Anxiety over tory murdering henchmen Atos fit-for-work test brings on father's heart attack
JIM ELLIOTT suffered a massive heart attack a day after his 20-minute work capability assessment during which he had complained of chest pains and struggling to breathe. He was still deemed fit to work.
A DAD who started feeling seriously unwell during his interview with Atos assessors – and suffered a massive heart attack the next day – has been deemed fit to work.
Jim Elliott says he was struggling to breathe, sweating and had chest pains during his 20-minute work capability assessment earlier this month.
He was given a glass of water – but then the assessors simply pressed on with the interview.
The 55-year-old said yesterday: “All they seemed to care about was getting through the ridiculous list of questions they have, which is supposed to determine whether someone is fit to work or not.
“I could have dropped down dead in front of them but all they are interested in is getting people off benefits.”
The controversial assessments by the French IT firm are part of a benefits shake-up by the Con-Dem Government, who are looking to cut billions from the welfare bill.
Former welder Jim, who had worked all his adult life until he suffered a heart attack 18 months ago, said: “It was very clear that I wasn’t 100 per cent.
“I was sweating profusely, my breath was very laboured and I had been confused during the interview.
“I wasn’t able to concentrate on a lot of what they were saying.
“They gave me a glass of water but that was it.
“They were more concerned with asking me questions such as, ‘Can you walk 200m and can you raise your arm up in the air?’”
Jim, of Cambuslang, near Glasgow, added: “I was telling them I was stressed and that I was anxious, and that I didn’t feel like I could go out and work at that moment.”
The very next day, he had a heart attack as he was walking down a street in Glasgow’s west end.
Jim was rushed to hospital by ambulance and ended up spending days in the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank, which has a specialist cardiac unit.
But while he was still lying helpless in his hospital bed, a letter from the Department for Work
and Pensions dropped through the door of his home telling him he had been assessed as being fit to go back to work.
He had scored zero points in the assessment, and a person is only deemed unfit to work if they get
15 or more points.
Jim first started claiming benefits after he had a heart attack 18 months ago.
But in November, he was taken off the benefits he was on and put on jobseeker’s allowance instead – meaning he has to be actively looking for a job or his payments will be cut completely.
He appealed the decision and got a letter telling him to attend an assessment at Atos’s offices in Glasgow’s Cadogan Street on March 4.
Father-of-one Jim, who has an 18-year-old son, Brian, said: “My GP told me she has no doubt it was the stress of the appeal and the anxiety that brought on the heart attack.
“She said I was definitely having a preliminary attack while in that office.
“The consultant at the hospital told me I had suffered a ‘barn door’ of a heart attack.
“I’ve never heard of that before but took it he meant a severe one.
“I already have a stent in one artery, another which is completely closed and now have trouble with a third, which doctors are trying to fix with the medication they have put me on.”
Jim added: “Although I was able to do all the tests they asked, in no way does that equate to being fit enough to do a days’ work – it’s nothing like it.
“I would love to go back to work but I can’t. Even doing the simplest of tasks could lead to increased stress on my heart.
“I’ve never taken any tablets before, now I am on seven for the rest of my life.
“While in hospital following my heart attack, I got a letter from the DWP saying I ‘may’ be eligible for jobseeker’s allowance but that I was fit to work. It’s disgusting.”
Jim said: “Before the heart attack, I walked everywhere, and was pretty fit. I was a fast walker and would never wait for a bus. But I can’t do that now.
“I even served for four years with 15 Para – the Parachute Reserves – when I was a young man and
have done a number of jumps out of planes.
“It seems to me the Government want people off benefits one way or another and they don’t seem to care whether it’s by people dying or getting a job.
“I wish I could get up in the morning and go to work.
“During my career as a welder, I only had one day off – and that was for my mum’s funeral.
“I quite liked the work and it’s good feeling that you have done
something good and you get paid at the end of the day.
“I honestly just wish I could still do it.”
An Atos Healthcare spokesman said: “While we cannot comment on individual cases, we can confirm that if our doctors or nurses detect evidence of a serious medical condition in anyone being assessed they take appropriate action such as calling an ambulance.
“The role of our doctors and nurses is to carry out work capability assessments on behalf of the DWP under their guidelines and not to conduct a thorough medical examination.
“The DWP make the final decision on benefit entitlement.”
A spokeswoman for the DWP said: “A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough face-to-face assessment and after consideration of all the supporting medical evidence provided by the claimant at the time.
“If someone disagrees with the outcome of their assessment, they have the right to submit new evidence and appeal.”
TORY HENCHMEN ATOS AND DWP LONG TERM PERSECUTION OF THE BRAIN DAMAGED
People with brain injuries are stuck in a 'revolving door' of benefits assessments, it has been claimed.
The brain injury charity Headway and personal injury lawyers Digby Brown have said many people with brain injuries are failing the government's new benefits assessments.
Many have their benefits reinstated on appeal.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWS) believes the assessments will help people avoid a "life on benefits".
Some people have had their benefits removed and reinstated three times in the last two years.
Steven Walker People like Steven Walker claim the system has treated them unfairly
Anyone who is claiming benefits for a disability or illness now has to have regular "work capability assessments" under changes to the benefits system brought in by the Westminster government in 2008.
Assessments are carried out by Atos Healthcare for the Department of Work and Pensions.
Simon Glen, Headway project co-ordinator, claimed the assessors don't ask probing questions.
He said: "Thinking problems - problems with memory or planning or concentration - are all hidden but they really affect your life.
"If you don't remember how to get somewhere, where you are, or who people are, that really affects your life.
"The assessment process doesn't really pick up these cognitive problems."
"It can be an absolute nightmare for clients," said Kathleen McMonagle, a client support manager with Digby Brown.
"Time and time again they're going for these assessments and being asked a very closed set of questions.
