DWP silent over ‘fitness for work’ tests carried out by drunk Atos nurse

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11th August 2016 John Pring

DWP silent over ‘fitness for work’ tests carried out by drunk Atos nurse

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is refusing to say whether it has reviewed hundreds of “fitness for work” tests carried out by a nurse who has been struck off for conducting assessments of disabled benefit claimants while drunk.

Although former Atos healthcare professional Heather Margaret MacBean was found guilty of misconduct by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) of charges relating to just one day, 27 June 2013, it is believed that she was drunk at work on other occasions.

The former health visitor and midwife could have carried out hundreds of work capability assessments (WCAs), and it is believed that she also conducted disability living allowance (DLA) assessments for Atos, on behalf of DWP.

In November 2013, when allegations against MacBean first emerged, Disability News Service (DNS) spoke to two disabled people who were each found “fit for work” and so ineligible for employment and support allowance (ESA) after being assessed by MacBean.

One assessment took place in January 2013 and the other in April 2013, and on both occasions the claimants said MacBean had been behaving strangely during the face-to-face assessment and subsequently produced reports that were full of inaccuracies.

Only last week, DNS revealed that a nurse, a personal independence payment (PIP) assessor with extreme right-wing sympathies, was suspended by another government contractor, Capita, after she posted disablist, racist comments about social security claimants on her Facebook page.

And DNS also reports this week how a third nurse has been struck off after pretending to assess disabled people for PIP in their own homes, on behalf of Atos, when she was actually carrying out the assessments by telephone.

An NMC panel heard that MacBean’s colleagues were able to smell strong mints and alcohol on her breath on the morning of 27 June 2013 – although she denied that she had been drinking – while in the afternoon her eyes had become glazed and she was slurring her words, and her managers concluded that a bottle she had been drinking from contained wine mixed with water.

MacBean was suspended – and tried to drive home while still drunk – and later sacked by Atos for gross misconduct.

An NMC panel found that the disabled people MacBean had assessed had been put “at unwarranted risk of harm” and could have been denied benefits because “her judgment may have been impaired and her assessments not completed fully and properly”.

The decision to remove MacBean from the nursing register was taken in January but it has only emerged this week.

By 11am today (11 August), DWP had refused to say how many assessments MacBean carried out, how long she worked for Atos, and what action it had taken regarding the DLA and ESA assessments she carried out.

Atos said it could not comment on the case because it no longer holds the WCA contract – having been replaced by another controversial outsourcing giant, Maximus – and so does “not have the files or access to the files”.

 

 

Comments
  • Terminator August 11, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    All those doing WCA assessments were supposed to be transferred over to maximus? You cannot tell me that ATOS didn’t keep copies of any files they had in their possession as they tried to call me on a very old number when they wanted me to travel roughly 100 miles, round trip, for a PIP assessment in 2014 they ended up emailing me and telling me to call the 0800 number on the letter but the email started off with we tried to contact you by phone but got no reply on your mobile number.

  • mikey August 24, 2016 at 3:05 am

    to understand how all this assessement process works,,understand.that atos is a private company,,it has no legal personality or powers to compel,,,no more than does bnq,,top shop,,,everything they tell you to do is just a request,,thats all,,,,2,,,atos needs your consent to be assessed,,in giving it,,you recognise that nurse,,psysio as qualified,,which they are not,,.they get your consent by saying,,are you happy to go ahead,,thats consent,,dont give it..you have the right to be assessed by a qualified person,,,3,when on atoses offices,,they dictate terms of recording,in your home,,you can record if you want,atos will try to get you to sign a contract,which say they will dictate when and where this recording can be used,,this is ilegal,,and is nothing but a request,,atos has no legal powers, allways remember this,,whatever they tell you,,know they cannot enforce anything,cannot stop your money,,as they are always telling us,,its the dwp that does that,,this is a legal game of hide and seek,and it all depends on them getting consent,,without it ,they can do nothing,,by you insisting on a qualified person,,atos was secretly filmed saying,,get their consent,,we can do nothing without it,,,for once they told the truth,,we need to stop being scared,,and learn how all this works,,,when in the private sector,,you can call your employees anything you want,,a nurse suddenly becomes a health analyst,,,in the private sector these health professionals have no ..duty of care,,as in the nhs,,no nurse ,occupational therapist ect ect,,is qualified in the nhs to assess all illnessess,,none of them is,,this is all a legal slight of hand,,smoke and mirrors,,and it all depends on you giving consent,,to be assessed by unqualified person,,dont give it,,,demand your rights,,the whole thing is done on the cheap,,,,everone here should watch,,undercover assessment on you tube,,your one and only legal obligation is to turn up for assessment,,but thats it,,never ever feel that you must do what atos tells you,,,,they have no legal powers over you

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