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:

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

74 responses to “How GPs Can End the Atos Death Toll

  1. I tried at the time to find a way to reach as many GPs as possible, like with a mail shot. I contacted some GPs on twitter and discovered that a list of GPs exists but is really expensive to buy. I think if we could find a way to inform all GPs of these regulations, we would have a chance.
    Has anybody have any idea?

    • If people in different areas take a list from a google search/yellow pages and send a mail shot – perhaps a place to start.

  2. Anita
    I had the same thought but couldn’t find anything?
    Maybe under a FOI Request someone could gain the list or maybe I’m being Stupid?

  3. This list is compiled by private companies which makes money out of it. I also checked FOI and am copying you the answer (at least one of the answers, they might be more)
    GPs email addresses are not released at least by NHS Dorset, and considering the list of surgeries just for Dorset, the task is daunting. .
    Otherwise somebody with a lot !!! of time on their hands might be able to do it. Could you launch a request on your website? May be somebody will have an idea.
    I will still be looking to see whether there is a way.

  4. This will come down to person power if everyone took to the Dr’s they go to a letter or some information regarding the above the message would get out. pop a letter into the surgery one for each Dr there.
    Until someone can get email addresses.Contact groups who could be use full to the cause. could try where Dr’s live put a letter through the door etc.
    The trouble with emails are they sometime are not read by the Dr’s.
    Hard slog but at least you know it’s done.

  5. I contacted at the time Margaret McCartney on twitter and she sent me an email, as she was interested. I referred her to people more experienced in DPAC, but I will contact her again, and see what she can suggest.
    Rosemarie’s idea is the good one. If you could compile a list of people by county, willing to find the email addresses of as many GPs as possible, we could already have an impact.
    I am quite prepared to do this for Oxfordshire, but I need to know that more people are going to be involved.

  6. Martin Oxborrow

    What about a list of surgeries, or practice Managers?

    It is a good list to find the names, addresses and telephone numbers of GPs, but the email addresses would have to be found one by one.

  8. Reblogged this on Andreaurbanfox © and commented:
    A must read

  9. Pingback: How GPs Can End the Atos Death Toll | Disability and losses |

  10. At last a ray of hope lets hope G.Ps take note

  11. Johnny the other day I posted a link on yr blog where someone was trying to claim black triangle were a hard left extremist group intent on scaremongering with result of it leading to suicides

  12. Pingback: How GPs Can End the Atos Death Toll | Black Triangle Campaign

  13. Johnny the other part I posted was in connection with atos and faculty of occupational medecine they hold great store in . The other part of faculty of occupational medecine is where work can cause or aggravate a persons illness or even cause it and put someone at risk or others at risk

  14. Johnny the other point i noticed was that to acheive the diploma in disability assessment for occupational medecine one had to go through an approved course and the only approved course was run by Atos .. which made the relationship with faculty of occupational medecine look a bit cozy can anyone decipher what’s going on there ?

  15. whot about their union try sending to them asking for them to email dc with it as you wont find dc emails addresses unless you are their mate jeff3

  16. There is a pdf file which describes how disability assesors are trained or on such a course where you are told .’ You can bring your own stethascope ‘ and where a role player acts the role of the disabled petson to be examined . The pdf can be dowoaded from the faculty of occupational medecine site under ‘education’ it makes for some revealing insight

  17. RCGP is the Royal College of General Practitioners and Pulse is the GP’s daily magazine (there is an online version). Get the latter to publish the information.

  18. something survived...

    They keep saying they want the doctors’ surgeries to have DWP/JCP officials based in them, and to get doctors to agree people are ‘fit for work’. That old word ‘malingerer’ is being applied to us. If they put JCP staff in the surgery, it will wreck our confidence in our doctors. Our medical notes are none of the JC’s business. One more place to spy on us.
    If Atos are involved in training disability assessors and doctors, that is like putting the SS in charge of Jewish Awareness classes. Does the phrase ‘conflict of interest’ not occur to them?

    • @something survived yes this is what I found out . To be qualified disability assessor and gain your diploma from faculty of occupational medecine you need to have gone through approved course in this case an approved course run by Atos origin .

