Atos fit-to-work assessments branded ‘farcical’ as nearly half of people with progressive diseases like Parkinson’s told they’ll RECOVER


By Tom McTague 27 Aug 2013 00:00

The shock figures, from research by leading charities, are the latest blow to the credibility of employment tests

Campaign: Protesters in wheelchairs carry placards against Atos last year AFP/Getty
Campaign: Protesters in wheelchairs carry placards against Atos last year AFP/Getty

More than four in 10 jobless people with crippling life-long illnesses are being told they will get better – and must seek work.

The shock figures, from research by leading charities, are the latest blow to the credibility of employment tests ordered by the Government.

Parkinson’s UK said the results of the Work Capability Assessment, done by French firm Atos, “defy belief”.

The charity accused the Government of an “unspeakable failure” to support the most vulnerable.

Between 2008 and 2011, 13,600 people with cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or rheumatoid arthritis applied for out-of-work benefit the Employment Support Allowance.

But according to research from Parkinson’s UK, the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, the MS Society and the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, 45% were told they were able to recover to the point where they could look for work.

The charities called for ministers to rethink the “hugely flawed” system.

Parkinson’s sufferer Jim Grimwood had to give up his job as a computer programmer after 20 years.

Jim, 58, from the North Pennines, said: “It was six years after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s that I was finally forced to give up work.

“After the first ESA assessment they said I should be able to work within three months. I was flabbergasted.

“Last year I applied for ESA again as my Parkinson’s had got worse.

“I was told I should be able to return to work in 18 months. I asked to be reassessed but the DWP refused.”

He said his condition prevented him from doing even basic things, let alone a job.

[Insert by Black Triangle]
[Insert by Black Triangle]


Caroline Hacker, of Parkinson’s UK, said:

“This is the latest in a long line of unspeakable failures by Atos Healthcare and the Government to support those who need it most.

“To tell people who’ve had to give up work because of a debilitating progressive condition that they’ll recover is farcical and defies belief.”

The Department for Work and Pensions denied those with degenerative conditions are told they will recover.

But added: “There is strong evidence working can be beneficial for many people who have a health condition.”

Atos said: “Our staff are trained to assess chronic and progressive conditions.

“However, the advice we give DWP concentrates on how individuals are at present. Decisions are made by DWP.”

Atos admits it conducts around 17% of WCAs without face-to-face assessment.

The Daily Mirror


17 thoughts on “Atos fit-to-work assessments branded ‘farcical’ as nearly half of people with progressive diseases like Parkinson’s told they’ll RECOVER

  1. George says:

    Arn’t they getting paid on the basis of declaring people fit for work,so it’s in their financial interest to pass as many people fit as they can.
    I was going to say,wait untill after the next election,but there isn’t much between Labour and the Torries,I hate to say it so late in life,”they are all the same”

  2. Greg Fester says:

    Imagine a train on a single line gradually building up speed, its driver desperately trying to apply the brakes without success.

    The train ignores the slow signs and the signals now all that can be seen is the line ahead everything on all sides is a blur. The engine will only stop when it runs out of fuel or reaches its destination. Anything or one who stands in its way will be run over.

    This describes my 28 year old son who suffers from Aspergers Syndrome. To all intents and purposes he is a normal person who is little reticent and tends to filter into the background avoiding contact if possible.

    My description of the trains behaviour is applicable to him. His interests only apply to things that he wants to do. If he takes an interest in anything the idea will not come from anyone but him. then he puts his whole being into it.

    I have cared for him with help from our government since he was 19, that was the time he ended his 3 year term at a Special Needs College, and with my own health deteriorating life has not been a bed of roses living with him, however he is my son and love and understand him better than anyone and he knows it.

    He is not stupid and fully understands what the ATOS business is about and it frightens him himself, and me for what it may do to him, particularly when he is left alone.

    My wife and I have struggled to cope with my so, but we do it for love, and the knowledge that out there are organizations that contradict the very essence of a stabilized life for people like my son.

    Certainly I would love it for him to find employment and given the right help would be absolutely wonderful, however he and many others will on cope on a one to one basis in a job that they take an interest in. While ordinary folk will take on and apply themselves to any given task for the sake of their dependents. this does not apply to people with learning difficulties.

