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While we’re on the subject

Posted on May 21, 2013 by

…of welfare reform, we thought you might like to hear this. It’s a short (four and a half minutes) interview with a doctor formerly employed by Atos Healthcare, broadcast on the Today show on Radio 4 last Thursday. Atos were hired to do this work by Labour, and retained by the Tories and Lib Dems. But you knew that already, right?


If you want to listen to the whole segment, it’s from 20 minutes.

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39 to “While we’re on the subject”

  1. Doug Daniel says:

    We need to become independent so we can stop this inhumane nonsense.

  2. Melissa Murray says:

    I don’t believe most people realise that ATOS was brought in by the Labour Party. 

  3. David Smith says:

    There’s something evil about this whole set up.
    I’m sorry I can’t offer anything intellectually deeper than that but I can see no other reason for the kind of malice that is currently being directed at the most vulnerable people in our island. 
    I pray that the Scottish people can tear themselves away from the malevolent patronage of The City/Westminster next year.
    Perhaps the elite will finally face the wrath of the English people then.

  4. Patronsaintofcats says:

    Absolutely sickening.  I don’t understand why people aren’t marching through the streets in protest of such inhumane practices. Honestly, what will it take to open people’s eyes to what is going on around them?

  5. DMyers says:

    Interesting to have such an insider perspective, and good on the doctor for being prepared to stand up for people.  I think it’s clear that Westminster are not going to deviate from their use of such clearly flawed assessments, and it’s another reason (as if we need any more) to be independent.

  6. Desimond says:

    Sadly for every person saying “What a disgrace” there is someone who hears the “skivers and shirkers” line and is repeating “What a disgrace” with the added “..these people are getting Benefits!” The road really is long and tough and we have to ensure as many people as possible know the truth, know who is behind such schemes and know who supports their expansion let alone just continuing!

  7. Jimbo says:

    I don’t believe most people realise that ATOS was brought in by the Labour Party. 
    Most people I speak to refuse to believe that it was the Labour Party that gave us ATOS. So good has been the Labour Party spin that everyone thinks it must have been the Tories.

  8. Erchie says:

    Atos didn’t just turn up. The parent company got together with Labour in 2001 to draft new policy and practice. The parent company was the American Health Insurance company Unum, who had been banned from working in some US States and had been accused, by one Attorney-General of operating “Disability Denial Factories”
    Oddly enough, Unum started advertising on UK TV last year. With the changes to the NHS & Social Security their market is made

  9. Geoff Huijer says:

    I can only applaud the gentleman (regardless of his politics,
    nationality, wealth etc) for standing up for something he believes
    is inherently wrong. Too many people are unwilling to put their
    head above the parapet like this.

  10. The Man in the Jar says:

    I have twice accompanied a friend to ATOS assessments. I think that we were very lucky to have been twice seen by a GP. The one in Kirkcaldy was I think a retired GP and was very decent indeed. My cousin’s husband was seen by a “health care worker” (again in Kirkcaldy) and was granted ESA only after a long appeal where the original report was so easily discredited it would have been laughable if it wasn’t such a serious matter.
    Staggering to think that such a vital service can be such a lottery. I hope and expect that ATOS will be shown the door very shortly after independence.

  11. Tris says:

    With it being Labour’s idea, carried forward by the Tories and the whatsits, there is simply no opposition to this inhumanity, except what are only minority parties in the Westminster parliament whose votes alone mean nothing.
    I always understood that a decent society agreed that it should pay a little more to people who were ill, and who, because of this illness, would not be able to find anyone to employ them (as opposed to not be able to do any work at all).
    There are people who could, and would, gladly work, but because of their symptoms will never be given the chance, because employing them would be too much of a risk for the company and for them.
    A friend of mine, a woman of 30, with the kind of epilepsy that gives no warning at all before a seizure, and who has two degrees, cannot get a job because she would put herself and other people at risk if she suddenly collapsed while at work. Fortunately she is married to someone who can comfortably support her, so for her the problem of having to deal with Atos does not exist. Not everyone is so lucky. 
    No wonder there are very few real doctors working for Atos. Health care professionals is the title given to their examiners. Most doctors would surely refuse this kind of work. I’m surprised anyone is prepared to take it on.
    I hope it will disappear in an independent Scotland and we will turn our attention to trying to find protected environment employment for sick people who wish to work… like Remploy.