      • something survived...

        Well that was my point, I was thinking about the guys fired for being too sick (Atos telling their company to fire them), then sent to Atos and called ‘fit for work’?! It’s like feeding you with their left hand then shooting you with the right.

        I’ve among other things been trying to obtain training as an official disability ACCESS assessor/consultant. I would not trust someone like Atos to be in charge of that, since they can’t even provide venues disabled people can get to/get into. (And if you manage it, I guess they put ‘fit for work’.)

        While at A4E and Serco, wankfare sent me to Remploy. After an afternoon with Remploy, Remploy said there was no way their scheme could take me as I’m ‘too disabled’. And then I got sent to dig holes for a month!

        Nobody from the government has explained what happens if while on a
        work placement you get too sick/injured/disabled to continue. Or to state who is liable.

        The Health and Safety at work poster lists employers’ and employees’ responsibilities but it’s very unclear. Obviously the employer must make safe conditions but it says the employee is responsible for their own safety too. Bits are contradictory.
        -You should obey all ‘reasonable’ orders including the things for health and safety and the equipment for this.
        (What is ‘reasonable’? Surely it depends on the person and situation? What if you can’t follow the orders? Or equipment doesn’t fit you? Or orders go against your health and safety?)
        -You should report unsafe things to your boss.
        (Each time I’ve done this I’ve been ignored, shouted at, laughed at, or sacked.)
        -You are not supposed to put yourself at risk.
        (But if you are ordered to do something that does… Or, the whole job/environment could be unsafe. And if you’re unpaid and forced to work there, who is liable then? If you walk off, your benefit gets stopped! If you continue working you are breaching health and safety!)

        They haven’t said what happens to third parties (service users, customers, public, passers-by etc) rights if something is done to them deliberately by a workfare person or accidentally due to the workfare person’s disability; or if they (or a member of staff) do something that harms the person on workfare.

        Remember the other year they wanted all unemployed people (including sick and disabled) put on community punishment orders in litter picking, roadmending and graffiti removal? In public? At the time I had serious concerns. One was the people who don’t differentiate between ‘unemployed’ and ‘convicted criminal’. Or to believe we are paedophiles. If male and female *paediatricians*, for example, already get beaten up in public, what would happen to welfare people either at work or going there/back? At the very least there could be namecalling, spitting, objects thrown. And people opposed to the unemployed/disabled would have easy targets, they’d know exactly where to find us and could victimise us daily. That’s not counting abuse between the slaves of course! (I’m still being followed round my city by several of the nutters from the hole-digging crew… the other night they gave more verbal abuse)
        How long before one of the people forced to do this unpaid work is beaten up or killed? And in the case of female workfare people, raped? Who’s to say it isn’t already happening?
        If there are ‘overseers’ they’d just be boxtickers from DWP and not physically equipped or willing to intervene. That’s if you don’t get a total sadist on a power trip, who would enjoy watching and be tempted to join in.

        The people who love forced workfare should have to do it themselves.

  19. something survived

    jsa staff have access to your medical information anyway if you are on esa or wrag, which I found to my cost.

    • Do you mean JSA staff have access to your medical records held by your GP (if on ESA or WRAG), or do you mean JSA staff have access to medical information given by a claimant to ATOS (if on ESA or WRAG)?

      • something survived...

        Actually they are not allowed any access to our medical records, which is why the Atos people ignore all medical info you bring/send. The video (the patronising one) on tribunals for people turned down by Atos, 9 minutes long, refers to Atos tests as a medical examination. Wrong, as usually the person is not a doctor, and they just do a stupid narrow questionnaire on a computer (usually put the opposite of what you said).
        In UK law your medical records are not to be disclosed to anyone without your consent.

        Since DWP/JCP have been known to hire all sorts of weirdos, perverts and criminals, there are at least some details (your medical stuff) they can’t get unless they are hackers. JC staff are not doctors and are not authorised to access your medical records. It is called patient confidentiality. Even in a major court case it can be used as a reason to halt or collapse the whole case, if accessing records of somebody would breach patient confidentiality, privacy, etc.

