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.
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.
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