Atos benefits bullies killed my sick dad, says devastated Kieran McArdle, 13

THE devastated youngster believes the benefits assessors’ decision to deem his dad “fit for work” led to his death from a heart attack.

A GRIEVING boy of 13 has accused Atos of killing his disabled dad.

Kieran McArdle told the Daily Record in a harrowing letter how his father Brian, 57, collapsed and died the day after his disability benefits were stopped. He had been assessed by Atos and deemed “fit for work”.

The youngster said a previous stroke on Boxing Day last year had caused a blood clot on Brian’s brain.

He was left paralysed down his left side, unable to speak properly, blind in one eye and barely able to eat or dress.

But he was still summoned to an Atos “work capability assessment” – part of the Con-Dem Government’s drive to cut billions from the welfare bill.

Kieran says he had another stroke days before his appointment because of stress, but was still determined to attend.

A month later, former security guard Brian got a letter telling him he would lose his disability benefits on September 26.

Kieran said his dad’s health went rapidly downhill. He believes constant worry about how he would survive without the cash he needed robbed Brian of the will to live.

The day after his benefits were stopped, Brian collapsed and died in the street near his home in Larkhall, Lanarkshire. He had suffered a heart attack.

Kieran poured out his anger about the tragedy in his letter.

He wrote: “Atos need to know their changes are killing genuine people like my dad.

“It has to stop before more people lose their lives.”

The Record is campaigning for a fair and decent system that protects the rights of the genuinely disabled. Scots have repeatedly told us how Atos deemed them fit for work despite their illnesses after humiliating assessments.

Kieran told us in his letter: “I write to you regarding your fight for a fair assessment for the sick and disabled people.

“My dad was assessed by Atos and told he was fit for work.

“After his assessment he was very low and worried how he was going to cope with no money as he was informed his benefits would stop on September 26.

“He died on September 27.

“My dad was severely disabled after he took a massive stroke which caused a blood clot in his brain.”

Kieran said Brian had a panic alarm around his neck in case he fell or became ill, and had to use a mobility scooter.

He added: “How disabled do you have to be to get disability benefits? That’s what I want to know.

“My dad was a very proud man and didn’t like asking for help, financial or otherwise, but the money helped him retain some kind of dignity.

“He couldn’t come to terms with the fact he was disabled and needed help. The left side of his body was completely paralysed. He couldn’t walk properly, see out of his left eye, use his left arm, which meant he really struggled to feed himself, get dressed or perform even simple tasks.

“I was gobsmacked when he got the letter saying he was fit for work and that his benefits were being cut.

“How could he possibly be fit for work? It is an absolute disgrace and those Atos people should hang their heads in shame for what they are doing to these poor disabled people.

“They are supposed to be targeting the fraudsters, not killing off the genuine folk with their disgusting tactics.

“Even though my dad had another stroke just days before his assessment, he was determined to go.

“He tried his best to walk and talk because he was a very proud man, but even an idiot could have seen my dad wasn’t fit for work.

“He was under a great deal of stress the moment he was told about his assessment, and then after he got the letter telling him his benefits were being stopped he completely changed and he was very down.

“In the three weeks leading up to his death his fighting spirit was gone. I feel Atos caused my dad stress and unnecessary suffering which brought all this on and didn’t help.

“So them and David Cameron need to see the bigger picture and know their changes are killing genuine people like my dad. It has to stop before more people lose their lives.

“I decided to write to the Record to highlight my dad’s case.

“I know it won’t bring my dad back but maybe it will save some other family the loss of their loved-one.”

We spoke to Kieran, a pupil at Holy Cross High School in Hamilton, after receiving his letter.

He told us: “Atos destroyed my dad. They knocked the stuffing out of him.

“He was always a fighter , but I knew he wouldn’t survive after he got that letter stopping his benefits.

“It completely changed him. He was stressed out about how he was going to live. No one should have to suffer like that.

“Atos should hang their heads in shame for what they have done to my dad and other genuinely disabled people. It is disgusting.

“I will never forgive them. I have not been able to grieve for my dad because I had so much anger inside me.

“I won’t be able to come to terms with my dad’s death until I get justice for him.”

Kieran said his parents split up years ago but were good friends. He saw his dad “all the time”.

“I thought the world of him,” he added. “My last words to him were ‘I love you dad’ which gives me some comfort at least.

“Maybe I could accept his death a bit better if he had died of natural causes, but knowing that the stress of the Atos stuff killed him makes me sick to my stomach. I refuse to come to terms with it.

“He was very independent and wanted to live on his own. He had recently bought some disability aids to help him feed himself and was getting on with this life the best way he could.

“Me and my mum visited him all the time and helped him. He had great difficulty washing himself, getting dressed and feeding himself. He hated that he had to ask for help.

“He was a great dad and he was saving up to buy me a laptop for my Christmas, but after the terrible news from Atos I knew he would never see Christmas.

“My life seems empty now without my dad. I don’t know how I’m going to live without him. We were each other’s world.”

The Department for Work and Pensions said: “Our sympathy goes out to Mr McArdle’s family during what is obviously a very difficult time.

“Through employment and support allowance (ESA), we help people move from benefits and back into work 
if they are capable of doing so, while giving unconditional support to those who need it.

“A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough face-to-face assessment, and after consideration of all the supporting medical evidence from the 
claimant’s GP or medical specialist.

“We encourage people to provide as much medical evidence as possible when they apply for ESA. Often, people found fit for work only provide the necessary evidence when they ask for a reconsideration or an appeal.”

