Leading doctors protest at ‘cruel’ disability tribunals

Herald and Sunday Scotland


Campaign launched to challenge the benefits system in a bid to protect the wellbeing of vulnerable claimants. Exclusive by Judith Duffy


FRONTLINE doctors in Scotland have hit out at the “Kafkaesque” system of fitness-to-work benefits assessments which they say is placing their most vulnerable patients at risk of suicide. 

A campaign has been set up, backed by more than 40 leading medics and charities, to encourage GPs to use little-known regulations to challenge cases where declaring patients fit to work, under the benefits assessment system, would place them in danger of physical or mental harm.

The Sunday Herald can also reveal Scottish ministers have written to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, calling for urgent research to be undertaken on the impact of benefit reform on both claimants and the NHS.

Yesterday, the British Medical Association Scotland issued a warning that GPs are being “flooded with additional avoidable work” as patients seek medical evidence to support benefit claims.

The letter from Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Health Secretary Alex Neil highlights concerns the system will come under “intolerable strain” as further reforms come into effect.

The controversial tests see patients assessed by the private French firm Atos on whether or not they are fit for work or can still draw benefits.

Dr Stephen Carty, medical adviser for Scottish-based disability rights group Black Triangle and a GP in Edinburgh, said he had been “absolutely staggered” by some of the patients who had been told they should be employed following work capability assessments.

He said in many cases they had severe conditions which could not be helped by medication, or were in the latter stages of advanced disease with a shortened life expectancy.

Carty said: “I have had five patients who have had a serious attempt at taking their own life, where in my view, the fear related to a workplace capability assessment – or the outcome of the decision – was a significant contributory factor. “

He said he was concerned patients – who may lack communication skills or understanding of their condition – had to submit forms, while their GP was often not approached by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for medical details.

“By the way that one patient filled out his form you would get the impression there was nothing wrong,” he said. “But he had lacked insight into the fact he was schizophrenic. No information was requested from me and he was found fit for work, yet he had spent months on a locked ward and was still firmly of the opinion he was the Messiah.”

The campaign by Black Triangle has been backed by 25 doctors, including leading GPs, psychiatrists and neurologists. Other supporters are Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union and Len McCluskey head of Unite.

Union chiefs from the National Union of Teachers, the National Union of Journalists, the University and College Union, and Unison also backed the campaign, alongside Phil Gray, chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

A letter signed by the supporters states that doctors are “witnessing daily the enormous avoidable suffering of many of our most vulnerable patients caught up in this Kafkaesque system of ‘disability assessment'”.

The letter calls on the British Medical Association (BMA) to help publicise two little-known Employment and Support (ESA) 2013 regulations, which a doctor can use to flag up cases where there is a substantial risk “to the mental or physical health of any person” if the claimant is found fit for work.

Among those who have backed the campaign is Dr Chris Johnstone, a GP based in Paisley, who said he had seen a number of cases where people who had been deemed fit to work were clearly not capable of taking up employment.

“There were a lesser number of people who probably were fit to work,” he said. “But we saw many more people who seemed to be unfairly treated.”

Johnstone said problems existed particularly with patients suffering mental-health problems being told they were fit to work.

“One of the problems is these people don’t come and get help, they just accept the decision believing that is the right one,” he said. “I have had a couple of patients who said I have always done what the state tells me, so it must be right.”

He said he believed such circumstances had contributed to one of his patients ending up in a psychiatric hospital, while another had a heart attack.

Trades unions and charities supporting doctors say the current system is “unfit for purpose” and poses a “real risk” to the health of disabled people and those with life-threatening conditions.

Bill Scott, manager of disability campaign group Inclusion Scotland, said: “We know of people who are reporting suicidal feelings at just the prospect of having an assessment. There are people who have gone through the assessment, been found fit for work, appealed, won their appeal and then been sent back into the system with another assessment that finds them fit for work again. They feel they are on a never ending treadmill.”

A spokeswoman for the DWP said: “A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough assessment and after careful consideration of all the available evidence. That can include supporting medical evidence from the claimant’s GP or other healthcare professional.

“GPs have been clear they do not want to be responsible for making decisions on people’s benefit entitlement, which is why we have processes in place to request the appropriate information from GPs to enable us to make those decisions.”

The Herald Scotland 

159 thoughts on “Leading doctors protest at ‘cruel’ disability tribunals

  1. karen Smith says:

    There are not enought jobs out there for the abled bodied, so this is just an exercise to stop Disabled peoples money. If you can’t get to sign on, it will be stoped. Putting people through this must come from Hitler, when he first started. I am waiing to go to appeal and most days I think, “What’s the piont ” I’ll probably loose everything anyway….

    1. Margaret says:

      Please keep going.
      I have had to appeal decisions twice now and I won them both. It is very hard but with support can be done.
      I am having to start the whole process again and like you wonder what’s the point. But my support group (Welfare benefit officer and family) keep telling me I must not give up. That is what the government want me to do.

      1. Sam says:

        What when there is no support?

        (My only family is a frail aunt in her 80s in another part of the country. I”ve just lost my flat – of 30 years- and where I’m staying for now, with a friend who has problems of her own, there is no council welfare support AT ALL and CAB simply haven’t dealt with any WCA appeals. I’m 64 but, in the more than a year that this has dragged on, I’ve become a physically broken old man.)

        Sorry. Outburst, Never done that before. But on reflection it can stay here.

        1. IAN says:

          Sam stick with it,you have done the hard part by waiting over a year,if you have a supportive dr ask him if he could give you a letter explaining why he thinks you are unfit to work and why being forced to do so will harm your health.ian

          1. Sam says:

            GP has been supportive beyond the call of duty, especially during one or two crises. BUT the practice has a policy not to provide evidence for WCAs and appeals FOR ANYONE until asked by DWP. This is because they were swamped by such requests – my own GP was being asked for between 8 and 10 per day, and I believe that statistic to be the honest truth – so how COULD she help all of us?

