All information may be accessed for non-commercial use on the strict understanding that any quotes from my research will acknowledge the copyright as that of the author: Mo Stewart.
You can click on a date to link to the item of correspondence published on this page.
|15 February||Letter||To SPVA||Noting apologies and raising additional concerns.|
|18 June||Comments||From Atos Medical Staff||"It's really tough to qualify for ESA."|
|21 June||Letter||From DWP||Apologies and consolatory payment.|
|23 June||Letter||To DWP||Response.|
|5 August||Letter||From Tribunals Judiciary||Outside remit.|
|9 August||Letter||To Tribunals Judiciary||Response.|
|16 August||Letter||From Professor Harrington CBE||Accepts report as evidence in WCA Independent Review.|
|23 August||Letter||To Chair DWP Select Committee||Suggestions for improvements.|
|23 August||Letter||From Citizens Advice Scotland||Report added to knowledge base.|
|3 September||Letter||To SPVA CEO||Provides access to report.|
|5 September||To Disability Alliance CEO||Summary follow up to research report.|
|12 September||To Parliament DWP Select Committee||Diligence regarding contract.|
|14 September||Letter||From SPVA||No further action required.|
|17 September||To SPVA||Response to 14 September letter.|
|25 October||Memo||To SPVA Chief Executive||Rejecting the previous response.|
|3 December||Memo||To All||Response to Professor Harrington's Review of WCA.|
Here are examples of important correspondence.
This is the letter from Mrs S... to the SPVA.
Dr Paul Kitchen 15th February 2010 Deputy Head of Veterans Medical Services MEDICAL IN CONFIDENCE Room 6403 Thornton-Cleveleys Lancashire FY5 3WP Dear Dr Kitchen
Re: serious complaint
I confirm I have now received your letter of 8th February, together with a letter from Brian Pepper, the National Customer Relations Manager for ATOS Healthcare, dated 9th February, and that both letters contain apologies for the undoubted stress and significant distress I have endured since the visit to my home by Dr B... in December 2008.
I am very pleased to know that, since I brought my serious complaint to your attention, you have concluded that Dr B... will no longer be permitted to intimidate, insult or treat with utter contempt any other War Pensioners, so that is indeed a good start. However, I am concerned to learn that he is only prevented from visiting other veterans "...unless I give my personal approval." I am bound to wonder why you would consider giving your approval, at some time in the future, for this unethical young man to ever again report about other veterans?? I would have hoped that your first priority would be to re-visit all previous cases reported by this young man, to compare with the clinical evidence provided by the veteran and their medical team, as it is very unlikely that my case was the only misleading report written by Dr B.... He was very self-assured and seemed confident that anything he decided would be accepted verbatim - and it was. Perhaps, instead of making sure other veterans have not been similarly betrayed, you will now attempt to decide which veterans are medically trained, and could therefore realistically challenge this man's reports, before you give your approval? You surely can't blame me for being sceptical Dr Kitchen. Indeed, following my shocking experience, I remain concerned that this young man is still employed to freely write misleading reports about some of the most vulnerable people in society, and it is my strong contention that he is not fit to practice. Certainly, according to the information on the GMC website, Dr B... is neither registered as a GP or a specialist, in keeping with most of the doctors now involved with ATOS Healthcare, and that fact doesn't improve confidence.
I note with interest that you advise that, under these circumstances, you would usually request another medical 'examination' to be carried out but, in my case, this is no longer possible as this case is subject to judicial proceedings. I guess I am left wondering as to how many other veterans are put through months of trauma for daring to challenge the distorted medical opinion of a staff member from this private company? You should understand that under no circumstances would I allow another staff member from ATOS Healthcare to visit me, and to suggest otherwise demonstrates that you still fail to comprehend the serious significance of my experience. Quite simply Dr Kitchen, given my own personal experience, plus many hours of research, I don't trust ATOS Healthcare or their so-called 'medical professionals.'
Indeed, the approach of ATOS Healthcare show alarming similarities to that of UnumProvident (US) in that, in 2002, a class action lawsuit charged UnumProvident (now First Unum or Unum) with operating "disability denial factories." (Does this sound familiar Dr Kitchen?) The company also faced thousands of lawsuits filed by individuals who were denied disability claims. Despite jury verdicts against the insurer (in January 2003, a California jury reached a US$31.7 million award against UnumProvident and, two years later, the California Department of Insurance fined the company US$8 million because it "misinterpreted job classifications, improperly overruled doctors' opinions and knowingly used incorrect insurance definitions to avoid paying benefits"), Unum continues bad faith insurance practices. Unum Group (formerly UnumProvident) holds about one quarter of the disability insurance market in the US, making it one of the largest providers of group disability insurance in the country. In 2004 and 2005, regulators ordered Unum to re-evaluate thousands of denied claims. According to the LA Times (April 12, 2007), the company reviewed less than 10% of the 290,000 claims eligible for review and, potentially, re-instatement of benefits. Then we find evidence of UnumProvident at work in the UK...
UnumProvident Centre (UK): UnumProvident Centre provides funding for Psychosocial and Disability Research based at Cardiff University. The Director of the Centre is Professor Mansel Aylward. He is the former Chief Medical Advisor at the DWP, he was instrumental in the DWP accepting the UnumProvident concepts applied in the US and was influential in how the Welfare Reform Act should be implemented. It is believed that the UnumProvident Centre has been one of the leading forces in trying to make it harder for allowances to be paid to the dying, the sick, the disabled and their carers. Staff from UnumProvident were important in the design of the Personal Capability Assessment and of the new, much harsher Work Capability Assessment required if an Employment and Support Allowance is to be paid (not unlike a War Pension in fact.) Professor Aylward continues to be involved in research for the DWP and he has provided support for Dame Carol Black, proponent of the replacement sick-notes with "well-notes." (Good grief!!) The allowance paid for ESA(C) is just under £90 per week. The current "National Minimum Wage", set in October 2009, is £5.80 per hour. If a 40 hour week is worked the weekly pay, before tax and NI, would be £232. The unemployed dying, the sick, the disabled and their carers have to live on just under £90 per week and, for this amount, have to attend repeated assessments and "pathways" meetings. (And that presumes they actually survive the medical assessment without trauma.)
UnumProvident in the UK: The key phrase is "The UK market is still underdeveloped..." In the USA individual states have a Department of Insurance to protect people from unfair business practices. Perhaps the UK needs a similar body to protect people from similar unfair business practices? In 1990 Unum acquired the National Employers Life Assurance Co. Ltd., the largest disability provider in the UK. Thomas R Watjen, UnumProvident Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer reported to stockholders in Portland, Maine (May 17, 2006) advising that the future holds great promise... adding that the company was poised to capitalize on opportunities in the United Kingdom, where UnumProvident is the largest provider of group disability insurance. "The U.K. market is still in many respects underdeveloped, with less than 10% of employers offering group disability coverage. As the market leader, UnumProvident is in a unique position to help educate buyers to the need for this coverage." Private equity funds interested in the health care services market are likely to have significant Atos Origin and Unum holdings. (All details can be found at: www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosbusiness.html )
A number of Honourable MPs have asked questions in Parliament to draw attention to the abuse of the dying, the sick, the disabled and their carers, but the system in place is very cost effective for the government, no-one seems to be listening to the growing mountain of concerns and overwhelming evidence is ignored. The balance sheet would appear to be of much greater importance than the welfare of the patients, the clients, the claimants or the victims of ATOS Healthcare but, one thing is for sure, none of us are "customers" of this company Dr Kitchen, and it is way past time when this dangerous situation was challenged effectively. Indeed, ATOS Healthcare break the contract they have with the government on a daily basis but who is actually monitoring this private agency, who is actually accountable to no one?
Given the alarming similarities to UnumProvident, one must wonder as to why this company were elected to undertake government medicals? Of course, if the government's intention is to provide doctors willing to provide misleading medical reports about sick and disabled people, who are ill equipped to challenge their deliberately bogus reports, then the system would appear to have worked so far since, clearly, the company don't employ high calibre staff. Indeed, I suggest you recall the evidence I provided about my friend's profoundly disabled little boy, so I think it is quite clear that this problem is not just limited to the SPVA or DWP medicals on adults but is quite universal. Indeed, it suggests to me, even a Physiotherapist was willing to betray her professional oath of office to compromise a profoundly disabled young child just to save government money, but one needs to enquire as to what pressure she was under to oblige her to compromise her professional ethics so badly? I repeat that I believe this is a calculated system that is very sinister, with press hysteria convincing the general public that all applicants are potential criminals, and I personally find that deeply offensive.