Atos Healthcare said: “Our sympathies are with the friends and family of Mr McArdle.

“Although we cannot comment on individual cases, our trained doctors, nurses and physio-therapists strictly follow the guidelines given to them by the Government when conducting assessments, which form a single, although important, part of the process.”

Atos have raked in millions assessing ESA claimants. And despite fury over their methods, they won contracts worth £400million to assess disabled people for the new “personal independence payment” 
which replaces disability living allowance from next year.

Secret papers revealed Atos could ma £40million profit from the assessments in Scotland and the north of England.

But after our campaign, they announced that they had sub-contracted the assessments in Scotland to an NHS agency. Opponents called it “a humiliating climbdown”.

The Scottish Daily Record


9 thoughts on “Atos benefits bullies killed my sick dad, says devastated Kieran McArdle, 13

  1. Shirley P Cooper says:

    I got no points at the last medical. So now I’m going to another MickeyMouse Return to Work Scheme. Yesterday I made it clear to them that their cleaning regime, dust, polish, hoover and mop within the hour with claimants in the room, jeopardises not only the other claimants but also my health: asthma and Allergic reactions. Then to top it all they refused to pay taxi fare though my feet were swollen (through not having a stool to rest it on) and there was a 20 minute walk to the bus stop and 10 minutes home from bus stop. It’s all money-making nonsense. I put on my last form that I would sue anyone who jeopordises my health. Maybe I should just walk with my solicitore everywhere I go

  2. jed goodright says:

    I see George Berger, that well known intelectual and artisan, is very quiet on this. Just how many people will die? Shirley, your comment about having/ needing a solicitor with you all the time is very relevant. They are killing the people whilst spending money on repairing the gift of a dead snake following info obtained by Paul Staines via a FOI request.

  3. Tim Bergstrass says:

    Unfortunately, this is yet another attempt at grandstanding by Tom Greatrex MP. This man has no interest in his constituents, he is highly politically ambitious (for himself) and has chosen Atos and disbability just to try to make his name.
    In addition, his financial arrangements regarding MP expenses are highly suspect – these have been reported in his local paper and in a BBC tweet, but he has tried to hush it up.
    ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone…..’

  4. Humanity2012 says:

    Redsitribution of Wealth from Rich to Poor Now

    It is Nearly 40 Years since the United Kingdom was Dragged by the Tories into
    the ” Common Market ” and all those Countless Billions of Pounds Sterling Wasted
    could of Funded Welfare Provision Hospitals Housing and Public Transport

    We Need Welfare Not Warfare in Afghanistan

  5. Michael Hill says:

    This is what happens when conservatives take control of the government. Just like here in America, conservatives only care about the wealthy toffs, making certain to lower their taxes while at the same time raing taxes for the poor and the midddle class, and cutting or stripping funding from essential service that people desperately need.

  6. elizabeth. says:

    its sad when someone as to explain there lifes to a stranger to be degraded all because i cant communicate with people im always miss understood my life as always been a battle. its to hard to understand what im supposed to do i dont get life

  7. Steve M says:

    I haven’t been able to claim any form of benefit over the past five years, due to having savings over £16,000. My saving were from the sale of my home, and a divorce settlement and therefore the deposit for a new home. Being declared unfit for work by my Doctor with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) CFS/ME, severe anxiety and depression, Bronchiectasis, I wasn’t able to get a mortgage, due to having no regular income. I have therefore had to use my savings to support myself, pay for rented accommodation, rates, utilities, food etc. Now that my savings has gone, I now qualified and entitled to claim ESA. Life degree became much easier and had some stability, however three months of claiming ESA I was called for an ATOS medical. Yes you are right I scored zero points and therefore declared fit for work, this brought an abrupt end all benefits with no warning. I had simply no choice but to take it to a tribunal hearing, for which I had to wait eleven months. Today I received their decision by post, having attended the tribunal in person, to say the appeal is refused, therefore i will receive a letter from DWP and the Council to inform me that once again i am no longer entitled to benefits. I am at a total loss as what to do now for I will have to vacate my home, with nowhere to go. There is simply no purpose to life any more I have totally lost the will to live.

  8. Lynne says:

    I attended an appeal with my brother who has already attempted suicide on several occasions. We submitted medical evidence from the GP in support of his claim which would give him more than 15 points. However the judge and the doctor present said that they were only interested in 18 months ago. My brother had problems relating to strangers but the judge insisted he had to tell them because he had not spoke at the medical or completed the form needed help due to his mental state.
    The judge kept stopping anyone else answering for him though she could see he was distraught. Asked him questions unrelated like all the places he had worked and his time in the army.
    Yet telling us she was only interested in the period of time 18 months ago. That information was in the form.
    The ESA is constructive in causing physical and mental harm to those who are answering the questions.
    Where is the medical proof or test that shows those 15 questions make someone capable or incapable or work?
    My brothers medical consisted of him being asked to lift his arms above his head. She said that she could see no problem.
    My nephew said even a monkey can lift his arms about his head would you employ him on that basis? Trying to lighten the mood because basically everyone taking the test is being made a monkey out. Because the test in itself is not medically proven to make a person fit for work.

    I am so sad for that little boy. But the working people of this world need to see the brain washing by our government that anyone on the sick or disabled are just lazy.
    They need to see that the government had mismanaged the NHS and the Social Security. And that has lead to these problems.
    Good luck to anyone with an appeal I hope that all will eventually win.

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