Category Archives: Atos

New Year Blues

I said I’d try to post more often so here goes. I’ve not been feeling too good over the last couple of weeks, not sure if it’s the Christmas rush/stress that’s caught up or the usual January dip many of us experience at this time of year. As the start of a New Year can be a time of reflection I’ve decided to reflect on the past year.

Although we are still on benefits I have tried to change my thought process from one of glass half empty to glass half full. It isn’t easy especially when living with a glass definitely empty partner. He is currently undergoing counselling, and whilst I agree that the counsellor clearly hasn’t got much idea of the situation we’re in, he just can’t seem to engage with anything she asks of him. Whether this is his frame of mind or not I’m not sure. He is still undergoing work programme interviews, mostly over the telephone. This programme seems very disorganized, he has been forgotten at one point for a few months, changed advisors and been left on more than one occasion waiting for phone interviews that never materialized. Not very professional! He has undergone another appointment with ATOS and been advised that he will have to go through his ordeal once every six months! In this respect I can understand his mood as no one seems to help just to victimize. His doctor has only been prompted into action due to outside intervention. The whole mental health provision is totally inadequate with counselling limited to a few interviews and the waiting list for other treatments months rather than weeks. Unfortunately for him his mindset needs much more help than my own did.

I’m still concentrating on trying to improve my employability skills whilst trying to get a small business off the ground. I’m sick of being at the mercy of everyone else including the council from whom we rent our home. They informed us they wanted to proceed with major works in our house with no apparent concern that the benefits to us are little if nil and that we can’t afford the replacement floor coverings etc needed to make our home comfortable again afterwards.

Anyway enough for now keep fighting!

Major meltdown

Not written for a while as not much to report. Our friends have moved and are very unhappy, in fact unhappy isn’t strong enough they have sunk into a depression. The place they’ve moved to is a shit hole and they have no money to fix it up. There is nothing you can say to them is there? Personally I would have stuck it out until I could’nt go on any longer but realistically unless the jobs market changes there is little chance of them getting employment so perhaps they had no choice. It’s a really sad place to be – pushing 60 with nothing to show for it.:(

Here my partner has had a letter saying he’s in the WRAG group and detailing his benefits breakdown but we aren’t sure if this is the result of his medical or not as there wasn’t any points breakdown. Or do you only get that if they refuse you ESA? He has also had a letter with an appointment for a work related interview next month. We’ll see what happens!

Myself I’ve just had enough. I’m in the process of trying to start a business but it is off-putting when they are changing the benefit rules to penalize even this. I’ve applied for a few jobs but no joy, have applied to volunteer, no joy, it seems I’m stuck in this trap. To be honest and I’m sorry if this sounds callous but I don’t want to be where the buck stops any more. I don’t want to be the one who sorts out all the bills, keeps the house something like clean, feeds everyone, washes and irons the clothes, sits doing anything they can to make a bit of extra cash on the internet, just so we can have the things we need. I don’t want to go out shopping and come back to find the same mess I left when I went out because him indoors can’t be bothered to do anything. I’m losing the plot. Being the one who runs the house I could cope with but being the one who runs the house and has to deal with someone who is negative from the minute he rises everyday is just too much and I want out. I’ve had enough!!!

 

Back on the ATOS medical merry go round.

Less than a year after winning our case at appeal my partner was again summoned for his ESA medical. The first one had to be cancelled due to the stress and worry causing a panic attack, but this time we made it. The bloke doing the medical tried to make small talk as we went in but after last time we weren’t going to be drawn into that. I now have too much information on how they work and realize that you are under scrutiny from the minute they set eyes on you! The examiner was trying to be friendly but now and then his mask would slip and I could see how he was trying to trip my partner up. I’m fully expecting nil points again as most of his problems are mental health issues which you can’t see and in my opinion can never really understand unless you’ve been there. I can understand why people give up bothering to claim ESA even as in some cases I know of, they are clearly to any normal person unfit for work, because the stress really isn’t worth the very small amount of extra money gained by getting it. Our household has lost over £100 in the last month with the ESA becoming income related and my son no longer a dependant but an apprentice on a very poor wage. So once again we are in the process of cutting back spending in the face of having to pay council tax we were previously exempt from as well as the cut in money. I pride myself on being financially capable ( in fact I could show CaMORON and his friends in Westminster a thing or two) but if you haven’t got enough to live on no amount of budgeting will help! The policies of this government are and will continue to result in vulnerable people facing extreme hardship. We really are going back to Victorian values and not in a good way.

Here we go again!

