Jump to content


Recommended Posts

How can anyone be sure of who is fit to work, and who isn't? Unless they have actually seen the person in question working? Or have detailed information about their medical condition? To all outward appearances I look fit to work, but I am not. The clue would be in the fact that I am never seen out alone, I always need someone with me. But how many people taking a quick superficial look would actually realise that? Very few, I suspect. I have just received my ESA 50 (Atos fit to work assessment form). I am dreading filling it in myself because I tend to understate my conditions. But I don't feel that I can ask the Citizens Advice Bureau to help this time because they are snowed under with requests for help with these forms, and other urgent help requests.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My view on filling in these forms is to go for the worst case scenario. You want to make life bearabe for yourself, not keep some civil servant happy.


Agreed, but there's also the situation where having filled in exactly the same forms, or variables thereof over and over umpteen times over many years, the hassle and poking and prodding, patronising, invasions of privacy and dictatorial hold over how you live whatever non-life you've managed to salvage from the wreckage, simply isn't worth it for all the pittance GB plc pays out after it all, if you can find anyway to survive without them, even if it means you live on less than they'd give you, and in greater pain and discomfort.


I really do not get what all this vitirol directed towards ATOS and the Tories is all about - it has always been like pulling hen's teeth for the disabled to successfully claim what they're supposedly due from the state. ATOS and the Tories *may* have done nothing to improve a broken system, but from where I'm sitting they've not made it any worse either, as it was beyond making worse before they inherited it.


If there is a bottom line, its that for any disabled person, their own GP should be the person who is in the best position to judge their ability to work, or not. Yet from away back, before ATOS, and before this lot of Tories, and before the last lot of Labour, and at least over 20 years ago, the DWP or their predecessors refused to accept a GP as capable of making any such judgement.


In other words, one branch of an organisation (the DWP and their predecessors) effectively accused all the employees of another branch of the same organisation (GPs in the NHS) to be incompetent/liars/untrustworthy. Yet, neither that group of employees (GPs) nor the branch that employs them (the NHS) have ever raised a word of protest at such a slur. Nor has the general public protested in any way at the very real risks to people's health and ultimately their lives, *if* the apparent accusations made by the DWP and predecessors against GP's are in any way well founded.


How can a system built on such dubious foundations ever hope to be fair and effective, whoever is the government of the day, or whoever is put out to face the public with the hatchet is irrelevant. As long as the very person and organisation that should be in the best position to be knowledgable, assess and judge an individual's abilities is excluded from the equation by a slur both upon that organisation and the empoyees of that grade and there is no protest either from within or without.


Everything else is just the creating on non-jobs and politically motivated maneuveres at one level or another.


If GP's are really as incompetent/liars/untrustworthy as the DWP appear to suggest they are, its long past time they were forced to either shape up or ship out, for everybody's sakes. And if they aren't, all this palaver that's been around for decades of the DWP needing to do all the medical stuff themselves, needs to be seen as and admitted to the farce and job creation scheme it is, and wiped away completely. GPs should know their patients better than anyone else, certainly much better than someone parachuted in for a glance at them by the DWP, GPs should be competent, truthful and trustworthy enough that their assessment of any one of their patients is beyond reproach, and as such able to be relied upon by the DWP.


Its simple, its easy, it just needs to be made to work. Both DWP and NHS are employed by the same organisation, it should be easy to make it work, and work properly, and when it is the god knows what a frightening amount being paid out in salaries to non-job holders, contract holders and god knows who else could be distributed among genuine claimants making cuts probably wholly un-necessary.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am in full agreement that disabled people should not be penalised by cuts in an unfair manner.

It is typical of our present political establishment to make a complete mess of revising and reforming the paperwork and procedures for assessing individuals on their ability to work, it has probably cost tens of millions on goverment think tanks or quango's or whatever the hell they call this countries crippling surplus of middle/upper management civil servants and politicians.


And that is at the heart of our problems.


Three layers of Politicians and there civil servant - Holyrood - Westminster - Brussels, and they get less democratic as you go up the list.

I will not pretend to know what the best solution is .

But I would rather live in a country with a single parliament that had full control of all of it's own domestic affairs and it's exclusive economic zone out to 200 nautical miles.

Meanwhile here at home on our islands business is booming. Apparently a 2nd gas plant may be built and Lerwick Harbour Trust expect to generate an extra 20 million of revenue through increased oil vessel activity and renting out harbour space to accomodation barges over the next few years.

Our own crippling surplus of middle upper management within our council have failed to get a slice of that pie.

Perhaps too busy working out plans to close down public toilets and public buildings where pensioners socialize.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whistleblower tells the inside story of Atos


The many disabled people who tell stories of heartbreaking WCA judgements will be both heartened and outraged by Dr Wood’s testimony


In February of this year, Dr Greg Wood received an email from his employer, Atos.


