Tag Archives: ATOS

ATOS, Disabled People and the 2012 London Olympics

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 thierry.breton@atos.net (http://www.ceoemail.com/se.php?id=10159)

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Photos and report from todays Action Against ATOS

15 people joined a demonstration in Birmingham today as a part of a national day of action against ATOS, called by Benefit Claimants Fight Back, and supported by a host of disability and welfare campaign and support groups.
In Birmingham, DPAC, Birmingham Against the Cuts, Right to Work and Enable joined together for a lunchtime demonstration outside the building that ATOS use for the Work Capability Assessments (WCAs).
ATOS rent space on the first floor of Five Ways House to carry out WCAs in Birmingham. The first floor is not wheelchair accessible, so whenever someone who can’t use stairs comes to be assessed as to whether they are fit for work, they have to use extra space on the ground floor.
As part of today’s demonstration, activists got into body bags and lay in front of the building, to illustrate the claims that 5 people have committed suicide as a result of the reassessment process that ATOS handle. At our public meeting earlier this month, Sam spoke about the attacks being carried out on disabled people:

they are decimating everything. It’s not about whether I win or lose, it’s about whether I live or die

The ATOS assessments amount to a computer ticklist, and they ignore GPs advice in favour of what the computer says. These assessments are designed to strip benefits away from people.
40% of appeals at which the claimant represents themselves are succesful – this figure rises to 70% when someone is represented.
In addition to the £100m/year payments we make to ATOS, the appeals process costs an estimated £30m-£40m extra.

During the time of the appeal process, claimants do not get benefits, and these appeals have been known to last up to 18months.

The way in which disabled people are treated is disgraceful, and ATOS recently threatened to sue 3 websites which were critical of them, including Carer Watch which provides a vital support network and community for disabled people and carers. This threat resulted in all 3 websites being pulled by their ISPs as a precautionary measure. This is a standard thing for ISPs to do in the UK due to our libel laws and the expense of fighting cases.

Also, ATOS IT were recently handed the contract for the Paralympics, and the ATOS founder and former chair is now on the board of the Paralympic committee. This is a disgraceful insult to British disabled people who suffer so badly at the hands of this company.

You can still take part in today’s online action, or get involved with the fight against the Welfare Reform Bill. There will be future actions in Birmingham as part of national events against ATOS.

To see what else has happened around the UK, the Benefit Claimants Fight Back website is probably the best place to go.

DPAC have collected links from some of the demos here and here.
Additionally, 2 activists were arrested in Nottingham. One of the arrestees is a wheelchair user, and the police do not have a wheelchair accessible van, so they had to charge and bail him on the spot. The other activist was released later on that evening. Hopefully the charges will be dropped quickly.


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National Day of Action Against ATOS – Friday 30th Sept

My DLA was stolen

Photo by Lisy Babe on Flickr

Friday, September 30
Everywhere!
In Birmingham from 12noon-2pm. There will be a demonstration and leafleting outside of Five Ways House, Islington Row (by Five Ways train station). ATOS use part of this building to carry out their work assessments, but most of the building is used by DWP. We will also leaflet five ways train station, and may move into the city centre later if the people who are present feel that would be a better place to be.

Invite people to the Facebook event to let them know this is happening.

We have written previously about ATOS, before the previous week of action, so read why you should come on this protest in this post. Those of you who have attended our public meetings will have heard disabled people speak about the attacks this government are making on them, and the role ATOS plays within that. Anyone who heard Sam speak at our meeting earlier this month will know how important it is to support this event.
That is why we have teamed up with DPACand Enable (a University based disability campaigning group) to organise this demonstration.

Stop Atos mugging disabled people

Photo by Lisy Babe on Flickr - click photo for gallery

For some more information about ATOS which has occurred since my previous post, read this post from Benefit Claimants Fightback, which I am reproducing. There are actions happening all around the UK, so if you are reading this and want to do something, there might be something local to you – or you could join the online actionand prepare yourself for the next day of action.

 

Take Action Against Atos Origin and the Poverty Pimps on the 30th September 2011.

We aren’t going anywhere!

Click for the Facebook Event for the National Action

Atos Origin have £300 million contract with the Con-dem Government to continue carrying out ‘work capability assessments’.

It is claimed assessments are to test what people can do rather than what they can’t. The real purpose is to strip benefits from as many people as possible.

This testing system has already led to people with terminal illnesses and severe medical conditions being declared fit for work and having benefits cut. GP’s are ignored in favour of decisions made by Atos Origin’s computer.

Plans announced for the scrapping of Disability Living Allowance have also revealed that this intrusive testing is likely to be extended to everyone on some form of disability or health related benefit.

To date around 40% of appeals against Atos Origin’s decisions have been successful. [DPAC say that up to 70% of appeals in which people are represented have been successful.]

Atos have now extended their harassment of sick and disabled by using legal threats to silence websites which have been critical of them

Organise and take action on the 30th September! Please list details in the comments below or email notowelfarecuts@yahoo.co.uk and we’ll try maintain a list here.

A list of Atos Origins locations can be found here

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National Week of Action against ATOS

Stop Atos mugging disabled people

Photo by Lisy Babe on Flickr - click photo for gallery

Not heard of ATOS?  They are the private company the government awarded a £300million contract to re-test people claiming Incapacity Benefit (IB).

