Tag Archives: work capability assessment

Iain Duncan Smith Should Be Put On Trial Over The Work Capability Assessment Deaths

atos_kills_bannerThe tragic death of severely unwell Mark Wood, who died of malnutrition just five months after he was found ‘fit for work’ by Atos and the DWP, was not just ‘wrong’ as the Government have today admitted – it was grossly negligent.  Whether this negligence was criminal must be urgently investigated.

Morally, and almost certainly legally, the DWP have a duty of care when making decisions which can potentially devastate the lives of those called  ‘vulnerable adults’ by care professionals.  The Work Capability Assessment, which led to the death of Mark Wood, has already been found unfair for people with mental health conditions in the courts.  Instead of halting the assessments based on this judgement, Iain Duncan Smith has brushed it aside – convinced he knows better than the courts, the medical establishment and the thousands of sick and disabled people themselves driven to despair by the current system.

Mark Wood’s death is far from the first linked to welfare reforms.  A recent report by the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland (PDF) highlighted another suicide which they found was directly linked to the Work Capability Assessment (WCA).  In a damning report, the charity surveyed 56 psychiatrists who had treated patients facing one of these crude, computer based assessments.  Their findings are both horrifying and desperately sad:

“85% of the 52 respondents to this question told us about an increased frequency of appointments. 65% had at least one patient who required an increased dose of medication and 35% reported at least one patient who had changed medication. 40% had at least one patient who had self-harmed after the WCA. 13% of respondents reported that a patient had attempted suicide and 4% (two RMOs) stated that a patient had taken his/her own life. 35% said that at least one of their patients had been admitted to hospital as a consequence of the WCA and 4% told us about a patient being detained under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003.”

The Work Capability Assessment must be brought to an immediate halt.  Even the company in charge, the notorious Atos, finally seem to have realised this, confirming this week they will pull out of the contract early.  This is the only way to stop any more deaths, and it needs to happen now, as in this week.  Otherwise more people will die.

It is no longer enough however to call just for the Government to scrap every aspect of the bungled and brutal welfare reforms that are destroying so many lives.  People are dying in one of the richest countries in the world as a direct result of this horrifying attack on the very poorest people.  The politicians in charge know this, but are happy to let these deaths continue as part of the ideologically driven obsession with proving that people on benefits are scroungers or fakes and that unemployment is caused by unemployed people.

According to the Daily Mail, David Cameron has backed an urgent review into the Work Capability Assessment.  This review should not just look into the failures in the process but assess whether negligence has taken place and if so who is culpable and whether criminal charges can be brought.  If Iain Duncan Smith. Atos or the DWP, can be put on trial over these shameful deaths it will not bring anyone back.  But at the very least it will send a message to every politician, today and long into the future, that the UK’s legal system will not tolerate reckless cost-cutting experiments that put human lives at risk.

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DWP Lose Again: Atos Assessments Do Discriminate Says Appeal Court

atos_kills_bannerThe DWP have suffered yet another humiliating legal defeat after Appeal Court judges upheld a decision that the Atos assessments for sickness and disability benefits discriminate against people with mental health conditions.

This follows an earlier decision by the Upper Tribunal in January that the Work Capability Assessment – the notorious computer based test which has led to hundreds of thousands of claimants declared ‘fit for work’ – substantially disadvantaged those with mental health problems.

Rather than accept this judgement and attempt to make the process fair, the DWP chose to appeal this decision and carry on as normal.  As ever, this didn’t work out well for them and yet more tax payer’s money was wasted only to end in embarrassment for the department.

A press release from the Mental Health Resistance Network released today explains:

“During a four day hearing in January 2013, the Upper Tribunal heard evidence from the 2 disabled claimants, from mental health charities, Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and the National Autistic Society, as well as from the Government about the operation of the Work Capability Assessment , and the experience of people with mental health problems going through the process. In May 2013, having weighed the evidence, the tribunal concluded that the process substantially disadvantaged those with mental health problems . This was for two main reasons: first because the application process and the face to face interview can be particularly distressing and confusing for those with mental health problems; and second because of the great difficulty that many with mental health problems have in explaining their condition, which increases the risk that the benefit will be wrongly refused.