He had filed a Work Capacity Assessment report on a benefits claimant with chronic and serious mental health ­problems – including psychosis – saying she was unfit for work.


“I was told to amend the report,†he says.


A former navy doctor who had served in Iraq, 48-year-old Dr Wood had been promoted by Atos as a Mental Health ­Champion – one of only a few assessors in the company who mentored others.


“The claimant was in and out of psychiatric hospital,†he says. “She was completely distracted in our interview. I could see she was not fit for work.â€


WCA assessors work on a points system.


Claimants need to gather 15 or above points to be declared unfit for work and eligible for Employment Support ­Allowance.


Dr Wood claims he was told to amend the report to show fewer points.


“I thought, they haven’t even seen the patient, how can they know whether she is fit for work?†he says.


It was not uncommon for reports to be reviewed and amendments asked for, but in this case Dr Wood felt so strongly about the claimant’s case that he resigned.


Full article here -



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have been thinking about this whole issue and decided that almost everyone would be "fit for work" as long as the work was tailored to them. But this is where the system is wrong!. Should be a question of people being "fit for employment" based on both their illness and their skills. For example a bricklayer with no other skills would not be fit for employment with a broken leg but a telesales person might well be. Think about it!.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have been thinking about this whole issue and decided that almost everyone would be "fit for work" as long as the work was tailored to them. But this is where the system is wrong!. Should be a question of people being "fit for employment" based on both their illness and their skills. For example a bricklayer with no other skills would not be fit for employment with a broken leg but a telesales person might well be. Think about it!.


With all due respect, if people claim Job Seekers Allowance and other benefits, they have to be actively seeking employment which quite often means a change in career. Just because somebody previously worked say as an engineer doesn't mean they should remain on JSA if they could take a job as a kitchen porter. Think about it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A brick layer with broken leg would be claiming sick pay and not JSA.


The trouble with any work should be taken is again dumbing down the nation.


For instance, a highly skilled layer of bricks is told to take a 0 hour contract job cleaning up after events would find it more difficult to get back into his trade. It was something that happened to me, lost my skilled job as an electrical fitter, craft trained, unable to get similar employment due to Tory cut backs, now, I need a serious amount of catching up to do to carry on my skill, ah, no doubt the dumber downs would say I could have carried in my training, nope, most is now witness and testimonial based in the work place. So, due to the greed of a few, the country is dictated to by share holders. The promises of privatisation did not really come did they? Fuel went up, wages went down.


The bricklayer would not be earning enough money perhaps to continue the lifestyle he worked had to get because there are little brick laying jobs about.

Then what happened, the country became short of skilled workers and had to get folk from the rest of the EU.

Now the Tories are saying the likes of the EDL and BNP are not really right wing. That is like saying Hitler was a Socialist.


Still, the campaign against the state by the state is rampant, neoliberalism is still galloping ahead, though, the more research I do on the financial links of National and local Tories, they will not be holding the Chair too long and will end up in the Brook.


Please sign and donate




Though, after meeting Ricky Tomlinson at a recent shop stewards seminar, it soon was realised that some one tampers with the GOV petitions. Following the case of the Shrewsbury 24, you will see the skulduggery played out by all governments over the time, or civil servants saving face.


Eileen Turnbull is a person anyone would want on their side.


The Shrewsbury 24 were campaigning on safety as well as wages, building sites are still dangerous places and many still end up in front of ATOS because of their work there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hear that Shetland Physiotherapy have got the contract to carry out face to face assessment for the new DWP benefit - personal independence payment.


I'm sure they will get rigorous training to bring them above the standard set by Atos Healthcare.



Really not sure what to make of that :? Can it be any worse than Atos?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bedroom Tax costing more than it saves as housing benefit bill soars by £1.5bn

24 Aug 2013


Figures from the Commons library show the amount of housing benefit paid to private landlords will rise from £7.9billion to £9.4billion


The cost of welfare is set to soar by an extra £1.5billion a year – because of rocketing rents and the hated Bedroom Tax.


Figures from the Commons library show the amount of housing benefit paid to private landlords will rise from £7.9billion to £9.4billion.


And it is forecast to increase still further over the next three years.


Full article here -




Well done our MP! Not only did he vote in favour of this dreadful tax which is causing untold misery to some of the least well off and in some cases sick and disabled people with no option of moving to a smaller property.


