bigleyma is thinking…

Archive for July 2011

A Very Tangled Web

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Well, well. This one has it all really. Aylward, Unum’s influence on the DWP.


Mansel Aylward.
In 2005 he was elected to the new Health Honors Committee,
designed to make the system more transparent. Given the much publicised
emphasis on the need for “transparency” within all Government departments,

“One again has to ask how it can be acceptable for a “policymaker”
at the head of a Government Department clearly to have had such close involvement with an insurance company like UNUM whilst he was advising Government and formulating policy,”


More than this, we can see the future of Mansel Aylward’s preferred delivery service, as in his own words,

“By incorporating the Biopsychosocial Model into disability
assessment, we can identify critically important information on
obstacles to recovery, which in many cases can be tackled by an
integrated package of support such as that offered in the Pathways to
Work pilots and as provided by UnumProvident’s Claims
Management and Rehabilitation Services.


Written by bigleyma

July 31, 2011 at 12:53 am

Open Letter from Dame Anne Begg to Chris Grayling

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Chris Grayling gave evidence to the Select Committe Hearing on the WCA that the government (and specifically, he) has no intention to paint ESA claimants as ‘scroungers’ or ‘malingerers’, and that he was ‘bemused’ at what the tabloids made of statistical releases on ESA.  However on the very day that the Committee released its report criticising Atos and the WCA the government release yet another set of statistics which resulted in the Daily Mail headlining with: “The shirking classes: just 1 in 14 incapacity benefit claimants is unfit to work”.


Anne Begg, Chair of Committe has now written the above open letter to Mr. Grayling

“When we took evidence from you in this inquiry, you stressed that the Government had played no part in feeding negative media stories about benefit claimants. You made clear that the Government could not control the editorial approach of the tabloids but said that you had had “a number of conversations with people in the media about the need for care in this area”.

I don’t think it too extreme to interpret this re-offending as contempt on the government’s part for the Select Committee, or at the very least shows disrespect for parliamentary procedure.



Written by bigleyma

July 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Posted in General

Terminally ill Mr. B’s story

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“I have paid 30 years tax and NI. I assumed the word “insurance” meant something. I assumed the state could be trusted. I was wrong; caveat some excellent and honourable MPs, Lords and others.

I decided, where possible, to communicate in written form and publish extracts so that others can learn from my experience.

I am stoical to accept the decisions of a state which may decide that due to my condition I am of no further use and is not willing to provide me with assistance. It is the hypocrisy of a state to claim to provide assistance and then deny assistance by subterfuge that upsets me. Yes I am old fashioned, I believe in the honour code and I believe the state has a duty to all. People look after each other because it is right to do so.”


Mr B. has a brain tumour. His website contains a comprehensive account of his dealings with ATOS.

It also contains Mrs. S’s full research report which she undertook as a retired health professional to identify what she suspected to be evidence of unacceptable clinical practice by Atos Healthcare medical staff.

Her full report is here:


15. “NO CLINICAL SUPERVISION: Everyone, from Ministers down to the lowest administrator, has been convinced that this evaluation system with this private contractor is closely monitored and so the general public are constantly reassured. In reality, the only monitoring is by basic administrators who invite an opinion from the company, which they then forward to the enquirer. There is no clinical supervision whatsoever. The Correspondence Manager simply repeats verbatim anything advised by the company, and dismisses any concerns re clinical accuracy, as he is totally unqualified to investigate. The Decision Makers simply repeat anything advised by AH staff. This isn’t supervision it’s adoration, and anything reported by this private company will be accepted by the DWP totally and without challenge. This complete lack of any independent clinical supervision of this company’s medical practice is a dangerous precedent and unknown in any other clinical situation.”


Written by bigleyma

July 26, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Who’s Cheating Who? 3rd part

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Just a little note on these clips. They are wrongly labelled, as i found out when I actually watched them rather than impulsively linking to them. This is actually the middle part, with ‘part 2’ being the end. Doesn’t make much difference to the content, but thought i would point it out.

Written by bigleyma

July 26, 2011 at 10:43 am

Who’s Cheating Who? 2nd part

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At 02:29 Narrator:

“Testing ESA claimants is not Atos’ only job. It also does staff medical assessments for the civil service.
And I’ve come across a case which suggests that an Atos medical conclusion about a patient can differ markedly depending upon who the client is.

Vikki Bell …was a benefits adviser for the DWP and she has ME. “

Vikki had been assessed by Atos in their capacity as Occupational Health Assessors employed by the DWP to judge whether staff suffering absence through illness should be supported/adapted to so that they could continue to work or should be forced to leave. They found Vikki’s illness (ME) was severe enough that termination of employment was justified. Vikki did not want to leave the job she had done for 15 years. Three weeks later,  subjected to the Work Capability Assessment administered by Atos, she scored no points at all, finding her fit for work.

“Vikki couldn’t understand how on one hand ATOS said she was too ill for her desk job yet on the other she was told she was perfectly fit to work and her benefits were cut.
We asked Atos about this. It said that these were two  different types of assessment with different objectives and criteria.”

