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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2016-11-04

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

Local News Report  - Mobile Page


Are Disability assessments destroying vulnerable people's lives on Merseyside?

ACCORDING to findings, highlighted on a petition submitted to the UK Government and Parliament's website, 2,380 vulnerable people died shortly after being declared:- 'fit for work' and having their benefits stopped, over December 2011 to February 2014. In the same period, 9,200 people in receipt of ESA were found 'fit to work in future' and died shortly afterwards. These statistics we are told have come from a Freedom Of Information request that was sent to The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This is a shocking bit of information and sadly it appears that this issue could still be happening.  Interestingly this issue was highlighted in national media, like in a feature that The Independent newspaper ran,  in March 2016, when they reported that more than ? of appealed DWP 'fit to work' decisions found to be wrong at tribunal! It is now being said that this controversial assessment might be costing Taxpayers more that if they had not been introduced!

Atos Healthcare exited the contract with Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to deliver Work Capability Assessments (WCA) at the end of February 2015, after a shocking run of errors! Shockingly Disability Rights UK back in 2014 said ATOS was incompetent in administering fit for work tests, yet it still running disability tests!

Over the last few months we have been informed that a few people in Southport and across Merseyside are facing problems with their disability benefits. For example we have been hearing increasing numbers of issues around the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) that has replaced the Disability Living Allowance.  The problems are often associated around these tests that are assessed by people who we are told have no apparent medical qualifications, being able to override medical information from the likes of GPs and Hospitals, called a 'decision maker' or DM. We are told that it is made by a:- "impartial, objective and justified advice" known as a CM's (Claims Managers) who are:- "trained DWP staff who are familiar with the legislation governing PIP, but who do not have a healthcare background." This has in the past lead to some horrific mistakes taking place and is now leading to huge anxiety within disability community.

We are being told that many healthcare and charities see the actual assessments and the whole procedures being imposed on thousands of vulnerable people as totally unnecessary, especially if you take the medical information into account. These tests are often regarded as totally impersonal, intrusive and intimidating. Sadly we have no way of measuring the worry and stress that the letters sent to claimants have on them. That's not even taking into account the often "pointless" procedures that are conducted around the tests?

1 of our readers has said she has not had a decent nights sleep for months now and it is getting worse as she awaits her review findings. This is having a serious affect on her already bad state of health. With stress added on to her already poor mental state, along with her pains, her re-assessment is proving to be a torture for her. What's worse is that according to her consultants and doctors, it's clear she needs the support, so why is the assessment taking place? This state of health has been made clear in her previous claim reviewers... But as she is not terminally ill, she has been told that still has to go through reassessment!

This pressure is leading her into depression and things spiralling out of control as a result. This will result in yet more strain and money lost on the NHS, as they will now have to deal with the problems this assessment has coursed... It's the intrinsic fear that if she losses which is having the terrible effect on her. If she does loose, well that will leave her suffering, with no transport, no cash or help... She said:- "I am told that if my claim is rejected then all my benefits will stop immediately even whilst awaiting my appeal hearing? What am I to do? I have no savings left! The system is unfair." This view is echoed by many disability rights groups. Also most of those affected, like her will not go fully on record, as they are worried what people might think and also about any possible repercussions it might have on their claims.

Recently ATOS have again been under more and more fire, but the blame lies within Government as well. This is more and more apparent after The Cabinet Office, put the controversial outsourcing under review in March 2016.  What is clear is that this vital service is failing and the system needs an overhauled and not just the providers that require looking at! 

 If you have had an assessments for PIP and have any questions or concerns about the outcome of your claim you should contact the DWP on:- 0345 850 3322 or textphone:- 0345 601 6677.   Other advice can be found online via the Government's website and also on the Atos Healthcare website.

If you agree that the UK Government and Parliament should:- "End the Fit For Work tests as not fit for purpose, and investigate 9,580 deaths" please do sign it. You can do this via clicking on this link, but you only have until 1 May 2017 to sign it. Also it must get 10,000 signatures, government will respond and 100,000 signatures to be considered for debate in Parliament! So far its just over 5,500 signatures.

Should Atos be stripped of all of its disability benefit assessment contracts? Are you having issues?  Please let us know your views on this issue via emailing us to:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com and let us know if you have had any assessments.


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Southport Reporter (R) Bourder




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