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


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  10 Responses to “The Atos experience: please read this”

  1. Hi thank you very much for your extremely informative post it’s much appreciated by me I’ve been very poorly I’ve had tumours as well as my thyroid and lymph nodes removed from my neck and throat and also 1 from my bowel and 1 from my cervix I knew nothing of atos when I got the original call from dwp to say I had awarded esa and I was also told I would not lose any money during this time then shortly after I recieved a letter to attend a medical assesment at atos in manchester of which I attended and I was told I was unfit for work and again would not lose any money a few weeks later I was sent another letter to attend another assesment in manchester which was cancelled by atos as I fell poorly and had to be taken into hospital I phoned them from the hospital and they said we will cancel your appointment they gave me a new one then that afternoon they phoned me as I was in hospital my phone was turned of they left me a voicemail to say they had cancelled it due to the high number of appointments on the day I was due to go then they sent me a new one in the post again they phoned me and said they were cancelling due to computers being down -finally I recieved another appointment in the post this time I attended. I waited 2 hours past my appointment time I had to keep gettin up walking about sitting back down again. I was being sick but still went through with the appointment. I had to do what you did squats squeezing the lady’s fingers she barely made eye cintact with me she was on the computer all the time and she didnt speak or explain anything to me either- now my health has deteriorated since the first appointment but yet this time I have waited 5 weeks to recieve a letter to say that I am fit for work and they told me that my gp said I was too. I’m still under the hospital and still taking meds. I also suffer severe depression and anxiety. They put on the letter good eye contact and good concentration that’s lies. I’ve also been to my gp who strongly denies deeming me fit for work saying he had no say whatsoever but that I am not fit for work. Ive got an appointment to appeal with my local cab on tuesday. I’m due originally to recieve my esa payment friday well today but have only just found out this week that I’m now deemed fit for work therefore payments have been stopped and they said on the letter I can deal with change. I told them I couldnt which is a not a lie as my gp and my psychiatrist will both vouch for that. I hate change and I hate stress and 1 on 1 appointments too, so as you can imagine right now im in bits. I’ve done nothing but cry and suffer severe panic attacks this week I’m suicidal, I’ve been vomiting and suffering severe stomach cramps and now my gp wants more full blood counts and blood pressure and chilestrol tests tomorrow. This is having a profound effect on my health and personal life I’m at my wits end not sure what to do next or how much more I can take 🙁 so sorry for going on so much thank you for listening P.S. what happened with your payments while you were appealing?

    The Terrorism Act whereby you can be held in Custody without being charged for 28 days as well as Closed Courts known as CPM’s Closed Material Procedures are just two new powers the Authorities have .So anyone can be arrested kept up to 28 days ,charged taken into a Secret Court and Imprisoned .All in Secret .
    But another very little know Power the Public are unaware of is The out-of-hours rulings about care or medical treatment .Where a decision is given by a Judge over the Telephone .
    Late on a Sunday night, Justice Sir Mark Hedley decided to let a man with mental health problems die of an overdose rather than pump his stomach, because he believed the man “had capacity” to refuse treatment. The judgement was never recorded or published. Sir Mark, now retired from the bench, said of his ruling: “I decided he had capacity, so he died that night. That’s exactly what he wanted to do.” He added: “It was a phone call at 10 o’clock on a Sunday night. Actually directly from a consultant at the hospital, though usually they come through lawyers. There would have been no [published] order at all because once I’d made a finding of capacity, there was no jurisdiction for the court to act .

  3. DWP fake psych ‘test’ order illegal – according to DWP

    24/04/2013·by skwalker1964· Bookmark the permalink. ·

    Last week, I exposed a fake personality ‘test’ that is being forced on unemployed people by the Department of Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Jobcentre Plus (JCP) centres. This ‘test’, which presented a ‘personality profile’ to respondents that was completely unrelated to their personality, was so completely bogus that it even provided a ‘profile’ if you clicked through all the questions without answering them.

    Moreover, if you go through the test and answer ‘very like me’ to every one of the 48 questions, you will receive exactly the same results as if you go through it and click ‘very unlike me’.

    Not only is the test a fake, but it was devised by the US psychologist who designed the ‘psychological torture’ programme used by the CIA and US military, which includes among its methods the infamous ‘waterboarding’ technique designed to make victims feel as though they are drowning, over and over again.

    It’s plain that this test has nothing to do with offering claimants genuine, helpful information. Instead, it appears to be a naked attempt to cynically manipulate unemployed people into certain behaviours whether or not it is in their best interest given their personal strengths and weaknesses.

    Unemployed people are being forced to take this ‘test’ by the threat of ‘sanction’ – that they will lose their benefits if they fail to comply with the instruction. In a context where some claimants are committing suicide because of the fear of losing their benefits, to instill the fear and stress that the threat of sanction must inevitably create, simply to coerce them into taking a ‘test’ that is meaningless, is not only psychological torture but reckless, dangerous, and quite possibly criminal.

    And it turns out that there is a government department that agrees that it is illegal for the DWP to impose this ‘test’ on benefit claimants. The DWP.

    Here is a JCP letter to an unemployment benefit claimant ordering them to complete a series of tasks, including the bogus ‘skills test’:

    The letter advises the claimant that the instruction to take the test is a ‘Jobseeker’s Direction’ (JSD). A JSD is a very specific instruction issued by JCPs to the unemployed – an instruction that can lead to benefit sanctions if it is not obeyed. It is therefore extremely coercive – but it is not supposed to be employed just anyhow.

