Oct 192011

Wheelchair users have to climb a flight of stairs to prove they are disabled enough to get benefits at a centre in Croydon.

Although there are lifts in the disability benefits assessment centre, anyone in a wheelchair or who cannot climb stairs is banned from using them due to health and safety regulations.

Anyone who cannot tackle the 46 step staircase is instead forced to make a 14 mile round trip to Balham because the centre in Cherry Orchard Road is not disabled friendly.

The Atos Healthcare’s Assessment Centre is on the first floor of Stephenson House and is the only place in the borough disabled people can undertake a compulsory workplace capability assessments (WCA) to determine if those suffering illness or incapacity are claiming legitimately.

Croydon Disability Forum (CDF) called the situation “ludicrous”.

Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell has written to Chris Grayling MP, minister for work and pensions, expressing his concerns.

He said: “We need to find a way to make that place fully accessible or find a new place.

“It works as a stop gap but not in the long term. We need a solution. It is ridiculous.”

Read the rest with comments from Your Local Guardian at Croydon


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  14 Responses to “Disabled benefit seekers banned from using lifts at Croydon's Atos Healthcare’s assessment centre”

  1. just read all the above comments. I am not only outraged by the comments but all so how I was treated by ATOS in cherry orchard road. I have mobility problems meaning that I can not walk without a crutch and additional support by another person, this means that I can not even leave my house unless someone is available to help me.
    But when I eventually managed to get up those flammin’ stairs (leving me in a lot of pain) I then had to walk along a long corridor – without help because they said it would impact on my claim – the corridor they said was 25 metres ( not sure whether to believe it). And then to top it all off all they asked me was wheter or not I can make a cup of tea, dress myself and use the toilet!!!!!

  2. just read the comments and thought its pathectic and disgusting how disabled people cannot use the lift to get to their interview cos of health and safety. that person should have had more support and now ATOS are playing god with peoples lives ive researched and noticed that people who are GENUEINNELY disabled are having their money stopped and not coping with their lives happen to do harm on their long term health and worse off death.


  3. The people who are not able to walk or to stand properly, for them wheelchair assessment is recommended so that they have not to depend on others for their daily tasks.

  4. It shows up just how inaccessible life is generally for those with little mobility! And how people who run businesses treat them!

  5. The inadequacy of certain centres used by Atos has been brought to the attention of the authorities by no less than Professor Harrington in his ESA reviews. At least 26 are said to be inaccessible for the sick and disabled.
    The Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith and the Minister Chris Grayling are well aware of the situation ,both of them are flouting the law ,as are Atos Healthcare.
    While ever these people and organisations are allowed to disregard the law shows the ESA system is purely a vehicle to remove people from Benefits whatever the cost to their health and financial situation.
    The DWP have stated in FOI requests that Atos are looking to resite the centres , as of now none have been closed.
    Atos and the DWP clearly flout the law as they wish, hundreds of thousands of people are wrongly denied benefits, the DWP says the Harrington reviews will eventually make for a FAIR assessment ,”eventually”, until then what about the people who have ,by inference, been put through an UNFAIR assessment ? Do the Government intend to forget them?
    The whole ESA system has been fatally flawed from day one, until The Secretary of State has the courage to say it is so, the sick and disabled will be robbed of their LEGAL rights.
    Disability ,accidents and illness do not discriminate , the now healthy will be the future sick ,be warned you will not be treated fairly by The Government, The DWP and Atos Healthcare.

  6. My local one has a lift to the first floor but was told I coulnt use it because of health and safety reasons. This was few years back, I expect the new ATOS test will send me to the same place even when I state on the form I am a wheelchair user.
    I read a while back Goverment were saying all were accesable yet there is a list that shows those that arnt. In fact I think there is only one ATOS centre in the UK with a blue badge space!!
    If you make it you fail, if you dont make it you fail so why should they do anything to make it easier?

  7. What hsppens if someone has no feeling in the botton half of ther body and cannot get out of their wheelchair? What happens if someone falls and hurt themselves while trying to climb the stairs. Atos are leaving themselves wide open for being sued by people hurting themselves while being force get out their chairs and trying to climb stairs. My guess is that they have no accessible fire escape on the upper levels of the building and this is why wheelchairs are banned from using the lifts. It is the same in JCP buildings now, no wheelchair user is allowed to use lifts in any JCP building.

    The only way to get through to Atos is for someone to badly hurt themselves and to sue Atos for lots of money and have a big court case…then they might listen.

    • I agree a big court case is necessary unfortunately that lot Duncan-Smith, Grayling and Atos Healthcare know a big court case requires a lot of money that poor disabled people have not got and they carry on smiling! I am sure if they were in the same position they would not suffer like you all do. In my country of origin there is a good expression: RIRA BIEN QUI RIRA LE DERNIER. Who last laughs laughs best.

      • Maybe the large charities could pay for a court case or am I being too optimistic to expect some of our charities (especially those who have government contracts) to actually represent their disability group

  8. Mr Greyling knows full well this situation is unacceptable, there are another 27 sites across the UK ATOS admit are not disabled friendly. It is inhuman to ask people to attend medicals in centres like this and they should be prevented from doing so. As for having to travel 14 miles to the nearest centre, well ATOS admit that is wrong too and say they will not ask anyone to travel longer that 90 minutes to reach one of thier centres. Even 14 miles in a car can take well over that time limit. Its time these evil people were stopped dead in thier tracks. Greyling should hang his head in shame, although given his aparrant lack of empathy with the real world theat is highly unlikely.

  9. People using this interrogation centre need to play ATOS at their own game by demanding they are given a home visit because they cannot manage the stairs and a 14 mile trip is beyond their capabilities, because the suggested method of transport (BUS) to the alternative place would be longer than the 90 minutes that is the maximum travelling time suggested to get to the interrogation centre. Also it would involve many changes of bus some with possibly only a minute or two between getting of one bus and on another, the suggested method and time table given by ATOS is for a fully fit person not someone who has difficulties walking or even a person with mental problems who may be confused by multiple changes on a bus journey.

  10. More serious than you suggest, actually. The problem is not with wheel chair users so much as with those with very restricted mobility: effectively, if you can get to the test you are very likely to fail it by virtue of that fact. Yet many disabled people will not be aware of that and will make heroic efforts to get to the room because the letter telling you to go has a big warning that failure to attend may result in benefits being withdrawn.

  11. Surely this is Disability Discrimination. sounds more like a stairway to Hell. get the Legal Eeales on it.

  12. Absolutely and totally unbelievable!

    How much lower can ATOS actually sink?

    I think they could probably limbo-dance under a snake – mind you, they are close relatives to snakes!

    Thanks for publicising this totally ludicrous situation.

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