            For some of us at least, THERE IS LITERALLY NOWHERE TO TURN FOR HELP. (And yes, I’ve tried the charities. I’ve even tried the DWP – and that turned into a remarkably humiliating experience…)

            1. IAN says:

              Sorry to hear that Sam,I try to avoid the DWP as much as possible,they mainly consist of a certain type of person,one who seeks power to make themselfs important,and working for the dwp gives them that little bit of power,hiding mainly behind a phone,that to them makes life worthwhile.

              1. Sam says:

                How, precisely, do I ‘avoid’ the DWP?

              2. IAN says:

                I Meant its no good asking them for help,what about your councils welfare officer,have you tried them?

              3. Sam says:

                PS It’s one of the four wealthiest boroughs in the country, staunch Tory, (and therefore hardly touched by the cuts faced by most boroughs). When I called the nearest-to-relevant office, they claimed to be genuinely surprised that a council might have such a thing as a welfare officer (never mind welfare rights officer). They were quick enough to offer (and widely advertise) a number to call if I suspected benefit FRAUD, though.

              4. IAN says:

                Not very helpfull council.im guessing your in london so im going to google and search like crazy to try to find someone who might help, I know you have probably done that but it cant hurt.

              5. Sam says:

                Ian; What can I say, except Thank You, Brother.

                I was in London, but I’ve recently been class cleansed, mainly thanks to loss of benefits while I interminably await my appeal. So now I’m in Hart district council area (Hampshire).

                PS The documentation says that my patrilineal ancestor lived in London in the twelfth century. IDS has done to my family what dynastic war, civil war, plague, fire, the Bloody Code and Hitler failed to do for 800 years.

              6. IAN says:

                Thats terrible Sam,the wife and I had a lovely very small cottage by the sea,but because of the bedroom tax we had to move back to the outskirts of Bristol.Its all wrong.

              7. IAN says:

                not much help for you now Sam but they are advertising for a Welfare officer.crazy council has got an animal welfare officer though,shows where there prioritys lie, i will keep looking.

              8. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

                In the way the dwp system is today, the only person to talk to at the dwp is the dwp Data Protection Officer [DPO]. He is not doing his job as the dpo because he has false info from false sources. How comes all of a sudden ones circumstances change over night once been to a WCA. The correct info needs to be documented instead of untruths which makes to whole process Not Fit For Furpose. So they have to resort back to your original benefit untill the DWP fix their broken Not Fit For Purpose System. The DWP`s Data Protection Officer has to take heed otherwise he gets the sack for not doing his job. Report me DWP DPO & I will Report you Data Protection Officer. Your fired.

              9. Karen M says:

                Sam, have you tried Hampshire Council’s Adult Services? Telephone 0845 603 5630. It may be worth a try.

              10. IAN says:

                Hi Karen,thanks I ran out of people to ring for Sam.he needs the help.

              11. IAN says:

                No Karen,he has stopped e mailing,bit worried.?

        2. IAN says:

          Sam where you live,the same as you ,I cant find any help for tribunels,and like you rang your council,waste of time.The only thing I can think of is;do you have a copy of your medical records?

  2. David Moynagh says:

    When one considers the number of suicides that have already occured due to dwp and Atos, it is only a matter of time until this devious and deadly assessment gains international damnation and those with blood on their hands will be held to account. It has the deathly feeling of a. nazi nightmare

  3. jay says:

    Now that the professional classes such as Doctors and Teachers are being affected by these welfare cuts. I refuse to use Tory speak they are not reforms just simply cuts.
    There is hope that this whole disgusting attack on the ill, disabled and unemployed will be revealed for what it really is and those responsible will face some kind of justice. But like bankers and financiers I fear they will simply try and slip into the background using more propaganda.

    Government ministers and the highest paid DWP management will likely wriggle off the hook. Before we even get to that stage these sham assessments and persecution must end.

    As the famous Abraham Lincoln quote says
    “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

    1. Karen M says:

      The name of the man at the top of DWP is Robert Devereux, a Civil Service mandarin. He should be sacked but he is so clever he probably has a water tight employment contract. A real Sir Humphrey Appleby (“Yes Minister” Yes Prime Minister”).

      The Abe Lincoln quote is so apt. Let us hope that by 2015 it comes true.

  4. AL says:

    Doctors should charge ATOS for providing medical evidence. A minimum £100 a letter seems reasonable for well considered evidence, more if it requires a consultation or examination. Why should GP’s re-do for nothing, the job that ATOS has been paid good money to do? My surgery is struggling to manage it’s patients, and won’t write letters preferring to treat sick people. My GP gave me another sick note which legally is the GPs considered opinion of my ability to work but obviously it is not enough for ATOS to make a decision. Why is this? Can we not trust the GPs assessment? In the old days, when assessments were done by doctors, who had understanding of how illness and disability affects daily living and the ability to get and hold down a job, I don’t remember being under pressure to get my GP involved. I was treated with with respect and the assessing doctor understood my condition. I was asked intelligent questions that got to the heart of my problems. We seem now to have been transported to La La Land, where there are jobs for all and employers have the capacity to take on staff and pay them regardless of whether they can do anything other than occaisionally press a button, and take a pen out of a breast pocket (Can’t say I’ve ever tried given that A. breast pockets on a woman, are the height of sartorial inelegance and B. Keeping anything in your breast pocket looks untidy and a pen is just asking for trouble.) Having managed to get through life having never taken a pen out of a breast pocket. (And yes I did work before my condition got so bad!) I keep wondering what job they had in mind that requires those skills.