        If this data was freely available then what would there be to stop one of us, or someone else, getting hold of let’s say a photo of IDS’ piles and sticking it on the internet?

  20. Curiously enough the faculty of occupational medicine seems to contradict itself by stating their remit is where work can cause or aggravate someone’s health condition or cause injury to themselves or others and at same time offer training and award diplomas to paid members (yes they charge a membdrship fee .) providing member has either had previous experience in disability assessment or succeded by going through an approved course in this case one run by atos . So that’s clear isn’t it ?

  21. It is my guess at this moment that the faculty of occupational medicine relationship with atos looks too cosy for comfort and for them to appear as an independent organisation with expertise and experience is a subterfuge . I will delve further

  22. I note that members of faculty of occupational medicine are ex gps. Or retired gps or gps looking for extra work or contracts this in itself should concern us all because if the faculty of occupational medicine is a front for atos then its possible that Atos are recruiting gps by the back door . With intention of getting some foothold with them

  23. It might be interesting to find out if possible if FOM have been contacting gps in past few years or indeed lobbying they are listed as a registerd charity I see. Which is very odd

  24. The FOM seem to be connected to royal college of physicians but why would they suggest an approved course run by atos . Their journal is this one.

  25. Remember that stuff about having a bad back was regarded as an excuse for Malingering ?
    Seems it was recognised as a condition after all

    • something survived...

      When I got sent on forced work under the work scheme, I had several accidents at work. In one, I had one of my seizures and fell backwards. My head hit the iron wheelbarrow, and my back landed on the top of a low wooden wall. I reported it and they didn’t agree to fill a report form about it, in fact some of the overseers just shouted, though when I first got sent there I told them I have epilepsy etc among other conditions.

      I had a bad back already and it made it worse. As I was on workfare I didn’t get time off, compensation or the right to go to a doctor, they just made me pick up the spade and carry on digging. When I was at the group ‘therapy’ with the work scheme company, they wouldn’t record it either.
      (Funny comparison: on first night of Celebrity Big Brother a woman was immediately transferred out of the squalid Basement into the luxurious main house, because of ‘a stomach ache’ or something like that!)

      Here’s the logic of the wankfare providers:
      At wankfare, you explain you are disabled, so they assign you to heavy manual outdoor labour for a month. When you get sicker as you said it would make you, and get injured, they blame you and/or try to cover it up by saying it never happened. On the paperwork to the providers they say they are suppling fit, healthy ablebodied workers! A total lie.
      After the wankfare, when you are still as sick as before but worse from the forced labour, plus injured, do they take you off wankfare? Apologise? No. They stick you on another load of wankfare. Presumably until you die. And step up the wankfare by ordering you to apply not only for heavy manual jobs the other end of the country, but jobs outside the country and super-physical jobs like the army (!), lorry driving and flagstone laying.

      Current weight: 37kg.
      Ability to drive: Not allowed (epilepsy and blackouts).
      Ability to join army: Zero.
      Ability to lift a flagstone: Zero.

      Prescription: Another indefinite round of wankfare!

  26. The ConDem death squads want you to die alone in your home then they can cover it up. When the Atos merry go round finally gets to much for me I am going to advertise online then set fire to myself in the middle of Manchester or London at least my death might embarrass the political elite. When Muslims set fire to themselves during the Arab spring it made the world news.

    Atos at the moment are making my life a living hell.

  27. Sian

    sorry for slow reply – tv night -I meant jsa staff have access to records if your on esa or wrag.

  28. helper

    please don’t do anything drastic it’s not worth it, those bastards running the show should be the ones that bad things should be happening to, not innocent people like you.

  29. helper:
    Please don’t do anything so terrible to yourself.
    IDS would only regard it as a personal victory.

  30. Following the DPAC protest ‘atos games ‘ at the time of paralympics I see now that has been no rise in membership of paralympic sports clubs

  31. @Johnny Void and all. Please read items in this link.
    First where atos system designed to avoid Gp input. Its mentioned in the the link
    Secondly someone else had noticed the FOM / Atos collusion as i had recently.