To remedy this disadvantage, the claimants, supported by the mental health charities and by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, argued that where ESA applicants have mental health problems, the DWP should consider obtaining medical evidence from the claimant’s doctor or psychiatric team at every stage of the process, and if a decision was taken by Atos or the DWP not to ask for medical evidence, this would have to be justified at each stage. This approach followed a recommendation made in November 2012 by Professor Malcolm Harrington, an independent reviewer of the process appointed by the Government.

The Government refused to implement this adjustment because it argued that the system did not discriminate against people with mental health problems. As stated above, the tribunal disagreed. It ruled that the adjustment to the process recommended by Professor Harrington might be a reasonable response to the “substantial disadvantage” it had found, and urged the Government to carry out a trial to see if obtaining further medical evidence earlier in the process would make the process better for people with mental health problems. Once the new process was trialled, the tribunal asked the Government to return to court for a hearing about whether – in light of the trial – the adjustment was reasonably necessary.

Instead of accepting the tribunal’s findings, and conducting an urgent trial, the Government appealed to the Court of Appeal against the tribunal’s finding of “substantial disadvantage”. It also argued that the two claimants did not have the right to bring the case because they themselves had not been adversely affected. Today the Court of Appeal rejected the Government’s arguments on both these points. In giving the main judgment of the court, Lord Justice Elias stated that:

“the Tribunal identified various ways in which [Further Medical Evidence] would assist [people] with a range of mental disabilities, and in my judgment there was sufficient evidence to justify the conclusion that [mental health patients] were placed, as a group, at more than a trivial disadvantage”.

The claimants solicitor, Ravi Low-Beer of the Public Law Project, stated:

“It is regrettable that the Government chose to appeal against the tribunal’s finding that people with mental health problems are disadvantaged by the current system, rather than take the steps necessary to improve it. Now that the Court of Appeal has upheld the tribunal’s finding, we sincerely hope that the Government will take immediate steps to improve the system. Disabled people, charities and many others are only asking the Government to implement the recommendation of the independent expert the Government itself appointed. This has been delayed since May 2013 while the Government appealed. It should not be delayed further.”

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The Tragic Statistic That Reveals Welfare Reform To Be A Sham

IDS-I-dont-care-whos-diedA tragic statistic hidden in the quarterly report on the performance of the Work Programme proves beyond doubt that both this and the last government’s welfare reforms have been an abject failure.

Buried in the Supplemental Tables at the end of the report are the Work Programme performance figures for ESA Ex-Incapacity Benefit claimants.   These are claimants who were previously on Incapacity Benefit and have been re-assessed by Atos as able to do some kind of work and placed in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) of Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

These are the people that the right wing press have all too often smeared as frauds, who were faking or over-exaggerating their conditions.  People with cancer in some cases, or serious mental health conditions, Multiple Sclerosis or HIV.  They are the people who in some desperate incidents have been driven to suicide by the stressful and demeaning Atos assessments.  The same group who the Daily Mirror revealed were dying at a rate of 32 people a week after being placed in the Work Related Activity Group.

31,600 people from the ESA Ex-Incapacity Benefit group have started on the Work Programme so far.  Just 310 of them have achieved a sustained job outcome, which in many cases means just three months work.  Of those who had been on the Work Programme for one year in July 2013, just 0.9% had found a job lasting three months or longer.

This group of claimants is important because they have been impacted by almost every area of welfare reform, from the Labour introduced Work Capability Assessment, to the Work Programme and even workfare.  Those in the WRAG part of ESA can now be sent on full time workfare on the Work Programme or face benefits being stopped.

In many ways this group of claimants are what Welfare Reform has been all about.  Attempting to harass the not quite sick and disabled enough into work was intended to show how anyone, with a bit of a push from welfare-to-work companies, can get a job if they just try hard enough.

Work Programme providers who are able to find people in this group a job are paid thousands of pounds.  Companies like A4e and G4S have been given free rein to mandate these claimants to do whatever they deem necessary, including workfare, in a bid to try and force them back to work.  Claimants have little choice over how they look for work anymore and must do what their Work Programme provider tells them or face benefits being stopped.