"A decision is made that they're fit for work. They go to appeal. They win. They go back to the Department for Work and Pensions and they're automatically referred for another health assessment.
"They fail again, and we're back to square one."
Steven Walker has had his benefits removed and reinstated three times in the last two years. He suffered a severe brain injury when he had an epileptic seizure.
He explained: "They don't realise the effect of the brain injury, and they don't ask you true questions.
"They just ask you standard questions which require a 'yes' or a 'no'. It's all very worrying because then you have to go to appeal. It's not very fair."
Digby Brown has seen a big increase in the number of clients who are constantly having to go to appeal to have their benefits reinstated.
We know that conditions affect different people in different ways and can change over time, so it's right that people should be reassessed rather than written off to life on benefits”
It provides a welfare rights service to its existing clients and also to people referred by charities such as Headway.
Official figures suggest around 30% of decisions are being overturned but Digby Brown says 90% of clients with brain injuries are having decisions reversed.
Atos Healthcare told the BBC that the policy and criteria for assessments is designed and defined by the government.
It added that all those who carry out work capability assessments are fully trained doctors, nurses and physiotherapists with at least three years clinical experience.
The Department for Work and Pensions said that assessments had already been improved since 2010.
It believes people win an appeal when they provide new evidence.
A spokesperson said: "We know that conditions affect different people in different ways and can change over time, so it's right that people should be reassessed rather than written off to life on benefits."
DWP'S VILE DECISION AS THALIDOMIDE VICTIM WILL LOSE DISABILITY BENEFITS
The murdering tory scum and filth use DWP and ATOS to leave sick and disabled in fear and destitute
A THALIDOMIDE victim is losing her disability benefits because welfare officials say she is fit enough to work.
Martine White, 50, has also had brain surgery and is due to undergo a spine operation.
She was stunned when the Department for Work and Pensions said her benefits were stopping as she could not prove she was unfit to work.
Martine must attend a tribunal where she will have to prove her disabilities to a judge despite not being able to walk to her corner shop.Martine, of Burnley, Lancs, said: “I know there are a lot of other people like me going through this. It’s just not fair.
“I don’t know where they expect me to work. It’s not as if my arms are going to grow back.”
A DWP spokesman said: “People who can work will be given help to find a job while those who need unconditional support will get it.”
ATOS(Tory murder squad) undercover filming 'Fitness to Work' assessment VIDEO
YOUTUBE HAVE PULLED THIS VIDEO UMPTEEN TIMES THIS IS ANOTHER VERSION
ATOS AND THE DWP HAVE DRIVEN VICTIMS TO SELF HARM IN DRAMATIC WAYS
If anyone has any doubt as to the consequences of what ATOS, the DWP and the UK government are forcing people to endure then please look no further than this picture above.
I don’t know the full background to the picture but I do know that it was done by someone who has problems with self harming etc, they obviously decided to show their anger and frustration in this way.
Shame on this bloody arrogant coalition government, shame on the politicians of all sides who continue to say that the Atos system just needs a bit of reforming, it needs to end right now before any more people lose their lives or harm themselves like this poor soul.
I suggest you all send a copy of this image to your local MP, let those who are so arrogant as to not believe what vulnerable people are driven to do….
ATOS COMES UNDER ATTACK BUT WHERE WAS IAIN DUNCAN SMITH?
MURDERING ON BEHALF OF THE TORY SCUM AND FILTH
Private contractor criticised by MPs who say constituents judged fit to work died or became suicidal soon after assessments
The private contractor Atos, which administers the government's work capability assessments, has come under sustained criticism from MPs as they told stories of constituents who had died shortly after being ruled fit for work by the firm.
During a powerful Commons debate that united politicians from all parties, MPs gave emotional accounts of how very sick individuals had been incorrectly assessed and told to return to work. Some of them later died, they said, and MPs told of others who had killed themselves or become suicidal following such decisions.
Labour MP Michael Meacher described the death of a young man with epilepsy shortly after he was classified fit for
work and saw his benefit cut by £70 a week.
"He became agitated and depressed and lost weight, fearing that he could not pay his rent or buy food. Three months later, he had a major seizure that killed him," Meacher said. "A month after he died, the DWP [Department of Work and Pensions] rang his parents to say that it had made a mistake and his benefit was being restored."
The government's own figures revealed that 1,300 people had died after being told they should start preparing to go back to work, and another 2,200 had died before their assessment was complete, he said.
"Is it reasonable to pressurise seriously disabled persons into work so ruthlessly when there are 2.5 million unemployed and when, on average, eight persons chase every vacancy, unless they are provided with the active and extensive support they obviously need to get and hold down work, which is certainly not the case currently?" Meacher asked.
He reminded MPs that Atos was paid £110m a year to carry out the assessments for the DWP but and a further £60m of public money was being spent on administering appeals, because so many decisions were contested. The British Medical Association had described the assessments as "not fit for purpose", Meacher told the Commons.
Labour MP Steve Rotheram described a case he had heard about from a constituent, Janine, in Liverpool. "Her dad was thrown off sickness benefit in November after an Atos work capability assessment and was declared fit for work despite suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Six weeks later, on Christmas Day, Janine's father died," he said.
Conservative MP Heather Wheeler asked whether Atos reviewed the cases of those people who dropped "down dead within three months of being told they are fit for work". "At what point do we say that this isn't working?" she asked.
Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP, condemned the "humiliating and demeaning" process which "makes sick people even sicker".
Labour's Pamela Nash said: "Nothing has shocked me more as an MP … than the sheer scale of anxiety and hardship caused by the flawed work capability assessments." She described seeing constituents developing mental health problems as a result of the stress the process caused.
Madeleine Moon, another Labour MP, said her constituency phones were often "clogged with crying people" distressed by the process. She described a constituent who was driven to attempt suicide by her experience of being assessed.