  12. Tris says:

    Man in a Jar: 2:06
    One of the problems with the appeal service is that it takes a long time and involves a lot of work. For those who are very sick and have little or no support, it is a daunting task, which will have to be repeated in a year’s time in any case.
    No wonder some people just give up and subject themselves to the Jobcentre’s useless “assistance”, which only today we are told has very little chance of succeeding, or in some tragic cases, take their own lives.

  13. Doug says:

    Above link shows that not only were Labour the instigator, they were also sufficiently satisfied to renew in 2005.

  14. joe kane says:

    The DWP’s ESA Employment and Support Allowance regime is an unscientific and unethical medical human rights atrocity. The situation is so bad that Amnesty International UK has now stepped in and taken up the case against the government and medical establishment abuses against the whole of the long-term patient community f the UK.

    There is not a shred of proper peer reviewed medical science behind the ESA regime, all of which consists of quack biopsychosocial baloney confected by the Aylward-Wessely school of disability denial. These quack Whitehall academic medical mandarins have for years been working for the interests of private medical insurance companies and powerful government departments of state to invent plausible excuses to deny chronically sick and disabled patients access to medical insurance pay-outs, war pensions for Gulf War Syndrome veterans, social security benefits for the likes of ME sufferers as well as many other targeted disabled patient groups.

    Now the disability deniers for hire ideas have been adopted as the official ideology of the DWP. One only needs to look up the medical references provided by the DWP to justify its unethical iatrogenic ESA regime to confirm this or just listen to any IDS interview where he goes on about disability benefits and undeserving sympathy holding back the disabled. It’s all biopsychosocial codswallop.

    The British medical regulatory and governing bodies are refusing point-blank to investigate the iatrogenic and also in vast numbers of cases, alleged criminal fraud by professional medical staff involved. Despite all the evidence of terror, trauma, harm, increasing ill health and deaths of patients in their care, the GMC (General Medical Council, the NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council) and the CQC (Care Quality Commission) refuse to investigate the DWP and Atos never mind bring the whole rotten ESA to a halt.

    Reference –
    Amnesty International condemns coalition for assault on disabled
    19 Apr 2013 

    According to the DWP’s own statistics, over an 11 month period, 10,600 patients died within 6 weeks of their claim being stopped. The DWP is coy about admitting whether these former chronically sick and disabled patients were found fit for work. This death rate of sick and disabled patients roughly equates to 1,000 per month, 250 a week –
    Incapacity benefits: Deaths of Recipients
    DWP 09 July 2012
    Top page 6 – “In total, between January 2011 and November 2011, some 10,600 claims ended and a date of death was recorded within six weeks of the claim end.”

  15. Doug says:

    And it is fair to say, as a GP, the whole process is arbitrary, illogical and frustrating for our patients (and us).
    Literally as stupid as saying to someone who has no use of their dominant arm “you have two” and expecting  them to do manual work.sUccessful appeal rates v high, strangely…

  16. Robert Bryce says:

    Patronsaintofcats says:
    21 May, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Absolutely sickening.  I don’t understand why people aren’t marching through the streets in protest of such inhumane practices. Honestly, what will it take to open people’s eyes to what is going on around them?
    Their too busy stuffing their faces with shitey BOGOF’s whilst watching dancing dogs, talentless wannabe pop stars and relentless propaganda on the BBC to notice.

    Exactly where Westminster would like all of us 🙂

  17. Frazer Allan Whyte says:

    There is no excuse for claiming ignorance about these things. When terminally ill Ama Sumani was dragged from her bed and sent back “home” to die it was denounced in the Lancet and there was much tut-tutting and a handround to pay for her medication – apparently she died a day after being told that the money had been collected and she might have less pain and a little while longer with her family. Recently the same might of English law was directed against a transplant patient who would have been left with no access to anti-rejection drugs. Her deportation was blocked by some court or another (maybe a European one?).

    The worst was the reaction to these perfectly legal decisions. In the case of Ama Sumani the representative speaking bureaucrat responsible for the case made an apparent claim that they the perpetrators were the victims! It just went to show, she said, how difficult it was for her and people in her position to make such difficult decisions. On receiving news of the transplant patient receiving a stay of deportation/execution, those responsible expressed disappointment at the result and muttered about appealing. Then there was the “looter” with a history of mental and physical health problems – who helped himself to a gingerbread man froman already looted bakery during the English riots and received a sentence of a year in prison -which ended up killing him.