And yet despite all this so-called help from ‘experts’ in the welfare to work sector,  just over 300 people have found jobs.

The figures for those assessed as ‘fit for work’ make equally grim reading.  Despite almost 18,000 people starting the Work Programme who have had Incapacity Benefits stopped after a decision by Atos and the DWP, little over a thousand (1,200) of them have found a job.

The shocking fact is that if all of those new to ESA, all of those thrown off ESA due to being ‘fit for work’ and those still on Incapacity Benefits are added together a mere 7,760 people have found a job through the Work Programme, despite 206,870 sick and disabled claimants starting on the scheme.

Astonishingly this is less than the 5.5% of Incapacity Benefit claimants it was estimated found work every year under their own steam – before all this began.

Only 4.5% of those on sickness or disability benefits who have been participating in the Work Programme for at least one year have started work.  The DWP’s minimum performance figure for this group was 16.5%.  And many of those who did get a job will be out of work again by now.  According to the DWP themselves around a third of people who found work on the Work Programme were unemployed again by the time of the latest release of statistics.

Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent trying to bully and humiliate sick and disabled people back into work.  And yet after all the so-called expertise of the welfare-to-work sector and the ‘toughest ever’ benefit conditionality regime almost none of them have found a job.  All of that all too real suffering has been for nothing at all.  It hasn’t even saved any money.

Iain Duncan Smith boasts that Universal Credit will magically create 300,000 jobs by applying Work Programme style ‘conditionality’ to lone parents, part time workers and the precariously self-employed.  Last week’s Work Programme statistics reveal that claim to be a sham.  This conditionality has not helped sick and disabled claimants find work and it will not help anyone else.

Often Iain Duncan Smith has appeared to believe his own bullshit in his messianic zeal to blame the victims of cut-throat capitalism for their plight.  But the market has well and truly spoken and these figures prove it.  Bosses are not lining up to hire hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people – in fact the opposite is true with prejudice towards disabled people rampant amongst employers.  All these welfare reforms have really achieved is the quiet demolition of the lives of sick and disabled people who were already poor to begin with.

The latest Work Programme statistics are at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/work-programme-statistical-summary-september-2013

Above pic found at: http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/

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Doctors Told To Abandon Patients Undergoing Vicious Medical Assessments

atos_kills_bannerLocal Medical Councils (LMCs) have been warned they may face legal action over advice telling doctors to shun requests from benefit claimants asking for help with the notorious Work Capability Assessment.

The Black Triangle Campaign and Disabled People Against Cuts have said that even individual doctors themselves may be at risk of being sued should they refuse to provide this vital and sometimes life-saving support for claimants.

Two LMCs have issued advice to GPs warning them not to provide letters for claimants who face the stringent Atos run test for sickness and disability benefits.  According to Pulse Today, the LMC in Lancashire and Cumbria is even considering a ‘Just Say No’ campaign to back doctors who refuse to write letters for patients undergoing assessments and appeals.

Some GPs – who are paid on average £104,000 a year – have complained that writing these letters, which confirm or provide medical opinion on a claimant’s condition, is taking up too much time and they don’t get paid for it.  There has certainly been an increase in the number of people asking doctors for this kind of help as the current benefit slashing regime has taken hold.  But this kind of information can be the difference between someone seriously ill being given the money they need to survive or face having benefits stripped away and even sent on long term workfare.

GPs submitting evidence to the DWP is often the only time that an actual doctor has a say in what happens to their patients in the benefits system.  Without this information claimants are left in the hands of Atos assessors, whose only job requirement is a medical qualification of some sort – often meaning they are physiotherapists, midwives or paramedics.  Should a claimant be judged ‘fit for work’ they will see their meagre income slashed by around a third.  This can have real impacts on claimants who need to keep warm, have special dietary needs or other costs associated with their condition.  They will then be left at the mercy of medically unqualified Jobcentre staff and could be sent on Mandatory Work Activity or other unpaid work schemes under threat of brutal benefit sanctions.