Conservative MP Jeremy Lefroy said Atos should be placed in the "last chance saloon" by the government.There was concern from Labour's Sheila Gilmour that 43% of people who were found fit for work were not working the following year and were not receiving benefits. "Where are they?" she asked.
Helen Goodman, a Labour MP, told of a district nurse who broke her back at work who was then found fit for work and a man who had been completely blind for 16 years and was forced to give up work but was told he must go back to work after an assessment.
Labour's Iain Wright described the distress of a female constituent with Crohn's disease who was told she could wear a nappy to work. "The government is treating my constituents like dirt," he said.
There was unease about the language that was increasingly used to describe benefit claimants, and one MP said claimants were "made to feel like they are on trial for benefit fraud at their assessments".
Most speakers agreed that it was sensible to have a system that made sure that those capable of work were helped into work. Stephen Timms, the shadow minister of state for employment, said: "The architecture of employment and support allowance is sound. The assessment system, however, is clearly not up to the load it is being asked to bear." The current system needed "fast and fundamental reform".
Mark Hoban, the employment minister, said considerable progress had been made in improving a process that was introduced by Labour. He said it was unhelpful to "demonise" the system with "adverse media coverage".
An Atos Healthcare spokeswoman said: "We know that this can be a difficult process for people and we do all we can to make sure the service we provide is as professional and compassionate as possible.
"[Our workers] strictly follow the guidelines given to them by the government when conducting assessments and make no decisions on a person's eligibility for benefits.
"We have worked with the department on improving the part of the process we carry out and continually ask for feedback from the department and those claiming benefit."
TORY MURDERING SCUM'S RESPONSE TO EVIDENCE OF ATOS TRIGGERED SUICIDES VIDEO
THE BLIND REDUCED TO BEGGING UNDER DRACONIAN WELFARE REFORMS VIDEO
MSPs heard how a blind former health worker has been reduced to begging by the UK welfare reforms on 18 September 2012.
In a statement read out by the Welfare Reform Committee clerk, Mr Henry Sherlock wrote:
"I thought the days of the blind man begging with a cup on street corners were gone.
"Sadly, that is not the case.
"I still rely on family hand outs and additional begged support in order to live."
Mr Sherlock also said he had been "harassed and bullied" by the Department of Work and Pensions and ATOS, the private firm paid to carry out fit-to-work medical assessments.
"I originally applied for DLA and due to my disability then, was awarded DLA for life. Then the wording suddenly changed on communications stating 'indefinitely'.
"It truly is a sad reflection of any government that refuses to see the true fear it has put the most vulnerable in our society under. In my opinion, it is simple persecution. We did not choose our disabilities."
The committee also heard from Mr Norman Gray, whose son Andrew has Aspergers and works at a hotel.
Mr Gray said: "Whilst I am in favour of rationalising the benefit system and closing as many loopholes as possible I feel the proposals for DLA are too rigid and do not take into account the real needs of the individual nor does it recognise the complexity of Aspergers and other ASD sufferers who are individually unique, do not fit the norm and have a developmental difficulty rather than a learning one.
"In Andrew's case he is making a very strong contribution to society in several fields to the limits of his capabilities.
"The proposals would make short term savings for a long term additional cost."
The final witness, part of the 'Your say' project to gain personal insight into the changes to the Welfare System, was Mrs Janice Scott.
Mrs Scott's husband is 61 years old and had suffered from a massive stroke.
She said : "I really feel a lot in this system has not been totally thought through and it will affect many people's lives, including my husband's and mine, badly due to their cuts and changes to take place.
"If there is anything at all that your working group can do on the benefit cuts then please do so on behalf of those of us who do not have a voice in this matter."
TORY HATCHET MAN IDS'S WEASEL-WORD LETTER TO SON OF MAN MURDERED BY ATOS
Iain Duncan Smith, David Cameron, George Osborne and Chris Grayling
THE Work and Pensions Secretary's cold reply told 13-year-old Kieran McArdle to visit JobCentre to find out about his dad's disability appeal
TORY minister Iain Duncan Smith was blasted yesterday for sending an insulting letter to a boy who said the strain of a back-to-work test killed his disabled dad.
Kieran McArdle was sickened by the coldness of the reply, which ended by suggesting he contact the Jobcentre about his dead dad Brian’s appeal.
The weasel-worded letter, which addresses Kieran, 13, as Mr McArdle, offers the welfare chief’s condolences but then tries to defend the Government’s record on the disabled.
It ends with a “cut and paste” invitation to make an appointment at a Jobcentre to find out more about “the outcome of your father’s claim”.
Stroke victim Brian, 57, died a day after his disability benefits were stopped.
Kieran became the face of the Record’s campaign for a fair system that protects disabled people after he wrote a letter insisting his dad was “hounded to death” when he was assessed fit for work by Atos, the firm used by Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions.
We hand-delivered the letter to IDS’s Whitehall office the next day and he promised to write to Kieran.
Despite waiting 21 days for Duncan Smith’s letter, Kieran, of Larkhall, Lanarkshire, was bitterly disappointed with his response, saying it was a waste of time.
Duncan Smith wrote: “I was very sorry to read of your father’s death. I offer my sincere condolences to you and your family at this time.
“I know nothing I can say will do anything to ease the pain of losing your father, but I’d like to explain why the Government’s reforms to the sickness benefits system are so important and how much work we’re doing to make the process as fair as possible.
“I know this will be a difficult time for you and I’m grateful this was brought to my attention.”
The letter is machine- printed on DWP paper, with the only sign of humanity an illegible scrawl – presumably Duncan Smith’s signature
Kieran had hoped for an apology and an explanation for his dad’s treatment that would have given hime some closure.
