UNUM/DWP/ATOS SCANDAL: TRANSCRIPT ~ Prof. Sir Mansel Aylward defends his record, makes pledge when confronted by Black Triangle and DPAC at IFDM2012


A video of this exchange will be available as soon as some technical issues have been resolved

Recorded Wednesday 12th September 2012 15.40 – 15.53 hrs B.S.T. 

Conference delegates are filing out of a heavily-guarded (four security personnel on the one and only door!) Great Hall in The Sherfield Building, Imperial College London, after a keynote speech by Professor Sir Mansel Aylward at the 6th International Forum on Disability Management a.k.a. ‘IFDM2012’ sponsored by Unum among other huge medical insurance companies with a vested ‘interest’ in influencing so-called ‘Welfare Reform’.

John: We want to speak to Sir Mansel Aylward! We want to hand in a letter signed by 420 disabled people protesting against what you’re doing! You’re denying disability and you’re causing suffering for hundreds of thousands of people, you should be ashamed of yourselves!

We want to hand a letter to Sir Mansel Aylward on behalf of 420 sick and disabled people!

Merry: You’re doing so much harm to disabled people …… I don’t know why you’re smiling… what you’re doing is not OK!

J: At least have the decency to come here and confront us and take a letter! The lives of hundreds of thousands of disabled people are being devastated … we want to hand over a letter to Sir Mansel Aylward signed by 420 people that’s going to be published in The Guardian newspaper! So I suggest he comes out and confronts us! We’re here to represent hundreds of disabled people. Nothing About Us Without Us! Nothing About Us Without Us!

Merry: Disabled people are suffering … that’s what we think of the BPS Model of disability! 

J: The BPS Model is nothing short of a creation of the insurance industry which is denying disabled people their human rights! We demand to speak to Sir Mansel Aylward! We want to hand over a letter signed by 420 disabled people

(security approaches us to inform us that he’s going to come to talk to us)

J: So he’s going to come and talk to us. OK.

M: Disabled people are really suffering and this has to be stopped!

(Mansel Aylward appears out of the lecture theatre and approaches us)  

M: We want to give you this letter which we sent to The Guardian.

A: OK – Can I look?

M: We are protesting against the use of the BPS Model. We are protesting against the denial of our benefits … being pushed into the arms of insurance companies … and the suffering and deaths that have been caused to disabled people.

A: What if I say that I uh … sympathise with your grievance?

Merry’s daughter: If you sympathise, what are you doing? What are you doing?!

A: Doing? I’ve just been speaking about the Biopsychosocial Model and I’ve been telling people that I find it unsatisfactory because it longer addresses the real needs of disabled people. It no longer addresses the exclusion of disabled people from society.

M: No it doesn’t and why …

A: I agree with you … and when the Biopsychosocial model was first announced by Engel in 1961 it was appropriate then, it was only talking about healthcare. What’s happened is … and I was saying today … although I’m an advocate of the biological … the psychological and the social approach … not just to … uh … medicine or healthcare but to life … I believe they are important … what’s not happening is that the social element has been neglected.

Merry: I agree

A: And I wish people would realise that I’ve never taken on any other view.

M: So surely the criteria for the ESA and the PIP are based on that

A: They may be … I don’t know now … I’m being honest with you … I’m no longer part of …

M: The DWP

A: Yeah – I left the DWP in 2005 … but what I do know is that the ESA is developed from the test that I introduced … I agree with that … I’m not denying that but my all-work test as it was called developed in the 1990’s was trying to understand … was primarily based to get rid of the Medical Model (of disability) I distaste … I have distaste for the Medical Model 

Ron: The Biopsychsocial Model has become the ‘bio…bio…bio…model’

A: That’s absolutely right … I’ve got nothing to … I  can’t disagree with you. 

R: When are psychologists and social scientists going to stop collaborating with this absolutely inhuman régime, its pseudo-science and with what’s been described as an outlaw company?   

M: I mean Unum Sponsors this … and Unum 

A: Does Unum sponsor this? I didn’t know that Unum

M: Yes! I mean … You know … Unum sponsors this, Unum sponsors this doesn’t it? And Unum

A: I’m not aware … I didn’t know Unum were sponsoring this. 

J: Unum are participants in this Conference, yes.

A: Participants, yes, but I didn’t know they were sponsors.

J: Well, seek clarification on this. 

A: And you do know … (turns to John) well if they are then I admit I’m wrong … but the thing is they have no influence in the .. what the topics will be .. they have no influence in. But let me just diffuse the situation. Up until 4 or 5 years ago … the Unit in Cardiff which I am now the Head of … was sponsored by Unum … there’s no two ways about that. They didn’t sponsor … they sponsored it before I joined it … I was appointed as Chair … as professor to that Unit.. OK?

M: Right …

A: After I’d been there a couple of years, Unum no longer sponsored it.

M: Really?