  32. Seems that FOM were keen to attract gps at conferences
    Also there’s a DWP pdf handbook on. Gps and occupational medicine as well as pdf from the BMA

  33. Point I am making is that in order to qualify as disability assessor you need the FOM diploma and if FOM are signing up gps by contacting them or promoting themselves in medical publications then what ?
    Where does that leave us ?

  34. Pingback: How GPs Can End the Atos Death Toll | Mental Health, Politics and LGBT issues |

  35. The Faculty of Occupational Medicine publication Good Occupational Medical Practice reinforces the General Medical Council’s position that, good medical care “must include adequately assessing the patient’s conditions, taking account of the history (including the symptoms, and psychological and social factors), the patient’s views, and where necessary examining the patient; providing or arranging advice, investigations or treatment where necessary; referring a patient to another practitioner, when this is in the patient’s best interests.”4

    So why does FOM recognise atos origin as approved course in disability assessment. and why are atos healthcare citing them?

  36. From day one of the welfare reforms GPs have had a duty of care concerning their patients, they have breached that duty and have acted as nothing more than IDS lackeys

  37. At one time a doctors instruction or word was gospel – it needs to be made that way again.

    • Any firms manager that went against a GP’s instuction in respect to an injured employee would be hauled over the coals and probably prosecuted.

      The DWP and Atos both need prosecuting and private prosecutions need to start in earnest against Iain Duncan Smith.

  38. Pingback: New Zealand: ‘British-style work tests concern’ ~ tests were developed partially work of disability expert Professor Sir Mansel Aylward | Atos Victims Group News

  39. here is something else that happened in nz – a girl was wrongly diagnosed as delusional and detained under the mental health act for her political beliefs

    • This reminded me of Janet (Jean) Frame’s story – also from New Zealand.
      A part of it her story has been serialised on the radio today. She too was wrongly ‘committed’, spending years in hospital (I’ve forgotten how many, but several) before she was able to get out and moved as far away as she could. She eventually wrote her story which later became the film “An Angel at My Table”. An amazing woman.

  40. “The DWP and Atos both need prosecuting and private prosecutions need to start in earnest against Iain Duncan Smith.”
    And who has the heavy hard cash to do this? Which organsation is going to back any individual to do this?
    What InDaShit truly requires is a boot in the knackers, repeated ad infinitum until he recants.

  41. Pingback: How GPs Can End the Atos Death Toll | Welfare, Disability, Politics and People's Right's |

  42. dwp staff not welcome on this site – i won’t bother watching above lazy cow video.

  43. Shirleynott

    It is not only NZ that these injustices are happening, it is here too, I am one example which I have documented to death to highlight it and America is guilty of suppressing dissent via the mental health sector also – in other words illegal imprisonment and drugging of innocent people.

    • A close friend – for whom doctors originally struggled to make a diagnosis – then did eventually give him a named ‘condition’ (now handily ‘set aside’ by Atos) is acutely aware of “informed consent” / the potential consequences of ever being thought to be too unwell to remain ‘at large’.

      He has said to me that ‘One flew over …’ is far more true to life than most people could think.

  44. it certainly is shirleynott.

    The psychiatrists make it up as they go along and the turnover in them in the mental hospitals is a sign that all is not well in this sector.

  45. Pingback: How #GPs Could End the ‘#Atos Death Toll’. #wca #disability #mh #ukmh | Dawn Willis sharing the News & Views of the Mentally Wealthy

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  47. The Tories lurk behind Atos’s cruelty
    From an article by Michael Meecher
    A month ago the government was defeated in a vote on the floor of the House of Commons on a very important issue – the question of the level of the EU budget. The government whips strained every muscle they could to avoid defeat.

    Having been decisively defeated anyway, the government simply ignored the vote.

    A few days ago a similar event occurred. In the debate on the Atos Healthcare treatment of disabled people not a single MP spoke in defence of the government’s position and the minister made a very poor speech in defence of the indefensible. One senior Tory MP, Charles Walker, now chair of the procedure select committee, solemnly pronounced that “Atos is now so discredited that we should park it on one side and go off again in a different direction.”

    But having been unanimously overturned, will the government change course?

