Letter by Malcolm Mort, member of RNIB and Hardest Hit.
written for the Hardest Hit
Through media sources the other day I discovered that Dr Greg Wood had resigned from his job as a fitness-to-work assessor with ATOS in May of this year after nearly three years in their employment. Matters came to a head when on an increasing number of occasions he had been asked to change his reports on claimants making it unlikely that they would qualify for sickness benefit. This he was not prepared to tolerate because as a doctor he considered the welfare of patients to be more important. He considered the actions of ATOS pressuring doctors to change their reports from the true conditions of health to be unethical.
For a considerable time, he had decided to leave as he felt the company were unethical to pressure a doctor to change his conclusions of an assessment. Concerns about ATOS and their system has been criticised by charities and claimants for years.
Dr Wood being the first to blow the whistle on ATOS gave evidence to the BBC suggested the methods used to assess whether claimants were eligible for the new incapacity benefit- employment support allowance (ESA)-were “unfair” and skewed against the claimant.
Dr Wood joined ATOS in 2010 after serving 16 years as a Royal Navy doctor. Iain Duncan Smith has
been criticised for ignoring the warnings of Dr Wood concerning his experiences while working for ATOS. Over the years ATOS has faced fierce criticism from disability campaigners for the work capability assessments (WCAs) it carries out on behalf of the Department for work and Pensions (DWP).
The response from I D Smith on this matter is considered woefully inadequate. On one hand Duncan Smith says he wants to improve the ATOS situation but then ignores the specific allegations made to him by the doctor who was working for ATOS. It is just like all the protests which have been ignored from charities and disabled people by this incompetent ignorant Con-Dem Coalition Government who have no understanding of disability or care. This leaves me asking why the Liberal
Democrats supported the Conservatives to pass the legislation allowing the persecution and exploitation of disabled people. My common sense tells me that ATOS and some of this new Benefits
and Welfare Legislation is unfit for purpose.
In conclusion I have just received this information from Disability Rights Wales: ATOS to lose monopoly after ‘flawed and unacceptable’ disability benefits assessments following months of complaints about allegedly unfair slapdash decisions made by ATOS, the Department of Work and Pensions audited around 400 of the campany’s written reports concerning disability claimants, grading them A to C. Of these, 41% were graded as C, meaning they were unacceptable and did not reach the required standard. For further information, please visit, http://www.disabilitywales.org/1168/4646. This should encourage rejected benefit claimants to challenge all DWP benefit rejections!
There are also problems with ATOS not having sufficient examination facilities to meet their promised obligations prior to being awarded their latest DWP Benefits contract.
Malcolm H. Mort
Hardest Hit and RNIB Cymru Member.