    Like the train, if my son is attracted to something he likes he has a one track mind and nothing and no one will detract him from that. This is not a belligerence it is a mental issue that can only be guided around, not bullied to a stop.

    It is a known fact that there is high percentage of suicides among people with Aspergers, and I believe that this is due to the loss of the support of their dependents in some way.

    The possible loss of his government financial support due to any
    decision by a committee, though supported by the same government though laughable, is secondary to the possible trauma, to him,caused by the disruption to his line of thought.

    Remember while his is not a physical disability he nevertheless is mentally disabled which because of its invisibility is a lot harder to define.

    1. JEFFREY says:

      i undersrand aspergers i have it and i am 50
      looks like your son is very like me.
      i to am pissed with the way atos is treating the disabled
      and no one is being punished as thousands die

      jeff lph

  3. Pingback: The Daily Cameron

    From: GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended)

    7 March 2013

    Dear Department for Work and Pensions,
    Can you please confirm if it is possible to attend an ATOS
    examination that lasted 35 minutes, walk from a chair to a couch
    and get on it, be examined, decline to be examined on 75 movements
    and be observed to stand in one place for duration of the

    I did.

    Yours faithfully,

  5. Meredith Ong says:


    From: MEREDITH ONG (Account suspended)

    29 July 2013

    Dear Department for Work and Pensions,
    You recently wrote the following in response to the removal of
    Lifetime and Indefinite Awards…

    01150 A decision made by a DM, the FtT or the UT is final1 unless
    it is
    1. revised (decisions of DMs only)
    2. superseded
    3. terminated after an award has been suspended
    4. changed or replaced on appeal
    5. corrected or
    6. set aside (decisions of the FtT or the UT only).
    Note: See DMG 01180 – 01191 for guidance on finality of
    1 SS Act 98, s 17(1)
    01151 Where a decision is changed or replaced as in DMG 01150, the
    new or revised decision becomes
    the final decision on the claim or application, even where it does
    not change the outcome1. But see DMG
    01152 – 01153 where an outcome decision is not replaced on appeal.

    With reference to the above;

    Can an award that was made at a tribunal hearing that was attended
    by one or maybe two professional GP’s, be taken away by a DWP
    decision maker who has no medical background?
    The aforementioned text seems to imply this.

    Why would an award be retracted if the claimants condition had not
    altered or got worse?

    How many claimants have had their “lifetime or Indefinite awards”
    taken from them, having attended the controversial ESA examination?

    Yours faithfully,


    Link to this

  6. Meredith Ong says:



    The Guardian, Wednesday 12 September 2012 21.00 BST

    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.

  7. Stepping Razor Sound Plate says:

    Huffington Post – 27th Aug 2013

    Atos Tests Branded ‘Farcical’ After Finding Multiple Sclerosis Sufferers Fit For Work

    People with crippling illnesses like cystic fibrosis and multiple sclerosis are being found fit for work in tests branded “farcical” by charities.

    The controversial Work Capability Assessment “defies belief”, Parkinson’s UK said after figures showed that 45% of people with four progressive diseases were being deemed capable of working.

    The government insisted it was important not to “write people off”.

    The study looked at people with cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or rheumatoid arthritis who applied for Employment Support Allowance between 2008 and 2011.

    Some 45% were deemed able to recover from their condition to the point where they can look for work, according to research from Parkinson’s UK, the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, the MS Society and the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society.

    The charities called for ministers to rethink the “hugely flawed” system.

    Read Full Article –

  8. Nigel Simmons says:

    The Country has no money so we are told – Austerity is the watch word,Bedroom Tax,the Killing Company ATOS assessing Severely Ill people fit for work,our Service Men & Women treated the same after injury.Poverty increasing,unemployment rising through Immigration and yet when the Government have an agenda there is no limit to Our Money Pot.Cameron & Hague for the last two years have wanted Regime change in Syria,for that purpose all MP’s were recalled to Parliament from where ever they were on holiday paid for by us.The outcome was a negative one for the Government so why couldn’t it wait until Parliament was convened.Our Money is no object when they want to use it for their Corrupt Purposes,we the Public are treated with Contempt.
    The only Regime change drastically needed in the World today is the British Government and the Sooner the Better.We are paying for Legalised Crimminality to Rule us.