A: There’s no spons … if you want to check…I have had … we have had no money at all … or sponsorship at all since Two Thousand and …

J: Nine 

A: No, no it’s not …

J: Well, according to their own website, it says that they stopped sponsoring it in 2009

A: They might have said that but the money stopped it 2008 … it was three years and I came there in 2005.

J: And of course you’re aware of the lawsuits and the hundreds of millions of dollars which they’ve had to pay out in the United States and that … uh … you’re aware that part of this is that if you classify an illness such as … ME … as a psychological illness rather than a physical illness … which we assert that it is then …

A: I’ve never done that.

J: No but this is what Unum’s been doing … and to avoid paying hundreds of million of dollars … because a physical illness is a long-term …

A: (Cutting John off) I can’t speak for Unum, I must speak for myself…

J: (Cutting back in) But they have undue influence in British Public Health and Social Policy …

A: (Cuts back) They have … but they did not influence me … I’ve always said that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a real tradition (sic) which needs to be addressed and that it is not just a psychological element …

J: Professor Simon Wessley is speaking at this conference.

A: Yeah and he is speaking on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

J: Uh-huh … and he used to speak about ME but nobody will listen to him anymore … and now he’s speaking about PTSD.

M: What I don’t understand is, we have the social model of disability …

A: Which I’ve just been speaking about … oh, by the way, would you like to have my slides?

M: Would I like to …?

A: To have my slides … of my lecture.

M: Yes that would be …. thank you. What I can’t understand is why you felt the need to create a new model of disability when we …

A: I never created ….

M: Well you just said you did when you …

A: Engel created the Biopsychosocial model.

M: Oh sorry ….

A: I used it as the most … the only model ….that took into account …the social conditions of people… I come from the Welsh Valleys … I don’t come from a wonderful background …

M: Right …

A: I was bought up a Miner’s son … okay? I was the first person in my family not to go down the pit … because my mother wanted me to do something different … and I devoted my life to try and help improve the life of people in the Valleys … and the way of doing that was best to … get rid of the Medical Model … getting rid of that you had to adopt another model … you couldn’t just pick it up …. so the next one that was available was the Biopsychosocial Model … but … it was … you can look it up in history.

M: So that was before the Social Model?

A: No the Social Model came in the early .. it came out … quite rightly …. because disabled people felt that they weren’t empowered by society, that they were excluded by society … that the infrastructure of society was such that it excluded people and the answer was we haven’t seen that today … but I therefore had to have a stepping stone to get away from the Medical Model which was completely against any disabled people or any person …(inaudible) …and that’s the step I took … the Biopsychosocial Model … but today … you know …not knowing that you were going to talk to me … I actually said this on record … that I don’t reject the Biopsychosocial Model but I think the social element needs to take more (inaudible) … of disabled people.

M: It’s been left out.

A: I further believe ….

J: I’m sorry, so do you condemn, without reservation, the Work Capability Assessment as carried out by Atos?

A: No.

J: No. You don’t condemn it.

A: I can’t condemn it because I don’t know enough about it … I’ve been out of …

J: I find that very difficult to believe really, a person of your standing.

A: No … I’ve 

M: Every single day there’s something … 

A: What’s it got to do with me? I have no responsibility whatsoever. When Professor Harrington decided to look at the Work Capability Assessment he said to me “will you join me in doing that” and I said “what for?” because I cannot be involved in something which I no longer represent.

Ron: I mean I would say, as an academic of very high standing … you have a moral responsibility to … One …get yourself informed about it rapidly 

M: Yeah…

R: And … Two … to speak out publicly about it.

M: Yeah….

A: Put it this way, I’ve got so many other things that I am doing, you know …. quite honestly, but I do take your point …

J: What could be more important than human life?

A: Well, I work as a doctor, I work in looking after the future in the healthcare service and … (seeing that) it is safer for the future.

J: If you’re motivated by ethical considerations, then I think you should make yourself aware …

R: 30 people a week are dying as a result of …

A: I will make myself aware … (as a result of this meeting) … alright … but I can’t say any more … but I will make myself aware … but I think that I’m a man of integrity … and if I think that the Work Capability Assessment … test or whatever … is not proper … I will speak out against it … but I can’t say that now because I haven’t .. evidence … you know …

J: We look forward to you … to you informing yourself and we look forward to hearing you speak out.

M: You know that many people take notice of you, don’t you?

A: Yeah, but if you would also …   

J: You know that the British Medical Association has DEMANDED that the Work Capability Assessment ends with immediate effect because it’s causing …

A: I admit, I admit …

J: Well …  

A: … I’ve been in New Zealand for three months …

J: Right, well …

A: … but that’s …

J: … The BMA voted on the 28th June to make that national policy and they’re working with us as disabled groups to … to bring about an end … and to instead institute a test which is rigorous, and safe … 

M: And which does take into account social issues.

J: …and which doesn’t cause harm, avoidable harm, to some of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.

A: I’ll tell you. I will commit now, right?