Please be further advised that the judge involved with this case has now invited my permission to actually conduct the appeal hearing at my home, given that I am not well enough to consider attending a hearing and, according to the last Appeal Tribunals Report of September 2009, appeals are twice as likely to be successful if the applicant appears at the appeal compared to when they don't. That detail is alarming for the most sick and disabled people, who are prevented from travelling any distance due to serious health problems. So it would seem that this system is guaranteed to be a disadvantage to the most sick and disabled people who need the most help. It's not really something to be proud about is it, or is the presumption perhaps that people choosing not to attend appeal hearings must all be bogus? Guilty until proven innocent does appear to be the philosophy at work here.
Of course, this could have all been prevented if the SPVA medical advisor, Dr I..., had conducted a reasonable assessment of all the detailed clinical evidence provided with my review request. Sadly, in reaction to my response documents, the advice written on 4th August 2009 by Dr I... ignored all the detailed evidence provided by both my GP and myself. Furthermore, Dr I... demonstrated that the provided and detailed evidence had been deliberately misinterpreted as the fact that I was suffering from the impact of the Menopause was mentioned and, clearly, this is unrelated to service. However, the onset of the Menopause caused the clinical depression that was freely admitted, but was possibly too much evidence for some doctors. This admission permitted the young Dr B...to arrive at my home with a pre-conceived diagnosis of depression, and his insistence that I was not permitted to speak freely meant I was unable to advise that the depression problem had happily been resolved, months before we met, due to the prescription of HRT. Indeed, as I predicted, this 'medical advisor' supported the information provided by the ATOS Healthcare report, which has since been demonstrated as failing "to meet professional standards" by the Medical Director of ATOS Healthcare. However, I prefer to acknowledge that report as being totally bogus given that NO MEDICAL took place. Furthermore, as of today's date, Dr I... is no longer listed on the GMC website, ?why. Indeed, testimony from former medical staff of ATOS Healthcare makes interesting and compulsive reading, including the many meetings they had about reaching targets, resisting medical evidence from the claimants and the fact that patient welfare was never a consideration... These doctors left ATOS Healthcare because they weren't prepared to compromise their medical ethics, in support of a profit margin, to the detriment of the sick and disabled people they examined. Check out the Internet Dr Kitchen as I think you could learn a lot....
Quite clearly, this crude and dangerous system to reduce care costs from the most vulnerable was under consideration for a long time, given that the content of the medical report forms were altered between my previous reviews from 2006 and 2008. On the 2006 printed report form there is a question, which invites the examining doctor to advise if his medical findings confirmed evidence reported by the claimant and their doctors and, in my case, this was confirmed at my 2006 review medical. That detail alone should confirm that neither my doctor nor I feel the need to exaggerate the deterioration in my health, yet this does seem to have been presumed for the 2008 review. In the 2008 printed report form that question no longer exists. Even more sinister is the DWP contract with ATOS Healthcare, freely available on the Internet, which identifies my worst fears by confirming that the ONLY medical evidence to be considered seriously is the contents of the reports from the medical staff of the contracted agency, who are instructed to ignore medical evidence from the claimants....! Therefore, no matter how much detailed medical evidence is provided by the claimant, it will all be ignored as agreed by the government! How very convenient from a government that has bankrupted this country and now intends to steal money from helpless and disabled victims to help balance the books. With government ministers, the BMA and the SPVA all claiming that "vexatious" complaints were to be expected, given that ATOS Healthcare staff would use their 'professional expertise' to advise about health, which could adversely impact on claimants' finances, it's little wonder that doctors employed by ATOS Healthcare seem to believe that they can't ever be seriously challenged. The usual common courtesies, respect and human kindness expected from all health professionals have been exchanged for a balance sheet. Human Rights are displaced and the need for compassion, and the dignity of the patient, is totally disregarded. The sick, the disabled and now the dying are victims of this systematic medical abuse of power, and intimidation and bullying are tactics used to silence the victims of this government tyranny.
Shocked by the unexpected totally unacceptable, unprofessional and unethical conduct of the visiting doctor, who was representing the SPVA as far as I was concerned, I have spent some time researching to whom this medical agency is accountable. In both the NHS and the private medicine sectors, patients have the opportunity to complain to an independent agency when things go wrong, and it is a safety measure necessary in all types of medicine - or so I thought. For the NHS there is the Patients' Liaison Committee and the NHS Ombudsman etc and, for the private sector, there is the Independent Health Agency or the Care Quality Commission yet, according to all these agencies, ATOS Healthcare is "not in their remit." So, I say again Dr Kitchen, the SPVA are placing the welfare of our disabled servicemen and service women into the hands of a medical agency that is totally unaccountable, and I'm just wondering if the government actually know this rather diabolical fact?
The resistance to believing my detailed clinical evidence, over the past 14 months, is testimony to a very sinister reality. Given that I had the reported opinions of no fewer than 4 doctors from ATOS Healthcare before my evidence was reluctantly accepted - no doubt in the hope of finally silencing me - I believe does demonstrate this sinister reality Dr Kitchen, and one which it is way past time that SPVA investigated properly. If I had accepted the opinion of Dr K I would have been no further forward, and the dramatic increases in my disabilities would still not be acknowledged. ATOS Healthcare claims that any discovered inaccuracies "...will be reported.." to the office dealing with the claims of their (victims) claimants yet, despite the fact that Dr L... did confirm significant omissions from the last medical review in a letter dated 16th December 2009, the company still failed to act on her findings until I made further contact in a letter dated 16th January this year. If I hadn't written to them again I doubt they would have brought their conclusions to your attention. My letter to the company in January coincided with me bringing these serious concerns to your attention and now, finally, the company's Medical Director, Dr David Beswick, has at least confirmed that the medical report of December 2008 fails to meet professional standards; which is a reluctant acceptance of my concerns yet totally ignores all reports regarding the unprofessional and unethical conduct of Dr B.... I can only hope that the medical conducted by the Tribunal doctor - who will no doubt be much more qualified compared to the doctor I met from ATOS Healthcare - will suffice to confirm testimony from both my doctor and myself. I maintain that the able bodied have little comprehension of disability, living with increasing pain levels or the impact on daily life, and it is long overdue when a doctor claiming to be the Deputy Head of Veterans Medical Services should start believing the veterans, instead of supporting claims from a private medical agency with a dubious reputation. Someone needs to challenge this government tyranny, masquerading as welfare reforms, and members of the public need to be informed about the intimidation tactics used on some of the most vulnerable groups in our society. Who's helping them Dr Kitchen??
Understand me please when I tell you that the press hysteria regarding so called bogus benefit claims are greatly exaggerated, and all available evidence suggests that bogus claims are no more than 2% of the total DWP budget. Indeed, anyone making a bogus claim can't be living too well given that the amounts involved are minimal, making financial survival just possible, but it's not exactly good living is it? Also, you need to make sure that the medical team at ATOS Healthcare fully comprehend that a War Pension IS NOT a benefit, it is awarded to veterans following military service to this country, and staff at ATOS Healthcare need to stop causing enormous offence by referring to War Pensions as benefit claims! They do appear to be slow learners, as I have imparted this information several times, and I refer you to the exchanges of letters between myself and Brian Pepper, previously provided.
When it comes to offering ID, the Police insist that stranger entry should not be permitted without photographic ID, especially for disabled women living alone. Indeed, the only reason this can't be enforced is because it is not yet the law of the land. Dr L.., of ATOS Healthcare, now trying to insist that a distant name badge attached to a staff member standing 10 feet away from the claimant is satisfactory is, frankly, nonsense, and I would hope that the SPVA took the security of its pensioners a lot more seriously than demonstrated by this company.
In conclusion Dr Kitchen, I am left wondering ? where exactly is your support for this nation's War Pensioners whose honesty, integrity and courage are far in excess of most civilians I suggest. When does the SPVA actually start offering concerned support for our disabled veterans, instead of hiding behind the seemingly unlimited power of ATOS Healthcare?
I make no apology for the length of this letter, or the details contained within it, and I trust I may look forward to your considered reply at your earliest convenience.
