The Atos Monologues by the Atos Stories Collective

Dedicated to the Memory of Karen Sherlock (Died June 8th 2012)

These Monologues are the work of the Atos Stories Collective – a colloboration of disabled and non-disabled people. They are intended to be used wherever it makes sense to read them, at a protest, in a theatre, a pub, a shopping mall. They are intended to be read by people who’ve experienced Atos, people who care for those who’ve experienced Atos, disabled actors, non-disabled actors, and anyone else who wants to spread the word about what is happening right now to disabled and sick people. There are 11 Monologues. You can perform them how you like, in the order you like. You can add your own stories in, if you like, at any point that seems relevant. You can create another Monologue or only read a few. If you are putting it on as a performance, you can invite the audience to join in with the twitter games or contributing their own stories. The Monologues are for everyone, and everyone can be part of the Atos Stories Collective 1. Let’s get to Work 2. Easy Access 3. Pain, Pain, Go Away 4. Internet Survey No 1 5. Send in the Clowns 6. The Atos Experience 7. Internet Survey No 2 8. Fit to Work 9. Appeals 10. Internet Surveys No 3 and 4 11. A Little Bit of Hard Work Never Hurt Anyone

1. LET’S GET TO WORK Iain Duncan Smith (soothing/placatory) The previous Labour government has made some inroads into welfare reform by introducing reviews of people on incapacity benefit. It was a start to employ Atos Health Care to undertake these assessments. But there is more work to be done. The proportion of people parked on inactive benefits has almost tripled in the past 30 years to 41% of the inactive working age population. That is a tragedy. We must be here to help people improve their lives – not just park them on long-term benefits. To address this, we will re-assess all current claimants of Incapacity Benefit on their readiness to work.If people genuinely cannot work, then we will make sure they get the unconditional support they need. At the same time, we will also make sure the system is fair by ensuring that receipt of benefits for those able to work is conditional on their willingness to work.So to be fair to the taxpayer, we will cut payments if they don’t do the right thing. However, those assessed as immediately capable of work will be moved on to Jobseeker’s Allowance straight away. At the same time, those who have the potential to return to work will receive the enhanced support they need through the new Employment and Support Allowance and the Work Programme. DWP Spokesperson (bland officialese tones) Press Release – 11th October 2010

The first big phase of the Government’s radical welfare reform programme starts today, as long-term incapacity benefit claimants in Burnley and Aberdeen will be the first across the country to be reassessed for their ability to work. The reassessment is designed to end the one-size-fits all approach to those with health conditions and disabilities which has led to 2.1 million people being trapped on benefits. With so many people abandoned on long-term sickness benefits, Ministers are determined to reform the welfare system and help those who have been previously written off get back to work and regain their independence. Ministers are clear that the most severely disabled and people who are terminally ill will not be expected to look for work and will get extra help through Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). However, those people who are reassessed and found fit for work will move onto Jobseekers Allowance and will be expected to look for work like other jobseekers. Those who could work but need extra help and support to become work ready will move onto Employment and Support Allowance and receive tailored support to get back to work. Minister for Employment Chris Grayling said: "It’s unacceptable that so many people have been written off to a lifetime on benefits and today marks the start of the journey back to work for thousands who have been cast aside. "We know that many of the people trapped on incapacity benefits could and do want to work, but the current system doesn’t allow them to. "That’s why we’ll be reassessing everyone claiming incapacity benefits, starting in Burnley and Aberdeen today and the rest of the country from spring next year. "Everyone who can work will get the help and support they need to get a job. Those found too sick or disabled to work won’t be expected to and will continue to receive help and support to lead fulfilling lives Atos Website (upbeat, positive) London, 16 November 2010: Atos Origin today announced that Atos Healthcare, its business division and the number one occupational health provider in the UK, has been awarded a three

year contract extension worth over £300 million by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Under this contract extension Atos Healthcare will continue to deliver medical advice and assessment services to support the UK Government’s welfare reform agenda to help people to move into and progress in work, while supporting the most vulnerable. Keith Wilman, CEO for Atos Origin said: “We have a successful and longstanding relationship with the Department for Work and Pensions and are committed to supporting the Government’s welfare reform agenda to help those who are able get back to work and regain their independence.”

