Sep 6 2012
by Janine Yaqoob, Crosby Herald
AN AMPUTEE who can’t work because of his poor health has been told he is no longer eligible for disability benefits.
George Mullen, from Brighton-le-Sands, had a leg amputated when he was 18 after an accident as an apprentice joiner. Despite this, he continued to work for over 35 years full-time.
At the time, a solicitor told him not to go back to work, but he ended up as a successful clerk for a small business, despite suffering from chronic pain.
From chronic infections and abscesses at the amputation site, to developed arthritis in his neck, shoulders, back, and the knee and foot of his remaining leg, every day is a struggle for Mr Mullen.
But, despite this, he continued to work until a member of the HR department at the company told him he was being retired on health grounds.
Now on a 24-hour blood pressure monitor because stress pushes his blood pressure to dangerously high levels, Mr Mullen applied for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) as a last resort.
After recently attending a work capability assessment, Mr Mullen was shocked to discover his money was being stopped.
Critical of the disability assessment carried out by Atos Healthcare, Mr Mullen contacted Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson for advice.
Now the MP is calling on the Government to replace the private company which works on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
He said: “I’ve met with constituents who clearly have disabilities where Atos reports bear little or no resemblance to their own circumstance.
“The accuracy of these reports needs urgent investigation.
“George Mullen’s case is just one of many which have been brought to me. It came as a complete shock to have his ESA stopped recently, when the year was up. He has applied again and awaits his assessment.”
Bill Esterson, who spoke in a Westminster Hall debate about Atos Healthcare, added: “There is something fundamentally wrong with this system.
“That has been supported not just by the claimants, but also the British Medical Association.
“This is about real people – at-risk people in our communities – who need help.”
An Atos Healthcare spokesperson said: “We fully understand that applying for benefit can be an emotive experience for those involved, which is why we continue to make sure that the service that we provide is as highly professional and compassionate as it can be.
“We do not define welfare policy or make decisions on people’s benefit.
“The process and criteria for all assessments are set by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and approved by our democratically elected Parliament.
“Our focus is to ensure that our team of fully qualified doctors and nurses carry out thousands of accurate assessments every month, in full accordance with the detailed guidelines set by the DWP.”