My DLA was stolen

Photo by Lisy Babe on Flickr

ATOS have an appalling record of handling the re-assessments.  70% of claimaints with representation have their benefits restored on appeal – but this can take up to a year.  Which means someone who is unable to work needs to find a way to live without any money.  For a year.

This does, however, give the right wing press plenty of opportunities to demonise those who claim disability benefit as scroungers, by only quoting the figures of people removed on assessment, ignoring the huge number who have their benefits restored.

In case you are in any doubt of the harshness of ATOS reassessments, or the effect that it can have, it was reported earlier this week that 3 people have died whilst waiting for their appeals.

Benefit Claimants Fight Back – one of the groups behind the week of demonstrations says this about ATOS:

It is claimed assessments are to test what people can do rather than what they can’t. The real purpose is to strip benefits from as many people as possible.

This testing system has already led to people with terminal illnesses and severe medical conditions being declared fit for work and having benefits cut. GP’s are ignored in favour of decisions made by Atos Origin’s computer.

Plans announced for the scrapping of Disability Living Allowance have also revealed that this intrusive testing is likely to be extended to everyone on some form of disability or health related benefit.

If you are feeling disgusted, sick or angry at the treatment that disabled people are getting at the hands of this government, then remember that we are all in it together, and whether you are disabled or not, take action!

In Birmingham there are two events taking place.  On Thursday 12th May, Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) and Right to Work have a public meeting, at 7pm at the Unison Offices, 19th Floor McClaren Tower, Priory Queensway, Birmingham, B4 7NN.  Linda Burnip (DPAC), Polly Polly Sweeney (the solicitor from Irwin Mitchell who has just won a case preventing Birmingham City Council changing eligibility criteria for care funding)

Then on Friday May 13th at noon outside Waterstones bookshop opposite bull statue in Bullring centre join them for leafleting and street theatre ‘ The Computer Says NO’ an adaptation of a Brighton Benefit Campaign play.

There are other events happening all around the UK, and a list can be found on the Benefit Claimants Fightback page. On twitter, follow @ClaimantProtest

If you are unable to make one of these protests, then you can join the virtual protest – Facebook Event for further information.  On twitter, follow @VirtualResistan

The virtual protest took place on the first national days of action, designed around the needs of disabled people who are not able to join protests on the streets, either for reasons of their disability or because they cannot afford to travel to a protest, but of course it is open to anyone with internet access to join.

After ATOS is a site given over to collecting the true facts, statistics and experience of disabled people going through and being assessed by Atos Healthcare through their ESA Medical Assessments.  You should go and sign their petition now.  They are also collecting information from disabled people about how their re-assessments have been handled, and although there are currently not too many replies, you should have a look at the results if you are in any doubt about ATOS’ suitability for such a contract.

Edited to add – in a comment on this blog post, After ATOS have said:

the earlier results come from last month before we developed out web site and was able to promote our survey effectively with current survey completions coming in thick and fast, (we are averaging over 2,000 hits a day on our web site after just over a week), and the results we are receiving bear out the earlier results we have published on our web site

I will leave the final words to Eleanor from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC):

While many of you here today may think that what happens to disabled people is of little interest to you it’s important for everyone to realise that most disabled people have acquired an impairment  due to illness, accident, or old age., so helping us to fight for our rights and not be reliant on charity could help you or someone you care about in the future.

What I believe we all share in common however is that we are all being attacked by this millionaire government and that we have to fight for our futures together.

The national week of action is supported by:

o Armchair Army
o Anti-Benefit Cuts Glasgow
o Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign
o Brighton Benefits Campaign
o Bristol & District Anti-Cuts Alliance (BADACA)
o Cardiff’s Unemployed Daytime Disco
o Carer Watch
o Claimants Fightback
o Crippen – Disabled Cartoonist
o Defend Glasgow Services Campaign
o Diary of a Benefit Scrounger
o Disabled People Against Cuts
o Dundee Unemployed Workers
o East Lancs Right to Work
o Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty (ECAP)
o Free London Listings
o Goldsmiths in Occupation
o Haringey Solidarity Group
o Ipswich Unemployed Action
o Islington Deaf and Disabled People Against Cuts
o Islington Hands Off Our Public Services (IHOOPS)
o Islington Poverty Action
o John McDonnell, MP
o Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group
o Lancaster and Morecambe Against the Cuts
o London Autistic Rights Movement
o Liverpool Solidarity Federation
o London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP)
o London Foodbank
o Mad Pride
o Medway Against The Cuts
o Mental Health Resistance Network
o Milton Keynes Coalition of Resistance
o Norfolk Community Action Group
o Nottingham Claimants’ Union
o Nuneaton Against Benefit Cuts
o Nurses Against Atos
o Oxford Save Our Services
o Plymouth Claimants Union
o Right To Work Campaign
o Save Our Services in Reading
o Single Mothers’ Self-Defence
o Squattastic
o Social Work Action Network (SWAN)
o Torbay & District Anti-Cuts Alliance
o Tyne and Wear Coalition of Resistance
o Tyneside Claimants Union
o UNITE Scottish Housing Associations Branch
o Welfare Action Hackney
o Welfare Rights 4 u (UK)
o West Yorkshire Solidarity Federation
o Where’s the Benefit?
o WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)
o Work Programme & Flexible New Deal Scandal
o World Homeless Day

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