ATOS Healthcare Debated in Parliament
- 17 Jan
A debate is taking place in the House of Commons today about ATOS Work Capaility Assessments for disabled people on their fitness for work.
Labour MP Michael Meacher has said that thousands of sick or disabled people have died after being assessed by Atos to see if they are capable of work. He made the claim in a Commons debate on Atos, the firm that conducts work capability assessments for the government.
Opening the debate, Meacher said 1,300 people had died after being placed in the "work-related activity group", for those currently too ill to be in a job but expected to take steps towards an eventual return to employment:
Atos is an IT firm and uses a so-called logic integrated medical assessment, often described as rigid and tick-box because computer-based systems make it very difficult for health professionals to exercise their professional judgment.
Because such a mechanistic system has little or no regard to the complexity of the needs of severely disabled or sick persons, the British Medical Association and others have condemned the current WCA as not fit for purpose.
The real fundamental issue is this: how can it be justified to pursue, with such insensitive rigour, 1.6 million claimants on incapacity benefit at a rate of 11,000 assessments every week when it has led - according to the government's own figures - to 1,300 persons dying after being put into the work-related activity group, 2,200 people dying before their assessment was completed and 7,100 people dying after being put into the support group?
Is it reasonable to pressurise seriously disabled persons into work so ruthlessly when there are already 2.5 million people unemployed and, on average, eight persons chasing every vacancy, unless they are also provided with the active and extensive support they obviously need in order to get and to hold down work, which is certainly not the case at present.
The Conservative MP Robert Halfon has also added to this point and said:
As a major contractor, they have repeatedly failed to inspire confidence and they need shaking up.
Former Conservative Cabinet minister Cheryl Gillan said she was concerned about the treatment of people with autism:
The National Autistic Society ... believes the WCA should be delivered differently so that it is fair and appropriate for claimants with autism.
Afterwards, on Twitter Meacher said:
The consensus of the whole house is that #ATOS has failed. I've never seen such unanimity & the House will not let this go.
Labour MP Kevan Jones tweeted:
In my speech in Atos debate I said the Government had the blood on their hands over whoses have committed suicide because of Atos system.
The practices of Atos are like a form of torture for people with mental health issues, which is what I told the Commons today.
ATOS Healthcare has been widely criticised by disablity charities for the way they operate their assessments. Charities say that many people have been unfairly assessed as being fit for work.
In November 2012, The Peoples Review of the Work Capability Assessment highlighted 70 claimants who say they were wrongly assessed and were forced to go to tribunal. ATOS have responded to this by saying all complaints they receive are thoroughly investigated and changed are made where necessary.
An ATOS spokesperson has said:
We know that this can be a difficult process for people and we do all we can to make sure the service we provide is as professional and compassionate as possible. We have been doing this work for the Department for over a decade and our staff are fully trained and experienced with many coming directly from the NHS.
We know that with a contract as complex and important as this, which has an impact on peoples lives, it is our duty to continually work to improve which is why we ask for feedback from the Department and those claiming benefit. We investigate every complaint that is made to us.
Image source: http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/71078
- 28 Aug
Figures find thousands of benefit claimants died after found fit for work
Over 80 people a month have died shortly after being declared “fit to work” prompting campaigners to call for an overhaul of the government’s welfare system, reports the Guardian.Figures from...
- 24 Aug
Disability campaigners concerned over benefit shakeups
The Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is set to announce new reforms to sickness benefits in the hope to get more people into work, reports the Guardian.It is expected the Mr Duncan Smith...
- 07 Aug
Single parents are being hit by benefit cuts
Government statistics detailing who has been affected by the policy have found that in May 2015 49% were single parents with children under the age of five, reports the Guardian.It is being said that...
- 30 Jul
Government to review helping benefit claimants back into work
Led by Professor Dame Carol Black, the inquiry will consider the case for linking people who are entitled to benefits with accepting appropriate treatment or support, reports 24dash.The review's...
- 23 Jul
Call for review of benefits delivery
The inquiry will look at the problems that could occur when benefits are underpaid or delayed, reports 24dash. The Committee invites written evidence on: Frank Field MP, chair of the committee,...
- 15 May
11,400 tenants could be affected by new benefits cut
Inside Housing have analysed data from the government's Stat-Xplore website and has found that 11,449 social housing tenants are set to be affected by the governments plans to remove housing benefit...
- 24 Mar
Deaths due to benefit sanctions should have independent investigations
A report into benefit sanctions by the Work and Pensions Committee has said that suicides linked to sanctions should be scrutinised in a similar manner to deaths in police custody, reports Inside...
- 11 Mar
Charity finds benefit sanctions regime to be flawed
A report conducted for Crisis by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University found that benefit claimants were subject to a ‘postcode lottery' on whether or...
- 30 Oct
Cuts to employment and support allowance benefits
With these cuts it could see new claimants being given just 50p more per week than people who are on job seekers allowance, reports the BBC. The Department for Work and Pensions have said the ESA...
- 10 Oct
Proposed benefit rule labelled ‘worse than poor law'
The Social Security Advisory Committee is currently cons ulting on the proposals which George Osborne first announced in June 2013, reports Inside Housing.The seven day wait would occur on top of the...
How to Fund Housing Support and Social Care Services Good clear delivery of some complicated information. Jaqui Smith - Young Womens Housing Project