It is now costing all off us (taxpayers) more money :x

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dr Greg Wood who resigned from Atos has an article in the British Medical Journal


I blew the whistle on the government’s disability assessments

Greg Wood, former naval doctor and Atos disability analyst, London



Greg Wood went to the media with concerns about the ethics surrounding tests for fitness to work—and eligibility for benefits—that the UK government outsourced to Atos


Actually, two whistleblowers went public before me, and several other doctors have raised concerns anonymously. I am a former general practitioner in the Royal Navy, where work related assessments are bread and butter stuff. The UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) devised the work capability assessment (WCA) to judge whether people who receive out of work sickness benefits could, in fact, cope with most forms of work. A more stringent test came into use in 2011, and the government made no secret of the fact that it hoped this would boost the labour market, improve people’s self esteem and personal income, and, of course, reduce government debt.


For many years the information technology and “business process outsourcing†company Atos has had a contract, now worth £100m (€116m; $155.4m) a year, to carry out several social security benefit assessments, including the WCA, for the Department for Work and Pensions. In my view this risks tension between doctors’ professional concerns on the one hand and business imperatives on the other.


The WCA had a troubled childhood. From early on, claimants and disability groups were reporting problems. They felt the assessment was a box ticking process, where medical assessors spent most of their time punching superfluous lifestyle data into the computer. And the likely outcome as they saw it? Computer says no.


In fact, the test, on paper at least, isn’t too bad, though it isn’t going to win anyone a Nobel prize. But it cannot adequately take into account health conditions that fluctuate unpredictably, and it tries to include too broad a range of jobs. Driving, call handling, shelf stacking, data entry, and cleaning, for example, are all theoretically covered. And although the test is nominally a pre-employment medical test of sorts, it is really still about measuring the person’s level of disability.


In early 2013 the WCA was still causing a rumpus in public, despite a series of external reviews.


One problem that dawned on me over time was the widespread use of five ill conceived so called rules of thumb that were promulgated during the training of new assessors. On one, manual dexterity, the guidance was just plain wrong. The training said that this all boiled down to an inability to press a button, whereas the regulations allow points to be awarded when there are difficulties forming a pinch grip, holding a pen, or operating a computer. The other “rules of thumb†showed a combination of discrepancies and questionable interpretations of medical knowledge—for example, moving from one room to another at home was supposed to be equivalent to moving 200 metres. The effect was to reduce a claimant’s likelihood of entitlement to financial help.


Another concern was the absence of documentary evidence, which, in my experience, occurred in about a fifth of assessments. This was a simple failure to move important pieces of paper from one building to another but the assessment was expected to go ahead regardless.


And my third concern was that there was an implicit assumption that the most likely outcome of an individual face to face assessment was that the person would be found fit for work. I have no reason to believe that this was deliberate; it was probably more a question of wishful thinking and a misunderstanding of basic statistical principles. You can’t expect the proportions of claimants who are fit to work who are seen by an individual doctor to correspond to national trends. The general culture was one where, at the point when their file was being opened for the first time by the assessor, it was broadly assumed that an individual claimant was more likely than not to be found fit for work.


My fourth concern was that Atos auditors, for quality assurance purposes, were in the habit of demanding that healthcare professionals change their reports without seeing the patients themselves. This seemed fairly reasonable if the amendment could be justified, but not so reasonable when the doctor who had seen the patient thought otherwise. For instance, auditors supposed that they could tell that a patient with a chronic and only part treated psychotic illness had adequate mental focus, despite not assessing the patient for themselves, and using solely a report.


The position of the General Medical Council is that doctors should not alter such reports if they think that it would make a report less accurate, or would render it misleading to the body commissioning it—that is, the DWP. I resigned from Atos primarily over this widespread interference with reports, which I felt encroached on my professional autonomy and crossed ethical boundaries.


So I blew the whistle and found myself talking to parliamentarians and journalists, and then making an appearance on BBC news. It was nerve wracking trying to choose my words carefully while keeping the message clear and simple. Obviously I worried about the repercussions, but what had tipped it for me was that the DWP had stonewalled on this for more than two years; medical knowledge was being twisted; misery was being heaped on people with real disabilities; and the cost to the taxpayer of these flawed assessments and the subsequent successful tribunal appeals was going up and up.


Three months after I blew the whistle, the DWP announced that all Atos assessors were to be retrained and that external auditors had been called in to improve the quality of the WCA.


To others considering blowing the whistle, I would say this: if it is important enough to you and you do not believe that the problem can be fixed by more conventional means; if you can back up your assertions with evidence; if you are prepared to risk alienating your colleagues; and if you are robust enough to deal with the slings and arrows that might come your way; then blow your whistle loud and blow it proud.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cut back on fags and booze to get DHPs, council says




Edinburgh Council is denying emergency hardship payments to tenants affected by the bedroom tax if they spend too much on non-essential items such as cigarettes and alcohol.


The council is advising tenants to first cut back on ‘luxuries’ such as television and phone packages and cigarettes and alcohol and use the money to cover their benefit shortfall rather than awarding them a discretionary housing payment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...