    1. JJ says:

      The GP must state the law.That is why our ESA Regulations 25 & 31 is so efficient. It applies the law and why and it takes up the minimal amount of GPs time, which is a very serious issue.

  5. Humanity2012 says:

    No More Knuckleheaded Budgets and No More Gormless
    Grinning Politicians

    People should of been Out Protesting and Demonstrating
    instead of being Alcohol Consuming Zombies in a Trance

    Power For the Elite Circuses without Bread for the Thick Masses

  6. PAULA says:


  7. Richard McTaggart says:

    me? had a brain-heamorrhage in 1990!
    don’t worry* just a flesh-wound!
    I can still use a computer*
    looking into the human-right’s aspect*
    my research has led me to the unchrdp!
    atricle19* to be precise!
    some say it’s soft-law!
    nah* because it’s an international-treaty,
    thats been adopted by the EU*
    and that the UK* ratified in 2005!
    that makes it applicable and justifiable under EU* law!
    if like me your pissed off with this condem government?
    vote UKIP* IN 2015!

    1. Angela says:

      I was considering voting UKIP until I read details of what they want to do if they get in power. They are not good for the disabled amongst us, wanting a very low standard payment for ALL benefit claimants, no extra payments to help the disabled live a decent life. How can someone who needs extra help to do the basics of life manage on the same amount as someone signing on for job seekers allowance? If you know more details about UKIP’s expected policies in this regard please let me know, they may again be a party I would consider voting for. I found about 50% of their policies were great but the rest weren’t, so would be happy to be given more up to date info if the policy document I saw has been amended.
      Thank you

      1. Sam says:

        UKIP! Frankly, if anyone thinks UKIP might be a way forward… they would make everything that the Tories of both parties have done seem positively pink.

    2. Karen M says:

      UKIP want out of Europe. They want out of the European Court of Human Rights. That means we would have to challenge the English government using English legislation. Then the English government can, as a retaliation, tweak the legislation with amendments so we can’t challenge them. Hey Ho. I think I prefer staying in Europe.

  8. Richard McTaggart says:

    with reference to post above I forgot to add that because it is an international-treaty! it is by definition> hard-law!

  9. paul says:

    i’m currently awaiting a date for tribunal, having been turned down in the first stage…
    i’m stressed up to the limits as i had a break in benefits due to atos(small a) last april(2012) for a few months and the misery that ensued…
    i have nothing else to live on and i’m beginning to feel suicidal… if they cut me off entirely.. i’ve had it…
    is there away i can get atos to deliver up all info. they hold on me?
    i think this multi million company need to be tackled at every level… and i want to make them spend money…they are only profiting from human misery… when i had my so called medical last july… ,upon coming out i asked the receptionist for a refund on my bus fares..to wit she replied..”do you really need it?” its a sick comedy…they want to strip us of every last penny and put it in their own bank…rotten and evil… it cannot go on indefinetly…

    1. Angela says:

      Make sure you request a copy of their WCA paper work. I didn’t need to appeal but did request copies and received them. Amongst the papers I sent were copies of the form they had sent my doctor. You definitely need these papers to prepare for your appeal anyway.
      Good luck.

      1. paul says:

        thank you angela, i will
        what do the letters stand for?
        i just woken up from a nightmare, with the stress.

  10. nigel simmons says:

    The man in charge of our National Health Service has been found totally lacking in his ability to manage it with any semblance of credibility .Over a THOUSAND DEATHS caused by his lack of COMPASSION & PATIENT COMMITTMNENT in One Hospital – Stafford .Thatcher brought him in to close all the mental hospitals and implement Ken Clarkes ‘Care in the Community’ in 1990 which caused suicides galore and since then he has run the NHS on Profitability Grounds rather than any Patient Care and Respect .We the British Public owe it to the Victims of all Patients that have suffered under his Callous Regime .Ask yourself before you sign the Petition “Why hasn’t he been sacked” because he knows too much and he would take too many others with him .Please Make A Stand Against Our Ever Eroding Rights As Members of the British Public http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/49715

  11. Ange KRUMS says:

    See these politicians, they should take a pay cut. They should only be allowed to earn a bog standard basic wage. Then lets see how many of them really want to do a job as an M.P. or even work in the government. They are Hippocrates, they expect us to put up with cuts, cuts, cuts. How come they are not having their pay and expenses cut. They should be the first to have cuts, they are all there to line their own pockets. they should set the example, take massive pay cuts, and try and live like we have to with the high rising costs of every day living. It is outrageous that nobody has suggested that these over paid useless Neanderthal, should as an example be the first in our society to have to put up with financial cuts to their over inflated pay structure. Pompous over paid bunch of W–kers. They are all for austerity let them be the first in line to have some.
    Condolence to the family of the lady who committed suicide on the M6, because of the bedroom tax, that left her unable to look after herself financially. That made me really up set…..

  12. Ange KRUMS says:

    I suggest that every GP in the UK, charge ATOs £1,000 for every
    Sick note, that is requested and questioned. Also for additional
    Information that ATOS request after already seeing the original doctors note. G.Ps should adopt this method, and start making money for there own practice.
    And start to bleed some cash from ATOS, as a way of protest…
    And pathetic time wasting.