2. EASY ACCESS Atos Spokesperson (bright and breezy) Frequently Asked Questions - Number One. Are some assessment centres above ground level and what is the policy for customers who are unable to use stairs? All the assessment centre locations that we use are accessible for customers who have difficulty or are unable to manage stairs. The majority of the centres are government owned, often co-located with Jobcentres. If an assessment centre is not on the ground floor and a customer cannot use the stairs in the event of an emergency, we will consider an alternative venue or a home visit.

David As an ESA claimant I was first expected to fill in the 28 page ESA 50 form 28 pages!! There is now an electronic form which is just as well, because the paper form is inaccessible. Not only to people with visual impairments, but also to anyone, like me, who is unable to write comfortably or legibly as a result of their disability. Equally the space provided in the form is utterly inadequate for anyone, again like me, who needs to discuss several decades of experience of a complex disability. And whilst someone could potentially fill it in for me, there are details of how my disability affects me that I’m not even comfortable discussing with my specialists, never mind anyone else.

My first work capability assessment was scheduled at the local Atos Assessment Centre. The building is located in the centre of town and has no on-site disabled parking. So it is unfit for purprse before you even get to the door. There is a public disabled car park some 150m away but that requires a wait of over 30 minutes to find a space. The next one is 350m away. But, like many disabled people I cannot walk even 50 m without experiencing significant pain. If you can manage to get to the building, the access at the door is via intercom. How someone deaf and/or without speech is supposed to manage is a mystery.. John I'm 9/10ths toward suing Atos for disability discrimination under the Equality Act. My assessment was at the Bradford site which, believe it or not, is in the pedestrian precinct in the city centre! It’s a minimum 60m walk from the nearest road if you don't mind getting a ticket. There are no parking/no loading restrictions in the area. I told them in the form I would need to travel door-to-door by car - they ignored this. I have moderate/severe ME - so I managed to walk in for the appointment but it took me something like a month to recover afterwards. 3. PAIN, PAIN GO AWAY Atos Spokesperson (brisk, professional) Frequently Asked Questions - Number Two How do we check that healthcare professionals (HCPs) provide high standard assessments? To ensure our HCPs provide consistent, high quality, independent assessments, we: • Conduct a rigorous and comprehensive recruitment and training process to select candidates who are confident and capable for the role • Regularly review and update training based on feedback from trainees and trainers, quality results and feedback from complaints. Ensure medical managers deploy the most appropriate skilled clinical resource to each assessment. • In addition, we continuously monitor and reviews quality against the standards agreed with the Department for Work and Pensions.

Quality assurance is built in to our processes using medical audits. Healthcare professionals must complete an approval process on new benefits and are then randomly audited. Audits are carried out by experienced healthcare professionals with specialist training. There is also an annual validation of each auditor's appointment.

• •

Assessment reports that are audited are rated with an A, B or C grade to enable appropriate feedback, mentoring and retraining as necessary. Up to 20,000 national audits were randomly undertaken in the last 12 month period with achievement consistently above 95%. Our target is to achieve 95% reports that are rated A or B.

David I informed Atos in advance that I would require adjustable seating because of the difficulty in sitting that results from my disability. This is in fact the core of my problems regarding working, so pretty much fundamental to the whole assessment process. They didn’t provide one. I was shown to a waiting room with non-adjustable seating. Completely inappropriate not just for me for all of us with musculo-skeletal, pain and fatigue based disorders. Within seconds of trying the seating I realised I was unable to sit in any comfort. I could only tolerate it by rolling sideways on my hip. After I complained they rearranged the appointment. I returned home having wasted my time and experienced major amounts of pain as result. This pain triggered a massive flare-up in my condition. I spent the next week on the floor of my bathroom, wracked by one muscle-spasm after another, not knowing even what day it was. I eventually managed to get to my GP, who doubled the strength of my opiate painkillers. This brought the flare-up under control, but at the cost of my wandering round in a daze for several months, with no energy or volition. The loss of control in this kind of flare-up is extremely distressing both physically and mentally. I was completely unable to cope with my post, so missed a letter calling me for another assessment. Naturally, I did not attend, I was barely conscious at the time. Atos told the DWP that I hadn’t turned up and my benefits were withdrawn. Thanks to an unusual outbreak of common sense from the DWP, my claim was reinstated and another assessment was arranged. This time I was met at the door with an adjustable chair. Unfortunately, I could not even raise the seat to the appropriate level, or adjust the seat angle. Again, I was reduced to rolling sideways on my hip. This time I had to wait 45 minutes for my appointment, by which point I was physically shaking.