Having sought advice from a welfare rights centre it seems that yes it is correct that you can be reviewed six months after winning an appeal for ESA. So it seems here we go again! Obviously the idea is to put off those who aren’t genuine but this is causing immense stress to those who are genuine and their families. It is not good for the health of anyone to be put through this stress on a regular basis. I have always borne the burden of the paperwork from DWP as my partner can’t cope with it all, but I’m now finding myself in the position of feeling as if I’m struggling to cope also. It’s beginning to affect my health and not for the better! I have been suffering with stomach problems since xmas, together with low mood/depression. I haven’t yet sought medical treatment but will have to if it continues. As the claim for ESA isn’t mine none of my problems are taken into account but all this uncertainty and stress is very hard for me to cope with so I really feel for people who have numerous medical issues as well as having to deal with ESA claims, bedroom tax problems and the impending changes to DLA. I have to come to the conclusion that this is the idea, make us all so ill that we roll over and take all that is thrown at us or worse decide this life isn’t worth living anymore, as so many have already done. I’d challenge the likes of Cameron, Clegg, Osborne and IDS to travel on buses around my deprived area of Britain and listen to what people really think and have to contend with on a daily basis. I regularly overhear people struggling to apply for the number of jobs asked for by the jobcentre, worrying about being ill in case they lose their job, talking about committing a crime so they’ll get help to find a home because they’re sick of sofa surfing and have exhausted every other avenue of help, and wondering what they have to look forward to. Do they want us all to turn to crime?
I for one know I can’t carry on like this. I am trying to better my prospects of getting off benefits but if this keeps on I won’t have the will or health to do anything. How does that help either the country or the individual?

Happy New Year!!

Happy new year everyone!! Unfortunately the start to mine has been a bit mixed, the depression/low mood has reared its ugly head again and have been left feeling less than healthy which is why I haven’t felt like posting.

Just before xmas we received a new ESA 50 form to fill in even though it is only about 6 months since we won the appeal for the last one. I’m not sure if this means we may have to go through it all again but just the thought of it fills me with dread. I really cannot go through this every 6-12 months but I suppose that’s the idea.

The stress of it all last time was immense and I don’t think the Government realizes or cares about the impact of all this stress on our health. The friends of ours who face the bedroom tax have spent the whole of xmas being ill, and having to deal with one relative overdosing due to the hopelessness caused by their situation. Thankfully they were ok after treatment.

Despite all the spotlight on ATOS, DWP and the Government regarding their treatment of the disadvantaged little seems to be changing as the case of the man with heart failure on the news a few days ago highlighted. Despite the fact he wore a box with wires fixed to his heart in order to remain alive he received no points and was found fit for work. Needless to say he is appealing but at what cost to his health. So we see the demonization goes on………

Atos causing pain again!

The lady  (Mrs X) mentioned in my previous post who had failed her ATOS medical has sought advise from Welfare Rights, who have said yes she can appeal and will likely win but will almost definitely be placed in the WRAG group. Apparently even life threatening illness isn’t enough to get you into the Support group as we have all seen from cases highlighted in the press! This has plunged Mrs X into depression as she now realizes she will be subject to attending pointless Jobcentre interviews, forced to apply for jobs she has no chance of getting and face sanctions if she isn’t seen to be doing enough! Mrs X could also find herself having to attend a placement on workfare. All this when her Doctor says she isn’t fit for work. Unfortunately this government aren’t satisfied with all the misery they’ve caused so far and look set to cause more by stepping up the pressure on those in the WRAG group by forcing them on to mandatory work schemes.

My partner has received a letter to this effect just this week. As I’ve said before perhaps with a bit of understanding from employers some of those on ESA could work but unfortunately that understanding is sadly lacking.  If any of those people with long-term health problems did manage to secure a job in many cases it just wouldn’t last because these health problems won’t just go away and time is money. Lets face it money is more important than people’s lives in our society as is shown time and time again. We should be looking after those too ill to work not demonizing them and causing them further pain. I do wonder where all this will end – with the targeting of DLA starting soon the future for those who dare to become ill or disables looks increasingly grim!

ATOS STRIKES AGAIN!!!!!!!

Despite all the publicity surrounding Atos medicals it seems they have learned nothing! An acquaintance of mine, lets call her Mrs X was telling me of her experience at the medical and it’s the same story we’ve been hearing since these medicals began. Mrs X worked doing manual and driving jobs until about ten years ago when she developed a back problem and could no longer manage to work. An operation was advised but Mrs X was reluctant due to the possibility of the op leaving her in a worse position. Her husband persuaded her that she should go ahead with the op despite the fact it could leave her paralysed. Fortunately though this didn’t happen, unfortunately neither did significant improvement and Mrs X resigned herself to the fact that return to her previous normality wasn’t an option. Mrs X can’t walk very far, is in constant pain, walks slowly, can neither sit or stand for long periods and uses a mobility scooter to get about.

Fast forward to the Atos medical which was held on the third floor of the building. Upon entering she was told she couldn’t go up on the lift in her scooter and was asked if she would be able to use the stairs should there be a fire. Her response was a truthful yes she could but by the time she got to the bottom the building might well be burnt to the ground. Deciding this was too risky they asked the nurse conducting the medical to come to the ground floor and conduct her medical there.