Written by bigleyma

July 26, 2011 at 10:35 am

Who’s Cheating Who? BBC Scotland Report

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Written by bigleyma

July 26, 2011 at 9:23 am

Posted in ATOS Healthcare

Written evidence submitted by Professor Paul Gregg (House of Commons)

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“Concerns with the WCA test emerged in late 2009-early 2010 with strong reports of major problems, especially around individuals with cancer, mental health problems and variable conditions. It also emerged that a huge number of cases were going to appeal, jamming the system, and often being overturned. The Government responded with changes to address these issues, but there were no subsequent checks that the problems had been dealt with. In fact, the cries of anguish continued unabated.”

“…it is clearly essential to track the progress of those denied access to the new benefit, especially among those previously claiming Incapacity Benefits, to study what is happening to them. Are they moving to JSA, getting jobs or suffering acute deprivation without any financial support?”

“The process seems to have been characterised by undue haste, a lack of testing and immediate assessment. It may be that this derives from a view that those denied benefit will be healthy and undeserving of support, rather than emphasising the risk of vulnerable people being treated inappropriately. This has become an interactive process of changes being followed by a chorus of complaints, revision, a wait to see if complaints diminish, and further revision when they don’t. The current national roll out will not be the end regime but just the latest iteration in my view. This is no way to introduce such a fundamental reform affecting so many vulnerable people.”

March 2011

Written by bigleyma

July 26, 2011 at 8:41 am

Author’s suicide ‘due to slash in benefits’

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Author’s suicide ‘due to slash in benefits’ – News.

Article in The Scotsman about Paul Reekie who committed suicide last year. Though he suffered from a bad heart condition he had seen his Incapacity Benefit and consequently his Housing Benefit terminated. As he had left out the two letters that informed him of this, it is quite explicit that he intended people to draw the conclusion that this was a major motivation for him ending his life.

Anyone who has had the experience of undergoing a WCA while sick, receiving ATOS prevalent ‘judgement’ of nil points, designating them ‘fit’ and immediately having all benefits terminated will understand exactly how Paul had come to be:

“a victim of this policy and found he simply couldn’t take it any more.”

Written by bigleyma

July 25, 2011 at 10:36 am

Atos case study: Larry Newman

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Atos case study: Larry Newman | Society | The Guardian.

Larry Newman suffered from a degenerative lung condition. Given the fact that he died only months after his assessment by ATOS the degree of his illness should have been evident to anyone, let alone a ‘Health Care Professional’. ATOS claims that their HCP’s are specially trained in disability, prioritising their judgement over that of consultants, GPs and other specialist medical professionals. But Larry was found ‘fit for work’.

His widow, Sylvia Newman, recalls that one of the last things he said to her, as doctors put him on a ventilator, was: “It’s a good job I’m fit for work.” He was trying to make her laugh, she says, but it was also a reflection of how upset he had been by the conclusion of the medical test.

It doesn’t take much research on the internet to come up with a connection between lung problems and work that involves wood. One aspect is Wood Dust:

“Respiratory system effects due to wood dust exposure include decreased lung capacity and allergic reactions in the lungs.”

A second aspect that would be significant in Mr Newman’s case is the formaldehyde and other VOCs that are given off from the glues used in wood veneers:

“[F]ormaldehyde from cabinets, shelves, wood-veneer furniture, laminated flooring, floor underlayments, paneling, and doors made of particleboard, hardwood plywood, and medium density fiberboard (MDF). These pressed woods are bonded with resins containing formaldehyde.

The health effects of exposure to formaldehyde have been well documented:

“In some people, exposure to formaldehyde vapors, even at very low concentrations, leads to respiratory sensitization resulting in an allergic reaction similar to asthma. This can be triggered at any time, even in individuals who have worked with formaldehyde in the past with no apparent reaction, resulting in shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing and coughing.”

I have discovered, but not yet posted, about the theoretical (ideological) basis for the WCA, that an important aspect of Illness, they assert, is due to the patient’s ‘Beliefs’ and that ‘Work Is Always Good For You’. These ‘academics’ would have had Mr Newman sent back into his workplace. Had he not died first.

Written by bigleyma

July 25, 2011 at 9:01 am

Jack gives himself a plug…

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Just a little fairly humourous aside:

Unum employee Jack McGarry – that’s him giving it the big grin over there >

gives a postive ‘view’ on a Demos Report that recommends the wholesale selling of Income Protection to the ‘squeezed middle’of Britain. A report that he is acknowledged as contributing to. Nowt like giving yourself a little pat on the back is there, Jack?

Jack states that over the next few months UNUM will be

“taking our case to the public to explain the potential Income Protection could have if only more people were covered”.

Let’s hope that people aren’t so easily duped into ‘paying twice’ for their welfare provision. Fear, though, as Demos note, is a very big motivator. And there’s plenty of that around now that Unum and ATOS are having their way with our provision for the sick and disabled.

If you really must his ‘view’ is here:

It contains a link to the Demos Report that he is ‘objectively’ giving his ‘view’ on.

I think perhaps we should all ‘analyse’ material we have contributed to, so that we are never subjected to that nasty negative criticism that is always flying about. Authors could give themselves five star reviews on Amazon, film directors too could wax lyrical about the merits of their latest release, Academics/Experts could approve their own findings… oh no wait that last one is not allowed is it Mr McGarry?

Written by bigleyma

July 23, 2011 at 11:08 pm

Posted in Unum Provident