bigleyma is thinking…

The Work Capability Assessment: A Personal Account

with 2 comments

The following is an account of part of my experience of the WCA which highlights the gap between reality and the report that was produced by Atos’ HCP. I wrote it in response to reading others’ stories at the victimsofatoscorruption blog’s  register of shame: A### the Truth. I must add that I do not publish this lightly, but in order to add to the evidence against this morally repulsive process. I know that it has made me feel better to have read other’s stories.


When I had my WCA I was less than three months out of hospital, and still getting accustomed to the change in my health after two emergency hospitalisations within a month. I had a diagnosis of COPD:Emphysema. The sudden termination of ESA came as a shock and I did not think it was a fair decision, so I appealed. When the copy of the report came I gave it a quick glance, felt ashamed (as I think you are meant to) that I had been judged fit when I claimed not to be, and put it aside. The appeal date was estimated so many months away that I decided to face it later.

Ever since, I have been reading about and discussing the WCA, and from time to time considering how to argue the case for my ill health. I started to do some medical research, as I have academic access at the moment, about the work I had done and its effects on the respiratory system, also authoritative opinion on certain environments and other factors that should be avoided if my condition is not to worsen.

It was only recently in anticipation of my appeal, whose date had been brought closer, that I had the nerve to analyse the HCP‘s report. I have never seen such poor quality work from a supposed ‘professional’ (whom Atos claim has received specialist training in ‘disability analysis’ which makes their opinion superior to that of a GP or consultant). Why I feared that I would be unable to contest it I don’t know. Just that – Fear. It was conducted by a Nurse Maureen Bluer, who I remember being so laid back as to have almost been asleep. But at the time I felt quite unwell, and was not really sharp about things. It was just another ordeal. She was lax, though, and very, very disinterested. It was a strange experience in that respect. She never smiled once, nor I think did she ever really look directly at me. (Guilt, I expect). Which makes it all the more odd that she claimed I was “not breathless on examination”. In fact she uses the word “examination” at least twice without having actually done anything that could be regarded as such.

Her demeanour, however, explains the unseemly number of inconsistencies, discrepancies, misrepresentations, irrelevancies and omissions the ‘report’ contains. Though English, her writing was of a poor standard: Sentences had no punctuation, were badly worded or just plain sloppy. Example 1: “The client is not on ant medication and has not seen a mental health professional” (Ant medication, I should hope not!) Example 2: “The client was unable to breath properly.”

I was further exasperated by: “Lives alone” followed immediately by “Lives with their adult son and daughter”. A fair portion of the ‘report’ was composed of sentences which had no relevance to my condition and I don’t know why she put them, except in an attempt to use anything which discredited my claim to be ill.

Abusively, she had taken a statement I made out of its context, and used it against me: I had explained that a significant bereavement had added to the depression and anxiety that accompanied my illness. (A common co-morbidity to COPD, I have since learned). Six months BEFORE becoming ill I had graduated from university. It had been an awful time as I had also been caring for my cancer stricken brother and he died the month before I graduated. I confided this to her in discussion of my mental health, to indicate some of the source of my anxiety and depression. What she did was to put: “The client states that she has been doing a social science degree she finished this just after her brother died”. So she had removed it from the timescale and used it as evidence of my mental health NOW. The worst thing about that was that it was picked up by the Decision Maker who put, under ‘Coping with Social Situations’: “Has been doing a social science degree. Coped well at interview”.

Regarding the ‘coping well’ I had in fact broken down and spent the last half of the WCA in tears due to talking about my brother. She airbrushed this out of her report stating that I “Behaved normally”. Well I suppose it is ‘normal’ to break down when you’re depressed and anxious and talking about the most traumatic period in your life!

As I have put in my appeal, of even more concern is that the Decision Maker uncritically accepted this poor quality document, without questioning any aspect of it. Worse still, on initiating my appeal, someone on behalf of The Secretary of State had then reviewed *that* and found nothing wrong with it at all.


Written by bigleyma

September 23, 2011 at 11:42 pm

2 Responses

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  1. […] I can’t say I ever intended my blog to contain example after example of outrageous WCA ‘decisions’, or if so I intended to do it in a much more scholarly way, collect and collate data and so on, within its own secton of the site. I can’t seem to muster that degree of discipline of late. I would attribute that to my mental health issues, except that according to Atos Healthcare I don’t have any. […]

  2. This callous disregard of human suffering is what makes this nightmare of an ‘assessment’ totally unfit for purpose. The so called ‘Disability Analyst’ should be removed from post for her callous behaviour, and deliberate mismanagement of the facts, but will no doubt be promoted. DWP Decision Makers may be clueless but they do have their hands tied behind their backs when the ‘assessment’ itself is utterly bogus.


    May 5, 2013 at 5:48 pm

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