    A century and a half ago he would have had a chance at least of be “rehabilitated through labour” in Australia instead. As a Christian I have always believed that when we do such things  – or condone them by being silent about them – we bring ourselves under severe judgement. If Scotland doesn’t cut loose from the millstone dragging the southward place down to the depths she will deserve the fate in store for her – but the poor, the old, the in any way weak who are already starting to be abused will not. How can any decent human being keep silent in the face of this? Forget bandying around with words like fascist, capitalist or any other such shibboleth – simple decency should tell us this is wrong wrong wrong and something needs to be done about it.

        Scotland has a chance to become a place where compassion is not considered a weakness but there are things that cannot wait till 2014 – something needs to be done now.

  18. ianbrotherhood says:

    re Joe Kane’s post @ 2.20 –
    I’m probably not the only one for whom a lot of this is new and truly shocking – can Joe Kane’s post become a supplementary to this article/interview so that it isn’t missed by those who don’t have time to scroll through every thread? It’s too important to be lost.

  19. The Man in the Jar says:

    @Frazer Allan Whyte
    Great comment well said!

  20. joe kane says:

    For those who want some follow up reading on the history and development of the neoliberal disability denial ideology by the Whitehall academic medical-welfare mandarin class, below are a few references and sources. Also try the wonderful and very influential Edinburgh-based Black Triangle Campaign and its sister organisation DPAC, Disabled People Against Cuts, (both have their own very lively and very supportive websites, Facebooks and Twitter accounts).

    New Labour and the end of welfare 
    by Jonathan Rutherford
    25 Apr 2007
    llness as ‘Deviance’, Work as Glittering Salvation and the ‘Psyching-up’ of the Medical Model: Strategies for Getting The Sick ‘Back To Work’ 
    by Gill Thorburn
    International Green Socialist
    Jan 2012
    A Tale of two Models: Disabled People vs Unum, Atos, Government and Disability Charities
    by Debbie Jolly
    08 Apr 2012

    Here is the website of Mo Stewart who is a bit of a legend in her dogged one-person pursuit and research on Unum, Atos and the DWP – 
    DWP ESA Medical Examinations
    Here is ME Action UK website which contains shedloads of research and analysis, going back decades, on the British medical academic mandarin collusion in the destruction of the welfare state for the long-term sick and disabled patient community of the UK – 

  21. Erchie says:

    I’ve been involved with helping someone with their ESA claims and WCAs (and apoeals) and Joe Kane is spot on.
    Expect Atos to use fewer doctors as the BMA insists Doctors conducting WCAs have a duty to the claimant as patient. The “Health Care professionals” are usually nurses or physios with no experience of what the patient is going through

  22. Randomscot says:

    Here is an article I wrote 2years ago after the Herald ran a bullshit article about Benefit Claimants. Still true today

  23. Braco says:

    joe kane,
    thanks for all that. Something I have been meaning to get up to speed on for too long now but have found the subject so soul destroying that I have always found something else to research. You have made this difficult and depressing subject as easy as is possible to get to grips with.  Thanks again for your hard work and all the links. 

  24. CameronB says:

    I’ve my Atos interview shortly.
    Vote Yes and say No to contract killers.

  25. CameronB says:
    21 May, 2013 at 11:17 pm
    I’ve my Atos interview shortly.
    Good luck!

  26. CameronB says:

    @ HoraceSaysYes
    Thanks, they’ll need it. 🙂

  27. Erchie says:

    take a witness, remember everything, prepare for your appeal

  28. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “take a witness, remember everything, prepare for your appeal”

    This. Ideally ask for it to be officially recorded (I believe you have the right to, but check with someone who knows what they’re talking about), if nothing else it might delay them for weeks or months.

  29. Adrian B says:

    @ CameronB,

    Thanks, they’ll need it. 
    Thats the spirit

  30. CameronB says:

    Thanks all. I’ll definitely take a witness, though I hope there won’t be any unforeseen problems. I have some pretty heavy weight support if they have quotas to fill on the day my number is up.
    Remember, Non illegitimis carborundum. Hope I remembered to conjugate the verb correctly. 🙂

  31. Erchie says:

    THEORETICALLY you have the right to have it recorded. Though Atos claim that they never have the equipment.
    They used to insist that if you recorded it yourself you had to have a professional sound engineer with a deck that recorded to two CDs simultaneously. In other words an expensive set-up that is far stricter than the cops need to in criminal interviews
    Atos have an out. If they cannot provide the recording equipment it is not a reason to delay the WCA though IN THEORY, if it is postponed the claimant should not be blamed. Im Theory.