Nobody is asking GPs to lie or do anything but offer an honest assessment of a patient’s condition.  This is something they do everyday when issuing ‘fit notes’ for workers who have had to take time off work.  In fact every single person on an out of work sickness or disability benefit has been signed off work by a GP at some point.  They cannot simply wash their hands of responsibility for these patients now the Government is challenging those decisions.

Local Medical Councils could be helping GPs to provide all the necessary information claimants need as efficiently as possible.  It’s not difficult to imagine ways they could come up with to cut down the time spent by GPs writing these letters.   Already template letters produced by Black Triangle show how the ESA Regulations 29 and 35 can be used by doctors to quickly and easily exempt vulnerable patients from the assessment procedure altogether.

But instead some LMCs are seeking to drive a wedge between patients and GPs by punishing claimants for an additional workload placed on them by the DWP.  Claimants who in an increasing number of cases have been driven to suicide by these brutal and bodged assessments and the misery they have inflicted.  At such a desperate time for so many of the UK’s poorest people it seems some GPs have decided to work to rule and abandon huge swathes of the communities they serve.  We are clearly not all in it together.

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Doctors Told To Snub Desperate Benefit Claimants

atos_kills_bannerThe Bro Taf Local Medical Committee which represents doctors in and around Cardiff has written to GPs asking them not to help claimants who need medical evidence for benefit problems.

The LMC claim that providing this vital medical evidence for people facing the notorious ATOS work capability assessments is impacting on GP’s workloads.

Most people might have thought that a GP’s workload would include helping sick or disabled people stay alive by ensuring they are not wrongly assessed and thrown off benefits where they could then face workfare on a Groundwork or Conservation Volunteer chain gang.

However the Bro Taf LMC are unrepentant and even seem to be trying to make doctors feel guilty for supporting their patients. The letter states: “GPs need to have a consistent approach to this issue and colleagues who do this work make it more difficult for others to resist and it spreads the belief with patients and local authorities that GPs are happy to take on this non contracted and unfunded work.”

It is not just those facing a Work Capability Assessment who will suffer as a result of this callous move. Patients facing the bedroom tax or benefit cap may need medical evidence to apply for Discretionary Housing Payments to help them to stay in their homes. The replacement of Disability Living Allowance with Personal Independence Payments will shortly see hundreds of thousands of disabled people re-assessed for vital benefits. GPs should not help provide evidence with this process either says the committee.

Instead GPs are advised to snub desperate patients who may be facing homelessness or dire poverty by handing them a standard letter. Astonishingly this letter seems to imply that claimants who have the cheek to ask their doctor for help are abusing NHS resources: “GPs are not contracted or resourced to provide this kind of service and making such requests to GPs represents an abuse of NHS resources. “

The DWP have repeatedly attempted to blame claimants for the huge number of appeals against Atos assessments. According to the skiving Employment Minister Mark Hoban, the reason for the shambles is that claimants do not supply enough medical evidence when they are first assessed. Now it seems some doctors are refusing to provide that evidence.

Increasing numbers of people are dying because of reforms to benefits. If GPs don’t want to write letters which help keep patients alive then they should take it up with the DWP and fight for an end to the brutal cuts to social security. In the meantime if they can’t drag themselves away from the golf course to make sure it isn’t one of their patients who is the next victim then they should hang their heads in shame.

Bro Taf Local Medical Committee are on twitter at: https://twitter.com/BroTafLMC

A copy of the guidance to GPs and the accompanying standard letter to snub patients can be downloaded from (Bro Taf LMC Newsletter No.3, 2013): http://www.brotaflmc.org.uk/newsletters.html

The Black Triangle Campaign have long been lobbying GPs to support patients: http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2013/06/28/gps-should-provide-information-for-every-fitness-for-work-assessment-urges-bma/

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Disagree With An Atos Decision? Then Starve Says DWP

atos-paralympic-protestThe DWP have laid a vicious benefit trap which will mean severely sick and disabled people will have no legal entitlement to benefit at all if they choose to appeal an assessment by the notorious IT company Atos.

