Ex-Atos Nurse Tells Her Story

Below is the account of a caller to LBC 97.3fm on 27/7/13 to Petrie Hosken.

From LBC - "A caller who claims to be a former nurse at ATOS - the company tasked with assessing people for Disability Living Allowance* by the government - gives Petrie Hosken an uncomfortable insight into how assessments are made."

Nurse: Worst position I ever worked in - more like factory work. Had daily quotas of 26 bundles of files - 18 files of clients to a bundle. I worked on my own on the computer. Results were quantified before started - results were what they predicted.
Nurse: Questioned why can't DWP employ its own nurses & doctors?
Doctors employed by Atos are 95% foreign doctors, who cannot get work in NHS. Others are retired/ semi retired GPs. All doctors are very well paid. Doctors are not allowed to examine patients. Shambolic.
Petrie: Are you surprised by number of Appeals?
Nurse : Not surprised. The result is told to you before you look at the files. Everything is predetermined
Petrie: Are you encouraged to turn clients away from the benefits system?
Nurse: Nurses did the file work - did not meet the patients. Told how many had to be turned down.
If not you had a kind of disciplinary. The doctors did not examine the patients. Nurses and doctors are workers with no regard to their clinical skills. You belong to Atos, who treat their staff horrendously.
Petrie: This is appalling. You have to have Targets?
Nurse: Absolutely
Petrie: You turn people away despite their health conditions?
Nurse: uh huh
Petrie: How does it make you feel?
Nurse: Awful ( She left after 9 months working for Atos, having been a nurse for 30 years)
It is the most unsatisfying job. Joined to make a difference.
Petrie: So decent people leave - replaced by others who need a job and don't have your moral compass?
Nurse: I was told by Deputy Director at the Atos centre, who is a doctor " Sally if you want to work here you'd better throw your principles out the window."
Nurse: Said she left Atos after 9 months, having been a nurse for 30 years.

*Atos currently carry out the Work Capability Assessments on behalf of the Government for Employment and Support Allowance claims and have recently been awarded a contract to assess disabled people for the new Personal Independence Payments. 

Transcript of Audio by @FordCarole [with thanks to @tinkerkitten4 ]
Source: http://www.lbc.co.uk/listen-ex-atos-nurse-tells-her-story-75493


Why ‘Cumulative’ Is So Important

As many political observers and analysts will tell you, it is very rare that announcements from political parties or Members of Parliament come unannounced. In the age of internet rumours, blogs and news delivered in 140 characters on Twitter, it is extremely rare that people are surprised. But surprised is exactly how disability and Social Security campaigners were left feeling this past Friday when Liam Byrne, Labour MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, announced out of the blue that Labour would have an Opposition Day debate on the effect of government policy and disabled people next Wednesday (tomorrow, July 10).
They will also table the following motion: "that this House believes that the Government should publish, by October 2013, a cumulative impact assessment of the changes made by the government that affect disabled people."
For some time now, various disability rights campaigners and groups have been campaigning tirelessly to highlight how disabled people have been affected by social security changes as well as the more general austerity cuts. Groups such as Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC), the We Are Spartacus campaign who published the Responsible Reform report, and theCentre for Welfare Reform amongst many others.
I am also proud to be a member of the WOW Campaign team, led by Francesca Martinez, who have called for a cumulative impact assessment as one of our main aims in a petition on the government’s e-petition website. Needless to say we all welcome this Opposition Day debate and I hope that the coalition government will realise how important this debate is.
From my own point of view, and my own personal opinion, I am shocked that it has taken almost 3 years to get to this point and more importantly I am horrified that the government will impose these cuts without first doing a cumulative impact assessment.
It is the duty of a responsible government to ensure that the impact of any changes they make is first fully investigated before implementation.