Brian was left paralysed from a stroke on Boxing Day last year. But he was still ordered to an Atos “work capability assessment” – part of the Con-Dem Government’s bid to cut billions in benefits.
A month later, Brian got a letter telling him he would lose his disability benefits on September 26. The day after his benefits were axed, Brian collapsed and died.
Kieran said he felt sick when he read Duncan Smith’s letter, adding: “To end it by offering to speak to me about my dad’s appeal was heartless. What good is an appeal now?
“It hasn’t answered any questions. All I got was the same old rubbish the Government spin every time they are criticised.
“I want an apology for the way my dad was treated and for the thousands of other disabled people being targeted in this disgusting way.
“I want them to admit they made a mistake by hounding my dad and stripping him of his dignity and ultimately his life.
“I can’t grieve for my dad until I get answers because I am so angry.”
BBC QUESTION TIME: MURDERING TORY THUG DUNCAN SMITH EXPOSED VIDEO
THE EXPOSURE OF TWO VICTIMS MURDERED BY ATOS COMES NEAR THE END OF THE VIDEO.
DIMBLEBY AS EVER SHUTS DOWN THE EXPOSURE OF THE MURDERING TORY SCUM AND FILTH.
THE PAEDO PROTECTING BBC ENSURE THE MAJORITY OF THE CAREFULLY SELECTED AUDIENCE ALWAYS LEAN TOWARDS
THE UK'S MURDERING FASCIST STATE
THE HARDEST HIT CAMPAIGN : SCOTS AGAINST EVIL TORY ATTACK ON DISABLED VIDEO
FREEMASONS BEHIND ATOS AXEMEN AND GENOCIDE OF UK DISABLED
Left: Robert Calderwood, Chief Executive of NHS Greater Glasgow
Anything connected with Rabbie Burns is a front for freemasonic booze ups . Burns was a talentless fucker
who only got world wide recognition through heavy propaganda by his freemason pals in the media pushing
his drivel across the globe. The International Criminal Court should be getting a list soon of ATOS, DWP and
Conservative MP's who conspired to psychologically torture seriously mentally ill claimants to death.
NHS bosses slammed for attending golf events and exclusive dinners courtesy of benefits axemen Atos
NHS Scotland executives have been accepting lavish invitations from Atos, despite the serious concerns surrounding the firm's treatment of the sick and disabled.
THE benefits axemen of Atos are schmoozing NHS bosses with lavish corporate hospitality.
Atos, widely criticised for their handling of Scots’ disability benefit assessments, have just subcontracted much of the work to NHS agency Salus in a deal worth £22million.
And the Sunday Mail can reveal that health service executives have been entertained at golf events and exclusive dinners by Atos Healthcare’s parent company.
Labour MP Tom Greatrex, a strong critic of Atos, said it was “disappointing” that NHS bosses had chosen to accept hospitality from Atos Origin.
The boss of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has been a guest of Atos twice.
Chief executive Robert Calderwood accepted a place at January’s Glasgow Lord Provost’s Charity Burns Supper, a black tie bash in the Hilton Hotel.
Calderwood, who earns £165,000, also enjoyed a round of golf and dinner courtesy of Atos at De Vere Slaley Hall in Northumberland in June 2009.
Athlete Steve Cram hosted the event. Calderwood said in his register of interests that he took leave to attend and paid his own travel costs.
The £145,000-a-year chief executive of NHS Grampian, Richard Carey, enjoyed a meal courtesy of Atos Origin at the Open golf at St Andrews in 2010. He said in his list of interests that the meal was worth less than £50, he paid for his own golf ticket and took the day off as leave.
We can also reveal that Atos Origin have given financial backing to the Institute of Healthcare Management Scotland, who describe themselves as “the leading professional body for health care managers”.
IHM Scotland’s secretary, Martin Hill, is also on the board of NHS 24.
Hill’s register of interests says the institute “occasionally receives financial support for educational activities from businesses, including BT and ATOS Origin”.
Greatrex, MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, called for an investigation by the Scottish Government.
He said: “It is disappointing that NHS Scotland executives thought it acceptable to attend golf dinners courtesy of Atos, at a time when there are serious concerns about the firm’s treatment of the sick and disabled in Scotland.
“Questions must also be asked about how appropriate it is for Atos representatives and those receiving money from Atos to sit on NHS Scotland boards.
“Given the commercial relationship between Atos and NHS Scotland, the willingness of some health chiefs to accept Atos hospitality is of concern. People will question whether Atos and senior NHS Scotland figures have become too close.”
Greatrex also criticised an invitation to Gavin Thomson, senior vice-president of Atos International in Scotland, to attend the opening of Alex Salmond’s Scotland House – set up in London during the Olympics to attract investors to Scotland.
He said: “Whilst the SNP make a big song and dance about criticising Atos in public, Alex Salmond and his ministers are only too happy to wine and dine Atos fat-cats in private at the taxpayer’s expense.”
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said Calderwood had spent his own money to help charities at both events where he was an Atos guest.
NHS Grampian said their staff “conform to the highest standards required of public servants”.
Martin Hill said IHM Scotland’s education programmes received funding from a number of sources, and his work there was “quite separate” from his role at NHS 24.
The Scottish Government said all NHS staff were bound by rules on gifts and hospitality, which health boards had to make sure were obeyed. Atos said they used hospitality “transparently and with the utmost integrity”.
PERSECUTION OF THE BLIND BY UK GOVERNMENT HENCHMEN THE DWP AND ATOS
MSPs have been told how a blind former health worker has been reduced to begging as a result of the UK government's welfare reforms.
Holyrood's Welfare Reform Committee was taking evidence from disabled people about changes to benefits.
Henry Sherlock said: "I thought the days of the blind man begging with a cup on street corners were gone. Sadly, that is not the case."
The committee is looking at ways of limiting the impact of welfare reform.