Atos carry out the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), the test for the sickness and disability benefit Employment Support Allowance.  This crude computer based test has been use to strip benefits from hundreds of thousands of people by declaring them ‘fit for work’.

From October this year claimants will not be able to appeal against a ‘fit for work’ decision until they have first requested a ‘mandatory reconsideration’ by a DWP decision maker.  Only if the claimant disagrees with this decision will they be able to take an appeal to a benefit tribunal.  This process is likely to take months.

A recent response to an FOI request (PDF) confirms that claimants will not be able to claim ESA whilst waiting for this process to be completed.  The DWP say that claimants will instead have the: “option of applying for alternative benefits, such as Jobseekers Allowance, however they must meet the conditions of entitlement”.

One of the key conditions of entitlement for Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) – the benefit for those unemployed not unwell – is that the claimants is able to work.

This will mean that those appealing an ESA decision and claiming Jobseekers Allowance will be placed in a potentially fraudulent position.  They will be appealing an ESA decision based on the fact they do not believe themselves able to work, and will be claiming JSA based on a claim that they are able to work.

Already many claimants have been left in a benefit limbo, after Atos have declare them ‘fit for work’ but Jobcentre staff do not believe this to be the case.  All those on JSA must be actively seeking work, ready to start work immediately and can be sent onto four weeks workfare at any point in their claim.  For many of those who have had ESA stopped, this is an impossibility.  JSA claimants can have benefits stopped completely, for up to three years in some cases, if they fail to complete jobseeking activity or workfare.

After these changes to appeals come into effect, any claimants who disagrees with a decision made by Atos is likely to be forced to go without any benefit at all whilst ‘reconsiderations’ of their benefits take place.  These people are not just already amongst the poorest in the country, but those with cancer, MS or other life threatening conditions.

This appears to be a vindictive attempt to bring down the number of successful appeals against sickness benefit decisions which have been a continual embarrassment to both the current and the previous Labour governments.

The new message from the DWP seems to be appeal if you want, but don’t expect to eat or heat your homes whilst you are waiting.  The end of result of these changes will no doubt be less appeals.  The price of that will be more people dying at the hands of this callous process, which increasingly seems precision-engineered to drive sick and disabled people into destitution.

UPDATE  13/6/13:  Clarification, the DWP say that claimants ‘may’ be paid at the assessment rate once the ‘mandatory reconsideration’ has taken place if they pursue an appeal.  There is no time limit on how long this process can take and this depends on whether they are able to provide medical evidence to the Department.

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Doctors Warn of The Hidden Costs of Welfare Reform

bubblesA letter written by Scottish Ministers to Iain Duncan Smith reveals one of the often overlooked consequences of the savage cuts to social security.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Health Secretary Alex Neil claim that the brutally flawed Work Capability Assessment used to determine eligibility for sickness and disability benefits is creating a “workload problem” for GPs.  This follows a recent letter signed by over 25 doctors and health professionals warning that the process is not only “cruel” but has also led to “significant adverse events such as self-harm and suicides which many of us have witnessed”.

It will not just be the NHS which begins to creak under the strain of welfare reforms, as millions of people are driven into destitution and a benefits regime which is increasingly designed to punish the poor.  As pointed out yesterday, when Universal Credit is fully introduced, parents of teenagers may find themselves expected to work, or attend workfare for many of the hours their children are not in school.  Leaving possibly hundreds of thousands of teenagers to wander the streets could create an explosion of anti-social behaviour, bullying and crime.  Benefit sanctions, as one leading homelessness charity has already warned, could lead to people being forced to beg and steal to survive.

The impact on policing, courts and prisons could be astronomical as parents are no longer permitted to care for their children and are sent on workfare instead.  The cost to the communities we live in, and to those children themselves, can not even begin to be measured.

Street homelessness is rising sharply, and the bedroom tax, benefit cap and housing benefit cuts can only add to that.  A think tank recently warned that one in four children will be living in poverty by 2020 as a direct result of changes to benefits.  Iain Duncan Smith’s crass attempts to redefine poverty as a personal failing rather than an economic disaster will not change the consequences of creating a society in which a quarter of young people are near destitute.

