Posts Tagged ‘Paul Reekie’

From 2011: Private Eye on the Boycott of the Paralympics because of Atos’ Sponsorship

April 10, 2014

atoskillsgraf

There was huge outrage in 2011 and 2012 at Atos’ sponsorship of the Paralympics, because of the company’s vicious, punitive and cruel treatment of the disabled claimants it assessed. Private Eye reported on this in their issue for October 28, 2011.

Paralympic Boycott

What A Bunch of Atossers …

Disability campaigners are calling on athletes to boycott next summer’s Paralympics in London in protest of the involvement of Atos, the French outsourcing company.

Atos has been slated by MP’s, charities and others over its dire record in carrying out health and capability assessments for those on disability benefits – getting it wrong in up to 40 percent of cases and causing “fear, anxiety and distress” to may disabled people. Instead of ensuring that better assessments are carried out in the first place – perhaps by ending Atos’ multimillion contract – the government is proposing to axe the benefits of anyone who challenges an Atos decision during their appeal.

One person who would lose out is Jenny, 59, who worked as a teacher in state schools in Yorkshire for almost 40 years. When her son was born with profound disabilities she worked part-time so she could care for him. But then she developed fibromyalgia, a chronic condition affecting muscles and connecting tissue, involving severe pain, fatigue and spasms.

When she became incapable of caring for her son as a young adult, he had to be admitted to a care home. She finally gave up part-time teaching in 2009 after collapsing and is now unable even to use a keyboard. Whit her GP’s backing she received some disability living allowance – until last May, when Atos decided otherwise. She is appealing an Atos doctor’s claims to have examined her and found no muscle spasms or joint swellings, saying he didn’t even look at her hands, where her swollen joints were clearly visible.

Atos claims it contract is to look at what people can do, rather than diagnosing a condition. “For this reason, a thorough physical examination is not necessarily appropriate,” it said. Whit is why, no doubt, Atos has been accused of turning down people with advanced cancers and severe mental illness – and why it loses so many appeals.
These tribunals are estimated to cost up to £50m a year – paid by taxpayers and not out of the Atos budget.

That is why Scottish-based disability group Black Triangle and others are angry that Atos is running the IT for the Paralympics. The group claims Atos decisions and actions have been identified as factors at 16 suicide inquests in recent years. Indeed, the group was set up after the death of the Scottish writer and poet Paul Reekie, who left no suicide note but instead – according to campaigners – laid out a letter informing him his incapacity benefit had been stopped.

The response of Atos to such criticism has been to resort to m’learned friends. Black Triangle said it had to relocate its web server to Iceland after its original Facebook page was closed down. Phil Lockwood of Black Triangle said: “Although we respect all those athletes who wish to take part, they should be aware that ATos may use the event as a propaganda exercise.”

I put up a later piece from the Eye yesterday about Atos, which reported that a tribunal upheld Jenny’s appeal. The appeal judges found serious flaws and inconsistencies in Atos’ account, and in the end relied on information from Jenny’s doctor instead. Unfortunately, this does not affect Atos general policy of treating the poor and disabled with absolute contempt. Stilloaks has blogged a list of 45 people – who have either taken their lives or died in misery and grinding poverty through the company’s decision to declare them fit for work. Other bloggers, such as Jayne Linney, have suggested that as many as 55,000 people per year may have died after being assessed by the company. The true figures are unknown as the DWP refuses to release them after requests have been made under the Freedom of Information Act. And the bloggers, who have tried to obtain these facts, like Mike over at Vox Political, have been accused of being ‘vexatious’ by the Information Commissioner instead.

As for Atos, I know from my own personal experience and that of the people commenting on my blog that Atos lies and distorts the truth. I’ve even reblogged a video from a nurse, who worked for the company, on the way they were told to adhere to guidelines telling them what percentage of claims should be turned down. This is disgusting, and it’s high time the whole Work Capability Assessment was scrapped.