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.
|24 January||Letter||To SPVA||Response to previous SPVA letters.|
|31 January||Memorandum||To Work and Pensions Committee||Response to DLA reform consultation.|
|7 February||Letter||To Minister for Disabled People||Informing of the situation.|
|23 February||Letter||From Prof. Malcolm Harrington||Principles are right but system contains flaws.|
|27 April||Letter||To Minister for Employment||Informing of the situation.|
|9 May||Letter||To DWP Chief Medical Adviser||RCN refuse to accredit Atos nurse training.|
|14 June||Letter||To Minister for Defence Personnel||Informing of the situation.|
|20 June||Letter||To General The Lord Dannatt||Informing of the situation.|
|23 June||Letter||To DWP CDMS Correspondence Manager||Informing of the situation.|
|29 June||Letter||To House of Lords||Seeking redress for the disabled.|
|29 June||Letter||To Mr Stephen Barclay MP||Seeking why the Minister answered in generalities.|
|16 August||Letter||From the Minister For Defence Personnel Welfare and Veterans||Providing a more detailed reply.|
|10 September||Letter||To Professor Harrington||Welfare Reform - Redress For The Disabled.|
|14 September||Letter||From Rt Hon The Lord Strathclyde||Forwarding concerns to Minister.|
|20 September||Letter||To: Mr Stephen Barclay MP||DLA assessment exemptions.|
|24 September||Letter||To Lord McNally||Human Rights and Civil Liberty abuses: DWP and Atos Healthcare.|
|4 October||Letter||To Baroness Meacher||Welfare Reform Bill.|
|7 October||To Baroness Hollis||Welfare Reform Grand Committee contribution.|
|10 October||To SPVA||War Pensioners Cold Weather Payment.|
Here are examples of important correspondence.
Date: 24th January 2011 To; Mr Jon Parkin Executive Director, SPVA Head of Veterans Services SPVA Private & confidential Room 6404 Thornton-Cleveleys Lancashire Without prejudice FY5 3WP Dear Mr Parkin Ref:
I am writing in response to your letter of 14th January, 2011 in which you invite me to make contact with the SPVA Independent Complaints Panel and confirm that your letter is in response to my previous letters of 4th and 14th December 2010.
In your most recent letter you now claim that the letter from John Murphy, dated 21st June 2010, was a comprehensive response to my complaint but totally overlook my detailed response to him, dated 23rd June 2010, which challenged most of Mr Murphy's letter given that he was clearly demonstrating that he had been totally misinformed. I now enclose a copy of that response for your information and wonder if your recent letter is not yet another example of the Executive Director of the SPVA only really considering evidence from paid professionals, and totally dismissing very detailed evidence provided by a disabled veteran who happens to be medically qualified?
It is cause for enormous concern to have it confirmed that Dr Braidwood (MOD) had access to all detailed information, yet still concluded that there were no issues likely to be of interest to the GMC after considering that the whole point of my complaint begins with the fact that this retired hi calibre medical professional advised that the doctor from Atos Healthcare provided a totally bogus medical report, which is actually against the law and is a total breach of medical ethics! This is totally incomprehensible unless, of course, Dr Braidwood has decided to join forces with everyone else at the SPVA and attempted to either ignore my evidence, dismiss my very detailed evidence or fails to believe me in the hope of silencing me which, to date, has not been achieved. This is the danger of employing (presumed) civilians in senior positions in an organisation involved exclusively with veterans who, I can personally guarantee, live by the code of honour demonstrated when in service to this nation when in uniform. It's indeed a great pity that, despite overwhelming and very detailed evidence, no-one at the SPVA will accept it, and there are those who find this attitude totally unacceptable and utterly reprehensible - and the numbers are growing daily.
The extended exchanges of letters between myself, Atos Healthcare and the SPVA have confirmed the expressed concerns as identified in consecutive annual reports by His Honour Judge Robert Martin, when President of the Appeal Tribunals. Judge Martin insists that the biggest problem is the fact that paid professionals, like yourself, resist believing the many victims of this government imposed medical tyranny with Atos Healthcare whose parent company, Atos Origin, is a corporate giant. Indeed, it is no surprise that Atos Origin were awarded the lucrative IT government contract for the 2012 Olympic Games as, to some of us, it was a foregone conclusion.