MSPs also heard the benefits system described as a "Kafkaesque" machine that used "lies and misinformation" to deprive people of their benefits.
In a statement read out by the committee clerk, Mr Sherlock, 50, who is blind with chronic heart disease, diabetes and depression, said: "I still rely on family handouts and additional begged support in order to live."
A key part of the Welfare Reform Act is to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for eligible working age people with a Personal Independence Payment (PiP).
Under the changes, two million claimants will be reassessed in the next four years, with only those considered to be in need of support qualifying for the new payment.
Mr Sherlock also claimed he had been "harassed and bullied" by the Department of Work and Pensions and Atos Healthcare, the private firm paid to carry out fit-to-work medical assessments.
He said: "It truly is a sad reflection of any government that refuses to see the true fear it has put the most vulnerable in our society under.
"In my opinion, it is simple persecution. We did not choose our disabilities."
The committee also heard from Norman Gray, whose son Andrew has Asperger syndrome and works at a hotel.
Mr Gray said while he was in favour of rationalising the benefits system and closing as many loopholes as possible, he felt the proposals for DLA were " too rigid" and did not take into account the real needs of the individual.
The final witness was Janice Scott, whose 61-year-old husband was disabled by an accident and a stroke.
She told MSPs there seemed to be an Atos "ethos" of twisting assessments to cut benefits.
She added: "I can honestly say that there are lies that go into that assessment.
"I do shorthand and I took down word-for-word my husband's whole assessment and what actually came back was practically the opposite of everything he said. I've heard that from many other people as well."
SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing said it was "disgusting" there was no discretion in the welfare system and called for an immediate rethink.
She said: "We're looking at a Kafkaesque approach to this issue and that is very dangerous for society indeed."
"When you have someone who is trying to get the benefits they need telling you that they feel like they are being treated like a "criminal" during the eligibility assessment process, something clearly is not working."
Committee convener, Labour MSP Michael McMahon, said: "It's almost as if they're deliberately using social norms against people.
"The idea that someone would get up and present themselves well is actually being used against them.
"When you hear this experience of Atos, they can't justify what they are doing on the basis that they are only acting on the instructions of the government."
The UK Department of Work and Pensions said the incapacity benefit system needed reform because it "wrote too many people off to a life on benefits".
A spokesman added: "We are committed to help thousands of people move from benefits and back into work if they are capable while giving unconditional support to those who need it, and we have made considerable improvements to the Work Capability Assessment to make it fairer and effective.
"If someone disagrees with the outcome of their Work Capability Assessment, they have the right to appeal."
Holyrood cannot block these welfare reforms as power over the benefits system is reserved to Westminster but MSPs recently passed new legislation aimed at softening the impact of the changes on devolved services like care and free school meals.
ATOS PROTEST: ADAM LOTUN ON DISABLED PEOPLE AGAINST THE CUTS VIDEO
CECILIA BURNS CANCER SUFFERER: ANOTHER DEAD ATOS VICTIM VIDEO
Benefits appeal woman Cecilia Burns from Strabane has died
A cancer sufferer, who had her benefits cut by government officials who said she was fit to work, has died.
Cecilia Burns, 51, from Strabane, County Tyrone, had started a campaign in February to have the decision overturned.
Ms Burns had her benefits cut after she was assessed by government contractor Atos Healthcare.
She had her benefits reinstated just a few weeks ago but died on Monday.
During her campaign the County Tyrone woman said she was "disgusted" after the government cut her sickness benefit and told her she was fit to work.
Cecilia Burns had her Employment Support Allowance reduced by £30 a week even though she was still undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
Ms Burns had described the medical test as a "joke".
The government is seeking to reassess all 2.6 million people on incapacity benefit - and its successor employment support allowance (ESA) - by 2014 in an effort to encourage more people back to work and to cut the welfare bill.
Stormont Assembly MLA, Michaela Boyle, had helped Ms Burns in her campaign.
"I have known Cecilia since she went for her medical assessment. She received nil points and appealed that assessment."
Ms Boyle is critical of the assessment process.
"Our office has been dealing with the fall-out of this on a daily basis and that is mainly with the flaws. A lot of MLAs will be facing the wrath of this.
"We have been deeply critical of all aspects of the decision-making process with many claimants being disallowed who have severe disabilities, chronic conditions and life limiting illnesses.
"We have questioned the objectivity of these decisions given that a large number of these decisions are being overturned at appeal stage.
"At 60% of these appeals, the claimant had been awarded nil points in assessment."
Last week Atos said they would be reviewing their correspondence with claimants after they incorrectly told one woman that assessors were not required to be specifically trained in mental health.
Later on Friday, Disabled People Against Cuts and UK Uncut will protest outside Atos headquarters in London to coincide with the Paralympics.
Before her death, Cecilia Burns told the BBC that dealing with the side effects of the treatment were bad enough, but she had been angered by the cut in benefit after she went for a medical.
"I know there's other people out there and they're all scared to come forward," she said.
"I was treated badly. I've been working since I was 17, I've paid all my stamps, all my National Insurance. The only time I was ever sick was when I was pregnant with my two sons.
"It has had a financial effect on me but it's more (that) they're getting away with it. They are just treating you like a second class citizen. That's how I feel - that I don't count, I don't matter," she said.
In a statement Atos said; "We do not make decisions on people's benefit entitlement or on welfare policy but we will continue to make sure that the service that we provide is as highly professional and compassionate as it can be.
"We do this through a constant programme of training and education for our staff, a rigorous recruitment process for healthcare professionals and through continual work with the Government, disability rights groups, healthcare professionals and those going through the process on the ground."
Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland has organised a public consultation on the changes.
He said said during previous stages of the review, the public response was limited and it was important that people got across their views.
Disability benefits protesters have fought with police at the DWP's Caxton House office in London.