Yours sincerely ... War Pensioner, Former medical professional
- Professor Aylward medicine.cf.ac.uk/en/person/prof-mansel-aylward/
- Centre for Psychosocial & Disability Research, Cardiff University medicine.cf.ac.uklink (medicine.cf.ac.uk/en/departments/primary-care-public-health/research/cpdr/)
Enclosures: p87 of Review documents - medical advisor's reasons
GMC listing for Dr B...
Comments from Atos Healthcare medical staff:
The author will not reveal the identify of staff members, who wish to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.
1. Atos actively discourages its doctors from calling GPs and requesting more information because it takes too much time. Unfortunately, most of each 25 minute appointment is taken up with a questionnaire from Atos, leaving little more than a couple of minutes for physical checks in most cases. There is simply not enough time to verify a patient's claim.
2. We would frequently have appraisals. They were all about how many clients you had seen and the average length of time it took to complete each assessment and write reports. I wanted to know if they were happy with the quality of the reports I'd done but they hadn't looked at my reports, only the time it had taken. It's really tough to qualify for ESA. When doctors go in for the day's assessments they pretty much know the clients are going to be turned down.
18th June 2010
This is the letter Mrs S... received from the DWP.
Department for Work and Pensions Commercial Directorate Mr John Murphy Commercial Directorate Medical Services Correspondence Manager Commercial Management of Medical Services DWP Room 36 Norcross Government Buildings Norcross Lane, Thornton Lancashire FY5 3TA
Dear Mrs S...
Further to my letter of the 19th of April 2010 where I advised you that I was awaiting further information from Atos Healthcare to ensure that I could supply you with a formal and informed response. Atos Healthcare has now provided the information I requested.
I would firstly like to apologise for the protracted length of time it has taken to respond to your original letter of 15th of February 2010 and your subsequent letter of the 22nd of April. Additionally, I would like to apologise unreservedly on behalf of Atos Healthcare for the delays, inconvenience and any upset that your have experienced as a result of your complaint against Atos Healthcare.
Having reviewed your case and the correspondence between yourself and Atos Healthcare it is clear to me that a resolution to your concerns could have been achieved at a much earlier date. I recognise that there has been a clear lack of coordination from the relevant Government Departments dealing with your complaint and had communications been more effective I believe you would have received a satisfactory answer much earlier.
Again I apologise that your complaint has not been handled as efficiently as I would have expected.
A copy of this letter will be provided to the Atos Heathcare Customer Relations Manager, Mr Brian Pepper, and ask that my comments are noted and that he address any underlying aspects of performance within his team that may have contributed to the delays.
I would also like to assure you that Mr Pepper has in no way attempted to bribe you with a consolatory offer of £200. Consolatory payments to customers have been agreed as part of the Medical Services Contract. Where it is recognised that customers have received a poor service from Atos Healthcare they are offered a consolatory payment to reflect any inconvenience or upset caused by their experience. This is also standard practise within Government Departments.
I have been advised that you have now received a copy of the investigation of your complaint which was completed by Dr David Beswick Director of Medical Services for Atos Healthcare and took the form of email correspondence to Dr Paul Kitchen of the SPVA. I fully appreciate that this has taken a considerable length of time to be sent to you and again offer my apologies for the undue delay.
I would like to now address your concerns that it would seem that Atos Healthcare can select parts of the contract to adhere to and systematically ignore other parts.
I would like to give you an absolute assurance that the contract between Atos Healthcare and the DWP, acting on behalf of SPVA, is monitored very closely by this team. Any breaches of contractual agreements are considered very serious and immediate action is taken to ensure compliance of all aspects of the contractual agreements.
Under this contract there is no actual requirement for Atos Healthcare to notify the Department, in this case SPVA, that they have received a complaint from a customer. However Atos Healthcare is contractually bound to provide management information on all complaints and the complaint itself must be retained on the individual Healthcare Professional's complaints record.
Atos Healthcare is contractually bound to report on the performance of all Healthcare Professionals and supply information to this team on request of all complaints pertaining to them.
Given the serious nature of your complaint I fully acknowledge that when you alerted Atos Healthcare that you would be contacting the SPVA then SPVA, this team and Atos Healthcare should have been liaising to ensure you received the appropriate level of customer service. I apologise that this was not the case.
With regard to the Healthcare Professional who visited you and the actions taken by Atos Healthcare regarding any internal disciplinary action. I can give you an assurance that the Atos Healthcare Medical Manager has interviewed Dr B... and has fully discussed all your concerns regarding his behaviour and documenting the clinical assessment's findings to avoid any possible misunderstanding of the examination, I am satisfied that Atos Healthcare has taken the appropriate management action with this particular Healthcare Professional on this occasion.
I am sure that you will understand that under the Data Protection Act I am unable to supply you of any further detail on any management action taken against an individual employee of Atos Healthcare as this is deemed, under the Data Protection Act, as personal data and I am not at liberty to ask the employer to provide this level of information.
I would like to now address your concerns relating to the contract instructing the contractor to resist any and all medical information. I can give you an absolute assurance that this is not the case. As part of the contract any medical evidence presented to a Healthcare Professional must be considered. Atos Healthcare's role is to provide independent objective medical advice about how a person is affected currently by their medical condition, further medical evidence from a health care provider and information from the claimant can be important in that process. The advice is formulated and provided in a relevant SPVA report using all available evidence, including history taking, observation, discussion about a typical day/activities and a relevant examination.
Any evidence that a customer would wish to have used in the decision making process has to be made available to the Decision Maker. Consequently, it is expected that examining Healthcare Professionals provide appropriate advice to any customer who informs them that they wish the Decision Maker to see copies of their medical reports.
When such medical reports are presented to the Healthcare Professional during the course of an assessment, it is expected that they look at these papers, provided that they are relevant to the functional assessment of the claimant's current condition.
I would like to add that under the contract Medicai services' Professional Standards require Healthcare Professionals to provide advice that is fair and impartial. Consequently, there is a requirement on them to ensure that all the factual information that they record is accurate. There is no advantage or incentive for the examining
Healthcare Professional to record information which, they know to be inaccurate. In fact it would be a serious breach of professional standards to do so.
I would now like to address your concerns over the reference to Judge Robert Martins' comments. It is inevitable because Atos Healthcare provides medical reports for DWP benefit claims and for SPVA pensions and allowances, that many appeals would contain reports produced by Atos Heathcare.
When an appeal is made, an independent tribunal panel decides whether the Decision Maker's determination is correct. The Appeal Tribunal will consider all the evidence afresh, as well as any additional evidence that has since been submitted by the claimant, and which was not available originally to the Decision Maker. The examination report therefore will be only one of the factors before the Tribunal.
Consequently, the presumption cannot be made that, when a Tribunal overturns a decision, it was due to a lack in the validity or accuracy of the examination report used in the decision making process.
The President of appeal tribunals also compiles an annual report on the standards of decision making by the Secretary of State, which is published. Through the course of the year the President also provides the Department with quarterly interim reports in order that early action can be taken to address any problems brought to his attention.
The quality and standards of medical reprts used in decision making are assessed in the sample of cases forming the basis of the reports. Medically qualified panel members report on areas such as how well issues were addressed in the medical report, how consistent the advice in the medical report was and how adequately that advice was justified. The estimate of the severity of the disability in question is also looked at together with the use of that medical evidence by the Decision Maker.
If a medical report is produced which, in the opinion of the medically qualified panel member, falls substantially below the Professional Standards expected, and gives cause for concern the report is referred to the Department's Chief Medical Adviser. The issue is then raised through Atos Healthcare with the Healthcare Professional concerned and remedial action taken where this is considered necessary.
Also, the Tribunal chair may refer reports directly to their Atos Healthcare Medical Manager where the advice is considered to be inaccurate or not in accordance with the consensus of medical opinion.
The issue is then raised directly with the Healthcare Professional concerned and remedial action taken where this is considered necessary.
Atos Healthcare provides information to this team on the number of such referrals made bi-annually. The last report for the period July - December 2009, indicated that, nationally, Atos Healthcare had only received six referrals from The Appeals Service. Information for the latest report (January - June 2010) is currently being collated.
I would like to assure you that all Atos Healthcare Professionals undertaking examinations for Atos Healthcare are continually monitored.
This quality assurance and control takes the form of random and targeted studies of completed reports. There is an ongoing training programme, which ensures that Healthcare Professional are kept fully informed of developments in their area of work including report completion.