My pain-management consultant has told me that it is almost impossible to get doctors who are not specialists in pain management to understand how disabling pain is. My assessor was clueless. As the session went on I was in so much pain I was not answering effectively and was not making a strong case for myself. Rather than trying to listen to the details and understand my condition, the doctor seemed to find it irritating. Twenty minutes in, I reached the limits of my pain tolerance. I had to stand or vomit. I spent the rest of the assessment balanced on one leg and crutches. It was only then – a cynic would say at the point he feared being found negligent – that he broke script and started to treat me as an individual. He did ask if I wanted to continue but by that time I just wanted to get it over with. Even so he criticised me for being unable to bend my leg so he could tap my knee with his hammer. When my pain levels are extremely high my leg locks extended. I have no control over it and I don’t expect anyone, certainly not a doctor, scold me for it. When I got home I spent the rest of the day in bed - the first hour physically shaking.

Aletheia I went to my first assessment alone, because I was lead to believe I would be seen by a Health Care Professional. How wrong was I? The pseudo HCP ruined my concentration by telling me I had conditions which I do not have. She raced through questions at the speed of light and did not wait for answers before going on to the next one. She had me bend over, I was clearly stiff and in discomfort, I could not kneel or get down very far, so she asked me to twiddle my toes (with my shoes on).There was nothing to see! My toes can barely move at all.. I was awarded 0 points had to wait 8 weeks for my report, therefore too late to appeal. I was forced to walk to the Job Centre or not be able to claim JSA benefit. When I told the clerk, I had walked there because my ESA had been cancelled and I had no money, he decided that he couldn't finish my claim (it was only 4pm), and I would have to come back again the next day. If I did not he would cancel my claim. I was ill and in significant pain for a long time because of his cruelty. They then told Atos and other DWP departments I did not have a problem with walking- twisted evil people.


I went for assessment on Friday 18th November, Albert Bridge House. I arrived and had to wait like most people over an hour. Outrageous!!! I cannot remember much of what was said. I was just so pleased to be finished with this inhumane process. I had planned to go out for a meal that night. The first time I would have been out socially for quite some time. I had to cancel as I was in such pain that I was unable to get there. In fact it took three days for the discomfort to go away.

4. INTERNET SURVEY NO1 We asked Facebook and Twitter, If Atos was an animal was what would it be? A cockroach A tapeworm living in the body politic Not a real animal but an Orc & their HQ as Mordor.I also have a nickname for them "Napoleon's Revenge I like to think of it as a virus. Like herpes Some animals seem cruel and vicious to us, but they have no capacity for compassion, mercy or conscience. What's Atos's excuse? A rat AWWWW dont insult the rats, my remii and cappit were cute. What about a vulture instead? Son suggests a leech might be adequate. Blood suckers !!!! Does a vampire count as an animal? They could be the European cousin of the Great Vampire Squid Goldman Sucks. How about a mosquito? A parasitic wasp A snake in the grass A rattlesnake with toothache A ravenous wolf Medusa Necrotising fasciitis 5. SEND IN THE CLOWNS Atos Spokesperson Frequently Asked Questions – Number Three. What qualifications and experience do Atos Healthcare professionals have?

Recruitment takes place against a set of stringent requirements. Healthcare professionals must have at least 3 years' post-registration experience across a wide range of specialities, and this must include some generalist training. All recruits are provided with comprehensive training. For the Work Capability Assessment, this includes an eight day course for all doctors and a 17 day course for nurses and physiotherapists. Training of healthcare professionals can be considered in three distinct areas:
  

Generic training Training to undertake benefit-specific assessments Scrutiny and file work training.