    6. Mr Reynolds made an appeal on the approved form, on the grounds that he disagrees with comments made in the medical report and with the findings of the HCP.
    He has difficulties with walking, standing and sitting, bending and kneeling, reaching, manual dexterity, hearing, continence and misinterpreting communication.

    Functional Problems
    I advise that a return to work could be considered within 3 months.

    Reason for opinion given
    The available evidence suggests significant functional impairment is unlikely.


    …..and yet,

    25 October 1997

    The Adjudicating Medical Officers Decision
    The Adjudicating Medical Authority decided that,
    . the industrial accident on 8 12 92 has caused you a loss of faculty
    . the loss of faculty is pain and reduced movements of the lumbar spine
    . you are 20% disabled from 1 10 97 for life because of the loss of faculty. By loss of faculty we mean some loss of power or function to an organ of your body.

    The Adjudicating Medical Authority’s assessment of your disability is a final assessment.


    20 9 95
    Medical Certificates
    You do not have to send any more medical certificates from your doctor. Medical certificates are also called sick notes.


    ………..after ATOS assessment by Emma Brodrick HCP,

    No points awarded.


    17 12 2012
    I need to reiterate to you that unfortunately without a medical certificate i cannot issue payments of employment and support allowance.
    Payment terminated.


    24 07 2013
    Disability Living Allowance terminated.

  10. Meredith Ong says:





    Draft Deregulation Bill: Government moves to shut down judicial supervision and criticism of DWP-Atos decision making by abolition of duty by Tribunals’ President to publish annual report

  11. GEOFF REYNOLDS says:

    Oh what consternation! The tyranny of it all!

    Had to chuckle to myself this morning when i read the BBC, pre-arranged news bulletins.

    Apparently Duncan Smith’s Department of Social Justice, (seems a joke in itself), has recognised a chilling rise in the amount of persons dying from the use of “legal highs”, as they have come to be known.

    Deaths this year are quoted as 52, up from 28, last year.
    His department are set to ban a wide range of, over the counter, widely available on the internet,mind enhancing substances.

    Strange as they can record and act upon the demise of this amount, but prefer to walk away from the thousands who have died as a result of “Welfare reforms”.

    This cosy little relationship with the media is a springboard for false reporting…………………………

    Even as i speak, the media is still hellbent on selling war as a commodity the British people must have. Even Cameron is still kowtowing to the Yanks by insisting he is fully behind their policies against Syria.

    The MPs of this country don’t represent the views of the electorate one iota…………….

    How come, in opinion polls, between 9 and 11% questioned wanted to take action against Syria, yet the vote in the commons had only a majority of thirteen votes?

    When it comes to stealing money from the weakest and poorest, this is totally acceptable, as is the spiraling death rate.

    Money is always available for overseas combat to rid a nation of a despot ruler, why don’t the Yanks attack us?

    While the likes of our food banks are put under strain and more and more are driven into destitution, our government distance themselves, social deprivation is now the norm of our once great land.


    ………..carefully buried under the guise of legislation.

  12. GEOFF REYNOLDS says:

    The UK will “Lead the world” in getting humanitarian aid to refugees in Syria, David Cameron has vowed………

    Is this some kind of a sick joke from westminster?

    While his own people are pushed int poverty and food banks are an everyday event, he wants to take centre stage on being Mr nice guy.

    Words honestly fail me………

    He will mobilise the injured in Syria by sending in ATOS HCPs.
    Within three months they will be back at work.

    Meanwhile the government news arm, the BBC (BLATANTLY BIASED CLAPTRAP), are going full steam ahead promoting war at each and every opportunity.

    Nevertheless, they gave a good coverage of the disabled protest at its doors, fuck all as usual………………

    Watched the Transparency of Lobbying Debate in the commons, what a load of utter crap to silence their critics.

    Nothing more than union bashing, charity silencing and an effort to misalign the real crooks of lobbying beneath a multitude of double meaning crosstalk.