  13. Ange KRUMS says:

    Introduce a governing body, which can monitor these tribunals.
    They are not fair, they are not impartial or independent from the Department Work And Pensions. The Tribunal centre in Coventry Is rigged with CCTV. They are even in the disabled toilets in this building. What the hell are they doing filming you from the outside in the street, to inside the building to the inside of the toilets.
    All these people who work on these panels are working for the DWP. They are there to give you intimidation humiliation, then say no you are not going to be awarded any benefit, they are really vile in there approach and attack. Nobody is watching them. They say and do what they like, they are paid by the DWP to decline as many appeals as possible . Then if they meet their targets set by the DWP the panel gets a bonus.. They are fixed, designed to fail as many people as possible. It is a disgrace, it flawed, in many ways. They refuse to let you show or talk about any real medical evidence. They are a bunch of TWATS, they control the whole shebang from start to finish… There are loads of people not able to defend themselves, even with a representative.

    1. Karen M says:

      It is possible that doctors on the tribunal panel have worked as Atos HCPs. I think there is general feeling that the DWP is way too close to the tribunal service and you are right Ange, there needs to be some sort of governing body. Maybe one that is user led- that has disabled people on its board (not Paul Maynard MP!) and a GP as well as a judge specialising in disability law.

  14. Thechazo says:

    I today was refused any ATOS, DWP or Care Needs or Appeals support letter by my GP with the GP stating that the Government has now issued strict instructions to GPs that GPs are not now allowed to provide such letters, except to a Tribunal, and are now only permitted to provide a print-out of patients full medical history. This applies to all PIP, UC and ESA claims, except at tribunal level, but since April this year, legal aid has been withdrawn for First tribunal hearings, so unless an organisation is able to support you, you might well not be able to afford to a First Tribunal hearing. If you, yourself feel the exceptional circumstances regs apply, all you can now do is put this in writing on the other information page on the ESA50 form or enclose it, Appealing is now the only realistic option for most people after a mandatory DWP reconsideration, but there is no time limit imposed on the DWP to make these so you might be waiting many months before being able to appeal. While ATOS and the DWP have previously taken scant regard of medical evidence, all you can now rely on is a print-out of your medical history. You will also need to send a copy to your benefit office immediately after an ATOS assessment ‘interview’ as ATOS do not in any case forward any medical evidence. Unfortunately the number of hoops you have to jump through can be huge just to try to claim benefits you are or at least should be entitled to. heaven help families sanctioned as a result and denied benefits for months or years at a time even if ‘eventually’ backdated. Then the worst news of all, after a successful appeal, they can reassess, lower or stop payments and force more mandatory reconsiderations and further and more appeals just for you to stay on benefits. What on Earth has happened to this country?

    1. Thechazo says:

      Need also to mention that many UC claimants and some ESA claimants will need to Tippex out parts of their medical history that they do not want in Government department hands. Also essential to ensure your GP medical records are complete and fully up to date. Voice record any ATOS meeting and asap afterwards ask for a copy of their report via your benefits office and if benefits refused or placed in a group that reduces or stops benefit (especially if contribution based and partner works 24 hours + a week) obtain a statement of their reasons for their decision. See advice pages before filling in forms and in any case if asking for a reconsideration or subsequently appealing, and photocopy everything. ATOS have a habit of losing forms they think might succeed, even when sent in recorded delivery…

      1. Thechazo says:

        I’d be most glad for any feedback on this refusal by my GP. I live in a poor area and it is possible the practice has decided in the interest of the majority of the patients that they cannot afford time for ESA/UC claimaints and the GPs ‘could’ be hiding behind a smokescreen of ‘supposed’ government instruction. On the other hand of course, it might be entirely genuine. i’d like to know the facts on this.

        1. Karen M says:

          Thechazo, if you can go through the descriptors that apply to you. Photocopy them and write in the boxes how you are affected (impairments) and how you cope on average days and bad days,giving “work-related” examples. Give the completed information to your GP. Explain that it is to save him/her time and please could he write a letter of support and send it to you. If he is compassionate he will look at your medical notes and put together a letter based on the information you gave him. If you do receive the letter photocopy it and send the photocopy to DWP.
          Best of luck

  15. IAN says:

    I have to go for an esa appeal hearing on monday,i asked two differant support agencys hor help and support at the hearing but do to funding cuts both couldnt help me,one just a week ago,
    so now im on my own with just paperwork and a drs reply to take with me.Love how they stack the cards against you.Any tips please?ianbrunsdon469@btinternet.com

  16. Karen M says:

    Ian, if you have a friend to go with you it would help. I went alone as my representative wouldn’t support me and I really regretted it. Really read your submission so you can answer the questions. I wish you the best of luck.

    1. IAN says:

      Thanks alot Karen,it helps.I suffer from anxiety and depression causing self harm and not going out,even though ive been planning the journey over and over in my head for weeks surely by me turning up there they will think im fine?thanks again.

      1. Karen M says:

        You are watched from entering the building so I suspect the judge and the doctor will see from how you behave and look that you are very anxious. I would advise to arrive on time, most places will have water and fairly comfortable chairs. If you feel really anxious during the hearing you can request a short break to recover your composure. It is not always wise to interrupt the judge but he may see how distressed you are and allow a short break.
        If you can bear it wear short sleeves because if you have tremor it will be visible to them.

        1. IAN says:

          Thanks again Karen,i was going to wear a t shirt to show the hundreds of scars on both arms and wrists,sad but it needs to be done.

          1. Karen M says:

            I was lucky this time round, because with of a lot of preparation and advice with ESA50 and a superb letter from my GP along with specialist input I was put into the support group without the need for WCA.
            However my previous claim ended in 0 points and a failed tribunal. That had been so stressful my depression got worse which made my pain worse, a vicious cycle. I am willing to share my experience and tips on ESA50 etc.

              1. Karen M says:

                Excellent news. I am so pleased for you Ian.