As an addition to their formal training, Healthcare Professionals are also issued with copies of guidance appropriate to the Benefits(s) that they are trained in, which covers all aspects of the work.
Should any problems of quality of performance arise, further action will be taken. This action may involve appropriate retraining, closer monitoring or supervision or even termination of contract.
In addition all aspect of an Healthcare Professional's performance is monitored closely by this team and any concerns about the quality of Healthcare Professionals are discussed at a monthly Performance Review meetings.
With regard to your final point that Atos Healthcare is resisting investigating all other medical reports completed by the Healthcare Professional.
I have been advised that Mr Pepper notes that the Healthcare Professional's performance has been closely monitored by his Medical Manager with the involvement of Dr Beswick, Atos Healthcare's Medical Director.
I understand Atos Healthcare wrote to you on the 12th of May 2010 advising that that Dr Beswick has attempted to contact you by telephone to discuss your concerns and he has also offered to meet with you. Should you wish to take up this offer or feel that you would like a member of my team to be in attendance please let me know so that I can make the relevant arrangements.
I hope that explanation satisfactorily addresses the points in your letter.
Once again I offer my sincere apologise on behalf of Atos Healthcare for the poor service you received in the past and I hope that any future dealings with them are of a much more satisfactory nature.
Commercial Directorate Medical Services, Correspondence Manager
Extract of letter from Mrs S... to the DWP.
Mr John Murphy Commercial Directorate Medical Services Correspondence Manager PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL Commercial Management of Medical Services DWP Room 36 Ref: ... Norcross Government Buildings Norcross Lane Thornton Lancashire FY5 3TA Dear Mr Murphy
Re: serious complaint re Atos Healthcare
I acknowledge receipt today of your lengthy document, which apologises for my recent disturbing and unnecessarily distressing experience that lasted almost two years, yet totally fails to accept that Atos Healthcare has acted inappropriately with the exception of a failure to co-ordinate the complaint. Your claims do indeed make interesting reading but you are seriously misinformed.
I will respond as best I can but I must advise that a copy of your letter defending the Contractor unreservedly will be forwarded to the Senior President of Tribunals, as an enclosure to my research report, and for whom my very detailed research has been conducted over the past 9 months. I confess that your defence of Atos Healthcare is quite overwhelming and it is clear that, no matter how much evidence is presented, the DWP will work very hard to dismiss it to enable this private company to continue to reduce government care costs; regardless of consequences to the innocent and unsuspecting victims of this company. We can't all be dismissed as making a "vexatious claim". A copy of your letter will also be handed to my advisors.
If you have indeed had access to all correspondence then you may need to be informed that I do not consider that the offer of £200 was as a "consolatory" payment, because that seriously underestimates the distress caused by the totally unacceptable conduct, and totally bogus medical report produced, by the visiting doctor from Atos Healthcare. There is no way that £200 could begin to reflect the amount of "upset caused by their experience" and I firmly believe that the company presumed that I could be silenced by the offer of £200 but it just didn't work. My integrity is valued at much more than £200 and is, in fact, priceless.
Furthermore, despite a belated apology from Dr Beswick, who refused to show me the courtesy of a personal response to my concerns, he was simply apologising for the fact that the young doctor's visit failed to meet professional standards. Yet, Dr Beswick persistently ignored the fact that the young doctor also compromised medical ethics, by writing a medical report that claimed that he had conducted a medical examination on my person, which was totally UNTRUE! His medical report was a total work of fiction from start to end, and no amount of apologies can remove this violation of medical ethics. The fact that the company failed to acknowledge this profound breach of medical ethics, together with your overwhelming support, simply enforces how very serious this situation is for the sick and chronically disabled people of this nation. Indeed, in keeping with Atos Healthcare and the SPVA, you fail to comprehend the serious significance of this dishonest young man, whose arrogance knows no limits, suggesting that both my doctor and myself had, in fact, made a bogus deterioration claim.
Given the contents of the emails between Dr Beswick and Dr Kitchen, to which you refer, I am more than a little amazed that you feel that this information was in anyway evidence that Dr Beswick had 'completed the investigation' into my complaint. The contents of the emails were expressing his concerns that I could not be silenced, and that I was about to make a formal complaint to the GMC, which is why Dr Beswick will not offer me the courtesy of a written reply as he fears a GMC investigation, as confirmed in his emails to Dr Kitchen. I have received no copy of any investigation Mr Murphy, so I have no idea to what you are referring with that statement? Then again, if you insist in hanging on every word as exclusively reported to you by the Contractor, and dismiss any and all other detailed evidence as presented by a medically qualified patient, the results will always be unacceptable because you are clearly employed to defend the indefensible.
Your strong defence of Atos Healthcare is indeed interesting, and it seems that you would appear to have a different copy of the Contract between the DWP and Atos Healthcare when compared to mine, and do please remember that the Contract is now available via the Internet - all 500 pages. I am afraid that you have been seriously misinformed. Furthermore, for your information Mr Murphy, I am not a customer!!! The DWP is the customer of this company. I am a patient, a veteran and certainly a victim of this private Contractor, but I am most certainly not a customer. If you have indeed seen all correspondence then you would have noted the numbers of times I have confirmed that to be described as a 'customer' is deeply offensive, yet you clearly use that terminology in your letter to me. It does appear to be an uphill battle to offer evidence and information that anyone at the DWP or Atos Healthcare will actually take on board; such is the authority of this company that has no public accountability whatsoever apart from via the Contract Manager.
I have no interest in your assurances Mr Murphy. I have been conducting research for the past nine months into this company, health permitting, and there is overwhelming evidence that the Contractor does indeed choose which parts of the Contract to adhere to, and which to overlook, and clearly you do not appear to have access to the same evidence that I have acquired. Breaches of contractual agreements can only be actioned if you know about them. Clearly you don't!
You really can't have it both ways Mr Murphy. On the first page of your lengthy letter, you claim that my complaint could have been dealt with much better, and much faster, had the communications between various Government Departments been more effective. The reason they weren't was because my on-going complaint with the Contractor was never reported to the SPVA yet, on another page, you claim that the Contractor does not need to identify any complaints to the Authority. Clearly, Atos Healthcare can't improve communications with government departments without revealing the complaint, which they resisted. You appear to think that this is a satisfactory arrangement. I am telling you that, when it comes to health with funding worth in excess of £80 million per year, it is sinister. According to the Contract, the Contractor is required to notify the Authority within 2 days whenever they receive a complaint. Perhaps that information is missing from your copy of the contract, but it is freely available on-line. Indeed, the fact that you claim that under the Contract "there is no actual requirement" for the company to notify the Authority that they have received a complaint is, frankly, ludicrous and if this is now true then it removes one of the very few safety nets in place for the public when dealing with this corporate giant. I am confident that the Senior President of Tribunals will be most interested in these latest claims, in contradiction of the Contract.
Your comments reference the action taken against the doctor who visited me are verging on offensive and are certainly missing the point Mr Murphy. Regarding the "..documenting of the clinical assessment findings to avoid any possible misunderstanding of the examination" all I can say is ???? which case are you actually referring to I wonder, as it clearly is not mine. The was no "misunderstanding of the examination" Mr Murphy because there was NO EXAMINATION undertaken whatsoever!! Indeed, must I remind you again that you are dealing with a retired health professional? You may indeed be satisfied that Atos Healthcare have taken the "appropriate management action" but, then again, you hang on every word the Contractor reports to you, and presume it to be true, then you can justify ignoring overwhelming evidence that you are being manipulated and mislead by this company. Understand me when I tell you that my evidence is overwhelming, and I am very happy to offer it under oath if necessary so, no matter how many times you attempt to excuse Atos Healthcare's totally unacceptable actions, it makes no difference and I will tell you what I have already told the company: I will not be silenced.