    I said in my concluding remarks at the end of the debate that this issue has now become a test of the accountability of the government to the House of Commons. It has, and we are not going to let go.

    There’s another reason why this is so important. Rarely have I known a debate in the house of such passion – poignant, focused, always well-evidenced – yet perhaps some of it was not as well directed as it should have been.

    What did not come out of the debate as strongly as it should have was that, dreadful as the things done by Atos are, the company is not ultimately in control. It’s not Atos’s fault that there are no recording machines to preserve what was said in the assessment interviews – the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) blocked them.

    The arbitrary descriptors – sending cancer patients to the jobcentre, insisting you must be blind and deaf to qualify for incapacity benefit and all the other cruel demands – were all designed by the DWP.

    The one-year limit was laid down by the DWP. The targets that they call norms – that too is a DWP device. Even the inaccessible buildings are DWP buildings, they’re not Atos properties.

    One other piece of evidence is clinching. When Atos does work for other employers like Royal Mail or the NHS, its decisions about unfitness for work are wholly different.

    That points ineluctably to the real truth, as I said at the end of the debate – that the DWP is quite ready to accept, even require, this inhumanity if it is the only means to get 1.6 million disabled persons off incapacity benefit.

    The evil is not Atos. I make no excuse for it whatsoever since it could, and certainly should, walk away from so brutal and dehumanising a contract.

    But the real evil is the DWP, and no doubt the Treasury behind it, and the ministerial instructions that set up this system – the descriptors, the regulations, the guidance and all the rest.

    We must be careful. Getting rid of Atos would seem a triumph, but there’s always a private company greedy enough to step into the breach where contracts of £110m are involved.

    Would G4S or Capita be a jot better if the underlying system and the DWP-Treasury instructions remained the same? It’s the system itself we’ve now got to destroy.

    If you have enjoyed this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star’s Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep publishing your paper.

  48. Very nice post. I definitely appreciate this website. Stick with it!

  49. mike halligan

    the simple way to build more accountability into the wca..system ,is to insist that the h.c.p.’s medical report is sent to the claimant for comment, BEFORE. it is sent to the non-medically qualified d.m.

    this could be retuned by the claimant within 28 the d.m., and provide a truly balanced view, of what was said, at the so called medical assessment, to the d.m.

    it would save weeks of concern. to provide feedback, before benefits are stopped, and improve the h.c.p.’s hearing, vision, and voice—

    the claimant would get a pre-view of what was recorded at the med ass, and answer it—-BEFORE the rigmarole, of suddenly finding one’s benefits are stopped, and having to do masses of admin to get benefits and go into the pleading for help loop. surely this must be the way forward….!

    the dwp/atos will not/can not to provide a counter argument to this amendment…it is a totally watertight proposal..

    i add at this stage the esa50—is nullified as it has already been considered—and only reconsidered at appeal tribunal.

    at the moment the d.m. only has to consider the h.c.p. med report—as new evidence—this creates a one way vavle—

    the power flows from them, to the claimant—the claimant has no power in this process as things stand—the claimant is talked at—this proposal will change all of that—it is fair—transparent—

    you would think that they,fear, the truth, would you not!?

    ..atos role is to void symptoms, de-exist them, their, report is written with this bias built in…

  50. Very nice post. I certainly appreciate this site. Keep writing!

  51. I can supply email addresses for some Chesterfield surgeries.

    Chatsworth Road Medical Centre: clinical [AT] ourdocs [DOT] co [DOT] uk
    Welbeck Road Health Centre: general [DOT] drspencer [AT] nhs [DOT] net
    Hollybrook Medical Centre and Sinfin Health Centre: hollybrook [DOT] sinfinsurgeries [AT] nhs [DOT] net
    Wheatbridge Medical Centre: surgery [DOT] wheatbridge [AT] nhs [DOT] net

    Those are all I could get email addresses for online, but please feel free to add your own surgery’s address if it’s not in the list above.

  52. Pingback: ATOS will still kill you… for now. | Deeno's Art Showcase

  53. Pingback: How #GPs Could End the ‘#Atos Death Toll’. #wca #disability #mh #ukmh – Quinonostante

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