‘Private firms’ role in creation of disability assessment regime’ ~ Black Triangle’s Letter Published in The Guardian

Letters guardian.co.uk

This week the sixth International Forum on Disability Management, IFDM 2012, takes place at Imperial College London. It is sponsored by some of the world’s largest medical insurance companies, Unum among them, and speakers include DWP chief medical adviser Dr Bill Gunyeon and Professor Sir Mansel Aylward, formerly DWP chief medical adviser and director of the Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research at Cardiff University, which was sponsored by Unum from its inception in 2003 until 2009.

Unum’s website states that during this sponsorship period “a series of papers was published, identifying the range of factors that determine why some people become long-term absentees”. The Cardiff papers advocated a “biopsychosocial model” of disability which Unum says “informed its approach to medical underwriting”. It is the same approach upon which the current Atos work capability assessment (WCA) is based. Concomitantly, the company were advising the UK government on welfare reform.

On 4 September, during an emergency debate on Atos and the WCA held in parliament, Labour MP Kevin Brennan demanded to know if DWP minister Chris Grayling was as concerned as he was “that Atos’s chief medical officer is one Professor Michael O’Donnell, who was previously employed as chief medical officer by the American insurance company, Unum, which was described by the insurance commissioner for California, John Garamendi, as an ‘outlaw company’ that has operated in an unlawful fashion for many years, running (disability) claims denial factories.”

We condemn the Royal Society of Medicine’s decision to host IFDM 2012. By so doing, it has lent an aura of legitimacy to a pseudo-scientific approach to disability that is as far from evidence-based medicine as it is possible to imagine. It is an approach that continues to devastate the lives of patients, scores of whom are tragically no longer with us as a direct result.

These for-profit corporations should never have been permitted to sequester such power and influence over public health and social policy. There may be clear conflicts of interest at stake, and the public interest now demands an urgent and thorough independent public inquiry into the relationships between, and roles played by, senior Unum, Atos and DWP staff in the creation of the current government disability assessment regime.
John McArdle and Dr Stephen Carty Black Triangle Campaign and 449 co-signatories (see http://bit.ly/Pi4z4D)

Letters to The Guardian

Comments
  • Barry September 14, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    “Outlaw Company’ that has operated in an unlawful fashion for many years, running (disability) claims denial factories.” And what with an outlaw government that unlawfully gives a contract to Atos that has no medicinally trained staff to asses if a person is truthfully fit or unfit for work the assessment is run like a tombola raffle number 463 is unfit to work wile the other 499 are found fit for work.

  • DAVID A SHAW September 15, 2012 at 4:20 am

    It is time for these CHARLATANS to face the full brunt of the law, if the USA can do it so can we. ATOS, UNUM and those in the DWP responsible for the current situation, jail them all.

  • jeffery davies September 15, 2012 at 11:10 am

    unum who where thrown out of good old usa with bi fines but used by blair and co to make atos the stick they beat us with how quaint are they they beat with this atos who inturn take our benefits away where homeless and starvation happen daily how can we can we call this christian .theres not one in this lot but whot goes round comes back to bite those who inflict this on those who cant fight back bloody disgusting how the other mps leave this happen to us jeff3

  • Sandra Arnott September 17, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Would some of the welfare/disabled rights groups be able to start a law suit against them? The government are breaking EU laws and nothing is being done..surely they could be taken to court?

  • L S McKnight May 7, 2013 at 3:18 am

    Here are some excerpts from a transcript of a US documentary about UNUM from 2009. They may sound familiar:

    ‘Bradley: So you would go into these meetings once a month with a target, a dollar figure, which you had to save the company and that dollar figure had nothing to do with the validity of the claims that were out there. It had nothing to do with the legitimacy of the claims that were out there?
    McGinnis: Right.’

    ‘top executives repeatedly denied that the company sets any targets whatsoever’

    ‘Bradley: And if they would say to us that there were no targets, no money targets that we were aiming for each month, you would say…
    Hartley: It was well known to each individual, each one of us and to every department. It was standard, I mean day in day out there were targets.’

    ‘Michelle: The ones that knew how to do what was asked of them, they’re the ones that got the bonuses.
    Bradley: And what was asked of them?
    Michelle: Close the claims.’

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/11/15/60minutes/main529601.shtml?CMP=ILC-SearchStories

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