bigleyma is thinking…

Posts Tagged ‘DWP

MIND film captures misery of WCA for those struggling with Mental Health

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Tyneside MIND have produced this compelling account of what it’s like for those suffering mental health issues to have to undergo the unforgiving, indifferent and humiliating ordeal that is the DWP’s Work Capability Assessment. For those who have been through that experience or who are currently experiencing that kind of vulnerability, viewing may not be advisable, but it is very important that material like this is disseminated widely to counter the government’s unsupportable claims of legitimacy for their WCA process.

MIND’s Campaign page associated with this film, where you can sign to hear about this and other campaigns can be found here.


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This is Iain Duncan Smith. He is Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

I recently wrote the following letter to him:

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Iain Duncan Smith MP

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The House of Commons,




 Dear Sir,

 I write to you as I await a date for my ESA appeal tribunal against ATOS Healthcare’s assessment of my fitness for work. As you will by now, I’m sure, be well aware there is a significant amount of information being shared on forums and among social networks about people’s experiences with ATOS and their ‘Work Capability Assessment’. Were I in a position of being responsible for the health and wellbeing of people in this country I would be taking this situation quite seriously, as in my opinion issues which begin to question ATOS’ legitimacy and legality are being raised. There are signs that the media is waking up to this, as they are no longer able to ignore the force of anger and despair being expressed by claimants.

A large body of evidence is beginning to accumulate which, in more authentic medical situations would be taken for malpractice by ATOS, with the most damning situations concerning deaths to which the stress of undergoing the contortions of this malignant process has evidently contributed to.

The specific reason I am writing to you, is that you bear ultimate responsibility for ATOS Healthcare’s behaviour and I believe there is one singular outstanding problem with their process which I would like you to clarify. As this problem has already led to one publicised suicide and another death due to added stress I feel it requires your most urgent and grave attention.

The situation, which I expect to face myself, should the tribunal find in my favour follows. I am sure you will agree that it exposes not simply a flaw or weakness in the process, but demonstrates a hostility and in fact cruelty towards already vulnerable claimants. I was shocked when I realised how inevitable this situation would be.

A person makes a claim for ESA on the basis of their perceived unfitness for work. This is supported by their GP, or other health professional, otherwise they would not pass the first stage of their claim. Within (a proposed, but not necessarily achieved) thirteen weeks they must attend a Work Capability Assessment. An unusually high number of claimants are then found ‘fit’ for work (as I am sure you are aware). The next stage is to appeal, which an unusually high number of claimants proceed to do. They must then wait around six months for their appeal to be heard. An unusually high number then have the ATOS based judgement overturned, which I imagine, being a tribunal, constitutes a legal basis. At this point all benefits are brought up to one of the higher rates that ESA entitles. As this process has gone on so long, within a month or two the claimant is then called in by ATOS for another assessment, found ‘fit’ for work, loses not only the ESA entitlement, but also associated benefits such as for Housing and Council Tax. At a stroke. And must begin the process again. I am sure you share my shock and disgust at this state of affairs. How torturous for a sick person to undergo this not once but in an endless cycle of repetition.

I now seek your advice on what a claimant should do having been successful in the lawful process of a tribunal when they attend that soon-to-follow subsequent WCA with an ATOS employee. They have been legally vindicated a month or so earlier, presumably are in possession of a document which legitimises this. Do you feel the claimant is within their legal rights to insist that the ATOS employee take note of the tribunal’s judgement? Would you back up a claimant if they insisted that the DWP ‘decision-maker’ privilege the tribunal judgement over ATOS’? It seems to me to be a very serious legal point which needs your explicit judgement and advice if sick people are to be protected from this ‘black magic roundabout’.

I request your most urgent attention and response to this as I know there are many, many people on the networks who are facing this very situation right now and who will be impatient to receive your response.


The response:



Written by bigleyma

July 14, 2011 at 5:12 pm