PARALYMPIC SPONSOR ATOS ACCUSED OF CLASSING DISABLED FIT FOR WORK
More than 40 doctors and nurses working for major Paralympics sponsor Atos have been reported to medical regulators for professional misconduct amid growing concerns that disabled people are being wrongly deprived of benefits, The Independent can reveal.
The French firm, which has £3.1bn of government contracts, is facing accusations that its assessors are classifying seriously sick and disabled people as suitable for work. Tara Flood, a former Paralympic gold medal-winning swimmer, said: "Atos must think that by sponsoring the Paralympics they will convince everyone that they are only here to support disabled people rather than what they actual do, which is destroy people's lives."
The General Medical Council has 16 current complaints about Atos doctors, 12 of which relate directly to their role in the much-maligned benefit assessments.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council is dealing with at least 27 complaints amid similar allegations that the nurses conducting Work Capability Assessments (WCA) have fallen short of the professional code of conduct.
Anyone who claims Employment Support Allowance because they are too sick or disabled to work must pass a WCA, designed by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) but conducted by one of Atos's 1,400 staff.
The revelations come as protesters led by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) prepare to hold a vigil outside the French company's UK head office in central London this afternoon to commemorate the lives of hundreds of people who died last year after being declared fit for work. Thousands of people have had their benefits stopped overnight, with many claiming they have been forced to miss meals and switch off their heating to make ends meet. Some say they have been pushed into depression as a result.
Information gathered by False Economy and the Citizen's Advice Bureau has found non-Atos doctors are charging up to £200 to provide medical evidence for WCAs and appeals which many claimants cannot afford. Just over 70 per cent of people who attend an appeal with a Citizen's Advice Bureau officer or lawyer successfully overturn the original DWP decision – the figure is 40 per cent for those who go it alone. But legal aid for most benefit appeals will stop in April 2013.
The Independent has gathered dozens of stories which adds weight to the suggestion that the WCA is not fit for purpose. One of the most common complaints is that the conclusions recorded by the health professional in their WCA report do not accurately reflect what was said during the assessment. Atos said only eight assessments were sent back as below standard or incorrect by tribunal judges in the first four months of 2012.
Many also complain about rude, unhelpful assessors who refuse to look at medical letters or allow people to explain fully what they mean. A number of people have secretly recorded their assessments or asked someone to come along to take notes. In one case, a 32-year-old man with serious mental health problems scored zero points in his WCA – clearing him to work – despite finding it impossible to leave his house on most days. His mother, who asked not to be identified, said: "It was manipulative, the nurse was putting words into my son's mouth. He used the one thing he actually can do occasionally, art therapy, against him to say he is fit to work. I'm really worried that if he doesn't get through the appeal that he could try to harm himself." The family has referred the nurse to the NMC.
Ministers have so far rejected demands to record every WCA but say people can request a recording in advance. Atos has 98 recording machines for 11,000 weekly assessments carried out at 148 assessment centres, which many argue is grossly inadequate. There are widespread reports of machines not being available or broken, yet Atos says it has only turned down 20 out of 430 requests in the past three months.
An on-going DPAC survey has found three-quarters of the 507 disabled people who responded did not know they had a right to ask for a recording. Of those that did ask, 87 per cent said they were told no and that they would be designated as a "no show" if they didn't attend. The DWP says it has no plans to offer a recording service for the new Personal Independence Payment test, which will soon replace Disability Living Allowance. The Government wants to cuts this bill by 20 per cent; the contract is worth £400m to Atos.
Some of the most worrying stories come from people with mental health problems who frequently complain that Atos assessors have little knowledge of their condition. Around two-fifths of the allowance's claimants have mental health problems; Atos has recently employed 60 "mental function champions" to provide training to assessors. Atos say all health professionals go through some basic mental health training.
Two mentally ill people, represented by the Public Law Project, have mounted a legal challenge against the Government for failing to take into account these special needs, and hope to force Atos and the DWP to routinely seek psychiatric evidence from the outset. The judicial review could help reduce the appeals that cost the taxpayer £60m last year and reduce unnecessary distress for patients.
An Atos spokesperson said: "We do not make decisions on people's benefit entitlement or on welfare policy but we will continue to make sure that service that we provide is as highly professional and compassionate as it can be. We hope people will view the Paralympics Games, as we do, as an opportunity to celebrate sporting achievement."
The Employment minister Chris Grayling said: "We have made progress [since 2010] in giving people a more tailored and personal service and as a result we are seeing an increase in the number of severely disabled people being given long-term unconditional support…. We are working to make sure the WCA is both fair and effective, it is in everyone's interest to get the system right."
Case studies: Disabled – but declared 'fit for work'
Lesley Roberts, 54, Shropshire
Ms Roberts was diagnosed with a condition where tumours regularly grow on her nerves and tissues. She was declared fit for work by an Atos doctor and her benefits stopped.
"I had a breast-cancer scare, so when I filled in the ESA form I was in bad place. The Atos doctor gave me zero points. She said she'd examined my legs and they were normal, but she hadn't – I had 25 painful lumps. It took nine months for the decision to be overturned but I don't get the ESA as my partner, who is 60, earns too much. I would work if I could – to be around people would be wonderful."
Pete Whitehead, 59, Leeds
Mr Whitehead is registered blind. He has 10 per cent of his central vision left in his one "working" eye and no peripheral vision as a result of early onset glaucoma. He worked for 40 years but was forced to retire as a manager of a manufacturing firm in 2008 because it was unsafe to continue. Since then he has received around £130 a week in benefits.
He was assessed by Atos in April and put in the ESA "work-related activity group" – which means his ESA, £97 a week, will be stopped in April if his appeal is unsuccessful.