Every paragraph you write demonstrates that you are totally unfamiliar with what really happened in my case. Regardless of what should happen, and what you now claim in your letter, the Contractor was given vast amounts of detailed medical evidence about my deteriorating health and it was totally ignored as, in keeping with confirmation in the House of Commons, the evidence from the Contractor is priority for the Decision Makers and, if that then includes a totally bogus medical report, the patient/victim of this system is in a no win situation. One day I think you should read my research, which will eventually be published on-line, so others can benefit from my experience. The patient's medical reports are not presented to the so-called Healthcare Professional at the interview because they have already been provided months in advance together with the detailed deterioration paperwork, or are you overlooking the fact that I am a War Pensioner and not a civilian? As for you now claiming that "...it is expected that they look at these papers" and that the Healthcare Professionals are required "..to provide advice that is fair and impartial" all I can say is that you have a great deal to learn and your expectations and presumptions about the way the Contractor meets the demands of the DWP contract is as far away from reality as is possible to get. You may indeed believe that "...there is a requirement on them to ensure that all the factual information that they record is accurate" but, Mr Murphy, what do you do when it is bogus and a work of fiction? Nothing as far as I can tell apart from to defend the indefensible. Oh dear! It looks like you'll need even more persuading so I suggest you wait until you learn of any reaction to my research, which is about to be distributed. Then I'll be preparing my formal and very detailed complaint for the GMC. The only thing we are agreed upon is that it is a serious breach of professional standards - ethics - to make a bogus medical report about any patient. So, WHY do you presume I'm making a formal complaint to the GMC?? I have a feeling that you have not seen all the correspondence between myself and this company as, if you had, you would be much better informed. Indeed, I'll precise the most important details that you appear to have overlooked, as follows:
When at my home in December 2008 the Atos Healthcare doctor:
- REFUSED to provide any ID apart from a name badge despite being asked on no fewer than 3 separate occasions
- ignored all good medical practice
- compromised medical ethics
- treated me with utter contempt
- silenced me with a wave of his hands
- insisted that I was not "permitted" to speak other than to offer answers to his questions
- resisted eye contact and attempted to intimidate
- claimed to have completed a physical examination on my person when no examination had taken place
- sniggered at me, and laughed in my face
- produced a medical report that was a total work of fiction and copied, verbatim, extracts of the medical evidence from parts of the previous 2006 medical examination
Now, do please tell me, which part of the above list do you fail to understand?
I am certain that Judge Robert Martin will be interested in your comments as you actually presume to distance Atos Healthcare from his annual reports by claiming that additional evidence will be reported at Appeal. You certainly do appear to believe in fairy stories, or anything the Contractor dreams to tell you, as long as it's as far away from reality as possible. Regardless of the excuses you have now compiled, you can't surely presume to dismiss evidence of doctors from Atos Healthcare consistently ignoring patient testimony, detailed medical evidence from Consultants as provided for the Atos Healthcare so called Healthcare Professional at interview, demonstrated to be ignored by the Contractor when they met the victim/patient/claimant, and the overwhelming evidence over the last 5 years that the situation is getting worse with each passing year. Indeed, your claims now explain why detailed evidence provided every year by Judge Martin are persistently ignored by the Government, so I'll explain to him so that he no longer needs to feel so frustrated that everything he publishes is overlooked at the expense of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. You are so wrong Mr Murphy, with countless numbers of Appeals not producing any additional evidence but simply that the Appeal offered the patient the opportunity that someone may actually be willing to believe them. I doubt that Judge Martin makes mistakes Mr Murphy and he is very adamant that the Atos Healthcare medicals are a very big problem as they often "fail to believe the applicants." I am wondering which part of that statement you may not understand? As for the information reported to you by Atos Healthcare, where is the evidence that it is in anyway accurate? I suggest you take another look at the annual reports from Judge Martin, as you do appear to be overlooking indisputable evidence from Justices from all the Tribunals, which may change once my research report has been circulated.
In closing Mr Murphy, it seems clear to me that the one over riding conclusion is that your remit is to defend Atos Healthcare because, no matter how much evidence is offered, the government's only concern is to reduce the costs of welfare. The chronically sick and disabled people of this nation make very easy targets, few could challenge bogus medical opinion convincingly, but I can and I will not be silenced no matter how many pages you send offering me limitless apologies whilst totally ignoring my detailed evidence, starting with the fact that the Healthcare Professional from Atos Healthcare did not conduct any medical examination whatsoever, wrote a totally bogus report and expected to be believed. Clearly, from your letter, you presume my challenge is bogus and I guarantee that you will live to be proved wrong.
I believe this draws our correspondence to a close.
... War Pensioner, Retired health professional
Extract of letter from the Tribunals Judiciary to Mrs S....
Tribunals Judiciary SENIOR PRESIDENT'S OFFICE Dear Mrs S... Confidential research report - ATOS Healthcare I apologise for the delay in replying to your letter of 15th July. You have asked if the Senior President, will receive for his information, a copy of the finding of the research you have undertaken regarding ATOS Healthcare. I understand that Judge Andrew Bano of the War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation Chamber has accepted a copy from you. Accordingly, there is no need for you to send a further copy to the Senior President. I should add that the status of any contracts that ATOS may hold with government departments is not an issue that falls within the statutory responsibilities of the Senior President. I am sorry that we cannot be of more help. Yours sincerely, Simon Carr First Floor Field House, 15 Breams Buildings London EC4A 1DZ Telephone 020 7073 4064 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Web site www.judiciary.gov.uk
Extract of letter from Mrs S... to the Tribunals Judiciary.
Simon Carr Senior President's Office Tribunals Judiciary First Floor Field House 15 Breams Buildings London EC4A 1DZ Dear Simon
Research report re unlawful activities of ATOS Healthcare
I confirm I have received your letter of 5th August and that the contents were, sadly, as expected.
Given the detailed contents of my contact letter to the Senior President, your letter is cause for concern and is clearly ignoring the fact that I am not talking about the Contract per say Simon. Indeed, I am talking about the clearly demonstrated medical abuse of some of the most vulnerable people in our society, and I had thought that the Judiciary existed to help people.
I did indeed send a copy of my report to Judge Bano but, since my Appeal is no longer necessary, I doubt that he will take the time to access it. Judge Martin, whose annual reports to government have all condemned the poor quality of the medical reports from this company but have all been systematically ignored by government, yet he also refuses to access my research. Now the Senior President isn't interested either.
This detailed research was conducted over a period of 9 months by a qualified medical professional. I am left wondering just how much more evidence is required, demonstrating that this company is causing trauma to the chronically sick and disabled people of this nation, before the Judiciary expresses some real concern? Statutory responsibilities not withstanding, this private company is knowingly abusing the most vulnerable people of our nation because they can, yet no one in authority will challenge this nightmare.
This is not something that will go away Simon, and there are others who will pursue this even if the Judiciary won't.
... War Pensioner, Retired health professional
Extract of letter from Professor Malcolm Harrington CBE to Mrs S... following her submission of her report and attachments.
Department for Work and Pensions Prof. Malcolm Harrington WCA Independent Review 6th Floor, Section B, Caxton House, Tothill St London SWlH 9NA l6 August 2010 Dear Mrs S...
Thank you for your letter of 21st July, which included a copy of the research report you have produced about Atos Healthcare.
My aim in carrying out the independent review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is to assess both the fairness and effectiveness of the process, and to make some practical recommendations that can really improve it.
I was saddened to read about your experiences, and unfortunately is does not appear that you are alone in these. My intention is that the review will focus on the roles and responsibilities of both Atos Healthcare and Jobcentre Plus/the Department for Work and Pensions as clearly both have a role to play in ensuring that the WCA process works as well as it can.
I hope the recommendations I make can bring about real change, as well as highlighting areas which need to be explored in more detail in subsequent reviews of the WCA (this is the first of five annual reviews). I have already launched a call for evidence which supports the review (www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations) - if it is ok with you, I will use your research report as part of this.
Professor Malcolm Harrington CBE
Extract of letter to the Chair DWP Select Committee, House of Commons and to Professor Harrington, who is carrying out a review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), from Mrs S...
Miss Anne Begg MP PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL Chair, DWP Select Committee Professor Malcolm Harrington WCA Independent Review WITHOUT PREJUDICE 23 August 2010 Dear Miss Begg & Professor Harrington
Re: ATOS medicals - a suggestion for urgent improvement
Given recent communications it seems very obvious that the totally unnecessary and deeply distressing trauma, now experienced by many genuine claimants, is unlikely to be speedily resolved.
As a retired health professional I have spent over a year investigating this medical evaluation system. My research has exposed deeply disturbing indisputable evidence of unnecessary trauma and, with the guarantee that nothing is likely to improve in the short term, I now humbly offer a suggestion to both the new DWP Select Committee and Professor Harrington for consideration:
A simple Contract renegotiation could very quickly reduce the unacceptable experience suffered by so many chronically sick and genuinely disabled patients/claimants/victims of the present medical evaluation system, and that includes disabled children. None of them are "customers".