It is also interesting to note that, since my detailed research report has been distributed, various government Ministers and officials have had their names removed from the Atos website as they don't wish to be identified as accepting generous hospitality from this corporate giant at the 2010 COHPA AGM. I wonder why?! So, it seems that some people are taking my research report very seriously indeed, and it is freely available via the Internet so more and more people are accessing my research daily. Atos Healthcare make 50 hits per day on my website - presumably to check that I haven't added any more information to it perhaps?
I have not yet decided if it is worth my very valuable time to approach the Independent Complaints Panel (ICP), as suggested in your recent letter. Given that they share your postal address, you will appreciate that I am not at all convinced as to their actual claimed independence, as no doubt the SPVA won't be too happy if the ICP were to finally uphold a complaint from a medical professional who clearly demonstrated that a doctor from Atos Healthcare actually breached medical ethics, and broke the law, by supplying a totally bogus medical report claiming to have conducted a medical examination when no such examination took place. We simply had a medical interview and, unless and until the Executive Director of the SPVA comprehends that this chronically disabled and medically qualified veteran holds a great deal of evidence, that other high calibre professionals have accepted, you are a long way away from demonstrating any genuine concern for the disabled veterans of this nation. Furthermore, if the people engaged with the ICP are also civilians, I doubt there would be much point in approaching them. No civilian can fully comprehend what it is to serve this nation in uniform or the bond that exists between all veterans.
As far as I can tell, the Agency's position, as referenced in your letter, is simply to resist any evidence that Atos Healthcare are doing anything other than what is required, and there is no evidence that the SPVA are genuinely supportive of this nation's disabled veterans but do place a great deal of energy into attempting to silence anyone who has the temerity to challenge their dubious conclusions.
Clearly, given the authority of the parent company, Atos Origin, the SPVA simply 'toe the line' rather than making any real challenge and, certainly, the disturbing exchanges of emails between Dr Kitchen with Dr Beswick, where Dr Kitchen is totally subservient to the MD of Atos Healthcare, clearly demonstrates the point. Indeed, as the Executive Director of the SPVA it is alarming to note that you have failed to express any concern, despite the fact that the MD of Atos Healthcare, Dr David Beswick, actually refuses to commit any medical opinion in writing fearing investigation by the GMC, as confirmed in emails to Dr Kitchen. As a medical professional I must advise you that this detail should be sending off alarm bells, but I note that the SPVA simply accept this situation and, apparently, so does Dr Braidwood. What a great pity. I will not accept this and I guarantee that there are others who also find this admission deeply disturbing, and you can rest assured that I am in correspondence with a great many people with genuine concerns for our disabled veterans, whose health has suffered in the defence of our country.
What is surely of enormous concern is the fact that the appointment of (presumed) civilians as the Executive Director and the Chief Executive of the SPVA is clearly a very grave mistake. These are significant positions that should be held by retired senior officers, who actually comprehend military service to this nation, and honour and integrity is presumed rather than dismissed. I doubt that any such retired senior officer would dismiss detailed evidence from a disabled veteran, who happens to be a medical professional, that the doctor from Atos Healthcare actually broke the law, compromised medical ethics and actually attempted to intimidate a lone disabled woman in her own home; yet you and your colleagues have persistently overlooked all such reported evidence, despite being advised that I am happy to offer this evidence under oath should that ever prove to be necessary. So much for the SPVA supporting the veterans.
What is of particular interest is that, following receipt of the Consultant's report, that fully supported my deterioration claims, the SPVA suddenly and unexpectedly increased my War Pension when only a couple of weeks away from the planned Appeal Tribunal. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions as to why this happened but, speaking personally, I believe it was because Dr Kitchen didn't want all my detailed evidence to be revealed at Appeal. You should also be advised that Professor Harrington used my research report as evidence for his recent WCA enquiry and that a growing number of high calibre professionals do accept my evidence, but not it seems the SPVA.
Indeed, since discovering written confirmation from the DWP CMMS manager, who confirmed in a letter to a dying man that "... the Department has not exercised its contractual right to access for purposes of auditing Atos Healthcare's compliance with contractual obligations..." you will fully comprehend why I, and other victims of this government medical tyranny, do not hold with the ongoing and never ending support of the activities of this company, especially when dealing with our nation's disabled veterans. They deserve much, much better.