One of architects of welfare reform, Chris Grayling, once alleged that an area of Manchester was akin to the fictional representation of Baltimore in the television series The Wire.  Baltimore has a horrifically high murder rate and the show depicts a  flourishing drugs trade which all to often fills the vacuum in the absence of socialised protection for the poorest.  Grayling couldn’t have been more wrong about Manchester, yet this Government seem intent on making that absurd comparison come true.

The UK did not have an overly generous welfare system despite the claims made by all three political parties.  The main reason the social security system became so complicated is years of thinly designed cuts, bodges, anti-fraud initiatives and endless schemes aimed at trying to cure people of unemployment.  The reason the social security is so expensive is largely down to the astronomical costs involved simply in keeping a roof over your head in the UK.

The last Tory Government launched an all out assault on social housing – with the end result being soaring private sector rents and a rocketing housing benefit bill.  Iain Duncan Smith’s reckless experiment with welfare goes far beyond what even Thatcher would have dared suggest.

Those on benefits, whether in or out of work are now seeing their incomes decimated, and it’s only going to get worse.  No-one can truly know the social consequences of the changes that are taking place, which are all too often hidden under the cover of relentless propaganda claiming that the poorest people in the country are secretly living it up at the tax payers expense.

In truth this country already had poverty that should shame any nation as rich as the UK even before these changes to social security.  But even that may pail into insignificance compared to what is to come.  One thing is surely beyond doubt however.  Whatever is left of society after these reforms are fully implemented, it will be expensive for all of us.

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5000 People With Cancer Declared Fit For Work Boasts Grant Shapps

shapps_pissedInternet con-man Grant Shapps has been crawling all over the papers today as the Government used Easter Sunday to launch an all out attack on sick and disabled people.

Tory party chairman Shapps claims in the Telegraph today that he will do his job from the pub from now on and his bizarre diatribe suggests that he’s already well on the way to being pissed.  The notorious get rich quick scammer rants that sickness benefits are ‘evil’ whilst brandishing figures attempting to smear all those out of work due to illness or disability as scroungers.

Once again the Tories are suggesting that most claims for Employment Support Allowance are not genuine based simply on the fact that many people give up a claim for ESA before they are assessed.  This is the exact same trick that the DWP tried to pull last year which simply reveals that for many people sickness is temporary and when they get better they end their claims.

Digging into the numbers however reveals some tragic statistics.  Shapps’ pub bore rhetoric is based on figures which breakdown claims for ESA by condition, and provide details of the results of their assessments.

They make for depressing reading.  Almost 5000 people with cancer were found ‘fit for work’ between 2008 and 2011, including ten people with malignant brain tumours.  Over 1000 people diagnosed with schizophrenia were also deemed scroungers and had benefits stopped.

Two and a half thousand people with MS were found fit for workfare if not paid work and placed in the Work Related Activity Group.  A further 800 MS sufferers were thrown off sickness benefits altogether.

Confirming that many claims are temporary in nature, the figures include many people who had broken a limb or suffered some other short term injury or condition.  Unsurprisingly many of this group came off benefits before being assessed which can take place several months after making an initial claim.

There are many other reasons a claim might stop before an assessment takes place.  Claimants could marry someone and no longer be eligible, or in many cases reach retirement age.

In a predictable spittle-flecked outburst, the right wing press have crowed that almost 10,000 people whose primary conditions was associated with drug use ended their claim before assessment,  A similar number were found fit for work – as if employers are suddenly rushing to hire currently using heroin addicts.

Whilst some of this group may have stopped using drugs and therefore ended their claim, some may have found themselves in prison.  Others may have slipped out of the benefits system completely due to the chaotic nature of their condition.  Some will probably have died from an overdose before the assessment took place.

And it is this that reveals the truly nasty face of this Government.  Around 14,000 people with cancer ended their claim before they were assessed.  It should be hoped that this is because many of them went into long term remission.  The sad truth is that some of them will have died whilst awaiting a benefit decision.

