Sep 122011
 

The following letter has been sent to Atos Healthcare. Copies have also been sent to The Guardian, The Independent, The Morning Star, The Times, The Financial Times, Newsweek & the Daily Mail. It is written in response to Atos Healthcare’s misuse of the libel laws in a bid to silence their many many critics, especially those who have spoken openly about their bad experiences of the Work Capability Assessment.

The original post Atos objected to can be found at
http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/atos-mach-frei-atos-origin-team-up-with-gas-chamber-firm/

AN OPEN LETTER TO ATOS HEALTHCARE

Lisa Coleman
General Manager for the DWP Contracts
Atos Healthcare
4 Triton Square
Regent’s Place
London, NW1 3HG

Dear Ms Coleman,

We the undersigned individuals and groups are seriously concerned by the fact that Atos Healthcare, the provider of the Work Capability Assessment for sickness benefits, has threatened legal action against the Internet hosting companies of three websites which circulated letters from sickness benefit claimants – ‘Carerwatch’, ‘After Atos’ and ‘Atos Register of Shame’ (now relaunched as ‘A### the Truth’).

These websites have given members of society who are often isolated and have traditionally found it difficult to take joint action, the chance to come together and share their experiences. We find it unacceptable that a large IT company, which receives £100m per year for their assessment of claimants, has deployed their legal department against individuals or small organisations who dared to circulate people’s comments and concerns about their treatment at Atos’ hands.

As acknowledged by both the recent Harrington Report and the Work and Pensions Select Committee, the Work Capability Assessment implemented by Atos Healthcare was found to be mechanistic and Atos’ ‘medical reports’ far too often did not reflect circumstances and discussions that had taken place during the assessments (Harrington Report, pp. 40-41). In addition, ESA claimants have now been told that twelve doctors working for Atos face being struck off for improper conduct, and other members of Atos’ staff are under investigation over allegations of obscene criticism of benefit claimants.

Atos Healthcare has given assurances that the shortcomings identified by the Harrington Report are being addressed. Yet many claimants are still experiencing the distress of poor and rushed medical assessments based on Atos Healthcare’s computer programme.

Amid growing concern that Atos Healthcare is failing to raise its methods and professionalism to acceptable standards, the company is now attempting to silence those claimants and their small organisations who have had the courage to speak up. At a time when we see that major corporations such as News International are able to use the threat of legal action to hide their wrongdoings, it is important that Atos’ actions are brought to account.

It is also the case that government bodies are unable to sue for libel. Atos’ argument is that they are taking legal action to protect their business reputation, but in this case they are performing the work of the DWP, and receiving public money for doing it.

For these reasons, we ask that Atos withdraw all threats of libel action, that they publicly guarantee that they will not in future use the libel laws to close down criticism of their practices, and that they make a public apology to those individuals and websites which they have tried to silence.

Yours truly

Brighton Benefits Campaign
Brighton & Hove TUC Unemployed Centre
Caroline Lucas MP
Amanda Sebestyen Writer
Paul Smith Atos Victims Group
Holly Smith (President) Brighton and Hove Trades Union Council
Brighton Keep Our NHS Public
Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition
Brighton Disabled People Against Cuts
Ipswich Unemployed Action
Disabled People Against Cuts
False Economy
Southampton United for Pensions and Public Services
National Coalition for Independent Action
Redhill Coalition Against Cuts
Lewes Stop the Cuts
Art Uncut
DLA Help Group
The Broken of Britain
WinVisible (Women With Visible and Invisible Disabilities)
Suffolk Coalition for Public Services
Queer Resistance
Newport Trades Union Council
Cornwall Anti Cuts Alliance
Cornwall Disabled People Against Cuts
Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group

cross posted from Brighton Benefits Campaign

Sep 052011
 

New developments! Please read
Great news on the ESA Amendment! at George Potter’s blog.

DPAC is calling upon all members to write to the Lib Dems to build support for a motion being put forward at their annual conference on September 17th about fundamental changes to the Employment and Support Allowance assessment system.

The Lib Dem motion, to be proposed by Liberal Youth, will make five key demands including calling for:

–       a clearer assessment process,

–       greater accuracy in assessment, particularly for those with fluctuating conditions,

–       ensuring disabled people get the support they need

–       all claimants on appeal to be given access to adequate representation

–       a less stressful assessment process

An amendment to the motion put forward by George Potter relates to the difficulties currently faced by disabled people placed in the Work Related Activity Group, many of whom have fluctuating conditions which may vary widely from day to day, who face the ongoing  threat of having their benefits sanctioned if they fail to fully comply with conditions imposed on them regardless of how difficult this may be for them.

Lib Dem Youth believe that the government will listen if the motion is passed.

DPAC would ask its members to contact your Lib Dem MPs, MEPs, councillors and peers to urge them to vote in favour of the motion. You can find their contact details at www.parliament.uk If your MP is not a Lib Dem then please write instead to Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister and Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Lib Dems who it is very important to influence.

Nick Clegg, deputy PM, Cabinet Office, 70, Whitehall, London, SW1A 2AS or nick.clegg@cabinet-office.x.gsi.gov.uk

Simon Hughes, deputy leader Lib Dems, Lib Dem head office, 4,Cowley Street, London, SW1P 3NB or info@libdems.org.uk

Please send us copies of any letters you do send and we would also like to hear what responses you receive.

You can use this template letter: template letter

Jun 132011
 

Today · 5:00pm – 8:00pm

Details also at http://benefitclaimantsfightback.wordpress.com/

Placard with words 'Atos does not give a toss'

Placard with words 'Atos does not give a toss'

Atos Origin, 4 Triton Square, London, NW1 3HG

Bring bandages, fake blood, banners, placards, CVs, the noise.

Benefit claimants, disabled people and supporters will be attending Atos Healthcare’s Recruitment Day on June 14th at 5pm and have called on people to join them.

In the spirit of actively seeking work we will be demanding that if we are all ‘fit for work’ then Atos, notorious for a lack of disabled access in their premises, should consider us for employment directly.

Atos Healthcare, a subsidiary of French IT firm Atos Origin, have signed off thousands of sick and disabled people as ‘fit for work, despite the opinions of the claimants own doctors and other medical professionals.

Atos’ computer based testing, described by one expert as unfit for purpose, has led to people with terminal illnesses, conditions such as advanced MS, or people with mental health conditions being stripped of health benefits. Several claimants have taken their own lives as a result of these decisions.

This testing is now being extended to everyone on Incapacity Benefit and looks like being rolled out to test people claiming Disability Living Allowance. Atos are recruiting ‘healthcare’ professionals around the country to carry out these tests.

We’ll be attending the recruitment event at their plush Central London Headquarters today from 5pm.

Come and join us help warn potential Atos employees exactly what their new role might entail. We will be highlighting the devastating consequences for people’s health these tests have inflicted, directly opposing the fundamental medical principal of ‘first do no harm’.

We will also be asking for a job. This may count as legitimate activity as part of your Job Seekers Agreement. But it probably won’t.

For a list of other Atos Recruitment Events visit:

http://www.atoshealthcarejobs.co.uk/events.html