J: Right …

A: I’ve got to because of what I’ve just said today …

J: Uh hum …

A: …that a test must take into account social issues … must take into account a person’s disability, deprivation, disadvantage and poverty …

J: And evidence-based medicine …

A: Yes. It does. Of course it does.

J: Well it should do, but it doesn’t at the moment.

M: We look forward to seeing what you’ve got to say about it 

A: And if you would tell people that there are a lot of things going around about me which are not true, right? You know, my origins, what I’ve done, what I’ve published … which I haven’t … what I’ve said … which I haven’t … if you are … tell them … you can call me what … but tell them the truth about what I’ve said today.

M: Alright.

J: Well … (nods towards the camera)

John Pring (Disability News Service): Can I question you as a journalist?

A: Yes

JP: You’ve talked about the Biopsychosocial Model as a way of getting from the Medical to the Social (Model) … 

A: Yeah, uh … no no … a model that could adequately replace the Medical Model … which was the model which said “there’s a fault in the machine” …

JP: Lord Freud in the Lords talked about the Biopsychosocial Model ‘replacing’ the Social Model 

A: Well, I think that’s wrong. I think the Biopsychosocial model, the Social Model is an integral part of the Biopsychosocial Model, but I feel that the current Biopsychosocial Model is a step in the right direction in moving away from the Medical Model … but the social element of the Biopsychosocial model needs to look at things like deprivation, needs to look at social exclusion, needs to look at the way in which society is organised which doesn’t address the needs of disabled people and that … it’s not going to take place overnight, I knew that … and therefore that was one step on the …

JP: So you would maybe then argue that Lord Freud got the wrong …

A: No, Lord Freud is … um … speaking on the chronology … and that is there was a Social Model … there are many Social Models … so you can’t say “The Social Model” there are several Social Models … and what he probably meant was that the Social Model is incorporated into the Biopsychosocial Model … I think … but I don’t know what he said. I do not believe that (the BPS has ‘replaced’ the SM) … I believe that it’s been incorporated but it needs to be much more elaborated than it is now. OK. Thank you.

M: Alright. Bye and thank you very much for speaking to us.

R: Cheers then. Thank you.



DWP/UNUM/ATOS SCANDAL: ME & The BPS ‘Model’ ~ How Aylward’s Statements to Black Triangle & DPAC Are Contradicted by Earlier Pronouncements

DWP/ATOS/UNUM SCANDAL: Academic Gill Thornbury Responds with Disbelief to Professor Aylward’s statement to Black Triangle and DPAC outside the IFDM2012 conference, on 11th September 2012. 

Academic Angela Kennedy Responds to Professor Sir Mansel Aylward’s Statements to Black Triangle and DPAC







2 thoughts on “UNUM/DWP/ATOS SCANDAL: TRANSCRIPT ~ Prof. Sir Mansel Aylward defends his record, makes pledge when confronted by Black Triangle and DPAC at IFDM2012

  1. JJ says:

    Jason Blackburn wrote on Black Triangle’s FB Page:

    As someone with progressive physical disability and long standing mental health issues who is currently finishing up a psychology degree with a view to further training to work to reduce prejudice and lobby to change policy, it both sickens and angers me to see tools designed to improve health misrepresented by vested interest.

    The biopsychosocial model of health (not just of disability) in it’s simplest essence, states that in addressing health (and illness, physical and mental) all three possible factors need to be considered.

    The only three factors that exist for human being are the biological, the psychological, and the social.

    This is essentially all the BPS model says.

    It is not a failing of the BPS model that is the problem, it is a deliberate misrepresentation of the model by vested interested to suggest that our disabilities can be overcome if we only have the will to do so that is the problem.

    The social aspect is under represented, it is not about a seperate model called the social model of disability, it is simply that this aspect of the BPS model had been deliberately underplayed to suit political agendas.

    There is a key area of psychological research and sociological theory centred on the social construction of disability, which is what this article refers to when it talks about the social model, but this is both seperate and a core part of the social aspect of the BPS model.

    I freaking hate it when people take a little bit of knowledge and get it all arse about face because they don’t even realise that they are making arrogant assumptions.

    When properly applied, the biopsychosocial model of health is the best ally we all have in dealing with a system rotten to the core with medical arrogance and prejudice because it acknowledges not only the role of our own psychology (mind set, beliefs etc) but those of medical staff and policy makers etc, and on the social level it speaks of the need for social responsibility of all people, for example the need for wider society to tackle prejudice about disability and other health issues which people ignorant of the issues all too often think they know about enough to spout bilious opinion; issues like obesity, smoking, addiction, anorexia etc etc etc, all of which have major social aspects.

    Grrr, a little bit of knowledge is a very dangerous thing indeed when in the hands of power mongers like the DWP etc. End of rant.

  2. jeffery davies says:

    ops its our fault then by this prof as it wont change he go on his merry way allowing us to be starved made homeless and deneid our benefits ,unum should be shown the door back to whenst it came only the torys will get money out of us with unum second who dont pay their bill wake up mps and put it right you gutless lot jeff3

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