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British Lung Foundation
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Michael Meacher MP on Atos Work Capability Assessments

I warmly thank the Backbench Business Committee for enabling me and cross-party colleagues to introduce this debate on Atos work capability assessments. There is enormous concern about the issue both in the country and in this House, as witnessed by the fact that more than 30 Members wish to speak on a Thursday. To try to ensure that they can all do so, I propose to speak for no more than 10 to 15 minutes. I hope that colleagues will accept that, for reasons of pressure on time, I do not propose to take interventions.

As knowledge of the debate has spread, I have been sent nearly 300 case histories, many of which make heart-rending reading. I cannot begin to do justice to their feelings of distress, indignation, fear, helplessness and, indeed, widespread anger at the way they have been treated. Nor can I easily contain my own feelings at the slowness, rigidity and insensitivity with which Atos and the Department for Work and Pensions have responded—or very often not responded—to the cries of pain that they have heard repeatedly. I have time to cite briefly only three examples which show how extreme is the dysfunction and malfunctioning of the Atos assessments.


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i can only agree - my assessment wasn't for lung things (its my partner who has lung disease) but for PTSD (post traunatic stress disorder) and anxiety and depression related to work.

i was asked some surreal questions including whether i could do the ironing (i have never been an ironer even when i was well!) and could i load the dishwasher at home. i am not sure what sort of work i could be given that would involve loading the dishwasher at home - i wasn't aware of a service of taking in washing up like people used to take in washing! on the basis that i could do this i was deemed fit for work, although thankfully this was reversed on appeal.

it is the maddest system anyone could have thought up and would be funny if it didn't have such a devastating effect on people's lives...

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Yep thay are full of it .. There is more to being sick than can you move your finger .. Thay need to experiance lung disease on £76 a week see who far thay can get


I agree most people who are sick need the disability top ups like DLA or PIP. I was on that sort of figure after my husbands death until I went onto pension, it does not seem to have risen much and prices have, so it must be even more difficult to survive nowadays

Agree it is so frustrating to be asked such seemingly silly questions, especially in the past as DLA was payable to the working population. Incapacity is a different matter I guess you should be assessed on capability for work related tasks not domestic tasks. From what you say Atos is still assessing in the old fashioned manner meaning most people have to appeal against their decisions at a further cost to their health from the stress it causes, but saving money on the thousands who do not appeal and find other means to survive. Not many people realise either that when asked if they can do a task if they cannot do it normal then they can't do it. To use your task, ironing if you have to sit down or like me it is painful and tiring, you have to say you can't do it, in order not to be refused benefit. Just one minor example.

Agreed cheers

Well at least it is being heard in the house and recorded for all in Hansard. We need more action to keep the momentum going.

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Yep agree with you there offcuts .. Am writing to courts and will be telling them there as neen error in law .. i.e used laurel and hardy to hear my IIDB appeal will be spelling out in a few well placed words

This makes me so mad a labour mp stands up in the house slating a company that was set up by Gordon Brown { labour } and to rub salt in the wound Brown gave them a extended contract to 2017. We have two MPs in Telford I have sent a letter to both of them asking to change the rules for COPD sufferers, I have asked that DLA and ESA is automatically given to people with COPD and lung conditions I also explained that cancer sufferers were automatically given DLA and ESA while under treatment and most people who get cancer do go on to make a full recovery people with COPD do not have a cure, I would also like to point out that my hart goes out to people with cancer.

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I agree in principle but to be devils advocate people can be diagnosed with COPD but at early stages but not a real life changing condition. I have a high pain threshold and I am stubborn I try to do more than I should but I always end up suffering in the end. The problem is the doctor/assessor do not see that and base their decision on a few minutes of questions to which a YES or NO answers mean nothing but can change a persons quality of life.

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It appears to me that we are at a disadvantage from the beginning. I have copd and was signed off indefinitely by my G.P. When I spoke to the DWP and informed them of this I was told that I would have to have a medical, when I asked why as my GP had given me a medical and made his decision I was told in no uncertain terms that their doctor will not agree with my doctor.

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Only time atos can disregard your doctor is if thay think he is lying .. You need to ring DWP and tell them you want it in writing why thay think your doctor is lying .. Then tell them when you have it you are going to take legal action .. And ask for persons name you are talking too


I have not seen Atos yet. The conversation was with a person at the DWP when I fist made my claim for ESA.

Excellent valid points - thank goodness for Michael Meacher.



And guess what I'm going to do with this one two Daz , thank you, you should get on twitter a mine of information that's not on the news x

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Interesting thank you

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I think anyone with level 3 and over should get DLA and ESA and it is time atos DR's should stand by what your GP says I understand atos are a IT company I rest my case

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Wish you well


In the UK they still have the Cancer Act of 1939 that PROHIBITS the publication of ANY cancer cure. The rationale here? As there is NO cancer cure, if you publish a cure, it MUST be fraud. This keeps it illegal for lamestream quackos to even mention a cure.

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