  17. PAUL says:

    i feel very angry about all this… i have been on reduced rate esa since august 2012.. still waiting tribunal date..i get copies of information i send dwp… from the tribunal… and the dwp are voracious in their attempts to undermine me… and leave me penniless..they will not win! i will take this as far as i can… and if i dont succeed here i will go to the european court…this is a complete scandal… and a war on us (disabled) there is something decidedly evil going on… but good will win in the end… as it must.. the government is rotten to the core and doesnt speak for its people… it must go and go now!

    1. IAN says:

      Paul you are right,i kept pestering my mp,didnt help much but i think they got my tribunel moved forward,just a 9mth wait.

  18. PAUL says:

    i wrote a letter to my mp in may or june… but not posted it yet… she is supportive… i have seen her on youtube speaking up in parliament..
    i need to send that… they arent getting my money… i will fight tooth and nail.. and die in the process if necessary

    1. IAN says:

      Try to get it posted Paul,and ring her.She is supposed to be there for you.We all know that the stress of waiting and lack of money is supposed to make us give up.I love your attitude though,dont let them win.Good luck.

  19. PAUL says:

    thanks ian, will do
    i’m just existing at moment… saw my care coordinator last week… she says she and others will support me all they can even go to tribunal.. and i will also have welfare rights person there… crazy thing is… dwp phoned me two weeks ago and asked for any more medical evidence to see if they can change the decision… yet everything is in the hands of tribunal services..so when i send them in stuff the tribunal clerk sends copy back to me with dwp’s input…and they ofcourse always counter what i send…like “this does not constitute a good reason to change the care professional’s original findings…i respectfully submit” care professional… well thats a laugh for a start..she knows all about me they stated…lol…

    1. IAN says:

      Paul,i know what you mean,i have got my paperwork ready for tomorrow and have just noticed they have not sent me back the section most relevant to me? I wish they would spend a fraction of their time trying to help instead of all of their time trying to hinder us all.

    1. IAN says:

      Hi Paul luckily my wife is coming with me,but she is as nervous as me, she is registered partially sighted and has learning difficulties,but she wants to go for moral support.My Advice worker cant make it,though i only saw her for 10 mins in total.

  20. jay says:

    Good luck tomorrow Ian.
    I too waited nine months and I represented myself and took along a friend. (Make sure you don’t go alone)
    The judge was a very kind and decent guy but watch out for the doctor at one point I felt like asking if they worked for Atos as it was similar to the WCA questioning.
    They will concentrate mainly on the descriptors and how they affect your ability to work. Explain in detail what affects your ability to work and along with your doctors evidence that will help.
    They will understand you being nervous and hesitant but remember unlike Atos you have the truth on your side.
    best of luck

    1. IAN says:

      Thanks alot Jay,not looking forward to it,will most likely be awake most of the night worrying,still at least I will look more haggard.

  21. PAUL says:

    i can only second what jay has said,
    not having been to a tribunal before… although i had a similar issue in 1998..and didnt attend the tribunal and won… after about a year waiting,they had put me on only 5pounds a week…but luckily i had a partner working at that time…good you arent entirely alone…sorry you didnt get much support …only 10mins..very best of luck…God bless you ..

  22. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

    The whole process is an insult to Human Rights & in breach of the Data Protection Act. The ESA is a new claim form as in you are signing yourself off your original benefit to claim a new benefit. Fool the masses. Still have not filled out or sent back the ESA default form & are still getting paid with no cuts to the money. The threat of cutting the benefit is the scaremongering tactics the DWP & ATOS use to milk [their] cash cow slaves.

    1. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

      What`s the point in filling out a form if the DWP & ATOS say I am lying. Legally you can`t use the word lying just an untruth.

  23. PAUL says:

    wow, thats interesting..
    i have often thought that if i’m called in again…i will be withmy care coordinator and not open my mouth..because alli say will be fabricated by them..this is new to me…how long you been getting away with it?

    1. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

      it`s been about 5 months. The point is there is a loop hole. I am disabled but if I were not I could still fiddle the benefit system. But since I am disabled & can prove I am disabled with the onus is on the burden of proof. Facts.

  24. PAUL says:

    wish i had known it,
    and got back a lot of my life..
    its difficult to know what to do for the best with atos/dwp /government…. leeches.
    good luck with that.. i suppose one might say..”clerical error”

  25. PAUL says:

    my big fear is if i dont win my tribunal… what i can live on..
    my care-coordinator says dont worry paul.. you will get money..you can sign for jobseekers allowance.. i ofcourse, know that to be the wrong thing to do and told her so… but she says.. only until you can claim esa again.. i dont want to go anywhere near jobseekers.. thats a slippery deadly slope…for sure.

    1. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

      If your facts are facts you should have no problem with the tribunal. Get the right paper work [I always take photo copies of any forms I send out] & get a few people who can back up your facts like doctors, careworker, any professional who helps you on a day to day week to week basis.

      1. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

        If they can`t turn up, get them to write a letter so you can take the letters to the tribunal. A letter for you.

  26. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

    At each stage of the process you can get your money put back on. They are breaking the Data Protection Act by using false information on a form [their own result form from which they ignored truths & facts] So the DWPs result form is false. Until the information is changed the DWP are breaking the Data Protection Act & the Data Protection Officer at the DWP is at fault. So the person one needs to speak to is the DWP`s Data Protection Officer [DPO]. There is no proof of your results DWP. There is much proof in the proof the disabled have provided as proof. If the DWP`s DPO does not change it to the correct information they are sackable for not doing their job. That should get the DWP`s DPO working to correct their own mistakes.

    1. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

      Over rulling GP`s & real Doctors that have know about ones disability for years & decades is very dangerous. It is a form of treason & slander.

