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

 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







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  4 Responses to “Where are the MFCs at Atos? And other Atos Type Things”

  1. MFCs were designed to advise Atos HCPs about reaching a decision for Part 2 descriptors. At no point were they there to help the claimant. I have a suspicious feeling MFCs are employed by Atos. The main clue is in the job title Mental FUNCTION champions.

  2. I asked ATOS HQ Lawnswood Leeds, in November last year , How many audio recording facilities were in good working order and available across the Network of Medical Assessment Centres M E C s .
    I asked Atos H Q Lawnswood Leeds , How Many Mental Function Champions were employed by the very company where were they located and are they adequately trained in the discipline of Psychiatric Medicine to advise report and support the so called HCPs etc . there was NO response , I recently questioned Atos HQ Lawnswood Leeds and reminded them of the above to which I have still never received a response even to this date Apparently it is for THE DWP to answer those questions ,
    now with common sense reasoning you would think the Very Company itself would have at their finger tips the answers to those questions however , the customer relations managers Atos lawnswood Leeds , Christine Williams , Natalie Vickers , Julie Watson all avoid answering these very important questions ,
    Atos are paid a rather vulgar amount of T A X P A Y E R S money for this contract of ESA W C A a contract to deny sick ill and disabled persons a justifiable entitlement to benefit,
    So dear TAXYPAYERS Julie Watson Natalie Vickers and Christine Williams , to name but a few of Atos employees are paid money for nothing and the chips are free.

  3. According to the BBC report, Dr Wood who blew the whistle on Atos assessments yesterday, WAS a mental health champion.

    “Dr Wood, who was given special responsibility to champion mental health at Atos, said: “I was instructed to change my reports, to reduce the number of points that might be awarded to the claimants. I felt that was wrong professionally and ethically.”

    So that’s what those brought in to make the system better and fairer think of it then. They are obviously ignored too, if their recomendations don’t fit the targets. .. (or in IDS speak statistical norms).

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