Source: http://ow.ly/i/1LkeC/original from research by Demos.
But to understand why the “cumulative" bit is so important we need to point out just how many changes have been made since the coalition formed this government in May 2010. Many of the changes that affect disabled people are contained in the Welfare Reform Act 2012. These include the "spare room subsidy" or bedroom tax as it is more commonly known, replacing Council Tax benefit with Council Tax Support which generally meant disabled people had to pay a proportion of their council tax bill, replacing Disability Living Allowance with Personal Independence Payments, introduction of Universal Credit, changes to the Social Fund, the introduction of a Benefits Cap, and reforms to Employment Support Allowance (ESA). A full list can be seen here.
Anyone with even a tiny bit of sense can see that that’s a lot of changes that even a fit and healthy person would struggle to deal with. Add in chronic and debilitating pain, or an illness that you struggle with on a daily basis, or any other physical or mental problem and having to deal with all those cuts becomes nigh on impossible. Take my situation for example – I currently live with my wife in a very small two-bedroom bungalow. I struggle with severe mobility problems and chronic pain on a daily basis, which is exhausting and very difficult to deal with. I have already been affected by the bedroom tax, council tax support, the restriction of increase in benefits by 1% (despite government assurances that disabled people would not be affected), and the changes to ESA. There is still Universal Credit and changing to PIP to come, whilst also dealing with Atos medicals as and when they deem fit. I am terrified of not only the next few months but the next few years as all the changes come into effect.
That is why cumulative is so very important.
In response to the WOW Petition once it had reached 10,000 signatures, the government said this: Cumulative impact analysis is not being withheld – it is very difficult to do accurately… The government is limited in what cumulative analysis is possible because of the complexity of the modelling required…” Of course that begs the question that if it is so difficult to do a cumulative impact assessment surely that shows that the changes are far too complex. Interestingly, the coalition government boasted that they have pioneered cumulative impact assessments. Mark Hoban, Conservative MP for Fareham and the Minister for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), said on July 5: The Government regularly produces analysis of the cumulative impact of all coalition changes, including working-age benefits, on households across the income distribution. This information is published at every Budget and other major fiscal events, in the interests of transparency. He went on to say,"the publication of cumulative impacts is a coalition initiative and was not produced by the previous administration."
If that is the case then why are they refusing to do or publish the cumulative impact assessments on the effects of this on disabled people?
For me, they can be no more excuses. The coalition government have a duty and an obligation to ensure that every single changes they make is investigated fully. They have a duty to ensure that disabled people get the support that they desperately need. It is also vitally important that the government realise that a majority of people in this country actually support an increase in support for disabled people.
A Cumulative Impact Assessment into the changes made by this government that affect disabled people MUST be done.
A big thanks to Sue Marsh’s blog for information and quotes, and the Centre for Welfare Reform for invaluable information. Oh, and a big thanks to Laura Blackburn and WOWPetition’s very own Jane for listening to me babble on about this.

Briefing on #CiaDisability #MakeRightsReality: Dr Simon Duffy

Date: Wednesday 10 July 2013

Motion: ”That this House believes that the Government should publish, by October 2013, a cumulative impact assessment of the changes made by the Government that affect disabled people.”
Edward Miliband                   Liam Byrne
Hilary Benn                           Mrs Anne McGuire
Andy Burnham                      Ms Rosie Winterton
You will be able to watch live on the day on Parliament TV
Pat’s Petition, the WOW Petition and campaigners have been calling for this debate for many months. 
Dr Simon Duffy, Director of the Centre for Welfare Reform, has produced a briefing for the debate:


#CiaDisability on Big Wednesday, July 10 Contact Your MP

Pat's Petition welcome this debate on Wednesday 10th July 2013 regarding 'The effect of Government Policies on Disabled People.' Over 62,000 people signed Pat's Petition calling for this debate. And 48,905 people have now signed the WOW Petition . Please add your name if not already done so and then share asking as many others to do the same. ( 5 months remaining ). We, along with many others, have continuously asked the government to conduct a Cumulative Impact Study to assess the cumulative effects of the myriad of changes in policy falling on disabled people and carers. The government refuses on the grounds that this is too difficult. It is totally irresponsible to conduct an enormous experiment like this on disabled people without attempting to predict or measure the effects on disabled people and carers. It wouldn't be allowed in any kind of building project - so why is it possible to experiment on disabled people without checking that it is safe. With recess 18th July - 2nd Sept, followed by Party conferences 13th Sept to 8th October , this will be one of the last opportunities to get disabled peoples' voices heard for some time. Here at Pat's Petition we will be sending briefing papers to MPs from all parties, but it is vital you contact them too. It is personal stories about how these changes to benefits and services are affecting you and your families, that they need hear. This will help them understand why a Cumulative Impact Assessment is a necessity.

Actions you can take

  1. Write to your MP and ask them to back the motion. Contact your MP via this link Here’s the motion in full:  
That this House believes that the Government should publish a cumulative impact assessment of the changes made by this Government that affect disabled people (to be published by October 2013).
Ask them to attend and speak on your behalf 2. Watch the debate live on the day using this link 3. Share the information with all your friends, family, work colleagues, local media.   4. Don't forget to use social media to raise awareness of this Disability debate. Share the details on Facebook, and if you use Twitter we will be using the hashtag #CiaDisability   Times are hard for everyone, employment, housing, cost of living - are problems for us all. We are all supposed to be in this together. But disabled people are not in this together because they often have far fewer options.

Support disabled people on Wednesday