    ‘Fruit of the poisoned tree’..

    The DWP publishes guidance for its ‘employment officers’ (Emp Os) on sanctions and their use. Item 34592 of this guidance notes advises Emp Os about JSDs and the use of sanctions for non-compliance. Here’s what it says right at its beginning:

    A JSD in writing will be a document that asks or advises claimants to take a particular course of action that can help them find employment or improve their chances of being employed.

    Clearly, taking a test that has no connection whatever to your actual personality does nothing to help you find employment or become more employable. On its own, this makes the JSDs imposing the test invalid – and any sanctions resulting from them invalid too. But we’re not done yet.

    Item 34593 states (emphases mine):

    If an Emp O gives or sends a letter to a claimant asking them to attend at a Jobcentre Plus office or other place without explaining why, or just tells them to telephone but does not tell them why this will not be a JSD. The JSD must explain why the jobseeker is being directed to attend a particular place.

    Item 34593 establishes the principle that a jobseeker must be told why a JSD is being given for it to be enforceable. The letter, as you can see above, does not give any indication why the test must be completed, beyond a generic ‘in order to help you [find work] we require’ it. No indication is given as to how taking this ‘test’ will help, and the fact that the ‘test’ is bogus means that it is not meeting even this vague aim.

    While not conclusive in itself, taken in context this vagueness and lack of substance means that the JSD is extremely questionable and liable to legal challenge.

    The clincher

    Item 34594 states that:

    A JSD has to be reasonable

    While the examples given relate to reasonableness in terms of feasibility, it is extremely doubtful that any court would consider that ordering someone to take a meaningless test is in any way ‘reasonable’.

    Given the intimidating nature of the test and the other instructions issued with it, and the increased likelihood of limited literacy skills among the people on whom it is imposed, the DWP has almost certainly imposed sanctions on claimants for failing to comply with what appears to be a thoroughly illegal instruction that does not meet the standards for a valid ‘jobseeker’s direction’.

    Since this test has been used for some time in at least 3 regions and is now being rolled out in others, the number of people penalised in this way could be substantial, and the sanctions imposed could run into millions of pounds.

    Not only that, but by inflicting undoubted stress and distress on people using a legally illegitimate and unreasonable instruction, the DWP could face compensation claims running into the tens or even hundreds of millions of pounds, if any claimants decide to seek legal redress.

    And the DWP is damned by its own words, from its own handbook.

    No wonder it didn’t want you to know about this reckless, cynical ‘test’.

    • A very informative and useful post Stepping Razor. I’ve tried the so called psychometric test and it is useless. Actually, on a serious note, it is DANGEROUS. If you have a mental health problem such as being Bipolar and you are rapid cycling the result may lead you come off medication because the bl**dy test is too optimistic and unrealistic. I would say it breaches the “reasonableness” of the JSD standards. I would recommend anybody to use the link to SKWalker and try the test.

  4. They used to say that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys. I know that Atos are not getting payed peanuts, so why are people having to communicate with monkeys. My husband’s experience, although not similar in that he was not found fit to work and did not have to appeal, was full of errors and disorganisation. He was called to interview when he should not have been, when he arrived the entrance to the building was inaccessible, and he and others in the same boat had to go round the back of the building and gain entrance through a locked parking area which meant they had to wait for a car to exit before they could enter. Then they had to knock on the basement door until someone heard them and let them in. When my husband complained to the receptionist and manager they said it was out of their control. At this point my husband lost his calm and told the manager in no uncertain terms that it had better be his concern as no one else was going to go through what they had just experienced to attend a medical interview. When he actually got into see the HCP he was told that he had been called in error (he is receiving treatment for leukaemia) and he was out of the room within 5 minutes. A waste of his and the tax payer’s time, money and energy.

  5. It doesn’t help the budget to have expensive beauracrats messing things up does it? However much this assessment cost it will be at least quadrupled by this catalogue of errors. I bet ATOS shareholders are delighted and the poor taxpayer who is footing the bill should be horrified.

    I have no objection to being assessed as to my work ability when necessary, I have had similar before when my disability became evident and at each time it got worse, so I don’t object to the principle as set up by Labour, but I do object to the appalling way people are treated. It should be compassionate and thoughtful and treat people with respect. They could then suggest things I could use (like voice activated software I’ve had in the past) and negotiate with employers any concessions that would help. But it has to be person centred, not budget centred. When the DWP state they want so many millions off the welfare budget it is clear the aim is to hit those who claim most, disabled people obviously. And that is disgusting.

  6. I was sorry to hear of all the pain and distress that you have been through – but happy for your eventual outcome to your appeal. I have shared this on fb and Twitter, asking for ‘contact’s’ on there to read & share.
    Best wishes,
    Angel x

  7. Keep fighting the fight, and pretty dam good for not giving up – hopefully, somebody from the media will be prepared to publish your account of your experiences, which are so typical of so many people’s encounters with ATOS!!

  8. It is the DWP responsability for ATOS. The DWP have contracted ATOS to work for them. The DWP are in fault of the Data Protection Act. The DWP`s Data Proctection Officer [DPO] is at fault under the Data Protection Act [DPA].

    Until then it will go on & on.

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