Following the Work Capability Assessment training course, healthcare professionals will, for a variable period, complete assessments under the continual supervision of an experienced trainer. Only when they are deemed to have achieved competency will they progress to unsupervised assessments. At this stage, every assessment is audited until they produce four consecutive A grade reports, meaning that their reports have reached a high standard. They are then referred to the Department for Work and Pensions Chief Medical Adviser for approval on behalf of the Secretary of State. Following approval, audit is ongoing but at a reduced frequency

Nelson If you ever need a gynaecologist of some fame call Dr SA. Apparently he’s a disability analysis expert too. Tim Whist not in the same league as many people my ailments include 2 complicated diabetes related eye conditions, diabetes related neuropathy and depression. The person I had examine me at Atos was a physiotherapist! Her brief was to go through the questions on her computer software and, as I discovered when I got a copy of her report, ignore anything I said unrelated to those specific questions. How a physiotherapist was supposed to make clinical judgments on depression is beyond me. Naturally Atos gave me 0 points and this was used by the DWP to disqualify my claim.

Adrian I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. My doctor said I regularly take the bins out in his report. I rarely do so nor did I say anything on the subject! They also said I had no problem with my eyes including under bright electric lights when I have pretty bad photophobia/hypersensitivity…And that my problems are mental and will pass in 6 months, which they are not. They are physical and life long. Aletheia I highlighted the lies in my report I was not suffering anxiety and depression, all my medication was for the arthritis, and stomach pills because of the side effects of the arthritis meds. The Atos HCP claimed my tests for arthritis were non conclusive, She claimed I had not seen a specialist. The fact is the specialist who I did see sent me for a dynamic bone scan which revealed I have "significant osteoarthritis which affects most of my body" The pseudo nurse claimed I did loads of exercises I did not and could not do and wasnt even asked to do. She claimed I got on and off a couch, I never even saw a couch. She claimed I sat on chair without any problems for 30 minutes and then dropped herself in her lies by stating on the front page the whole assessment lasted 25 minutes!! Mary The nurse who performed my assessment was not trained in mental health - Atos does not employ any mental health nurses, despite “mental and behavioral disorders” being far and away the most claimed for group of illnesses, at around 35% of all claims. This has implications both for the amount of people wrongly deemed able to work, and the amount of people able to fool an untrained assessor into declaring them incapable. As I also claim other benefits, I have faced many long and often irrelevant questions about my condition, repeatedly provided the same evidence and contact details for my specialist team who confirm details of my illness, and spent many hours researching the correct forms, claims and procedures. Not only is this upsetting and bad for my mental state,I am also constantly worried that I have made a mistake and that my income will be taken away or reclaimed, or that I could face criminal proceedings through an administrative mistake. I am lucky enough to be relatively educated, and to have a variable condition, meaning some days I am able to coherently put my case across. Many sufferers of severe mental illness are not so lucky. Sufferers of severe mental illness are much more likely to be vulnerable and need extra support, and although there are many excellent services and charities working with and for them, the benefits system is not currently set up for their needs. It sometimes feels as if the government are working towards the ultimate Catch-22. If you can qualify for benefits by handling the hundreds of pages of

form-filling, negotiating the maze of departments, offices and units, and convincing the GPs, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, civil servants and Atos boxtickers – well - you’re good enough to be Minister for Social Security.

6. THE ATOS EXPERIENCE Atos Spokesperson Frequently Asked Questions - Number Four What is our role in assessment? We independently carry out the work capability assessments (WCAs) to discover how a customer's health condition or disability affects their ability to work. The WCA includes both Limited Capability for Work (LCW) and Limited Capability for Work Related Activity (LCWRA). LCW is an assessment to help determine benefit entitlement based on the extent to which a customer's health condition or disability affects their capability for work LCWRA is an assessment to determine whether the customer can be placed in the 'support group' because the effect of their condition is so severe that it would be unreasonable to expect them to engage in work-related activity. Each assessment is tailored to the individual. There may be a very small minority of customers with conditions that don't fulfil the 'support roup' criteria, but who may still have limited capability for work. The non-functional descriptor (NFD) covers the following scenarios: The customer is suffering from a life threatening disease in relation to which:

There is medical evidence that the disease is uncontrollable, or

uncontrolled, by a recognised therapeutic procedure

In the case of a disease this is uncontrolled, there is reasonable cause for

it not to be controlled by a recognised therapeutic procedure. The customer is suffering from some form of specific disease or bodily or mental disablement and, by reasons of such disease or disablement, there would be a substantial risk to their mental or physical health of any person if they were found not to have limited capability for work.