The nurse could clearly see Mrs X needed to use the scooter, had access to the doctor’s report about medical conditions and yet guess what Mrs X like many that have gone before her received nil points. How can someone needing help to get around get no points at all? It beggars belief! Mrs X is of course appealing so it will cost the DWP time and money to fight their case which on past experience I would hazard a guess they will lose. They have learned nothing!!! Their quest to get the ‘spongers’ goes on!!!

Back where we started??

We have at last received some notification from DWP regarding the ESA claim. However it is only dated between February and April 2012 for some reason which is raising some questions for us since it’s now August! We had reason to believe that any incapacity Benefit received in the last year was taken to be your years worth of contribution based ESA but the letter states our ESA is contribution based. Is this why it only goes to April, the end of the financial year? If so why haven’t they included payment details for April to now? The payment breakdown is also confusing! They state they must take a percentage of my partner’s ill-health pension (from last employer) off the ESA, but then they have added a top up so that we don’t lose any money?????? So guess what we end up with exactly the amount we were getting before all this started!! We won’t get  any April increase though until the ESA rates catch up with the old Incapacity benefit rates. As to whether these rates apply to income based ESA, well that’s something else that’s not clear!

As you can  see lots of things we are unsure about meaning we still can’t plan our finances properly until we’ve sought answers to these questions. What does strike me though is all we’ve gone through to get back to where we started. What a waste of taxpayers money (we pay tax incidentally -on the pension). In an effort to get people of benefits the government is wasting money which could be better spent elsewhere and in many cases people will end up with exactly what they began with. If the medical criteria was not so unfair money would be saved immediately on the appeal processes that many are forced to go through. The sad thing is the government would rather waste money on them than give it to genuine claimants. People have died awaiting appeal, people who clearly aren’t fit for work have given up unable to stand the stress and are now being hounded by jobcentreplus to find work. Work that for them does not exist. Whilst government shovels money into Atos’ pockets. They should all be hanging their heads in shame at their treatment of  vulnerable people. Now Atos has been handed the contract to reform  Disability Living Allowance so we can expect much more of the same!

Atos again!

Apparently there’s been a big hoo ha about the GP, Steve Bick,  who went undercover on the channel 4 programme http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/4od#3388055, because he is a Labour party activist. I can’t see how this affects what came from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, as he didn’t seem to be asking leading questions and most of the mentor/trainer’s comments were spoken during the training process unprompted. Incidently the expert who advised the government on the ESA assessment tests is out. DWP say Professor Malcolm Harrington was always due to go after three reviews of the system but after stating on TV that the tests still had a way to go to be fit for purpose, it does make you wonder. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01lldrc/Panorama_Disabled_or_Faking_It  

Both the government and Atos declined to show evidence, in the form of the contract between them, that they didn’t work to targets. If you have nothing to hide why would this be a problem? As both programmes came to the same conclusion I’m inclined to think that they are right in thinking that the main aim of this ESA assessment test was to throw people onto JSA or off any benefit totally and save money regardless of their circumstances. After all can it be coincidence that many people get no points at all rather than failing due to not getting the required 15 points? Why does no one seem to fail because they get 5 or 10 points? Unfortunately they either haven’t been clever enough to disguise their real intentions or they just couldn’t disguise their contempt for the sick and vulnerable!

 

 

Atos or some similar swearword!!

Did anyone see the two programmes on TV regarding Atos last night? http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/4od#3388055 and http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01lldrc/Panorama_Disabled_or_Faking_It/. I found the channel 4 one particularly interesting as a GP went undercover to be trained in conducting the assessments. He uncovered that although both the government and Atos deny there are targets as to how many people they want thrown off ESA, in fact there is just that. Atos employees who pass too many as unfit for work are called up and asked to re-asses and alter their findings. Many of the criteria used for these assessments were shown to be fundamentally flawed and frankly laughable (if it wasn’t such a serious matter). How Chris Grayling could sit there, clearly lying through his teeth, is beyond the notion of any decent moral human being. The disgusting treatment of vulnerable people at the hands of Atos and this government is despicable. One man from my home county Derbyshire, had a heart attack and died 39 days after he was declared fit for work after undergoing 2 ESA assessments in a short period of time. It seems if you can sit behind a checkout and pass things over a scanner then you are fit for work. No consideration is taken as to if anyone will employ you with health problems that may mean you taking considerable time off.

People with mental health problems are also misunderstood under this system with people in hospital, sectioned under the mental health act declared fit for work! It was also mentioned in the channel 4 programme how one sufferer was asked why she wasn’t dead as she had taken several overdoses. What a way to treat someone already under stress. And the best thing yet Atos are on the shortlist to examine people for the new PIPS which will replace DLA so disabled and vulnerable people can expect more of the same.

The government is happy to shovel money into the pockets of Atos and the like, rather than pay genuinely sick people what after all many of them have paid tax for in the past and is only a meagre sum in real terms. I don’t know how they sleep at night!!