Atos - Guardian newspaper article today - sent to me by friend

Thought you might be interested to see this (given my continued delayed assessments....)

Guardian newspaper article TODAY as posted on the ME Association site (hope it's ok to have posted this):

meassociation.org.uk/?p=12237

Fitness-for-work tests hit by technical chaos, The Guardian, 21 July 2012

by Tony Britton on July 21, 2012

From The Guardian, 21 July 2012 (story by Amelia Gentleman).

Private firm Atos found to have just 11 audio machines to record up to 11,000 tests for benefit eligibility each week

Employment minister Chris Grayling has been asked to provide an explanation for mounting chaos surrounding the fitness-for-work assessment, amid complaints over the transparency of the process.

New unhappiness with the system, run by the private firm Atos, has emerged over individuals’ requests to record their assessment as a way of ensuring that their details are correctly registered.

Claimants were given the right to request a recording last year. But the Department for Work and Pensions only bought 11 recording machines – shared between 123 assessment centres – which test 11,000 people every week. Several are currently broken.

A number of reports by charities have highlighted inaccuracies in the testing process, which determines eligibility for the new incapacity benefit and Employment and Support Allowance. Many claimants are anxious to record their assessments to make sure the account of their health problems is correctly reflected. Large numbers of cases are currently going to tribunal because applicants believe they have been wrongly refused benefits; around 40% of cases are overturned in the claimant’s favour at tribunal.

Despite a government promise that everyone is entitled to record their assessment, many people have been told there are no machines available, because they are being repaired, and that they must go ahead with the test anyway. Individuals have been told they are not able to record assessments with their own devices “in view of security and confidentiality considerations”.

In a statement on its website, Atos says: “We will make every effort to accommodate requests for this service and hope that we will be able to meet demand. However, under the terms of our contract with the department, we cannot postpone an assessment on the basis of audio-recording.” Atos’s refusal to postpone tests is at odds with a statement made by Grayling in a response to a written question on the subject posted by the Labour MP Frank Field, this week when he promised: “Clients will be told in advance that their request cannot be accommodated and offered a later date.”

He added that: “Large scale purchase of machines in the absence of an evaluation of the process is not effective use of public money.”

The shadow employment minister, Stephen Timms, who has written to Grayling to highlight his concerns about the lack of recording equipment, said: “I find it hard to believe that a company with a multimillion pound government contract is incapable of obtaining and operating sufficient recording devices.”

A DWP spokeswoman said several machines had broken in transit and there had initially been a very small number of requests for recordings, which was why only 11 machines were bought. “It is simply not true that the recording machines are all broken, in fact we are in the process of buying more and fixing the few that have encountered problems.”

11 Replies

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  • Yeah, I read that too . ATOS couldn't organise a booze up in a brewery . DWP now stands for Don't Work Properly !

  • All people living with disability ought to contact their MP about this article and ask for the MPs' comments

  • Sounds like a clone of G4S

  • When ATOS`s contract comes to an end,G4S is ammongst many who have applied for the new contract.

    Scarey xxxxx

  • scarey indeed! if that happens, it won't just be a lack of recording equipment, but a lack of personnel too lol

  • What do you expect? They need some sort of excuse - even a stupid feeble one - to avoid these assessments being recorded. They don't want them recorded because if they were there would be proof that those filing in the forms with total lies are doing so. As it is,it's a he said/she said kind of scenario. You say the assessor lied and you didn't do/get asked or gave such and such an answer which led to you getting the sum total of zero points and finding you fit for work.

  • you no wot winds me up.we see loads of people young people drinking cans of alcohol in the early morning,or taking drugs,or we hear them boasting about there designer trainers and being on the dole is great coz you can swindle the system.well atos investigate them please not us.

    this are nurses who have no idea about our illness or m.e.

    i was told id be in a wheelchair by now but ive fought it for my respect and dignity and being given a label.

    well why did i bother we are labelled as scroungers and lazy people.atos need to spend just one hour in our lives or one nite to understand what we go through.they system needs to change and atos needs to be scrapped and given a fairer system for us all.sorry rant.

  • Hi Sammicat,

    I put a similar post on here 11th July i think, , seems not much has changed then, they just talk out their backsides. People don't want them recorded....oh they really really listen to what we say. One excuse after another is trotted out by Atos etc, Could be they don't want them recorded as they will be exposed for the liars and incompetents they are. Drives me insane with all the mistreatment people get and the amount of money the govt are throwing at this stupid company.

    just got to keep plugging away and keep bringing it to everyones attention.

    Rant all you want...i'l join in merrily lol

    take care

    Jan xx

  • just for the record, the reason I posted this was because it's finally in the press, in a well known broad sheet at that, and the message will thereby reach more people and hopefully shame the likes of Atos about its dealings with a (by and large) very vulnerable section of the population. We knew this was happening, being at the sharp end as it were, but much of the populace doesn't!

  • Well what more proof do the government need, obviously the only reason atos have not sorted out the recording system is because they do not want the interviews recorded so that they can carry on lying on the reports. It's about time the government kicked atos into touch!

  • I attended my ESA WRAG Interview today at my local job centre the girl who interviewed me was quite pleasant she asked me what I intended doing to try and move myself off claiming benefits and getting back into work? I asked what the ATOS Dr had written about me when I attended my ATOS Assessment In May and was really shocked and upset when she told me that the only information they had sent to her from ATOS was to inform the DWP that I suffered from Depression and would be reviewed in 18 months time, the girl then said I can see from the data we have previously input into our system that you have clearly got a lot of medical issues and they are spanning at least 15years most of which stem from your having Fibromyalgia, Type 2 Diabetes, Hiatus Hernia, Inner Ear problems, High Blood Pressure, Athritus and Tendonitus,,(sorry for the spelling)poor eyesight caused by a torn cornea, short term memory loss, and also dexterity and strength problems in my fingers on both hands and there is no way that your health is likely to improve so we will ask you to attend your next interview in 6months time, Oh I forgot I also have Depression! This sums up ATOS's knowlege and understanding of we the vunerable sick and /or disabled members of our society reducing and putting my/our painfull existance's down to one conclussion that of Depression!!! I wonder if they were to experience our day to day struggles would they put it down to them just being depressed.It's no wonder I and many other sufferers are depressed. Oh and before I go I was told by a welfare right person that after the year is up on this ESA Benefit I would be put on some other benefit not Job Seekers Allowance if I am still unable through illness to go to work, so he didnt think it was worth appealing to get in the Support Group as only a minimal few actually get transfered into that group!!!! Any way just thought I would keep you all informed Gentle Hugs XXXX Katimaitay

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