Kate I find the medicals very upsetting. The so called doctors/nurse practioners don’t listen to what you say. When you comment on something they don’t make notes, they sit constantly staring at the computer screens, only looking at you when they want you do something. Nelson This is what happened at my assessment, and - yes - I have complained. Dr SA ushered my companion and I to the examination room. I made it clear my friend was there for support and to take notes. Dr SA appeared concerned and asked why I wanted notes taken? I thought this was unusual as I was well within my rights to do so. He then said it was my right to have notes taken however, there were certain rules I should be aware of before the examination continued. I was astonished to find that he did not have a copy of the rules to hand, it took 20 minutes to get one. He read a small section but refused to give me a copy. Throughout the interview the doctor became at first agitated, then defensive, made a veiled threat, became aggressive, raising his voice waving his arms in the air and pointing at my companion and I. He then became dismissive and intimidating and finally called the interview to an end which resulted in a further appointment being made for me to see another doctor at his request. I found his arrogant and often threatening Sam

The doctor interviewed me while answering his mobile phone. And then he didn’t listen to my answers. They treat people like cattle. They herd them in put them through hell then keep them waiting to report findings. I’m still waiting to hear. Vince Last year despite support from my GP, HIV consultant and psychologist I scored zero points on an Atos medical and my benefits were stopped. I wasn’t even informed. This is no way to treat a mental. Adam My first assessment was a surprise one to me and it was arranged at very short notice to be carried out at my home for some reason. I had been in receipt of DLA Middle Rate Care and High Rate Mobility for 6 years. The Atos health care professional came to my home. They ruled that I was not eligible to any levels of either components. When I contacted the DWP to confirm what had been decided, I was told that I was not disabled and that I was being investigated for fraud as I did not use a wheelchair during my home assessment. How ridiculous! I use my wheelchair all the time outside. But I can’t use my wheelchair indoors as my local authority hasn’t adapted my home to be accessible. When I challenged them about that statement they soon changed their tune. So my second assessment went a lot better. And very graciously they have agreed that on reviewing the evidence, there is every chance that, perhaps, am disabled after all. 7. INTERNET SURVEY NO 2 We asked Facebook and Twitter to complete this sentence, You can’t be disabled because… We can't see Post traumatic stress disorder and we've never heard of a hippocampus. You do not meet my limited definition of being disabled You drive an Audi. How would you afford it? It would be too difficult for a disabled person to get in. You can text a friend You can tweet You watch TV and soaps and can sit comfortably for half an hour 'I saw you stand up!' You're too young' You can pick up a £1 coin

"You seem alright to me" "You're smiling" You look butch. Can't be anything wrong with you.. You could fill in the form You brushed your hair this morning and you’re wearing a nice coat You answered questions that was asked You travelled by bus You don’t soil yourself every day. You could fill in the form You’re still breathing You can spell your name backwards You're not a dribbling, disheveled lunatic howling at the moon and threatening to axe people to death You hold eye contact You don’t look disabled enough to me You brushed your teeth this morning. You’re faking it. You can’t have Post traumatic stress disorder because "you've never been in a war zone" You’re at university. You have a girl friend. You don’t look autistic You can talk I cannot see anything wrong with you You moved your leg. You can lift an empty box up to waist height. You’re so pretty. PAUSE You can’t be disabled because of Tory ideology.

8. FIT TO WORK DWP (bland, officialese) Press Release 15th March 2012 More than one third of people going through incapacity benefits reassessment have been found to be fit for work, according to the first set of official statistics released today. Figures for the first 141,100 incapacity benefits claimants to start the reassessment process show 37 per cent of those whose claims have been concluded have been found fit for work.

