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Relating Outcomes to Lived Experience
Here’s a copy of the letter to Ian Duncan Smith sent by a member of the ROLE Network. We await their reply.
If you have other information for us to use, please do get in touch.
Dear Mr.Duncan Smith
Re: ATOS – Medical Assessments – Employment & Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance
I write with regard to the above and in particular to assessments carried out on those suffering mental illness. Whilst I am in complete agreement that this is important legislation and action needs to be taken to reduce the monies paid out on benefits to people who really do not need them it is most important that assessments are carried out fairly and by suitably qualified persons.
I fail to see why the previous government appointed ATOS a foreign company to oversee this legislation. ATOS has some history of being over zealous in their efforts to please their clients and more concerned with ‘success’ rather than being fair and just.
The medical assessments are carried out by “health” professionals not “mental health” professionals. These assessments are being carried out on persons suffering severe and enduring mental illness.
The coalition government are doing their best to reduce the country’s massive debt but ATOS is costing the country/government/taxpayers millions of pounds due to the large number of Appeals, a great many of which are successful, that are being lodged by patients who have been termed “fit for work”, particularly those patients suffering from severe and enduring mental illness. In a large number of Appeals the original decisions have been overturned and the Tribunals have found in favour of the Appellant. One Chair of a Tribunal held recently going so far as to say that the Appeal should never have needed to have been brought because the original decision was the wrong one! Also local charities/organisations such as Welfare Rights Units are under extreme pressure and very heavy workloads advising and accompanying the patients to medical assessments and then on to the Appeals. Most, in fact, have severe backlogs.
When people are termed “fit for work” they immediately lose their benefits and also support. This then causes extreme anxiety and in some cases attempted or even successful suicides. Mental health patients cannot cope with the very high levels of stress and anxiety of not being well, not having any money and losing the support that they need. I am expecting to see a steep rise in the number of suicides when the next Suicide Audit is published.
The present situation is also causing great concern to charities, a large number of NHS employees including doctors and nurses, carers and carers organisations, service users and service users organisations. One professional person actually commenting recently “something must be done – they really do not know what they are doing and who they are hurting”.
It is obvious that the present situation should not be allowed to continue and steps should be taken to ensure that this legislation is carried out by those best qualified and in a fair and just manner particularly in relation to mental health patients.
I am sure that this would then result in the saving of millions of pounds and also the saving of lives.
I await your early reply.