Yours, very sincerely
Mrs S..., War Pensioner (WRAF), Retired health professional
Copied to: Stephen Barclay, MP
- Letter to John Murphy - Correspondence Manager, CDMS - 23rd June 2010
- Letter to John Murphy - Correspondence Manager, CDMS - 28th June 2010
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" Edmund Burke"Never believe anything until it's officially denied." John Pilger".never underestimate the power of persistence." Nelson Mandela
DLA REFORM CONSULTATION - RESPONSE
The Government is determined to continue with 'reforms' and drastic reductions of welfare benefits for the disabled community, despite concerned opposition for the speed of the introduction and the serious concerns expressed by national welfare agencies such as Citizens Advice and the Disability Alliance. The Disability Living Allowance (DLA) reform consultation document is inviting input from welfare agencies, and individuals, and responses to questions regarding the consideration of needs verses costs at a time when the country has serious deficit concerns and the goal is to reduce DLA claimants by 20%.
I am a chronically disabled female veteran and a retired healthcare professional. This response is written on behalf of the millions of chronically sick and genuinely disabled individuals who can't represent themselves, their experiences or their anxieties. It is especially on behalf of those disabled people now living in care homes who have recently learned that their DLA mobility funding is to be removed by this government, without any consideration for the devastation that will mean as this small but essential level of personal independence is withdrawn from hundreds of thousands who can't fight for themselves. This is a shameful decision and confirms that the government's only priority is the reduction of the welfare budget and clearly not the welfare of the disabled victims of this diabolical and shocking decision. Many people will now become trapped in their care homes and those with a Motability car will have to return the car, thus totally removing their limited independence at the same time. Not everyone wants to take the care home's community bus to the local bingo hall for an 'outing'. This decision is yet another example of able bodied politicians, many of them millionaires, making assumptions about a vast subject area they clearly know nothing about by presuming that disabled people, resident in a care home, have no need for independent transport; be it a Motability car or the funds to use taxis. It's an utter disgrace and is demonstrating the high level of dangerous disability ignorance within the government.
Concern must be expressed for the pages of government rhetoric contained within the consultation document, that offers limited information whilst claiming concern for the disabled population, yet demonstrating that the only real priority is a budget reduction. Cause for serious concern must be expressed reading the opening comments by the Minister for Disabled People who, clearly, is very confused about the purpose of DLA. It is totally unrelated to employment, and some of the Minister's comments are unrelated to this consultation. DLA is simply a small contribution towards the often significant extra costs incurred by the disabled population to permit participation within society and, obviously, that participation within society has just been callously removed for those disabled people resident in the nation's care homes. Whilst the award of DLA may indeed support the opportunity to access paid employment for some people, nevertheless, the Minister's comments as an integral part of this consultation are disturbing and totally misguided. Indeed, if the award of DLA is to be drastically reduced, or removed, the likely outcome for many is a much greater demand on the public purse as the loss of DLA, for the many employed disabled people, will actually remove their transport and, consequently, remove all possibility of accessing their workplace given that they are physically unable to access public transport; or is it presumed that all residents in care homes don't work? Wrong!
There appears to be an assumption that all care homes are identical when, in reality, there is a great variation. Group homes, for profoundly disabled young people, are also known as care homes where it is not at all uncommon for the residents to enjoy working outside the care home, usually on a part-time basis. I personally know of three young people, resident in group homes, who all hold down paid employment and who all access their work via their Motability cars, funded by the very DLA mobility funding that this government have just removed. All three will lose their jobs because of this diabolical decision, yet no MP nor any DWP staff member appears willing to explain how this is "improving their independence", as stated in these 'reforms'.
DLA reform consultation - response. Given the rapid introduction of the Employment Support Allowance (ESA) to replace the former Incapacity Benefit (IB), and the trauma that created using the fatally flawed Work Capability Assessment (WCA)(4), welfare workers were hopeful that the proposed DLA Reform, to a new benefit identified as the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), would be delayed until the identified serious problems with the WCA had been resolved. However, the DWP were unmoved and insist on pushing ahead with these poorly considered reforms that will adversely impact on the lives of in excess of three million disabled people. All claimed government concern is demonstrably insincere and their understanding of chronic illness, or profound disability, does appear to be limited to people who are in a persistent vegetative state.