The remaining 63 per cent of claimants were entitled to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA):

Thirty four per cent were placed in the Work Related Activity Group, where they will receive personalised help and support to help them prepare for a move into suitable work in the future. Twenty nine per cent were placed in the Support Group and will receive unconditional financial support and will not be expected to work.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: “These first figures completely justify our decision to reassess all the people on incapacity benefits. To have such a high percentage who are fit for work just emphasises what a complete waste of human lives the current system has been. “We know that for many it will be a long haul back to work but it’s much better to help them on the journey than to leave them on benefits for the rest of their lives.” About 1.5million incapacity benefits claimants are being reassessed and will either be moved on to ESA or found fit to work as part of the Government’s reform of the welfare system. The Government does not believe it is acceptable to write people off to a lifetime on benefits because they have a health condition or impairment, and wants to support families back to work. Today’s statistics do not include information on appeals which claimants are entitled to lodge. The final proportion who are deemed fit to work is likely to fall as some appeals will be successful

Yvonne Update = work related activity group. I’m too tired at moment to question this. I’m just too tired.

Kate This last medical they failed me, even though I am registered disabled. I have asthma, depression, and dyslexia and osteoarthritis which is effecting both legs and lower back and right shoulder and hand, often my right hand is like a claw if I can move it all. Yet they said that I could move and mobilise without problems or without use of aids. I’m permanently on crutches and looking at a wheelchair in the years to come. I am on my second appeal against ESA won the last one now got to fight this one again and probably will have to keep fighting it.

The stupid thing is that, I have done the assessment online and come out with well over 75 points but they scored me as having none! They don’t treat you like a person but a machine. Karen (known on twitter as Pussycat01) At my medical the nurse made several statements with regard to my health and capability regarding which group I should be placed in, these are as follows:• “The people who check the forms, I believe are quite understanding and will have your best interests at heart and be sympathetic to your needs and place you in the right (support) group. If they do not place you in this group appeal it and you will win.” • “You are a genuinely ill person and are unemployable due to your multiple medical conditions.” • “You have been working for 22 years and have done your bit. You are not the sort of person they are trying to single out.” • “When filling in the form do it more thoroughly. I understand you find it vague but you can always fill in the white boxes and explain why you think this applies. This will increase your chances of being placed in the correct group.” She also chose not to perform a physical examination or do a blood pressure test due to the pain and distress they may cause me. I have greater than 50% visual loss and severe continence problems. I also suffer from chronic tiredness among many other problems, which is caused by a combination of Vitamin B12 deficiency, anaemia, kidney disease and long-term diabetes. The report said I did not look tired. But the medical was carried out late in the afternoon and I had spent the morning in bed before I got up to be sure I could attend the medical! With all that I thought I’d have enough points for the support group. I cannot believe I got placed in the Work Related Activity Group. My 1st tier appeal was lost and my rep let me down on the 2nd tier so it never got that far. My experience is that depending on what doctor you see every outcome seems to be different. The fact that the person I saw at the assessment actually said I should be in the support group and then it changed when I got the final decision is amazing to me. It would seem as though what they say to you in the room does not transfer when it leaves that place.

David They damned near turned me into one of those statistics. The ones for withdrawn or failed claims that Nick Clegg loves to claim are evidence of fraudulent intent, rather than what they really are - evidence of a system that is failing those who need it most. It’s a national disgrace.

8. INTERNET SURVEY We asked Facebook and Twitter to complete this sentence, You can’t be disabled because… We can't see Post traumatic stress disorder and we've never heard of a hippocampus. You do not meet my limited definition of being disabled You drive an Audi. How would you afford it? It would be too difficult for a disabled person to get in. You can text a friend You can tweet You watch TV and soaps and can sit comfortably for half an hour 'I saw you stand up!' You're too young' You can pick up a £1 coin "You seem alright to me" "You're smiling" You look butch. Can't be anything wrong with you.. You could fill in the form You brushed your hair this morning and you’re wearing a nice coat You answered questions that was asked You travelled by bus You don’t soil yourself every day. You could fill in the form You’re still breathing You can spell your name backwards You're not a dribbling, disheveled lunatic howling at the moon and threatening to axe people to death You hold eye contact You don’t look disabled enough to me You brushed your teeth this morning. You’re faking it. You can’t have Post traumatic stress disorder because "you've never been in a war zone" You’re at university.