Ignore the proclaimed medical expertise of a professional working in the field of Occupational Medicine, who is still funded by a private insurance corporation that occupies the position as market leader in occupational health insurance. Return to universally accepted high calibre medical practise and instruct the DWP Decision Makers that any and all detailed clinical opinion from Consultants and/or Medical Specialists are to be accepted verbatim, regardless of cost implications for the DWP Welfare Budget. The seriously ill, chronically disabled and vulnerable victims of this deeply flawed medical evaluation system must be protected, and the state has a duty of care to anyone too ill or too disabled to work. Quite clearly, it is this ruthless and dangerous dismissal of Consultant opinion that is placing genuinely sick and chronically disabled patients/claimants in jeopardy.
Of course, it would also help if those responsible for overseeing the DWP Contract with Atos Healthcare were actually familiar with the contents of the Contract - which in its entirety is 500 pages long - including and especially MPs, who must represent their distressed constituents, and members of the DWP Select Committee. Given the contents of their published reports, the previous DWP Select Committee were clearly unfamiliar with significant details of the Contract.
To a medical professional like myself, I suggest that common sense is often the answer to complex questions. It's time for able-bodied politicians to place the actual welfare of the sick and disabled people of this country as their top priority, instead of the reduction in costs of the welfare budget. Indeed, if clinical expert opinion was to be accepted, as is the norm, the government could then reduce the costs of the welfare budget by £100million per annum by removing ATOS Healthcare. For the genuine long-term sick and chronically disabled patients/claimants, who are the vast majority of all those in receipt of disability benefits now under investigation, the GPs should be advised to seek a Specialist medical opinion, which could then be provided for any eventual DWP investigation of the patient/claimant. It should be a simple paperwork exercise, well within the capabilities of Decision Makers. This simple change should prevent the need for desperately ill patients to travel for hours, on public transport, and to be kept waiting for up to an hour only to experience a totally unacceptable medical evaluation, as happens with this present system. (Detailed evidence contained within main research report.)
May I please remind you that, as a chronically disabled War Pensioner, the Deputy Director of the Veterans Medical Services, Dr Paul Kitchen, actually forwarded any letters he was intending to send to me to the MD at Atos Healthcare for his prior approval, in the hope that nothing he wrote could possibly cause problems for the company! Therefore, the dangers of this system are obvious whereby all concerned believe that they are required to defer to Atos Healthcare before offering care to claimants. This Contract is between the DWP and Atos Healthcare yet it is Atos who are, clearly, very much in charge. This sinister situation is costing £100million per annum.
It is obvious that the previous government were desperate to cut costs and so accepted claimed evidence by a professional who had a different agenda, and who is still funded by the private corporation on whose example this medical evaluation system was based. May I please remind you that this same corporation was fined US$31.7million in a Californian class action lawsuit, in 2002/2003, where the Judge identified the company as operating "disability denial factories."
There is no doubt that there have been bogus claimants in the past, yet they are identified as being a tiny fraction of the total and numbering no more that 0.2% of the entire welfare budget. Why must the majority suffer because a few were able to play a system that, by definition, was top heavy with administration? This DWP medical evaluation system is a reaction to government panic and innocent victims are the least able to cope. Indeed, I suggest that the deeply disturbing irony is that easily identified and totally bogus medical reports, by staff members employed by this private contractor, are being used to refuse help to genuinely sick and disabled people in an effort to reduce presumed bogus benefit claims!
Introducing the above suggestion will reduce the trauma for the majority of the innocent victims of this government funded medical tyranny. Indisputable evidence of identified totally bogus medical reports, produced by Disability Analysts when making domiciliary visits to claimants, is readily identified in my main research report, now being widely distributed to concerned professionals working in welfare. Access to significant extracts from the DWP Contract can be found at a website designed by a patient who is terminal, with a primary frontal brain tumour with only a few more months to live. His experiences with this DWP medical evaluation system are deeply disturbing and his website offers detailed evidence: www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatos.html refers.
I will leave diplomacy to the Diplomats as the overwhelming evidence identified in my very detailed research report is far too important to ignore, and potentially impacts on countless thousands of vulnerable people who are least able to defend themselves.
It is assumed and presumed that my detailed research will not be summarily dismissed because it included evidence of my own experience, as clearly identified in the report, and as implied recently by the Clerk to the DWP Select Committee.
Yours, most sincerely
Mrs S..., War Pensioner, Retired health professional
cc: Dr Stephen Hall
Scottish Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux 1st Floor Spectrum House 2 Powderhall Road Edinburgh EH7 4GB Telephone 0131 550 1000 e-mail email@example.com website www.cas.org.uk need advice? www.adviceguide.org.uk 23rd August 2010 Dear Ms S..., Thank you for sending us a copy of your report, Atos Healthcare or Disability Denial factories. It has proved a rich source of information. Problems with benefits are the number one issue our clients bring to the Scottish bureaux. Citizens Advice Scotland works responsibly with the case evidence provided through the bureaux network in Scotland to influence and change social policy at a national level. Your report has added to our knowledge base. We are continuing to work with both Atos and the DWP to deliver a fairer benefits system for our clients and the Scottish population as a whole. Please feel free to send us more information on Atos or the DWP in the future Thank you once again Kind Regards Matt Lancashire Social Policy Officer Patron HRH The Princess Royal The Scottish Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux - Citizens Advice Scotland (Scottish charity number SC016637) Scottish Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux trading as Citizens Advice Scotland is a Company Limited by Guarantee No 89892 Registered Office 1st Floor Spectrum House 2 Powderhall Road Edinburgh EH7 4GB
Ms Kathy Barnes Chief Executive SPVA STRICTLY PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL Centurion Building Grange Road Gosport WITHOUT PREJUDICE PO13 9XA 3rd September 2010
Re: ATOS Healthcare or Disability Denial Factories - a research report
Thank you for responding to my initial contact and inviting access to this detailed research report.
As an introduction, please be advised that I am a retired health professional and a chronically disabled War Pensioner. Like many other people, I was incensed when confronted with an arrogant young man from Atos Healthcare, claiming to be a doctor, whilst steadfastly refusing to offer any form of acceptable ID to a lone disabled woman. He visited my home in December 2008 to conduct what was meant to be a medical examination on behalf of the SPVA, who fund my War Pension, and the consequences of his totally unacceptable visit, and the very long battle to reclaim my integrity, has further impacted on my failing health.
Please be further advised that it is usually unacceptable to include personal experience within any research report. However, for this particular research, it was unavoidable but does not detract from the weight of additional disturbing evidence identified within the report, as confirmed by various experts working within the caring professions.
This very detailed research, which has taken almost a year to research and produce, exposed overwhelming evidence that confirms that the DWP, and the SPVA, are totally incapable of monitoring or enforcing the government Contract with this private contractor, to the detriment of some of the most vulnerable people within our society. Unfortunately, Atos Healthcare also conducts the deterioration medicals for disabled veterans, who have suffered life-changing disabilities in the service of their country. They deserve much better. However, the indisputable fact is that Atos Healthcare breach the DWP Contract often, because they can, and because there is no supervision whatsoever at a cost to this nation of £100million per annum.
Indeed, I was especially concerned to discover evidence that Dr Paul Kitchen, at the SPVA, actually forwarded proposed letters written for me to the MD at Atos Healthcare, for his prior approval before posting to me, whilst claiming that he didn't want to risk writing anything that could be a problem for the company! If this private contractor enjoys that much authority it would appear that the SPVA are virtually redundant and, certainly, the protracted battle to find justice left me clinically and emotionally exhausted. No disabled veteran should need to endure this unacceptable treatment.
The new government have recently announced an independent enquiry of the WCA medical examinations, as conducted by Atos Healthcare staff, and under the leadership of Professor Malcolm Harrington. Whilst I am not in receipt of benefits I was obliged to offer the Professor a copy of my report and I am very happy to confirm that he has willingly accepted my research as evidence for the Inquiry, with his report due for publication in December. The Professor also confirmed how saddened he was to learn of my totally unacceptable experiences with Atos Healthcare and that my experiences were certainly not an isolated case.