  27. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

    Q. Can you pick up that empty box & carry it across the room?

    A. That will cost you £20. I thought the job had started.

  28. PAUL says:

    what if i just went to their so called assessment and played gaga … not talking just going lalala… etc…i mean… they dont take my mental health issues seriously when i do explain them in the 10 minutes i was allotted…but the “health care professional”” knows all about my mental health issues”…according to the dwp admission to the tribunal…. i starting to wonder if this is the real world.

    1. IAN says:

      Paul just got back and went from 0 points to 39 with my mental health issues,recomended not to be assesed 4 a year.so i think you will be fine. Ian

    2. Roger Jenkins says:

      This is a disgusting approach. If you are ill, then be honest, if you are not ill then also be honest and think about supporting others who are too ill to work.
      Where are your morals?

      1. Karen M says:

        If you’ve been through a WCA where the Atos HCP says there is nothing wrong enough to make you incapable of work the DWP believe that not the GP or specialists. It doesn’t matter if it’s mental health problems or physical health problems. It is DWP/Atos who lack morals in their bl**dy contract. If Paul has a care coordinator and a welfare rights officer going to his tribunal then this means he has a case don’t you think?

  29. PAUL says:

    great news ian! i’m so happy for you… any tips?
    did they recommend you go in the support group?

    1. IAN says:

      Just put me on high rate no work.should feel happy but im more angry we have to go through all this!relieved though.

    1. IAN says:

      Thats true,but im also going to claim for two missed cold weather payments they witheld from us.How are you coping? Ian

  30. PAUL says:

    hi ian,
    i just get by day to day… this thing has been hanging over me since august ’12… but i only got word from tribunal approx a month ago… so they have their own time schedule..and my area is supposed to have a long wait…i agree we shouldnt have to go through it in first place… sicken them… every person who wins at tribunal is a victory for all of us!

    1. IAN says:

      Mucks their statistics up a bit.As for tips,I think my dr won it for me,he basically wrote the truth.You have a support worker as well Paul so i think you should be fine.

  31. PAUL says:

    i guess as churchill said, after the war ; “we may allow ourselves a period of celebration” …take it easy ian… relax celebrate… you deserve it…after all the stress so cruely inflicted upon you.

  32. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

    These fake assessments [atos] know nothing about Mental Health & Disability. Like put them in a box, tick. They [atos] also know nothing abour caring, about someones feelings or otherwise. Atos will deny any of it & say it`s the DWP`s problem. The DWP are not HealthCare workers that`s why they hire atos WealthCare Workers. Pass the cash cow buck. Caring just gets in the way of the New World Order of doing things, corporate politics [Poll A Tricks]. The DWP & atos are in breach of many laws & many laws they implimented themsleves.

  33. PAUL says:

    then i am hoping that somewhere down the line we the abused of atos/dwp and not least government… tyrannical regime… will be in line for compensastion…. lets face it …the govvernment is pulling the strings… this government which has no compassion or human feelings of any kind… has to be the worst one in history

  34. PAUL says:

    not wanting to sound negative ian,
    but i may be fine… but i wonder how long it can be before they strip us of all our rights…
    they’ve done away with legal aid and loans etc… i mean its obvious

    1. IAN says:

      your right Paul,they have made it easier to fail than win.no bullshit i hate reading when someone has lost a limb and get turned down and i get the ok.IT should not be this way but the people who need to protest are scared of losing the little they have.I would like to say things will change but i cant see it.I went there today ,expecting them to say i was fit for work and was going to punch a window and cut my wrist just to prove a point.

      1. Karen M says:

        What we can do is offer as much advice and help to people about to start their claim. What worked for us regarding ESA50, evidence, WCA and tribunal should be out there. Black Triangle and bloggers such as skwalker and Sue Marsh (and many others) give us a voice and proves the demos is at the heart of democracy. After all we are all “extremists”.

        1. IAN says:

          Well my Dr wrote that he thought i wouldnt be suitable for work,in his opinion,and it would be detrimental to my health if forced to do so,great letter.

          1. Karen M says:

            I had a similar letter from My GP to send in with my ESA50. It is definitely worth getting your GP on side. I can also add that I visited her about once every month so she knew my problems well!

            1. IAN says:

              hi Karen hope you dont mind but after winning your appeal how long after did they send you for re assement?

              1. Karen M says:

                I lost my appeal first time round. I reapplied straight away for ESA. This time I was put into the support group without a WCA. No big difference in my conditions just a hell of a lot more work and support filling in the form and getting the evidence to go in with the form. I was emotionally and physically exhausted but it was worth it.

              2. Karen M says:

                What angers me is that despite being in the support group there is no support, in fact I have the prospect of DWP deciding on a whim that my circumstances have changed and I have to go to a WCA. And the whole stupid, cruel cycle starts again. Which brings my dilemma neatly back to the subject!

                It just makes no economic sense to keep going on with the “WCA fail, tribunal win” in cases where a person’s condition is incurable or is progressive.

                When I have energy and the pain is not so bad I volunteer for a charity and so contribute in a small way to the local economy. The stress of the WCA and tribunal last year put a halt to that and I felt worthless. Do I want to go through that again? NO, but I probably will do. I am back to the volunteering but I feel I have much less to offer as the pain and exhaustion are 24/7.

              3. IAN says:

                I know when I rang E.S.A the woman i spoke to seemed to take great delight in telling me i had only won the first stage,where do they get these people? they seem to delight in grinding us down.How are you today Karen?

              4. Karen M says:

                The DWP call centre staff member you spoke to sounds like a nasty piece of work. It not only shows a complete detachment from the real world but also a spiteful nature.

                If I were you I would refuse to talk to them if this happens again and tell them to please put whatever they were going to tell you in a letter. This would be a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act.