You have a girl friend. You don’t look autistic You can talk I cannot see anything wrong with you You moved your leg. You can lift an empty box up to waist height. You’re so pretty. PAUSE You can’t be disabled because of Tory ideology. 9. APPEALS
DWP Spokesman

From the Decision Makers Guide. 01595 Where: 1. medical evidence used to make a decision is considered by the Decision Maker to be potentially harmful and 2. an appeal is made against the decision The appeals officer should prepare two sets of documents including the submission. 01596 The first set should have all evidence including that considered to be potentially harmful medical evidence, with a form explaining what evidence is considered to be potentially harmful medical evidence and why. This form 1. explains what evidence is considered to be potentially harmful medical evidence 2. asks the FtT for a ruling on disclosure. 01597 The other set should have the potentially harmful medical evidence obliterated. The submission should not be sent to the appellant. 01598 On receipt of the FtT’s ruling, the clerk will 1. send the appropriate submission as directed together with the prehearing form to the claimant and representative and

2. send a copy of the ruling to the Department. 01599 The Department’s file should be noted to ensure that the ruling is followed in any contact with the claimant or representative. The appropriate submission should be issued to the presenting officer if there is to be one. Tim So anyway, I appealed and got 2 disability charities involved. I used to be a director of the local CAB so had easy access to external assistance. Going into this without professional advice is insane. 9 months and a great deal of stress later my appeal was upheld. It took the chairman literally 2 minutes to grant it. And on that day alone Disability Rights Norfolk represented 4 people and each succeeded. But guess what? I’ve just had another assessment at the same Atos Centre. This time it was conducted by a nurse practitioner. This time I went in knowing it was a crooked game. I tried to insist on seeing a doctor but was told none was available – despite my having asked to be seen by one when the appointment was made. I also established that no attempt had been made to get my medical notes. At least that will provide an automatic ground for appeal if/when I get turned down.

Kate Losing my Employment Support Allowance hit me very hard and until the appeal went in they didn’t pay me at all. I was very depressed anyway the day I got my letter. But that tipped me over the edge and I took an over dose. It affected me so bad with how they do things and getting told in black and white that I had not scored any points which was outrageous. The stress and upset these medicals cause are unbelievable. Unless you go through one yourself its hard to understand what they are like. I know they are there to stop people claiming fraudulently but I feel that there would be better ways of testing people. Why can’t these be done with your GP who you better than anyone and knows how things effect you on an almost daily basis? My appeal wont be heard for at least seven months. In the meantime they cut your money to live off down to less than half of what you were getting when you were on full payments. I’ll keep fighting, but how much fighting can you do?

Social Welfare Union Website 4th September 2012 Benefits and Work has been sent a copy of a DWP document which reveals that the DWP have been working in secret with Her Majesty Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to try to improve its appeals submissions and to set up a fast track service for some appeals. The document raises once again the question of just how impartial the top management of the Tribunals Service really is. Benefits and Work received the papers from an anonymous source. They have the title; Operation Appeals Update: May 2012; and are dated 1 June 2012. The document is marked ‘Restrict’ on each page. According to the document an Appeals Single Plan has been introduced and is being updated fortnightly. The fastrack process trialled last year for certain Appeals is being reviewed with HMCTS with plans for national roll out in the autumn.

Elizabeth I suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.So the doctor treating my depression suggested I try ESA while I was waiting for counselling. I went for an assessment. They failed me. It was awful. I appealed and won. So I went back with full medical assessments…and they failed me again. There was no benefits advisor at CAB, so I gave up. Just couldn’t face it. I’m on Job Seeker’s Allowance now. But you know what the job coach said? Shouldn’t you be on ESA?

