Sir Stephen Bubb

Sir Stephen Bubb

Friday, 17 May 2013

Atos




Yet again the private sector company doing disability benefit assessments is under fire. Charities have for months been drawing attention to abuse and incompetence here.

Yet nothing happens.

The BBC are to be congratulated for drawing attention to the revelations of a doctor who worked for the private company which assesses people for disability benefits says its methods are "unfair".

Greg Wood, a former Royal Navy doctor, resigned from ATOS earlier this month, after working as an Assessor for two-and-a-half years.

He told the BBC the system was "skewed against the claimant ".

ATOS, which has been criticised in the past by disability charities and MPs, carries out work capability assessments on contract for the Department for Work and Pensions.

Claimants have to score a required number of points in order to qualify for the full sickness benefit under the Employment and Support Allowance.

In an interview with the BBC, Dr Wood says he believes ATOS Assessors are not free to make truly independent recommendations.

He said he felt compelled to speak out because it was "embarrassing to be associated with this shambles".

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.

Dr Wood says the people being most adversely affected by the system have significant, mid-ranging disabilities, such as Parkinson's disease, mental illness, and head and spinal injuries.

He also claims some of the most severely disabled people are being asked to attend face-to-face assessments, instead of the normal practice of examining their application on paper.

On the BBC news last night he spoke movingly about the disgrace of him having to assess someone terminally ill. He is right to be outraged. We all should be.

So what is the response of the DWP? Yet again they brush this away. Mark Hoban MP could not even bring himself to acknowledge the claims and say he would review them. He blathered on about getting disabled people into work. We all share that aim. We want efforts made to get disabled people into work. But this cannot excuse bad practise. He must now review the ATOS contract and if he finds the stories of incompetence and abuse proven, the contract should be terminated.

The BBC is collecting evidence of bad practice by ATOS. I hope all our charities with bad experience of their claimants suffering will be putting pen to paper. Or finger to email. We must speak out.

2 comments:

mister benefits said...

Some really valid points. Anyone struggling with the issues raised here can seek benefit advice from www.benefitanswers.co.uk

Roy Norris said...

ATOS are also used to provide Occupational Health services. From what I have seen - reports of wholly inadequate telephone assessments - they are a disgrace. Anyone working for this outfit who is a registered health professional should be aware that they are likely to find themselves before their professional regulator before too long.