is is?



j.slack@dailymail.co.uk



And then complain



To the Press Complaints Commission

 

 

 

 

 


 

Unreal!  The Daily Mail prints the 

 

‘Workshy map’