The reform suggestion is that the transfer of DLA to the new PIP benefit will no longer use the standard criteria for care and mobility needs to judge suitability, and it is proposed that the PIP assessment will instead consider the applicant's ability to complete certain tasks. This may not be unreasonable if it were not for the fact that it is to be carried out by 'independent healthcare professionals'(HCP), presumably now employed by Atos Healthcare to conduct the DLA assessments, and the DWP £100 million per annum contract with Atos Healthcare has been extended by 3 years, to 2015, to permit additional government medical assessments to be completed by the same questionable contractor that has already caused serious trauma to many.(3) (3b) (4) However, the obvious catastrophic and totally overlooked limitation of the entire assessment system is that, for anyone being assessed, it is simply a small snap shot into a day in their life, and makes no allowances for the extremes of variations inherent in many serious conditions. Therefore, any identified ability to perform certain tasks when assessed does not imply that they are always capable of completing that task and, given many identified conditions, this should be obvious to any competent doctor, but is totally ignored by Atos Healthcare HCP staff. WHY?
Apart from proving traumatic for the majority of people required to take the Atos Healthcare "assessment", the utterly indefensible aspect is that the final benefit decisions are being carried out by totally unqualified junior civil servants using a "rubber stamp" to confirm anything identified by the Atos Healthcare HCP. These junior civil servants are totally incapable of considering the detailed medical evidence provided by GPs and Consultants, whose opinions will be overlooked as the 'Decision Maker' simply agrees with anything reported by the private contractor's HCP, as identified at Appeal Tribunals where almost 40% of all appeals are successful.(1) (2) (4) (5) with 70% of ESA appeals being successful with representation.(6) The dangers of this dangerously unacceptable system were identified in the recent Harrington WCA review(1) and confirmed in the recent report by the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee.(2) It is surely reckless for the government to now insist on imposing the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) onto the disabled population unless and until the identified very serious problems acknowledged with the ESA assessments have first been resolved to the satisfaction of everyone involved and not just the DWP. It would also be helpful if the government actually implemented the suggested recommendations from the annual reports from the President of the Appeal Tribunals, which have systematically been ignored by successive governments over the past 10 years.(2) (4)
For example, in his annual report in 2008, His Honour Judge Robert Martin, when President of the Appeal Tribunals, revealed that the numbers of Appeals had increased from 217,000 to 229,000. His Honour was insistent about the fact that "..the same problems and errors are repeated every year, with no sign that anyone takes any notice of feedback from tribunals."(4)(5) For the past decade Judge Martin's consecutive annual reports constantly identified serious problems with the Atos
DLA reform consultation - response. Healthcare medical assessments, with medical decisions that appeared "totally unrelated to reality" and these concerns were repeated in interview with the Work & Pensions Committee. (2) (4) (5)
One of the main barriers that prevent disabled people participating fully in society is the patronising attitude of the majority of the able bodied population, as demonstrated in the consultation document, making sweeping assumptions about a subject the authors quite obviously know nothing about. Given that the welfare costs are the only DWP priority, it is beyond breathtaking that the saving of £100-500 million per annum is obvious to everyone working in welfare, except the DWP. It has yet to be explained why previous governments introduced Atos Healthcare at exorbitant costs to the public purse when, clearly, all that was needed was fully qualified medical administrators to consider the detailed evidence from the patient/claimant, GPs and Consultants who, by definition, are clinical experts. Using highly skilled medical administrators would remove the necessity for everyone to be assessed in person and, quite clearly, most of this enforced assessment can be a paperwork exercise for those with a profound condition with no hope of possible improvement. Administrators could be distributed around the country, for ultimate patient convenience, as opposed to the present reality with extremely ill people expected to travel excessive distances to Atos Healthcare assessment centres because no-one told them they could ask for a domiciliary visit with a doctor visiting them at home. Needless to say, that possibility is never forthcoming from the company either. No patient/claimant would need to be traumatised by distant travel to be confronted by an inhuman, unapproachable stranger whose only concern is in completing the paperwork as fast as possible and with the 'Decision Makers' invariably reaching the wrong conclusion as recently demonstrated by the absurd claims that in excess of 90% of IB claimants were really fit for work. NO they are not but, with a fatally flawed assessment system using unqualified junior staff, anything is possible. In my medically qualified professional opinion, the present system with Atos Healthcare is a form of government funded medical tyranny, is a copy of the system used in America by Unum (formerly Unum Provident), with the patients/claimants being treated with cold indifference and certainly no evidence of concern or compassion, as testified by countless disturbing
