Private Eye on ATOS’ Incompetence Running PIP

Private Eye in their edition for the 4th to 17th September 2015 also carried this report about ATOS’ continuing abysmal performance, this time in administering the Personal Independence Payments introduced by the Tories.

ATOS
Wait for the PIPs

Outsourcing giant Atos no doubt thought that pulling out of its contract to carry out the governments “fitness for work” benefits tests would draw a line under five years of bad publicity over its pisspoor performance.

But last week the Department for Work and Pensions was finally forced to reveal figures showing that about 90 people a month were dying with 14 days of being declared fit to work under Atos’ watch. And now the claims of poor practice have shifted to the way Atos assesses some people for a different disability benefit – the new personal independence payment (PIP), which is gradually replacing disability living allowance (DLA).

In July the Disability News Service revealed that in parts of the country where Atos was running the PIP show, the proportion of disabled people stuck in the queue for an assessment was more than five times higher than in areas managed by rival Crapita. Now people who have managed to be assessed by Atos claim they have fallen prey to inaccurate and misleading reports that affect their benefit claims.

Colin Stupples-Whyley, for example, says an Atos nurse wrote that he had attended the PIP assessment alone – even though his civil partner sat with him throughout the interview. He was only able to prove he had not been alone because his partner had signed in to the Atos visitor book.

Mr Stupples-Whyley has agoraphobia, general anxiety disorder, depression, fibromyalgia and diabetes, but the impact of these impairments was he says, ignored or misrepresented by the Atos assessor. The assessor wrote that his mental health conditions had ben diagnosed by a “counsellor” when in fact he was on medication prescribed by a psychiatrist; his long list of diabetes symptoms was reduced to “urinates a lot”; and a panic attack during the assessment was not recorded. Mr Stupples-Whyley claims the entire section of the form devoted to a physical examination supposedly carried out by the nurse was fabricated, as no test took place.

This is remarkably similar to the experience of Colleen Hardy, who also has several chronic physical and mental conditions. She was able to prove that the Atos physiotherapist who assessed her (this time for the old fitness-to-work test) had inaccurately reported she had climbed a flight of stairs without help and by holding on to a bannister, because she was actually helped by her community psychiatric nurse and a friend! Different benefits, but same old Atos story.

* Mr Stupples-Whyley so distrusts Atos he has turned down the offer of a reassessment and is taking his case to a tribunal.

As the Eye itself points out, this is merely case of Atos carrying on as they always have done. Only the benefit they administer is different. Atos’ cruel attitude to claimants and their determination to declare everyone ‘fit for work’ is satirised in this cartoon on page 27 of the same issue.

Atos cartoon

If you can’t read it, the speech bubble from the doctor says ‘See? I knew you could crawl if you tried… I’ll call the mushroom farm’.

Atos aren’t quite that bad, but there’re extremely close. The mobility test does involve the patients’ ability to walk a minimal number of yards, and there have been cases where wheelchair users have been told to come to offices on the upper floors of buildings for their assessment without adequate wheelchair access. And the above article describes how they were determined to find Colleen Hardy able to walk, even though she needed to rely on the assistance of a nurse and a friend.

Atos, however, shouldn’t take all over the blame. They were hired by New Labour to find a set proportion of people fit for work according to the Neoliberal ideas coming over from Bliar’s friends in the big transatlantic corporations. And New Labour’s involvement in no way exonerates the Tories. Bliar in many ways simply carried on the Thatcherite project, which has in its turn been carried on and massively expanded by Cameron and IDS. The whole system is rotten and desperately needs to be changed. A good start would be by sacking Atos, Crapita, and the old charade of fitness to work assessments.

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One Response to “Private Eye on ATOS’ Incompetence Running PIP”

  1. Private Eye on ATOS’ Incompetence Running PIP | Beastrabban’s Weblog | sdbast Says:

    […] https://beastrabban.wordpress.com/2015/10/17/private-eye-on-atos-incompetence-running-pip/ […]

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