The Labour party has called for an investigation into how ATOS were awarded the government contract to perform disability assessments. It is alleged that that ATOS secured a contract which included using the names of disabled people’s user-led organisations (DPULOs), without, at the very least, first checking with those organisations. On their tendering documents they apparently included the name of Disability Cornwall without having the courtesy of even asking them first.
It seems to me that ATOS are behaving just a little bit heavy handed. It appears that they were so intent on securing this lucrative government contract that Fair Play went out the window. It also appears that nobody from HMG bothered to check the claims made on the tendering documents. If this is indeed true that would be obtaining a Pecuniary Advantage wouldn’t it?
The Department for Work and Pensions have made it clear the successful Pip (personal independence payment) contracts assessment bids had “demonstrated strong evidence… of close working with disabled people’s representative groups”. If Atos were serious in the approach to their work in this area then they would have already been speaking to these disabled people’s representative groups during the preparation of their bid.
You can CLAIM all sorts of things, doesn’t mean it’s accurate.
ATOS have then progressed to conducting medical assessments on soldiers who have had their legs blown off and declared them fit for work for example.
THE story of a former marine who lost his benefits despite having a false leg is just one of a number that have shocked politicians. ATOS called him in for one of their “fit for work” assessments.
During the test, a nurse asked him to point to his right foot. He told them he didn’t have one.
They asked him to wiggle the toes on his right foot. He told them he didn’t have any.
Four days later, he was told his disability living allowance was being stopped as he was fit for work.
Reporters have gone undercover and discovered bizarre criteria. Oral chemotherapy doesn’t get points, but intravenous chemotherapy does. A BBC Panorama investigation revealed that a man who had been detained under the Mental Health Act was deemed fit for work.
The company says that its staff – nurses, doctors and physiotherapists – simply apply the government tests. The statistics, sadly, speak for themselves. A third of all appeals against the assessments are successful. Even more worrying is that the success rate of appeals increases if the Citizens Advice Bureau is involved, implying that even more appeals would be won if everyone who appealed had proper representation.
Whether the fault lies with ATOS for the way it administers the tests or the Government for the way it has designed them, they do not seem to be fit for purpose. The tests and criteria used must be open to scrutiny by researchers and academics, so that their effectiveness can be monitored, just as is expected of other tests administered in medicine.
On top of all of this ATOS is a bloody FRENCH company, not even outsourced to a UK company.
Not only is this another own-goal for outsourcing, on a simple, humanitarian level it is a national disgrace.
With Tom Winsor’s Independent Review due to come into force soon, and I seriously doubt that it won’t, this is clearly the sort of treatment you can expect from our caring, sharing government if you are unfortunate enough to be medically discharged.
And this is why I am angry today.