testimonies via the Internet.(3) (3b) Someone should advise the DWP that Unum were actually banned in at least 15 states in America, plus various countries including New Zealand, having been identified as running "disability denial factories"; so why are the DWP copying this system that caused such trauma in America and are still consulting with Unum today via the Unum Centre at Cardiff University?(4) (4b)
Of course, as soon as DLA has been replaced with the PIP, together with the IB being renamed as ESA, this will mean that all reference to incapacity or disability has been removed, suggesting that we no longer have any disabled people in this country! So, someone needs to explain how any chronically sick or disabled invalid, who cannot possibly engage in paid employment, can be awarded a benefit entitled Employment Support Allowance when employment will never be a viable possibility? How can DLA become a Personal Independence Payment when independence is being systematically withdrawn from all disabled people who happen to reside in a care home? Quite clearly this consultation is a paperwork exercise. The government will have already made its decisions but need to look like they are going through the motions of consulting with professionals and people from the disabled community.
The suggestion that all recipients of the new PIP are to endure repeated assessments, regardless of medical history or permanence of any profound disability, clearly demonstrates that the DWP have given no consideration to the huge costs to the public purse and is going from one extreme to the other. This will cause needless inconvenience and distress to chronically sick or profoundly disabled people, whose
conditions can never improve and is a total waste of limited resources. In the past the DLA, in its present form, permitted assessments to be 'permanent' and that's because many serious illnesses and chronic disabilities are actually permanent and can only deteriorate further over time. Once again, this proposal is the act of a desperate government planning to limit funds to a disabled community least able to protest, coupled with thinly veiled threats of benefit removal, which is a lifeline to countless numbers, and these proposals have meant that invalids throughout the UK are now feeling intimidated by their own government. If the proposed system is agreed then there must be an exemption clause for those with a permanent condition, to be completed by a GP, to resist needless distress for the long-term chronically sick and/or disabled patient/claimant to be needlessly reassessed, and also to preserve the public purse.
There are almost as many different and profound disabilities and chronic health conditions as there are civil servants and it is an absurd expectation to invite a definition. Medical knowledge would help. The suggestion that the disabled population may find the application forms complicated and struggle to complete them, without any qualifying evidence, is another example of unacceptable suggestions that disabled people may also have limited intelligence when, in reality, the application is not difficult to comprehend for anyone with average or above average intelligence. What the consultation appears to confuse is not an inability to comprehend the application but an anxiety when ill and/or profoundly disabled people are faced with an application document that's almost 50 pages long, which could be seen as intimidating. Given the findings of the Harrington review,(1) coupled with the constant reference to 'benefit cheats' by the press, the media and the government, when all evidence is that less than 0.5% of all DLA claims were bogus, causes unnecessary anxiety for people who already cope with daily struggles just to survive. Certainly, the distressing experiences, as reported by those who have visited an Atos Healthcare assessment centre, does appear to mean that the staff presume that all applicants are guilty until proven innocent, contrary to the accepted understanding of the caring professions as a whole, with care being sadly missing from all DWP medical assessments.(3) (3b) (4)
Given that the Harrington review has already identified and confirmed that all identifying evidence provided by applicants will be totally overlooked by the unqualified Decision Makers,(1) (4) there seems little point in inviting details of the type of qualifying evidence to be provided for the PIP assessment unless the qualifications of the 'Decision Makers' are greatly improved. However, the appointment of qualified medical administrators would mean that evidence from GPs and Consultants, who actually know the patient and have treated them, would be valuable only with Decision Makers who are qualified to comprehend it. Other evidence from allied health professionals, such as Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists, would also be significant, presuming their findings could be interpreted correctly and that also needs the skills of qualified medical administrators and not junior civil servants.
