The olympic torch comes through Birmingham tomorrow (30th June), and today we have a guest post by Linda from Disabled People Against Cuts:
One might be forgiven for wondering just why and how ATOS ( ‘Licensed to Kill Disabled People’ by the Condems) and the corporate butchers of Bhopal Dow are two of the most prominent Olympic sponsors. How can such odious corporations be given worldwide publicity and credibility?
In exchange for lucrative payments from the government ATOS happily continue to hound and harass disabled people into even further poverty and to drive many to suicide.
Over 1 million disabled people, many too ill to work face losing their benefits or have already lost them. If you become ill or disabled in the future this could happen to you, even if you’ve worked and paid National Insurance contributions most of your life.
People with life-threatening illnesses, some with terminal cancer, and mental health conditions live in fear of their forthcoming ATOS assessments acknowledged as totally flawed by CAB, McMillan Cancer charity and a host of others. The tick-box computer assessment system takes no account of real life problems people face or the complexity of many long-term illnesses and disabilities. Yet within minutes this process which violates the fundamental medical principle of ‘first do no harm’ can strip disabled people of essential benefits and rob them of their lives.
Real-life horror stories of assessments and outcomes now abound and can be read in papers on an almost daily basis yet still the government refuse to halt or change these vicious tests. Some of the reports are little short of torture. A woman forced to try to walk to prove she couldn’t who fell onto the ground and had to be helped up again crying by her mother. Another woman forced to try to walk down a long corridor also to prove she couldn’t walk. People waiting for major heart surgery or those who have had numerous heart attacks killed by the stress of the assessments and being told they are fit to work.
A Grimsby Fisherman suffering from horrendous blood clots and open ulcers and struggles to walk who has been told by specialists at two hospitals he would be risking his life if he went back to work lost his disability benefits.
A more recent case is that of a Dundee man found fit to work who is deaf, blind and tube-fed and who needs 24 hour care. How could anyone with such profound impairments be found fit to work?
Yet this is how ATOS treats disabled people.
The BMA Local Medical Committee Conference recently voted unanimously for an end to these notorious Work Capability Assessments as Scottish GPs did earlier this year. Dr Stephen Carty has likened the UK Government’s welfare reform crackdown on disabled people to the “barbarism” of the Nazis.
The cost of these sometimes murderous assessments to the taxpayer are enormous as appeals rocket costing a predicted £50 million in tribunal costs in 2012 alone. The backlog of cases has reached epidemic proportions with tribunals sitting even on Sundays to try to reduce the 10 month backlog of cases. Yet even if a claimant wins their appeal against their assessment, and most do, the treadmill experience of being retested can start again immediately for no justifiable reasons.
As the blood of disabled people continues to drip steadily from the hands of our Olympic sponsors they should hang their heads in shame at the terror they are causing to those who deserve support not victimisation from our welfare state.
If you would like to join us in expressing your disgust at ATOS and its sponsorship of our Olympics then please email their CEO at Thiery Breton at firstname.lastname@example.org (http://www.ceoemail.com/se.php?id=10159)