Doctor’s Union Votes To Scrap Brutal Atos Benefit Tests

Atos, the French IT firm who deliver the Government’s Work Capability Assessment (WCA), were slammed by doctors at last week’s annual BMA Conference, who demanded that the vicious health and disability testing be brought to an immediate end.

The Work Capability Assessment is the short, computer based assessment which is used by the Department of Work and Pensions to decide on eligibility for the sickness and disability benefit Employment and Support Allowance.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been wrongly assessed by the brutal and shambolic regime, with over 40% of appeals against decisions made by Atos being overturned on appeal.  An increasing number of suicides have been linked to the assessment process which has been described by medical staff as relentless.  Evidence from claimant’s GPs and other medical consultants is sidelined in place of the short tick box test carried out by Atos, a test which was simply designed to redefine disability and strip benefits from as many people as possible.

So pleased are the Government with Atos’ ruthless performance, they are planning to extend this form of assessment in an attempt to slash Disability Living Allowance from a fifth of disabled people.

GPs have all too often witnessed the tragic front line of Welfare Reform, being powerless to act as corporate sharks bully vulnerable patients out of vital benefits.  People who have been declared ‘fit for work’ have sometimes died within days of their assessment, whilst many people with mental health conditions have been subsequently sectioned due to the stress of the inhumane system.

At last week’s BMA conference, the annual meeting of the body which represents doctors, a motion was put forward to demand that the WCA should be ended “with immediate effect and be replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause unavoidable harm to some of the weakest and vulnerable in society”.

London GP Louise Irvine attacked the system by accusing it of creating the ‘McDonaldisation’ of doctor’s careers.  The Atos assessments are carried out by medical staff  and usually overseen by doctors, yet the short test is little more than a box ticking exercise with little or no in-depth assessment of often varied and fluctuating conditions.  Campaigners have called for all medical staff to respect the fundamental medical principle of ‘first do no harm’ and recognise the very real damage that this cruel and degrading system is causing in people’s lives.

Doctors and nurses should not be used as a front for an ideological attack on the welfare state.  The BMA’s decision is a welcome move showing that Doctors are prepared to put the need of patients before those of profit hungry global IT corporations or Tory cuts.

The BMA’s decision is a credit to the heroic lobbying which has been carried out by disabled people and benefit claimants such as the Black Triangle Campaign in Defence of Disability Rights who championed the call for the motion.  Last year protests were also held outside the British Medical Journal’s (the publishing arm of the BMA) recruitment fair due to the the presence of Atos recruiters at the event.

Despite the smears and accusations of selfishness aimed at GPs after the recent pension strike, this decision shows that doctors are both concerned about, and prepared to stand up, for their patients.  Whilst it’s true that doctors are far from the poorest in society, their industrial muscle should be welcomed by all those fighting both public pension cuts and the ruthless right wing current austerity measures.

The mood amongst doctors appears to remain militant, with delegates voting for an escalation of industrial action against pension cuts as well as a motion calling for Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to resign.

Black Triangle have called for doctors to turn the vote against the Work Capability Assessment into action by boycotting the scheme and calling on other medical bodies to do the same.  A statement on their website reads:

“We now call upon the BMA to give full effect to motion 480 by calling for a full boycott of the WCA. No doctor should violate the code of medical ethics by supplying their labour to AtoS.

We call upon the General Medical Council to revoke, with immediate effect, DWP/AtoS’ assessment centres’ “Approved Medical Environment” status and launch a full inquiry. Doing nothing is no longer an option. People are dying.

We furthermore ask that the BMA calls upon all the other professional bodies and individuals who as Health Care Professionals (‘HCPs’) supply their labour to AtoS, perpetrating and legitimising policies and systems that cause serious, even fatal harm to some of the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society.”

Apologies for being a bit late with this news, but since it appears to have been completely ignored by the mainstream press outside of the Guardian’s letters page, it is worthy of far wider attention.

25 responses to “Doctor’s Union Votes To Scrap Brutal Atos Benefit Tests

  1. ATOS are Cunts

    Fuck these Nazi bastards!

  2. ‘Ello, thanks for sharing this… love your blog btw xxx

  3. Arbeitsscheu_UK

    Time to bring Cameron and his extreme right wing thugs to account

  4. Surely this should be big news. It’s downright scary how the voices of opposition to these ‘so called’ welfare reforms have been dumbed down and how mighty the right wing propaganda machine has become. British people have been brainwashed – literally – by the constant repeating of particular phrases. for example, ‘welfare reform’,’ out of control, benefit culture’,’ culture of entitlement’, ‘feckless’, ‘mouldering’, ‘stuck on benefits’, ‘welfare dependency ‘, ‘lifestyle choice’, ‘benefit fraud’, ‘languishing on benefits’, and on and on and on. The British people want blood – the blood (demonized) poor, sick and vulnerable. They don’t want to hear any opposition or argument, this vote against the WCA merely gets in the way of their government created hate fest.