It is these tragic deaths that the vile Tory party are only too happy to exploit in an attempt to prove that half of people on sickness benefits were faking their conditions.  They truly are beneath contempt.

The figures are available via google viewer for those without Excel or can be downloaded direct as an xls format.

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How GPs Can End the Atos Death Toll

First Do No Harm GraphicShortly before Christmas the highly recommended Black Triangle Campaign published information on two little known regulations that could bring an end to the tragic number of deaths related to the Atos benefits assessment process.

Atos carry out the Government’s Work Capability Assessment, the crude computer based test which is used to strip benefits from sick and disabled people by declaring them ‘fit for work’.  Evidence from claimant’s GPs is often ignored at these assessments and over 40% of decisions made by Atos are over-turned on appeal.

The endless re-testing, combined with the stress of the appeal process, the demeaning nature of the assessments and the very real poverty many sick and disabled people find themselves after having benefits slashed, have led to an increasing number of tragic suicides.  Health professionals have warned of claimant’s health conditions being made significantly worse due to the process.

The regulations identified by Black Triangle show a way forward for all GPs who have concerns about how their patients are treated by Atos and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Regulation 29 states that claimants should not be found ‘fit for work’ if:  “the claimant suffers from some specific disease or bodily or mental disablement and, by reasons of such disease or disablement, there would be a substantial risk to the mental or physical health of any person if the claimant were found not to have limited capability for work.”

Regulation 35 states that:  “the claimant suffers from some specific disease or bodily or mental disablement; (b) and by reasons of such disease or disablement, there would be a substantial risk to the mental or physical health of any person if the claimant were found not to have limited capability for work-related activity.”

(Claimants and GPs should read the full guidance on the Black Triangle website which also contains important legal information)

Already these regulations have been successfully used in the appeals process and benefits have been re-instated.

Few claimants and even fewer GPs are aware of these regulations.  It is vital that this information is circulated as widely as possible.  GPs have a medical and moral responsibility to intervene if they believe their patients health may be made worse by being judged fit for work.  These two regulations mean that GPs can, and must intervene in the process if they truly support the long established medical tradition of ‘first do no harm’.

Black Triangle have also published draft letters which claimants can use to request support from their GP using these regulations: http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2012/11/21/important-black-triangle-dpac-regs-2935-campaign-failed-your-dwpatos-wca-intend-to-appeal-download-these-documents-for-your-gp/

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Co-op Campaign: Stop the Atos Contract!

co-op-fake-ethicalAction is being called for around the UK as fake hippy bankers, the Co-operative Bank, consider whether to continue using the service of disability deniers Atos to provide Occupational Health services the company.

Atos carry out the notorious Work Capability Assessment, the crude computer based test which is used to strip benefits from sick disabled people by finding them ‘fit for work’.

Last year it emerged that the Co-op currently use Atos to provide Occupational Health to their staff. This led to furious protests both on and offline with the Co-op attempting to weasel their way out of trouble by claiming they couldn’t do anything about it for contractual reasons.  Now the contract is up for tender and astonishingly the Co-op have refused to rule out using the services of Atos again.

Many workers of other companies have found themselves laid off for health reasons after recommendations made by Atos, only to be found fit for work as part of their benefits assessment.  The company have previously boasted on their website that they have “a team of Organisation and HR professionals who undertake the analysis, design and execution of headcount reduction.”

Atos are equal opportunities wankers, they treat workers every bit as badly as they treat people who cannot work due to sickness or disability.

Two pickets of the Co-op have already been called in Glasgow on the 17th and 19th of January calling on the company not to renew their contract with Atos: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2013/01/505265.html

Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/events/488541864531259/

Pickets are currently being planned elsewhere in the UK.

A Communications Blockade has also been called for the 17th January, details at: http://www.dpac.uk.net/2013/01/co-op-campaign-stop-the-atos-contract/

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/events/357131177718217/

You can contact the Co-op on twitter @TheCooperative or on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/TheCooperative

Action called by the Crutch Collective, Clydeside Industrial Workers Of The World and Glasgow Solidarity Federation

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