"I think Atos expected me to walk in with a dog and a stick. The nurse was pleasant enough but she asked me if I could walk 10 yards. Well walking isn't my problem, it's what I walk into. It was ridiculous. Do you think I wouldn't work if I could? I said: 'Let's say I get a job, what happens if I get knocked down going to work?' She said, 'It's not for me to say'.
"I live on my own, my daughter helps me, but I burn myself on the iron. I have a close call once a week with traffic because I don't want to give up my independence. It's an absolute farce."
MASS MURDERING ATOS GETS £400 MILLION FROM TORY SCUM FOR MORE DODGY TESTS
Atos wins £400m deals to carry out disability benefit tests (That is despite 32 people a week dying
after ATOS tests)
Firm unexpectedly wins two contracts despite disquiet over handling of work capability assessment, while G4S misses out
Atos, the firm that runs the work capability assessment designed to encourage people to move off benefits and into employment, has won contracts worth more than £400m to test whether disabled people should continue receiving benefits..
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced the award of three contracts in England and Wales, with Atos unexpectedly winning the lion's share of the work. The smaller of the three contracts, covering Wales and parts of central England, was won by the outsourcing company Capita.
The government will replace the working-age disability living allowance (DLA) with a new personal independence payment (PIP), from next year and aims to cut spending by 20% over the next three years. DLA, which pays out a maximum of £130 a week, is a welfare payment designed to help people look after themselves and aimed at those who find it difficult to walk or get around. The government says that in eight years the number of people claiming DLA has risen by about 30%, from 2.5 million to 3.2 million, with the annual cost now £13bn. Ministers argue that there are no checks on who gets the benefit, hence the need for an assessment system.
There has been much disquiet about Atos over its existing government contract to test whether the long term sick should continue receiving benefits.There have been accusations of widespread inaccuracies in the medical reports used to help determine whether individuals are eligible for sickness benefits.
This week Prof Malcolm Harrington, who was appointed by the government to review the work capability assessment, told BBC's Panorama that the test was "patchy" and needed improvement.
The biggest corporate loser appears to be G4S, which had begun its own tests with disabled people two years ago and hoped to be awarded a number of contracts. The final stages of the award process came in early July, when details of the debacle over Olympic security began to emerg
G4S is still in line for two smaller contracts – one in Northern Ireland and the other a national trial. These are worth about £200m in total, industry insiders estimate.
Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the disability charity Scope, said the tests were deeply flawed. "Just this week the government and Atos, the contractor that carries out its fitness for work test, have come under a great deal of criticism about how this assessment is being delivered to disabled people. Yet in less than a year from now, disabled people could have to go through two deeply flawed assessments in the same month to get the essential financial support they need to live their lives.
"Disabled people are incredibly anxious and afraid that the switch from DLA to PIP is just an excuse to cut the support they need. The decision about which private company will run the assessment is of little significance to the thousands of disabled people who are just deeply worried about losing their financial lifeline," Hawkes said.
Campaigners say achieving the level of saving required would mean cutting about 500,000 people from the benefit roll, which would lead to arbitrary judgments being made.
A spokesman for the charity Disability Rights UK, which lobbied the government to make the test fairer, said: "We are looking to ensure all companies assessing disabled people sign up to principles to ensure the assessment process works as well as possible.
"Contracts are worth millions but are designed to remove support from thousands of disabled people and are likely to provoke strong feelings. This is especially among disabled people who have not had needs identified in other assessments. We hope DWP and contractors will work very closely with advice organisations like ours to ensure independent, expert information is available to all 2 million people going through the new tests."
The government said that DLA reform was about "are in and out of work benefits". When ministers proposed the reforms, the DWP argued "evidence suggests that DLA can also act as a barrier to work when it should enable people to lead independent lives, including having or getting a job".
In a letter to charities, the DWP said: "We've been very clear that the assessment must be consistent and of the same high quality throughout the country … providers will be working to the same legislative framework and criteria, which introduces a more objective, accurate assessment. DWP will be closely monitoring and auditing assessments to ensure their quality and consistency."
• This article was amended on 2 August to clarify that Atos's contracts are to test whether disabled people should continue receiving benefits.
The same evil tory bastards have spent billions to prop up the Olympics and super fit athletes with
vast amounts of Lottery money yet are hammering some of the most seriously ill.
ATOS = Assassination Terrorists Operation Suicide
Mass murder is becoming the norm in the United Kingdom reminiscent of the concentration camps instigated by Hitler, the Nazi party and his Gestapo henchmen. ATOS, a French company brought in by both UK major political parties, are being used heavily by the murderous Tory party to rid the UK of, in their eyes, the useless eaters or anyone who shows any sign of weakness or disability.
Men are well aware of the evil bastards who are running the UK for their own enrichment as the judicial mafia, acting for a wicked crown, have been psychologically murdering separated fathers during vile divorce machinations. So it should come as no surprise they have started on some of the most disturbed and weakest groups who have relied on the pittance of hand outs to LIVE on after years of slaving for the system until they have become to ill to work.
The latest stats, obtained through FOI requests, are that 32 victims a week are DYING after being refused support thanks to ATOS henchmen using the most sinister means to measure a disabled person abilities and where those who are seriously mentally ill are being psychologically abused along with those with major health problems who are dying of heart attacks and major trauma after they have been forced through the ATOS wringer of persecution that is killing victims with impunity through stealthy use of torture.
UK citizens should be aware unless they rise up against this monster they themselves may one day find themselves in a similar position as this tyranny is only going to get much worse when the public turn a blind eye to the most evil extremes of human nature that the thugs and bully boys in the Conservative party have an abundance of.