10.INTERNET SURVEYS No 3 and 4 We asked Facebook and Twitter to complete this sentence: Dear Minister, the impact of your welfare reforms on my life is … A 20% cut in DLA. Barstewards Not going to affect you in your ivory tower. Lidl beans for me on out of date bread Crushing me under fear, stress and hopelessness. Making life unpredictable, fearful with a dread of brown envelopes through the door. Humiliated and scared for the future Bollox Making being disabled a crime. Pain and misery Making my daily struggle even harder, leading to me becoming even more ill than when I fell onto benefits with the thought of being up and running again a distant dream. Making me want to take stemetil just to get through the day with out throwing up when I see how seriously ill people are being maltreated in this society purely for profit, otherwise I consider myself to be in good health. PAUSE I’m really not keen on using dear for that nasty Tory bastard We asked Facebook and Twitter If I were minister I’d… Set up regular meetings with ATOS/DWP and service users to ensure compliance and sort out problems that are affecting vulnerable in society Work out how much expenses I will get on my shiny new ipad. Abolish workfare, repeal the NHS & welfare reform acts I'd invest in the UKs 1st ever Soylent Green factory I would scrap expenses for ministers. It would prove who has the heart to represent us without the perk Exile all Tories …and make them take the Lib Dems with them PAUSE Do the decent thing and resign

11.A LITTLE BIT OF HARD WORK NEVER HURT ANYONE Daily Mirror April 4th 2012 More than a thousand sickness benefit claimants died last year after being told to get a job, we can reveal. Employment minister Chris Grayling says the success of the WCA "emphasises what a complete waste of human lives the current system has been". Here's another waste of human life. We've used the Freedom of Information Act to discover that, between January and August last year, 1,100 claimants died after they were put in the "workrelated activity group Karen Sherlock (Pussycat01) Monday April 2nd 2012 I have found out that my ESA is stopping at the end of this month and I am not entitled to anything after this date. I do not know what to do, I am distraught about this. Wed April 11th 2012 I sent an email to my Jobcentre adviser about why I have been sent an ESA50, she said "it's a matter of course, because you are due for a medical". I also said that the doctor at my tribunal, a while back said "being on dialysis automatically puts you in the Support Group". She has just told me it does not and she has 3 people in that situation who are in the WRAG. What the hell do you have to do to get some money? Sat April 14th 2012 I have now got a letter from my GP with significant medical info in it too. He did it as a matter of urgency.

I have also emailed my MP's caseworker, but she is poorly at the moment, and hopefully will be back Monday as they are being of great help to me too. Thursday April 19th 2012 Righty-ho. Hubby has sent all new info off. Special delivery to ATOS, and recorded delivery to JobcentrePlus, so we can track the process. Now shall wait and see what happens. It will be very interesting. Want to know how they can consider someone who is in hospital on dialysis 3 times a week and then recovering on the days in-betweenis able to work. As well as coping with all their other conditions. Thursday May 31st 2012 Hello all This is just a little note to let those who are interested know that I have been placed in the Support Group. It has been a long time coming and a big fight, but I have to say I am relieved. Now I can concentrate on me a bit more instead of all the crap I have been going through. Now all I have to do is get things sorted out with the hospital etc! The money side was never, ever the issue. Being placed in the right group was. And the fact that I have been will help me so much

8th June 2012 via twitter To all Karen’s friends and followers it is with great sadness so say that she passed away this morning. I loved her and will miss her. Karen’s hubby

Sources Iain Duncan Smith speech: DWP Press releases: DWP Decision Maker’s Guide: DWP working in secret with Tribunals Service Atos Press Release: Atos Frequently Asked Questions: option=com_content&task=view&id=68 Hansard Written Responses 1220w0001.htm (scroll down to 20 Dec 2011 : Column 1098W ) Benefit claimant’s stories We are extremely grateful to the many claimants who told us their stories and allowed us to share them. Although we didn’t use every single detail, there were many common experiences that have informed this play. Because each person is in a unique position and we do not want to jeopardize their situations, we are providing first names or pseudonyms: David, Aletheia, Mary, Tim, Kate, Yvonne, Adam, Adrian, Nelson, Elizabeth, Sam,Vincent, Adam, Karen Sherlock (Pusscat01) and John – The Atos Stories Collective.

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