    • Can I remind you, Mark Lovell – if it really is you and not some hapless member of your staff who has been told to work late in a futile effort to stem the rising tide of revulsion – that close media scrutiny of A4e really began when your company, in an act of unspeakable folly, decided to increase its yearly shareholder dividend by 400%, and this at a time when the recession was in full swing and more and more people were losing their jobs and facing an uncertain future (they still are, no matter what the government’s figures might say)? Did no one from within your company have the guts at that time to raise a hand and say “hold on, it’s probable that this will be reported in the press and on TV, and it might not go down too well”? Did no one dare to suggest that it might be better to reinvest at least some of this cash in the company to try to find jobseekers attached to A4e sustainable jobs that paid a decent, living wage? It really doesn’t matter what you do now; you will, of course, get to keep your government contracts, but A4e’s public reputation is shot.

  5. The British public are as brainwashed as any North Korean.

    Do the BMA have any actual power to stop doctors from co-operating with ATOS, or is this largely symbolic?

  6. Does this actually mean that Atos now must stop medical assessments,or s it just a form of words?
    ReichsMinister Schmidt would only bring in ‘doctors’ from Transdnistra if necessary to continue with his policy of eugenics .
    Contrast what is going down here to France.

  7. A Doctor (NOT ATOS)

    It is well-known in the medical profession that stress causes heart attacks. I truly believe claimants are being deliberately placed under unbearable stress to induce myocardial infarctions as a DELIBERATE policy; there is only so much that a person can take. Couple this with the increasingly punitive benefit sanctions whereby human beings will be left with no income for 3 YEARS, what sort of barbarian devised that policy? – if you do no eat for ONE month you will be dead. All things considered I have reached the opinion that what we are witnessing is tantamount to State Sanctioned Murder.

    • Well said, I concur. It has become clear to me they engineered the economic crisis through deregulation and that their imposed “solution” “austerity” is quite simply population reduction and consumption reduction for the hoi polloi.

      With modern technology they don’t need a lot of us anymore we are no use to them and surplus to requirements, so they want us dead and “welfare reform” is a big part of that process.

      They don’t want to openly get rid of unwanted people as it may lead to an uprising, so they are doing it covertly. Austerity gives them plausible deniability and an excuse to hide behind “we had to do it because we would have gone bankrupt” to make people destitute.

  8. Despite all my problems with being plain old and unemployed, I thank the lord that I’m not sick and disabled and have to endure these tests. Some say Nazi … well, if the death’s head cap fits.

    I’m going to do my best to get this out there.

  9. ClecticBiznitch

    Mark Lovell : Obviously an A4E employee not worth his weight in urine.

  10. Pingback: Doctors Urge Government to Scrap Callous Disability Tests | Andy Worthington

  11. it would be laughable if the consequences were not so deadly serious,peoples futures decided by a bizarre,non sensical 20 minute computer test.possibly atos should get vernon kay or bruce forsyth in to do the accessments.can you pick up a one pound coin with both hands ,take youre time love.contestant mmmm.come on love im going to have to hurry you for an answer.contestant welll yes.oh im afraid thats the wrong answer,you scored no points and you do not qualify foe esa .youve been a great contesdtant,now kindly fuck off and die4 years gone now on atos weekly and nobody has yet won the money.and thats all we have time for .please tune in next week when we will be featuring a one legged man from dundee,a mother of 3 from cardiff with bi polar disorder and a chronically depressed alchoholic from london.who do you think should win the money.and its goodnight from me vernon kay and remember people out there in tv land,be nice to each other

  12. the atos assesments are pathetic, questions like can you sit and watch tv for an hour. a ninety year old who uses a zimmer frame could do that.

    paul baker 58 yea old disabled who had a operation to his neck. who now uses a walking stick cheshire uk.

  13. Pingback: Join Birmingham PCS Disabled Members on Saturday to Say Stop Attacks On Disabled Workers | Birmingham Against The Cuts

  14. ye and the man calling people scroungers was claiming dla so who been abusing the system then, fuckers like him that do not need state help, cameron should be in the dock, for murder of the people that have taken their lives because they have had their benefits cut.THAT BASTARD NEEDS STRUNG UP FROM THE NEARIST LAMP POST.

  15. Iain Duncan Mengele

    Talk is cheap Kev

    Obviously the government wants as many claimants dead as possible. Same with people of pension age.

    Someone needs to get out there and kidnap Ids or his wife and cameron and crucify them make a you tube film of it too.

  16. i think whats needed is a mass rally of people affected and their supporters…and help to get to it .. so that it is a show of strength….its them or us

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