                I wonder if your call was recorded? You can put in a Subject Access Request (SAR) to your local JobCentre Plus Benefit Centre. This is a request for:
                “any and all data up to and including (a date, say 16 July 2013) including transcripts of any recorded telephone conversations held about my (name of benefit) claim.”
                They might send you a form for SAR but you are better off sending a letter with the request as the form is several pages long. The quote is worth putting in the letter. It is short and to the point. Use your national insurance number as the reference. Photocopy the letter to include in your tribunal documents just in case DWP don’t reply. Then send the letter to the address at the top of the letters you get from JobCentre Plus Benefit Centre.
                I got this information from another website but I can’t remember which.

                I’ve had a pretty rotten day regarding the pain. Can’t wait for the iv lidocaine infusion that might get me a couple or so weeks’ respite. Mentally betterthan before the little brown envelope arrived, still fuming about other people’s experiences though,

              5. IAN says:

                Thanks Karen,I will save the information you gave me for future referance,the less I have to deal with the DWP the better at the moment,as long as they send me back my money owed,sorry your in so much pain,hopefully you will get your medicine soon.you shouldnt have to be going through all this,cant they let people be ill in peace.

              6. Karen M says:

                My old grey cell is definitely on holiday Ian. I realise I wasn’t clear in my first post. I failed my one and only tribunal to date. As more than 6 months had elapsed since the decision on that claim I re-applied for ESA. So no re-assessment was involved.

  35. PAUL says:

    i had similar letter from my gp. it was short and said that my health would suffer from ongoing appeals thing..
    i had letters too from care-coordinator.. i got them scanned at local jobmarket..2 weeks ago because they said that possably they could turn my decision around.. but i’ve heard nothing.. what i do get is every letter i send dwp ,they counter all the content..so i see them now as the real enemy… and i will send all info to my welfare rights supporter… though i do want my own input in a written letter too.. i have since seen a psychiatrist… and he describes in a letter that i’m sufferring from depressive illness and that my mind has blank periods… like when i leave the cooker on.. also my severe ocd etc.. i hope it’s enough.

    1. IAN says:

      It should be enough Paul,funny but they asked me twice yesterday about cooking,I told them that i had twice left food to burn in the oven,just being honest,so for some reason they were interested in that? also when i was there i made a couple of jokes and just tried to be me,i tried to avoid presenting myself as a victim.Hope this helps?

  36. PAUL says:

    can any of you help me with the following query?
    ok, i send letters in my support to dwp… they forward it to the tribunal….with a covering counter letter.. deriding all i have sent…obviously now i have decided to by-pass dwp.. and send all support letters to welfare rights…my query is about..covering the period of the atos exam…the dwp has used that against me in the last cover letter to the tribunal… saying that i was only intouch with my gp during that period and on meds… it may be true… but i was in between services… i have to wait until i get into secondary care… which i am now in.. my issues have been ongoing for most of my life though…i had a brief period with talking changes and a psychologist prior to this atos crap… can anyone tell me how i can cover the period of atos exam in the best way?

    1. IAN says:

      Paul i was as nervous as hell,i think i made the jokes because of nerves,when i went to atossers for my exam i never had a dr,i had just moved,and i never filled out my esa50 form because i had just filled out my dla form and thought,stupidly they would use that.so i had huge gaps in my history at the time.I cant get out of my head that atos gave me 0 points and i was given 39 yesterday so surely atos are not doing the job in a fit manner.?

    2. Karen M says:

      Paul, are you saying that you have seen the covering letter DWP are sending with your evidence to the Tribunal Service? That this covering letter from the DWP is saying (and “instructing” the Tribunal Service) that your evidence is not sound? If any of this is right ASAP you should get an appointment to see the Welfare Rights officer at your Local Authority and show them any of this correspondence from DWP.

      You should be all right with the Tribunal if you have evidence to show (a) you have visited your GP (b) you are on meds (c) the meds are not enough so you have had therapy (d) that you are in the system but between services. What happened at the WCA may go in your favour as Tribunals have a poor opinion of Atos Reports that are clearly not describing you accurately. Also mental health problems are known to be poorly handled by DWP/Atos, those deriding comments made about your evidence prove it.

      The main thing is include ALL your evidence in your written submission (which your Welfare Rights officer will help you with) including the deriding letters from DWP. You have to produce the burden of proof. If you can get letters of support from health professional who have treated you in the past or from social workers to include as evidence.

      The Tribunals’s job is to examine the evidence and decide in favour of the party where there is probability. In other words if your case is stronger on evidence then you would probably win.

      You never should attempt to deride DWP or Atos in your submission or statements during the hearing as you will find the judge will not be pleased.

      1. Karen M says:

        Sorry Paul, my last comment sounds so abrupt/rude. It was advice I was given that the appellant should never get personal with negative comments about the Atos HCP or with DWP. Which is difficult when a whole load of lies have been told about yourself in the WCA report.

  37. PAUL says:

    thanks ian… good you could do that… but in reality we are victims of this cruel regime… i think i will be near tears.

  38. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

    The tactics of the whole process from the start is emotional stress. Corporate politics with shares in world companies have no emotions, so they can manipulate peoples emotions for wealth & gain = Robbing what is not theirs. They have planned from the start to give as much emotional stress as they can to get what they want without an answer back, because people will be emotional wrecks. Great way to do corporate politics = genocide.

  39. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

    The 1st step is to bring atos & the dwp down to their knees then we will talk about compensation & lawsuits against Human Rights.

  40. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

    Atos hide behind the dwp – The Dwp hude behind IDS, ODS hides behind Cameron, Cameron sacked.