I make no apologies for the fact that my report is very long and detailed. It will cause alarm to any high calibre health professional who may access it, and able-bodied professionals should be advised that this wholly destructive chain of events should not be retained. Indeed, a simple and effective method of removal of these identified "disability denial factories" is identified within the text of the main report, and further information is being provided for the DWP Select Committee.
If interested in more detailed information regarding the unacceptable medical practice of this private contractor, please see www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatos.html - the website designer is terminal, with only months left to live, and an edited version of my research report is included within this website. I am told that my web pages have already had thousands of hits via the Internet, so many people already know that veterans will be treated shamefully just because their disability is deteriorating but their government don't wish to fund the costs, whilst aided and abetted by the SPVA.
In closing I should advise that my report is finding favour with professionals and a copy of the report has been distributed to various WPCs. I trust that the evidence within my report will cause you concern and that every effort will be employed to remove this government funded medical tyranny from our country. It is also hoped that Dr Kitchen will in future resist the need to be so totally supportive of Atos Healthcare, and that he will be encouraged to pay much more attention to the needs of the disabled veterans he is presumed to represent and support.
In my clinical experience when concern, compassion and humanity are removed from medical examinations, medical abuse is sure to follow. It's time to stop this medical tyranny and to place the welfare of seriously ill and chronically disabled people at the top of the DWP/SPVA agenda instead of priority being given to the reduction of the budget. It is the government who have bankrupted the nation and it's time to stop using the disabled as easy targets to reduce costs.
You will have assumed that I leave diplomacy to the Diplomats. Successive reports from the President of the Appeal Tribunals, and the DWP Select Committee, have all been totally ignored so, clearly, diplomacy doesn't appear to be working and the sick and disabled people of this nation are the victims of this undoubted medical tyranny, based on questionable advice by a professional with a very different agenda.
Yours, most sincerely
Mrs S..., War Pensioner, Retired health professional
The full research had been previously sent. This email included an attachment of the summary.
Vanessa Stanislas, Chief Executive Disability Alliance Universal House, 88-94 Wentworth Street, London E1 7SA Tel: 020 7247 8776 Registered charity number 1063115 Company limited by guarantee number 2056801 www.disabilityalliance.org Breaking the link between poverty and disability Subject: RE: Confidential research report Dear Vanessa
Re: Atos Healthcare or Disability Denial Factories - a research report
I have not yet had a response to the research report sent to you in confidence in July and fear that, like many busy professionals, it will be considered far too involved to study. I regret that cost limitations prevented it being better presented and, surviving on a War Pension, I regret I couldn't have done a better job due to excessive costs involved.
Time has moved on, my research report has been accepted by Prof Harrington as evidence for his ind enquiry, to be published in December, and other interested parties seem to be greatful for the evidence exposed within the very detailed report.
The full report, plus summary, are now available online at the following website: www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html and I am grateful to the website designer, who is himself terminally ill with a brain tumour, with only months left to live, and who has been shamefully treated by the DWP/Atos Healthcare; hence his website.
In keeping with my previous contact, I have now written a research summary covering the most serious aspects of the research evidence, without the reader needing to access the full report. I have attached a copy of the summary to this email for your information and I sincerely hope that you may find the time needed to read it.
It has been brought to my attention that my report lacks diplomacy!
Please be advised that I don't play those games, and I'll leave the diplomacy to the very highly paid professionals who have failed the chronically sick and disabled people of this country by permitting this identified medical tyranny to continue, and I am choosing my words very carefully for tyranny is what this is Vanessa.
The DWP have ignored consecutive detailed concerns identified in the annual reports by the President of the Appeal Tribunals and they also ignore contents of DWP Select Committee reports so, clearly, diplomacy isn't working and the chronically sick and disabled people of this nation continue to be betrayed by their own government. Recent outbursts in the national press by the DWP Minister, Chris Grayling, have been cause for serious concern and you can guess who provides the totally ludicrous statistics he is now proclaiming....
Let's hope that detailed and confirmed research evidence will help to stop this tyranny?
Mrs S..., War Pensioner, Retired health professional
STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL & URGENT: Attn: DWP Select Committee To: Whom it may concern Re: ATOS HEALTHCARE OR DISABILITY DENIAL FACTORIES by Mrs S...
You will know from reading my detailed research report and summary that I was inspired by a terminally ill man Mr B..., who is dying with an inoperable brain tumour, and that he permitted me to put my research evidence onto his website: www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatos.html & www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html refers.
From our experiences we have both demonstrated that the DWP/SPVA do not monitor or supervise the £100million per annum government contract with Atos Healthcare and now, at last, the final piece of the puzzle has arrived. Mr B... has given me his kind permission to now identify him with the following very important information:
In a lengthy letter to Mr B..., dated 3rd September 2010, from Hilary Brierley she states the following:
I am responding in my role as manager of the DWP Commercial Management of Medical Services (CMMS) team ....... CMMS is responsible for managing the performance of Atos Healthcare, who provide medical services on behalf of the Department to support Decision Making on sickness and disability related benefits.
However, I can confirm that the Department has not exercised its contractual right to access for purposes of auditing Atos Healthcare's compliance with its contractual obligations.
As previously identified by both Mr B... and myself, this DWP manager has now confirmed in writing that the DWP has totally failed in its duty of care by NOT monitoring the contract with Atos Healthcare. They have simply monitored "performance targets" but didn't it seems bother to check that this contractor was supporting the details within the actual contract.
As previously advised, Ministers and successive Prime Ministers have not only misled the House, but also the country, by constant claims that this contract was closely monitored, which indeed is a DWP contract requirement.
Hilary Brierley has admitted that not once in the past 5 years has the Department monitored/audited the actual "contractual obligations" which is not only a breach of contract but, I humbly suggest, a breach of trust to the British people, who continue to be victims of this contractor.
Mrs S..., War Pensioner, Retired health professional
From: Pam Kay, Bsc (Hons), Sec3a3 Service Personnel and Veterans Agency Room F10 Innsworth House Imjin Barracks Innsworth Gloucester GL3 1HW Tel: (01452) 712612 Ext 7572 SPVA/Sec/6/7/35 14 September 2010 Dear Mrs S...
Thank you for your email of 16 August to the Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans concerning the report you have prepared on Atos Healthcare. Your letter has been passed to the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency as we have responsible for Armed Forces pensions, and I have been asked to reply.
I understand that you have been in correspondence with Dr Kitchen who is the Deputy Head of our Veterans Services (Medical), with regard to a very serious problem you had with one of the doctors working for Atos Healthcare. The investigation by senior management at Atos concluded that the doctor's report was below the required standard and it was agreed that he will not be doing any work for SPVA without Dr Kitchen's personal permission.
I can assure you that SPVA is committed to providing veterans with the best service possible, and any complaints are taken very seriously and thoroughly investigated. Should any further problems arise with the standard and conduct of Atos they will be fully investigated and addressed.
I hope this reply is helpful and explains the position.
Sent: Friday, September 17, 2010 1:39 PM Subject: RE: RESEARCH REPORT
Thanks for the letter, which was expected, but I'm afraid you are being mislead.
I would urge the Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare & Veterans to accept my confidential and very detailed research report, following 9 months of research.
The report was distributed long before contacting the Minister. Various high calibre professionals have accepted the report and are very grateful for it, and you are very mistaken if you presume that it is limited to my own experience with one unethical Atos Healthcare doctor. Dr Kitchen will tell you what you want to hear, and please remember you are communicating with a retired health professional.
I am giving the Minister the opportunity to be prepared before this hits the press, and I would urge him to read my report very carefully.
I suggest you forward this email back to his office before he is asked difficult questions by the media.
Mrs S..., War Pensioner, Retired health professional
Letter sent to the SPVA Chief Executive.
Date: 25th October 2010 To: Ms Kathy Barnes Chief Executive, SPVA Private & Confidential Management Suite Centurion Building Grange Road Without Prejudice Gosport Hampshire PO13 9XA
I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 19th October 2010, claiming to be in response to my previous letter of 15th September 2010.
I must advise that the contents of your letter are totally unacceptable given the fact that you fail to make reference to the contents of my earlier letter of 20th August 2010, which clearly demonstrated the unacceptable conduct of Dr Paul Kitchen, of the SPVA, who felt the need to forward all letters written to myself to the MD at Atos Healthcare, for his prior approval, in the hope that nothing Dr Kitchen wrote to me could cause a possible problem for the company. I suggest this unacceptable activity by Dr Kitchen should be of major concern to the Chief Executive of the SPVA as it is to the detriment of a disabled veteran.