It is cause for concern to learn that this hastily composed reform risks removing vital benefit due to the totally flawed assessment system. There seems little comprehension that, for many of us, the DLA funding is used to support the costs of aids and appliances, together with running costs, that permits the disabled community to lead a more proactive life. Tens machines can offer a lot of relief but the batteries aren't cheap, support medicine such as chiropractic and osteopathy helps many but is only available privately and, then again, these proposed assessments are simply a brief glance into the life of the chronically sick and/or disabled people and that only offers a snapshot of what for many people is a vastly variable condition. There is little evidence that variable conditions have even been considered for this consultation. Many of the working disabled are only able to retain paid employment by using aids and equipment, usually supported by their DLA income. Many employed disabled people are limited to low paying jobs so, the removal of the DLA would quite probably lead to an increase demand on the public purse as, without access to funding for the aids, appliances and treatments, these people would no doubt be unable to continue working, which the government claim is the main justification for this reform nightmare.
These disability reviews are nothing if not a bureaucratic wilderness. Unnecessary bureaucracy invites mistakes, and the victim of the multiple administrative errors is invariably the patient/claimant. NONE of us are customers! Every effort must be made to reduce bureaucracy and unnecessary assessments by a system that has caused more distress and anxiety than any other in the history of the nation, and it is nothing to celebrate. Therefore, common sense should prevail at some point, not least as it will dramatically decrease costs. The claimed point of the process is to assess fitness for work and levels of disability. Therefore, having established that a patient/claimant/victim is entitled to claim ESA there is no point whatsoever to force yet another needless assessment in order to confirm entitlement to PIP. All assessment data should be readily available so that, once eligibility is confirmed then approval for other disability claims should be guaranteed, and should be nothing more than a paperwork exercise by suitably qualified medical administrators, depending on diagnosis and prognosis. By definition, the employment of qualified medical administrators would finally permit the correct decisions to be reached and dramatically reduce the growing costs of appeals. Thus, any increased costs of the employment of qualified medical administrators, and not junior civil servants with a different title, would be covered by significant savings within the system.
The introduction of an American designed medical assessment system, depending on a computer programme instead of a detailed medical examination, has introduced trauma into medical assessments for the first time ever in the history of this country, leaving the chronically sick and disabled population living in fear. The government's reluctance to accepting any evidence from welfare agencies as to the dangers and unnecessary hostility of this system falls on deaf ears, with the DWP's only priority being a cost reduction.
Mrs S..., Retired healthcare professional, Disabled veteran -War Pensioner (WRAF)
* Unfit for Purpose - Scottish CAB evidence on ESA -re page 2 - 70% successful at appeal with representative www.cas.org.uk/Publications/publications/Evidence+reports/ unfit-for-purpose-scottish-cab-evidence-on-esa (1) The Harrington WCA Independent Review, www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/wca-review-2010.pdf (2) Decision making and appeals in the benefit system. Second Report of Session 2009 - 10 - the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmworpen/313/313.pdf (3) The Broken of Britain, www.thebrokenofbritain.proboards.com/index.cgi and (3b) www.youtube.com/ search for the Broken of Britain - disabled. Web address changes daily. (4) Atos Healthcare or Disability Denial Factories: www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html and (4b) www.gov.uk/docs/tpca.pdf (5) President's Report 2007-08 -HH Judge Robert Martin Report by President of the Appeals Tribunal on the standard of decision-making by the Secretary of State www.appeals-service.gov.uk/Documents/SSCSA_PresRep07-08FINAL.pdf (6) Unfit for Purpose: http://www.cas.org.uk/Publications/publications/ Evidence+reports/unfit-for-purposeACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The author acknowledges with grateful thanks the valuable support of Dr Stephen Hall and Mrs Charley Downey (RAF Retired) in the preparation of this report. "...never underestimate the power of persistence." Nelson Mandela "Don't believe anything unless it is first denied." John Pilger "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke
Letter sent to the Minister for Disabled People.
Date: 7th February 2011 To: Mrs Maria Miller, MP Minister for Disabled People Private & confidential Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) Caxton House Without prejudice Tothill Street London SW1H 9DA Re: DLA reform consultation - response
Please excuse this unsolicited contact from a chronically disabled veteran, who happens to also be a retired health professional. However, given your opening comments in the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) reform consultation document, together with my references to those unacceptable comments in my detailed response, I believe you may wish sight of the contents of the enclosed report.