    1. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

      Atos hide behind the dwp – The Dwp hide behind IDS, IDS hides behind Cameron, Cameron sacked.

      correct spelling***

  41. IAN says:

    So i won my appeal yesterday so rang the esa to ask when i can expect my money back.She said 1, 2 weeks.and also that i won my appeal only on one point and i can expect a new assesment.what the fuck?

    1. Karen M says:

      If you need help with ESA50 I will help in what ever way I can Ian. But to prepare for the inevitable I would suggest you phone Mind to see what more focussed and personal support they can give. There are also blogs out there aimed at people struggling with the mental health descriptors. Meanwhile I suggest downloading ESA50 from the DWP website and printing out the Part 2 descriptors so if you can get a meeting with a Welfare Rights officer at your Local Authority or with somebody from Mind you have the descriptors to hand.

  42. PAUL says:

    i thought as much,
    they are relentless but you will be much wiser this time… never go alone to their so called medical… thats rule number one.. say you want it recorded..if they dont then kick up a fuss… if you have care coordinator… get them to go with you ..otherwise someone from welfare rights, not cab…if you have a dog, never let them know it…these are pointers i havev since learned.

    1. Karen M says:

      Spot on Paul. Plus if you’ve any hobbies be very careful about how you phrase your answers to innocuous questions like “It’s been a great summer, how did you enjoy it?”

      It’s bl**dy cruel the way people with complex mental health problems are treated by DWP/Atos. I hope you and Ian manage to get all the support you can get. Best of luck.

    1. IAN says:

      Sorry Paul,what i meant was the esa woman said i only won on one point.im guessing she meant an appeal just challenges the at
      os decision and there is more they can challenge me on?

  43. PAUL says:

    sounds like it, then if i were you i would stand by the points already submitted.. that your condition doesnt change or gets worse

    1. IAN says:

      By the sounds of it the esa lady was telling me that they would get me in the end.So no matter what ive only .just started

  44. PAUL says:

    its horrible… so blatantly obvious that they dont have any health agenda only grabbing money…the world today is about those with money and those without… compassion is going out of fashion… though not with me… dont let them get you… always fight.

  45. PAUL says:

    were the tribunal much concerned with the codition you were in at time of atos exam? this is the part that i’m worried about… as i was in between services .

    1. IAN says:

      they asked how i was then and i said i
      was in a bad place.like i before i think they took me as i were.

    1. Karen M says:

      No, I’m OK until the DWP decide I should go for a WCA after all. But I am an “extremist”, in other words an armchair activist as I communicate through blog posts. It makes my blood boil when I see posts like yours and Ian’s and how badly you and everybody is treated by DWP/Atos. Although I’ve been diagnosed with depression it is my physical problems that cause me the most problems. They are invisible so the Atos HCP at my last WCA thought I was fine to work, I was awarded 0 points last year. I had second-rate representation for tribunal so lost that too. Now I am in the support group! Strange.

      1. IAN says:

        You being there helped alot thanks Karen,I rang up the D.W.p again today and they said my back money has been sent and I should get it Tuesday,just wait and see.but thanks.Ian

  46. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

    A big THANK YOU to all here, great advice & practical action brings common sense & answers.

  47. PAUL says:

    hi ian,
    good news…
    i wasnt online lately… couldnt pay my utilities bill…
    kinda living hand to mouth since my atos caring medical…atos “healthcare” someone please tell me where the health care part kicks in?
    really atos leeches are getting the chop?

    1. IAN says:

      Hi Paul good to hear from you.sorry to hear that money is tight,Atos work is being shared with other companies and their contract is up and will be reviewed in 2015 as far as i can tell?

  48. jay says:

    Unfortunately no chance, all that is happening is taxpayer’s cash will not be exclusively given to Atos for cheating the disabled and sick but other firms too, can now apply to join the gravy train at our expense.

  49. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

    Sub Contractors are queing up to rob the dwp just like atos. They can get away with it just like atos. Yet more & mpre tax payers money wasted.

  50. Sam says:

    To Karen M and Ian;

    Thank you both for your suggestions, which I’ll follow up after the weekend – I hope I may let you know how it goes.

    And especially thank you, more than I can explain, for being concerned by my silence. That matters. A great deal. As it happens, no panic; I forgot to tap for notifications, and I have been a bit out of it anyway, but nothing too serious…

    Another reason I wasn’t too quick to come back to this page was that I was embarrassed – mortified, actually. I interrupted a conversation and made it about me. I know you were ready to help, but even so I apologise for my self-indulgence.

    I’m going to have a cup of tea now!

      1. Sam says:

        Hi Ian; I just prodded myself and it just about moved… so okay, I guess.

        I’ve not been following this page for a day or so, so I’ve rather lost track. I hope you’re all okay – but I suspect that there are a lot of people here who are more screwed than they let on. There seems to be a fair bit of resilience out there, even if it being tested to breaking point day after day.

        I hope I’m not duplicating too much something already posted on this page when I report this. My GP’s practice has the rule that they don’t provide evidence for WCAs or appeals, but they’ve just relented for me: I’m to provide a bit of paperwork (a copy of my ESA50 – is that what I mean? – and suchlike, to see what sort of evidence is required) and they’ll produce something for my appeal hearing. Gott Sei Dank.

        Another bit of excellent news is that a higher tribunal has ruled that unqualified Atos HCPs can’t be so cavalier in their assertions (specifically physiotherapists pronouncing arrogantly about mental health, which is exactly my experience), so I have an extra set of grounds for my appeal.

        And I’ve made it all about me again… the state I’m in, I’m afraid.


        1. Karen M says:

          Sam, I am so glad about the GP practice relenting. If they’ve asked to see your ESA50 it will probably be a letter of support for the tribunal. Result. Hope all goes well.

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