As already explained, if this private company has that much power and control then the activities of the Deputy Director of Veterans Medical Services do appear to be totally superficial. It is especially worrying to note that Dr Kitchen also claimed that he has employed "drafters" to include the "touchy feely factor" into any letters written to veterans, in the hope of silencing any complaint whilst permitting Atos Healthcare to breach the government contract at will.
Clearly, by Dr Kitchen's own admission, without his input the company were not prepared to investigate my very serious complaint and it took over 9 months of my time, and over 18 months from the original bogus medical, to reach an acceptable decision only because I refused to permit this company to intimidate me.
You are the Chief Executive of the SPVA and, in that capacity, I suggest you have a duty of care to all disabled veterans who have been disabled in the service of this country to ensure that the Deputy Director of Veterans Medical Services makes a much greater effort to enforce the government medical contract with this company when it comes to the welfare of our disabled veterans. The fact that the contract is between the DWP and the company is irrelevant. The SPVA is attached to the DWP, as you will know, and so your claims that this nightmare is outside your area of responsibility are totally unacceptable. As the Chief Executive you should make sure that you raise these very serious concerns with Dr Kitchen, whose devotion to Atos Healthcare, instead of the disabled veterans, will be brought to the attention of the GMC in the fullness of time.
I should also like to mention the fact that I didn't raise any "points", as suggested in a dismissive way in your letter, but you were, in fact, provided with a very detailed and professional research report, that had taken 12 months of my time. Therefore, I'd be most grateful if you resisted the temptation to attempt to dismiss a research report that has been welcomed and accepted by a variety of high calibre professionals working in the welfare sector, including Professor Harrington who is to use my research as evidence in his forthcoming independent inquiry.
Less than impressed.
Mrs S..., Disabled veteran (WRAF), Retired healthcare professional
AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF THE WORK CAPABILITY ASSESSMENT
A RESPONSE TO 1st REVIEW - NOVEMBER 2010
It has been a well established fact for many years that to be gainfully employed is very beneficial to the self esteem and to be able to financially support the family is a basic human need. In his report, An Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA)(1), Professor Harrington has identified a variety of evidence to confirm that employment is a very rewarding part of life and the Professor highlighted the potentially damaging effect of 'worklessness.' Due to the restrictions of the review, the Professor has concentrated on the undoubted benefits of paid employment, whilst it should be remembered that the UK is supported by an army of volunteers, many of whom are actually registered as chronically sick and/or disabled.(2)
The obvious benefits of being employed are not challenged but these benefits also apply when not physically capable of maintaining paid employment and when offering skills and services only when able. There are significant personal benefits to feeling useful, especially when identified skills have been welcomed and appreciated. The only difference is that, due to limited health and strength, donated work cannot be guaranteed when the volunteer suffers with a chronic health condition. Nevertheless, volunteers benefit from having a purpose in life and countless charities save on potentially high costs as voluntary work, by definition, is free of charge. Therefore, any presumption by the able bodied community, especially some politicians, that all chronically disabled people in receipt of disability benefits are totally idle is at best misleading, is demonstrably incorrect and more than a little insulting to many of us who strive to remain as useful as possible in society despite being permanently unfit for paid employment.
The Harrington Report is the first of five planned WCA annual reviews as the government introduce measures to reduce the increasing costs of disability, to remove as many people as possible from a life on disability benefits and to claim to offer significant "support" which, to date, has not been identified other than with vague references (1). The broad aims of the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) would appear to be credible but the clearly identified point of total failure is the delivery of the assessment process when using Atos Healthcare, a private contractor, for medical evaluations whose Healthcare Professionals'(HCP) medical opinions have been frequently challenged (1)+(2)+(3) but who enjoy "total immunity from all medical regulation" according to both the General Medical Council(GMC) and the Healthcare Commission.(2) Using inexperienced basic grade civil servants identified as Decision Makers, who are expected to make decisions of paramount importance when clearly lacking the skills and the confidence for this to be achieved, is another identified serious failure of the present system, with the reduction of the budget being the clear government priority instead of the welfare of the chronically sick and disabled people who must endure these often harrowing assessments.(2) Research evidence conducted over 9 months confirmed that these Decision Makers breached their terms of reference as identified in the Department for Work and Pension's (DWP) £100 million per annum contract with Atos Healthcare (2). These administrators simply agreed with the medical opinion presented by any Atos Healthcare HCP, thus "rubber stamping" the assessment, instead of evaluating all presented evidence, which is a contract requirement: "It's difficult. I mean, they're a doctor. They've assessed the person, I don't know enough about it to overrule what they're saying."(1) -Jobcentre Plus Decision Maker + (2)
As clearly identified in a very detailed research report(2), the responsibility of employing a DWP staff member identified as a "Decision Maker" implies that such staff have the necessary skills needed to reach the correct decision, based on all presented evidence, and not limited to the exclusive input from an Atos Healthcare HCP. Quite clearly, this important work is best suited to medical administrators who by definition, as well as training and experience, are already familiar
An Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment - November 2010 – Professor Malcolm Harrington
Atos Healthcare or Disability Denial Factories – an independent research report by MS – June 2010
Report by the President of the Appeal Tribunals on the standard of decision making by the Secretary of State 2007- 08 by HH Judge Robert Martin
with medical texts and reports. In reality, the introduction of this medical evaluation system was delivered to be as cost effective as possible, with the reduction of government costs as the clear priority. By using basic administrators as Decision Makers, who clearly lack the necessary expertise needed to consider and confidently interpret the variety of medical opinion that would inevitably be provided by claimants as supporting evidence, this DWP delivery system was guaranteed to betray the trust of the chronically sick and disabled citizens it is meant to support. (1)+(2)+(3) Hence the growing numbers of Appeals, the identified frustration of His Honour Judge Robert Martin as demonstrated in his successive annual reports to government(2)+(3) and the unnecessary distress placed on to the genuinely chronically sick and disabled people of this nation. 40%+ of all DWP appealed decisions are being overturned at Appeal: "... there is little evidence of significant change over time in standards of administrative decision-making, as gauged by cases coming before tribunals." (HH Judge Robert Martin) (3)
Surely the employment of qualified medical administrators in the role of Decision Makers, who fully comprehend the need to consider all evidence rather than just the hastily acquired and deeply flawed contracted medical assessment, and who are confident with the interpretation of medical reports, would be much better placed to make such decisions? The subsequent significant reduction in the numbers of Appeals would suggest a cost saving to cover any additional costs of employing fully qualified medical administrators as Decision Makers. Inviting the present Decision Makers to witness Appeal Tribunals in action, as recommended by the Harrington Review(1), will not remove the fact that these administrators have no skills in medical administration, are clearly demonstrated to be totally inadequate and the Harrington Review will certainly not assist their professional development.(1)+(2)+(3). The DWP contract with Atos Healthcare defines the role of the Decision Maker yet, without effective supervision or monitoring, the DWP have abandoned their responsibility to guarantee that countless thousands of genuine claimants would suffer needlessly, and be forced to attempt an Appeal, due to the savage injustices experienced at assessment level. Where are the planned government apologies to the many thousands of victims of this totally compromised medical evaluation system?
The lack of empathy and respect afforded to the victims of this system (1)+(2) is significant and cause for concern. However, that very lack of empathy and respect is actually identified as lacking in humanity, as confirmed by countless thousands of victims of this impersonal and totally compromised medical evaluation system.(2) The damaging impact of this assessment system is clearly highlighted by Professor Harrington(1) yet with no suggestion of any redress for those who have already suffered from their inhumane experience, including the unnecessarily hostile and often threatening correspondence received from the DWP (1)+(2)+(3).
Mrs S..., War Pensioner (WRAF), Retired health professional
3rd December 2010
An Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment Professor Malcolm Harrington – November 2010 www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/wca-review-2010.pdf
Atos Healthcare or Disability Denial Factories An independent research report - MS – June 2010 www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html
President's Report 2007-08 - HH Judge Robert Martin Report by the President of Appeal Tribunals on the standard of decision-making by the Secretary of State. www.appeals-service.gov.uk/Documents/SSCSA_PresRep07_08FINAL.pdf