Tag Archives: disability

DISABILITY ASSESSMENT FLAWED

Another waste of taxpayer’s money?

Government seems to have scored another own goal.

Having announced that they are going to reform benefits they have put the proverbial bull into the china shop, managing to upset thousands of genuinely disabled people, whilst leaving the shirkers with a “they’ll never catch me” smirk.

First, they appoint a French company, Atos, to handle the assessments.  Judging by reports, they don’t seem to understand the word ‘disabled’, and managed to place many of the assessment offices in buildings with no easy access.

I am lucky enough to qualify for various allowances;  I would much prefer to be able to walk around and jump on buses – but mustn’t complain;  I get ten taxi trips a month, which take me off to hospital appointments in black cab comfort, so I am lucky.

However, a month ago I was phoned by an ‘Assessor’.  Did I mind doing a telephone assessment?  Obviously not, as I can’t climb stairs.

First question:  What disabilities did I have?

I list as many as I can remember early in the morning.

What is ‘oldest’ one? And when did I have it?

Polio – in 1956.

“Oh” replies bright-as-a-button assessor.  “You are obviously well over it by now, so we can disregard that”.

When I was able to close my open mouth, I left her in no doubt that she obviously wasn’t qualified to carry out a medical assessment, and slammed down the phone.

So if one of these incompetents phones you, and you are worried, tell your MP.

Does Atos stand for arrogance?

Or for ‘new’ politics?

Atos

Atos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Let’s hope the legscy left by the Olympics is to stand up to bullies.

Atos is being challenged

It has cost the Government £50 million to defend challenges against Atos-recommended withdrawals of Disability Benefit with 38 out of 40 cases going overturning Atos rulingd.

The Guardian  Newspaper recently commentet that they were surprised that Atos had chosen to sponsor the Paralympics. As a company tasked by the Government to carry out the controversial assessmentd of Disabled people, it semed a bizarre choice.

But this typifies the new way of running anything political and/or Government-run.  When a Government realises that reforming one of their institutions, such as the NHS, was what they thought was needed – thinking seems yo be to throw taxpayers money at this, then stand back and let the company that is going to make a fortune take flak from the public. 

Witness :  the massive amount  Olympic security was going to cost;  then get a company such as G4S to run the contract; when it all goes pear-shaped, stand back and let G4S take the flak.  And don’t worry, G4S will be offered other contracts to compensate.

The same principle applies with reorganising the Benefits system.  And re organising the NHS – instead of working hard with  those already working in the industry who must know where skeletons are buried, and what needs to be changed.  Doing it the sensible way, taking  time, and supporting those who have worked in the field for some time. Instead just grab a fistful of taxes, scatter them into some CEO’s pocket, and let them handle this.  They will be shamed into giving back some dosh as a sop, but nothing like the huge amounts they are going to make.

Good News

A HEALTH professional signed off work by her doctor in “excruciating pain” lost all her benefits and was judged fit to work following an assessment by Atos.

The mother – she lives in Camden but wants to remain anonymous – said she had been pushed to the limits of despair by the Government’s £100m contractor:  Atos Healthcare

Currently the agents of the Coalition’s welfare reform and Paralympics partner – is under intense criticism for assessments campaign groups who say they are forcing seriously ill people over the edge.

The mother has worked all her life until a serious workplace injury forced her to quit. She regularly sees a hospital pain management team for her pain but after being assessed by Atos she was told she no longer qualified for Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

Her child tax credits, housing, council and employment benefits were cut off in the same week.

She said: “I am in extreme, excruciating pain. But for three months I didn’t have any money at all. At first I thought this was a joke. I was asking for help from friends – but the worst thing was I couldn’t give my two children anything during the holidays.
How do you explain to a child about this sort of thing?

“I was so proud to work – I went to school, university, I have studied. Now the kids are crying for you and it makes you so upset. When they stop one benefit, the others also stop.”

She added: “These assessments – the trouble you have to go through – they are leaving people with mental illness.

“I cannot carry shopping bags. I can’t stand for long and cook so I sometimes buy ready meals. I told them this and they said: ‘Oh, because you can put things in the microwave you can go to work.’

“They score you on communication, sitting and standing, about whether you can read your email, can you talk on the phone, walk 200 metres?

“It is like speaking to a robot – they ask you what you can do, but not how you are. I was assessed by a nurse – fitness to work should be assessed by a doctor.”

Disability benefit assessments were formerly done by a registered GP.

Lost papers

After challenging the decision, she was told her appeal papers had been lost. With help from the Kentish Town-based campaign group WinVisible, some of her benefits have been restored.

Clare Glassman from WinVisible said: “One of the main problems is that Atos do not get penalised when they get things wrong.

Women are terrified and it is very, very serious. They don’t count pain levels or the difficulties of getting around. None of that. Being in a wheelchair is now classed as being mobile.

“The BMA [British Medical Association] has called for these assessments to be scrapped. We have got results for some people, but there needs to be a wholesale change because this is happening on a massive scale.”

She said she had spoken to women living in Camden who had physical disabilities but also “terrible psychological” injuries that were not taken into account under the new system.

She said “equality” – a principle championed by New Labour – was being used to argue that it was “patronising that the severely disabled cannot work”.

A week of protest ended when more than 400 protesters demonstrated outside the Atos headquarters in Triton Square, Euston.  Then George Osborne was booed by tens of thousands of Paralympic fans as he handed out medals in the Olympic Stadium.

A spokeswoman for Atos said: “We don’t make benefit decisions – we are small part of the overall process. We send a report off to the Department and they decide these are parameters set by the Government – that is all Government policy.

She added: “At Atos we have proudly supported the Paralympics Movement for a decade. We hope people will view the Games, as we do, as an opportunity to celebrate sporting achievements.”

“We fully respect people’s right to peaceful protest and we understand this is a highly emotive issue.

So who are they?

Go on the Atos Website and it is obvious they don’t want to publicise that they are a foreigtn-owned compay.  But the dead give-away is the telephone codes used.  But one wonders why they are so coy? When you go to Google, the UK website that comes up does its best to hide its origins.

But ironically, their attempt to gain more clients by sponsoring the Paolympics may have highlighted the company’s failings, and given protesters a focus-point where to aim demonstrations.  The company weren’t helped by the heavy-handed policing of these protests, with media pictures of people in wheelchairs being manhandled.  Never good publkicity.

Meantime, now that Lansley and his pathetic team have been booted out, idn’t it time to go back to transparency, and awarding Government contracts to British companies who have a proven record, and can be held accountible?

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New laws protect workers with cancer

Legislation offers protection to workers and carers affected by cancer

Often employees diagnosed with cancer will continue to work through treatment or after they have finished.  However, it can be difficult to return to work as one used to carry it out.

However, when it comes to obtaining the help you might need to return to work, there can be difficulties.  Sadly, less than 40% of people with cancer realise that they are protected by law against workplace discrimination.

Recently Macmillan have launched Working through Cancer campaign. This campaign aims to raise awareness of the Equality Act 2010, now in force.

The Equality Act 2010 and Cancer: How it affects you »

The Act contains new measures which extend protection for employees with cancer and, for example, a person caring for someone with cancer. It replaces the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and applies to all employees in England, Scotland and Wales.

If this might be useful for you, contact Macmillan and as for their essential information about the Equality Act and cancer. The guide is called ‘The Equality Act 2010 and Cancer – How it affects you.’

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