Please be further advised that it is cause for serious concern to note that the Minister for Disabled People should demonstrate such limited comprehension of what is a vast subject area, and the patronising contents of the consultation document has proven offensive to many.
You should also be alerted to the fact that, following a visit by an Atos Healthcare doctor, who produced a totally bogus medical report, I spent almost a year undertaking deep research into the activities of this contractor, and the damning research results have been widely accepted by various national welfare agencies.(1) Needless to say, all evidence is resisted by the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA), who are meant to exist to support the veterans whose evidence they now totally disregard. I suggest that the letter to the Executive Director of the SPVA dated 24th January 2011, and now enclosed for your information, may be of particular interest to demonstrate the resistance of the SPVA to actually supporting the nation's disabled veterans.
It is cause for very serious concern that a previous British government adopted an American style medical assessment system, an identical copy of that used by UnumProvident, yet remain oblivious to the fact that UnumProvident are actually banned from several States in America since a Judge in California fined them $31.7millon and identified the company as running "disability denial factories." (1)(4) I'm sure the British people would wish to know why this identified medical tyranny was adopted, despite the overwhelming evidence that the assessments, using a computer programme for the fatally flawed Work Capability Assessment, have been demonstrated to be totally unfit for purpose.(1)(2) There are significant numbers of successful lawsuits against UnumProvident in America and evidence exists that the DWP continue to consult with UnumProvident UK. (4) (4b)
Please be further advised that there is a growing ground swell of opinion from the disabled population regarding this savage onslaught of 'reforms' and, perhaps, if you care to observe the website, you will conclude that some of the reforms are, in fact, dangerous.(3) Indeed, these profoundly sick and/or disabled people use a blog identified as 'Benefit Scrounging Scum' because that is their interpretation of comments made about them by the government and DWP staff, which is then repeated by the press and the media when referring to "benefit cheats."(1) Atos Healthcare or Disability Denial Factories: www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html (2) Citizens Advice Scotland: Unfit for purpose: www.cas.uk/Resources/CAS?Migrated%20Resources/Documents/ER%20Unfit%20for%20Purpose (3) The Broken of Britain: www.youtube.com/ search for the Broken of Britain - disability. Website address constantly changing as people add to it. (4) www.acc.focus.org/international/item/2193-unum-provident-denied-disability-claims.html (4b) www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/tpca.pdf
I would urge you to read the enclosed detailed report, which is a response to the DLA reform consultation but, in keeping with previous government consultations, it is likely that the DWP will totally ignore all comments and that this consultation is nothing more than another government paperwork exercise. The need to cut costs in no way justifies the dangerous proposals within the DLA reform consultation document, but the government are famous for ignoring all recommendations, as demonstrated in the annual reports by His Honour Judge Robert Martin when President of the Appeal Tribunals.(1) Therefore, no-one working in welfare is expecting any response to be taken seriously by the DWP. Time will tell.
All reported evidence identifies that no more than 0.5% of all claims for DLA were bogus, so perhaps you could please advise why the DWP insist on causing unnecessary trauma to almost three million people?
Please resist the temptation to refer this letter to the SPVA as, following 18 months of correspondence, there is nothing further to say to that government department. A very belated and insincere apology failed to silence me, and I will not enter into more meaningless correspondence.
Furthermore, there is no point contacting my MP, Stephen Barclay, who is awaiting the results of the DWP Chief Medical Adviser's consideration of my research report(1), resists all further contact and my invitation for my MP to meet with me has, to date, been ignored. However, given that the present DWP Chief Medical Adviser is identified in my correspondence as being one of several government representatives enjoying generous corporate hospitality by Atos Origin, at the COHPA 2010 AGM, I believe that any eventual opinion expressed by him will be a conflict of interest.
I hope I may look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience because, as the Minister for Disabled People, I believe that it is essential for this important information to be brought to your personal attention.