    Anyone who knows about these things know that this is like the Milgram experiment. Atos say “Not us guv, responsibility lies with the DWP.” The DWP say “Well, Atos employ health professionals, so they must know what is right” so both sides abrogate responsibility for shafting the sick
    A blog last year is of interest

    As is this response to an FOI

  32. fordie says:

    Yip. Work in a ‘clinical’ environment. Clinician friend, from overseas, who is now assessing ‘fitness for work’ told me that he can’t believe this is ‘Great Britain’. I don’t know who was more distressed – me or him. Silly. Him, of course. 

  33. Erchie says:

    This article by Jon Rutherford is a good one for realising how this was cooked up between private industry, New Labour and folk with Tory contacts

  34. Desimond says:

    For The new PIP scheme, in Scotland, ATOS have sub-contracted the testing to an NHS Lanarkshire service – which is under the political remit of the SNP Scottish Government. Who will be accountable now?

  35. Braco says:


    Remember though, just one landed punch will prove to them that you could and easily should be world champion at your chosen weight (smily). So keep those hands in yer pockets! Or else be sure not to take that witness. (wink)

    Goodluck min!

  36. joe kane says:

    Salus NHS Lanarkshire which seems to have went out of its way to win the PIP assessment sub-contract from Atos, who was awarded the main DWP contract despite its deplorable record , fully buys into the disability denial biopsychosocial ideology beloved of neoliberals everywhere. Salus is whole-heartedly endorsed by the princess of darkness herself, Dame Carol Black, the main Whitehall academic medical mandarin trying to introduce an ESA-Atos type disability and sickness denial service for workers. 

    I hope the SNP and Scottish Government and the Holyrood establishment are aware of this right-wing ideological threat to Scotland’s sick and disabled community which is being imported from Whitehall which isn’t just affecting access to social security benefits. I’ve heard rumours that some Special Advisers and civil servants in Edinburgh are promoting this biopsychosocial approach wherever they get an opportunity. A hospital in Edinburgh recently began a service for ME sufferers based on this failed and discredited pseudo-science.

    Black Triangle Campaign Statement in response to the news that AtoS has sub-contracted Salus to carry out PIP assessments across Scotland under N.H.S. Lanarkshire’s auspices 
    10 Oct 2012 

    Atos to Sub-Contract PIP Contract Back to NHS!
    the void
    10 Oct 2012 

  37. Erchie says:

    @Joe Kane
    Bugger. That is against the guidelines to the GPs and medical profession which make it bloody straightforward. As per World Health Organisation guidelines ME, for example, is a neurological condition.
    If they are pulling this then the Cabinet Secretary for Health should be prodded. Perhaps you could send an FoI his way, or get your MSP to do it That should start something

  38. joe kane says:

    Thanks Erchie.
    Sorry its taken a few days to reply to your well-informed comment.

    A friend of mine described ME sufferers as “the canaries in the mines” for this neoliberal biopsychosocial disability denial ideology given they were used as guinea pigs in its development and implementation. It is now adopted and practised as official policy by a number of British government departments of state such as the Ministry of Defence who use it to deny Gulf War Syndrome veterans their war pensions, and the DWP use it to deny the all long-term patients of the UK access to social security benefits.

    As I say, there are many worrying signs that the Holyrood establishment is being deliberately targeted by Whitehall lobbyists and supporters of biopsychosocial neoliberal disability denial ideology. Only a few months ago the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on M.E. was deliberately destroyed by its own Convener, Mary Fee MSP, because the grassroots patients and representatives of the CPG on ME refused to be bullied by her and instead voted in a landslide majority to reject her attempts to include biopsychosocial ideology in the remit of the group. I’m sorry to say that pharmaceutical lobbyist and SNP MSP Jim Eadie seems to have been involved in this anti-democratic and unethical attack on patients and their right to be heard at the heart of Scottish devolved democracy.

    Needless to say, once all grassroots opposition had been eliminated by these Whitehall wolves in sheep’s clothing they held an ME Awareness function at Holyrood, for invited guests only. There is even a Mary Fee SP Motion which MSPs can sign up to about ME awareness. The hypocrisy is nauseating.

    It’s ironic to say the least that at a time when the public spotlight is focussed on the monstrosity of this unethical and unscientific anti-patient ideology like never before, that all patients and members of the public are excluded from Westminster’s All Party Group on ME for daring to publicly correct the propaganda spouted in that forum, and the Scottish Parliament CPG on ME has just been destroyed because grassroots patients and their representatives voted in that public democratic forum in a landslide majority to oppose it.

    References –
    S4M-06598 Mary Fee: ME Awareness week
    Scottish Parliament 

    Positive evening at Parliament M.E. event 
    16 May 2013

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