    I’m sure their aims cut straight across provision of free speech in the Human Rights Act. Put it this way, they would get their arses kicked in the European Courts, free speech is a democratic right of everyone………………

    Back to the BBC, I WOULD URGE EVERYBODY TO NEGLECT TO RENEW THEIR LICENCES. They want knocking down a peg or two!

    “I expect the real truth not a glorified coalition script…………

  13. Humanity2012 says:

    Theft of Welfare Benefits under the Title of ” Universal Credit ”
    must be Opposed

    It is a Dictatorship when Politicians in their Lives of Cloud Cuckoo
    Land can just Bulldoze through whatever Rubbish they Like and
    the Docile Sheepish British Public just accept it that Politicians
    can Live in Houses Worth over a Million Pounds and the Poor are
    Messed About over Benefits

    Enough of Nazi Britain it is Time For a Nicer Britain

  14. Karen M says:

    Atos version from LiMA (EBM – Parkinson’s Diseases Version: 1 Final MED/PD~001(b)) from FOI website WhatDoTheyKnow

    Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder which starts with mild unilateral involvement and progresses to complete dependency. It is usually staged in five stages; [3]
    • Stage I Unilateral involvement only
    • Stage II Bilateral involvement without impairment of balance
    • Stage III Impairment of balance and functional restriction
    • Stage IV Fully-developed disease retaining ability to walk and stand unassisted but otherwise markedly incapacitated
    • Stage V Bed-bound or wheelchair bound unless aided
    Untreated, the disorder progresses to total disability, often accompanied by general deterioration of all brain functions, and may lead to an early death.
    Treated, the disorder impairs people in varying ways. Most people respond to some extent to medications. The extent of symptom relief, and how long this control of symptoms lasts, is highly variable. The side effects of medications may be severe.”

    DWP version of prognosis (Conditions A-Z)
    “PD is a progressive condition and there is likely to be no improvement in mobility and care needs.”
    “All information must be taken into account when considering the duration of disabling effects and the duration of disabling effects must be based on the particular circumstances of the individual claimant.”

    Atos said: “Our staff are trained to assess chronic and progressive conditions.

    “However, the advice we give DWP concentrates on how individuals are at present. Decisions are made by DWP.”

    Part of the role of the Atos HCP is to advise DWP on prognosis. Warrants comment and criticism I think given their protocols.

  15. GEOFF REYNOLDS says:


    It seems as though most of the British public are asking the same question.
    Every freedom of information site connected to the DWP, are awash with the same question, how many have died as a result of the ill conceived welfare reforms?…………………

    The real answer would stagger anybody. This is the reason the DWP are reluctant to publish the “KNOWN” figures.

    Controlling the media is easy when you hold the power, suppressing the truth is another matter. Whatever they try to withhold has a way of leaking out.

    Friends at their department update me regularly on the discontent within their ranks and the bullying afforded to them.

    Strangely, the once cast iron cauldron of the goverments nasty arm is starting to resemble a colander full of holes……..
    Wherever they place their fingers to stop the truth leaking out, it finds another channel.

    Daily they are bombarded with freedom of information requests. They give out replies but the public are no fools, finding time after time, they have been lied to. Answers they gave on one request, contradict that given on another……..

    You have to have a good memory to be a good liar!!!

    Foolishly, they employ more than a handful of employees to answer requests. Each employee is out of touch with what their colleagues have posted, therefore gaping errors are being seized upon, to their regret………………

    I hope you have all requested the information that the DWP hold on you.

    It costs nothing but it costs them time and money to collate it all. Why not put in a request today?

    My information was seven inches deep and contained all my medical history. The same history that they request from you at an ESA, but is already in their domain.

    Don’t hesitate, put in a request today!!! It costs you absolutely nothing, zero, zilch………

    The chains are starting to stretch on the gates of the DWP’s cemetery of shame, the question of the day will be, “Who will take the wrap?”

    Will it be the man at the top, Duncan Smith, the evil witch, Mcvey, or will it be put firmly on the shoulders of Gunnyeon, the medical chief of the DWP, “THE ANGEL OF DEATH”, who sold his soul and the lives of thousands to the greed of the private health insurers………………………….

    Lobbying has it’s perks, but the needs of the hangmans halter have to be met………..

    Who will fall first? Only time well tell.


    ……………the mind boggles.

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