Messing up in spades is how we’ve previously described Atos Healthcare, the private firm with a £100million Government contract to assess who deserves sickness benefits and who’s faking it.
Last month it was revealed that 150,000 people who were refused full benefits by Atos had that decision overturned on appeal.
If that makes Atos sound heartless, it’s nothing compared to what one of its assessors has been posting on her Facebook page in Middlesbrough.
Among Debbie Carr’s comments about the sick and disabled, there’s: “Oh god another day here with the down and outs arggggg!” And: “Well that’s the end of my holidays! Back to work tomorrow with the down and outs I suppose…”
And: “Thank god it’s Friday last day in this god forsaken place with the down and outs!”
The company told us: “Atos Healthcare is investigating the claims made about inappropriate comments written by one of its healthcare professionals on a social media website. Atos Healthcare is committed to providing a high quality, professional service to the DWP and expects the same of all its employees. Where it is found that these standards are not adhered to, this is taken very seriously and appropriate disciplinary action taken.”
Debbie Carr put the phone down when we called. None of the comments on her page – now removed – were protected by a privacy wall and they could be read by anyone, including those being assessed by Atos.
Among them was a disability claimant who said: “It is humiliating and embarrassing enough having to go for one of these tests without Atos employees setting up Facebook accounts and having a laugh at our misfortune.”
Another said: “I am hoping that you will support disabled and genuinely sick people everywhere and do what you can to stamp out this despicable behaviour. Society is being divided into two groups, those who are fortunate enough to have their health and employment, and those without either. The first group are being encouraged to criminalise and vilify the latter group.”