DWP DISGUISE EMPLOYEES WHO HAVE POWER TO REMOVE FINANCIAL HELP TO POOREST
THIS IS COMPLETELY ILLEGAL TO DISGUISE THE NAME OF A STATE LACKEY WITH POWERS OVER THE
FINANCES OF A VULNERABLE INDIVIDUAL, AND THE SAME AS GIVING THE POLICE POWERS TO DISGUISE
THE IDENTITY OF A COP
Some Job Centre Plus staff use false names on their ID badges to protect their identities, the Department for Work and Pensions has revealed.
The department said workers were allowed to use "office names" agreed with their managers.
Officials said the option was open to "customer-facing staff where an individual's safety or wellbeing is demonstrably at risk".
The revelation came in response to a Freedom of Information request.
Staff at the Pension Disability and Carers Service and those carrying out fraud investigations were also allowed to use pseudonyms, the DWP said.
The department said its policy on false names was introduced in April 2002 after consultation with trade unions.
It is not the only government department to keep the identity of its staff from the public in some cases.
A Home Office spokesman said: "In a small number of cases where there are particular security considerations, we may use a pseudonym when responding to correspondence."
Last month, Prime Minister David Cameron announced Downing Street letters would no longer be signed with fake names.
The policy was changed after Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman complained about receiving a letter from a "Mrs E Adams", only to be told it was a computer-generated pseudonym.
Number 10 officials began using false names in 2005 after a staff member was contacted and threatened by a member of the public.
NATIONAL WEEK OF ACTION AGAINST ATOS STARTS MONDAY 9 MAY 2011
Disability activists, claimant groups and anti-cuts campaigners have called a week of action against poverty pimps Atos Origin beginning on Monday 9th May with a picnic and party in Triton Square*, home of their head office, at 2pm.
Both announced and unannounced protests are set to take place around the UK outside the offices and testing centres operated by Atos Origin.
Atos Origin have just begun a £300 million contract by the Con-dem Government to carry out ‘work capability assessments’ on all of those claiming Incapacity Benefit.
It is claimed assessments are to test what people can do rather than what they can’t. The real purpose is to strip benefits from as many people as possible.
This testing system has already led to people with terminal illnesses and severe medical conditions being declared fit for work and having benefits cut. GP’s are ignored in favour of decisions made by Atos Origin’s computer.
Plans announced for the scrapping of Disability Living Allowance have also revealed that this intrusive testing is likely to be extended to everyone on some form of disability or health related benefit.
To date around 40% of appeals against Atos Origin’s decisions have been successful.
On the 24th January and 14th April claimants from around the country demonstrated outside Atos Origins premises, with many choosing to close for the day rather than face their ‘clients’. We call on all groups around the UK to take action against these parasites who have been dubbed ‘the racial purity and euthanasia arm of the DWP’
My late husband was 3 months from being eligible for pension credit.
He had depression for which he was certificated by his GP and a heart condition.
He started claiming ESA in Feb 09.
During that period he was assessed by Atos who scored him at 0 points.
He appealed and this was reviewed and upheld. He did not do the next appeal he died before then. I have the paperwork and reasons for decisions.
He lived in the marital home, I was paying mortgage, insurances and utility bills by direct debit. the DWP continually did not pay him his ESA which impacted on council rates (which i was not paying)
Worst of all he was hounded by DWP to go back to work, he had not worked for over 30 years as we had swapped roles, he therefore took the traditional now outdated womens role and stayed at home. This agreement worked quite well for us. We did not claim benefits as I paid for everything.
With just 3 months left, I kept explaining to him everything would be ok as soon as he was on pension credit as he would have to be treated the same as a women born on the same day. I tried as best I could from Australia, but he never told me how bad things really were
DWP wrote to GP told him to stop issuing medical certificates my question is WHY! He would only need one more before reaching 60.
I believe a stay at home woman of the same age would have been treated differently, realising the short time involved, and the pension service itself says it treats men and women the same.
Anyway despite having needing treatment for a earlier attempt in 2009 to kill himself, he was so worried and put through so much trouble that he did kill himself in early December. He was not a paperwork person as told to DWP, I don't think he stood a chance of understanding the rules
I believe they did not look at the whole picture, continually did not pay him, hounded him to start work ignored medical evidence, told him they were not paying him anymore, suspended his benefit, did not ask Atos for him to have an assessment for mental illness, there is more still.
I believe DWP and Atos are guilty of corporate manslaughter.
TORY TOFFS EXPERT AT KILLING THE POOR THROUGH THE BENEFIT SYSTEM
Radical welfare shake-up will cut 50 benefits down to one
Iain Duncan Smith today signalled deeper cuts in benefits as he sought the backing of the Chancellor for a radical shake-up of the welfare state.
The Work and Pensions Secretary published his vision for a major simplification of the system, including possibly reducing more than 50 benefits down to one.
The document, 21st Century Welfare, made clear that millions of people are likely to get lower benefit payments as the Government seeks to encourage them back into work.
“We are going to end the culture of worklessness and dependency that has done so much harm to individuals, families and whole communities,” said Mr Duncan Smith. “Our aim is to change forever a system that has too often undermined work and the aspiration that goes with it.”
Key to the change is stopping people who switch from welfare to work from initially losing much of their extra income as their benefits are cut.
The Government has already announced plans to reduce housing benefit payments.
Mr Duncan Smith's drive to get people off the dole or incapacity benefit is expected to have initial costs of between £3 billion and £7 billion — a bill that Chancellor George Osborne will be reluctant to meet.
Arguing that his reforms would allow the Lib-Con coalition to get a grip on the welfare bill, the Work and Pensions Secretary insisted that the Government as a whole was “committed” to his reforms. Asked if he had made the sums add up, he said: “I believe we have. And the Treasury have discussed this with us.”
Mr Duncan Smith unveiled a series of options for change including the introduction of one single benefit — a universal credit — which would include a range of out-of-work payments, housing benefits and tax credits.
Those entering work would not initially lose any of the universal credit but it would be gradually withdrawn once their income reached a certain level.