Yours, most sincerely
Mrs S..., Disabled veteran (WRAF), Retired health professionalcc: Stephen Hall, PhD - Academic Adviser Adam Douglas - Chairman, The Forgotten Heroes Charley Downey - Trustee, The Forgotten Heroes Kaliya Franklin - Founder, The Broken of Britain Ian Duncan Smith, MP - Secretary of State for Work & Pensions Liam Byrne, MP - Shadow Secretary for Work & Pensions Sue Royston - Welfare Rights & Policy Adviser, Citizens Advice Encl: (a) The DLA reform consultation - response. (b) Letter to Jon Parkin, Exec Director SPVA, dated 24th January, 2011"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" Edmund Burke"Never believe anything until it's officially denied." John Pilger".never underestimate the power of persistence." Nelson Mandela
(1) Atos Healthcare or Disability Denial Factories: www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html
Department for Work and Pensions Prof. Malcolm Harrington WCA Independent Review 6th Floor, Section B, Caxton House, Tothill St London SW1H 9NA 23 February 2011 Dear Mrs S...
Thank you for your letter of 31st January, and for your continued interest in my reviews of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA).
As you know, I recently published my Independent Review of the WCA. This concluded that the principles of the assessment are right, but that the system contains some flaws that risk undermining its effectiveness. DWP are committed to taking forward the Review's recommendations so that we can make the system fairer for claimants and fairer for the taxpayer, including better communication with customers, putting Jobcentre Plus Decision Makers back at the heart of the process and ensuring that Decision Makers can seek advice from a chosen HCP. This is an ongoing process of improvement, but one which I believe will see real improvements.
Please do continue to send any further information as it becomes available, and thank you again for your continued engagement with the process.
Professor Malcolm Harrington CBE
Letter sent to the Minister for Employment.
Date: 27th April 2011 To: Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP Minister for Employment Private & Confidential Department for Work & Pensions Caxton House Tothill Street Without Prejudice London SW1H 9DA Dear Minister
I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 19th April 2011.
I was very concerned to receive yet another unsolicited contact from yourself as, given that the contents of my letter to the Deputy Prime Minister was clearly stated to be at the direct request of Baroness Shirley Williams, it is of concern to note that civil servants arbitrarily decided to prevent Mr Nick Clegg gaining access to detailed information when requested by a member of the noble House. I find this totally unacceptable, as will Baroness Williams.
I suggest that you are once again being misinformed by the civil service as the recent contact with the office of the Deputy Prime Minister does indeed contain much more detailed and damning evidence(1), when compared to my original report from June 2010(2), including the unacceptable involvement of corporate insurance giant UNUM as a welfare adviser to the DWP. When you consider that this insurance company was identified in 2009 as the second worst insurance company in America, by the American Association for Justice, and are actually banned from a number of states in America as well as a number of countries, including New Zealand(1), questions surely need to be asked as to why they are involved at any level with the welfare of British citizens?
Indeed, the previous DWP CMO, Professor Mansel Aylward, was rewarded for his support of Unum over many years with his own research unit, funded by Unum, and based at Cardiff University(1)(2). You will, therefore, appreciate why high calibre professionals involved with welfare dispute the independence of the Professor's research evidence, when exclusively funded by Unum, who are looking forward to flooding the UK market with their income protection (disability) insurance policies, just as in America.
The very detailed and disturbing evidence revealed in my further dedicated research, and presented as a letter to Lord Dannatt(1), is cause for serious concern Mr Grayling, and is now being distributed and accepted by members of the House of Lords, as well as concerned professionals, a selection of MPs and certain government select committees.
1. Letter to Lord Dannatt including detailed research evidence - 25th March 2011 2. Atos Healthcare or Disability Denial Factories - an independent research report by Mo Stewart - June 2010 It is unacceptable that the present DWP Chief Medical Officer had still failed to respond to my original report(2), months following receipt of your previous letter. Therefore, I took the liberty of writing to Dr Gunnyeon last month(3) and I trust I may receive his response very soon, as suggested in your most recent letter. Once I have heard from Dr Gunnyeon in response to my original report, he will also be provided with the additional and very damning evidence as exposed in my latest research(1), and now freely available to many other professionals.
I suggest that you should also be very aware that civil servants demonstrate(4), every time they write, that they are totally unfamiliar with the contents of the 500 page government contract with Atos. Substantial evidence demonstrating that Atos Healthcare (Atos Origin) continue to breach the contract on a daily basis, as well as employing medical staff who breach medical ethics, is not something that will go away, Minister, just because neither you nor your colleagues have managed to silence me.(1)(2)
Given the detailed evidence as reported by His Honour Judge Robert Martin(5), when President of the Appeal Tribunals, with recommendations from ten years of consecutive annual reports being totally ignored by government, it cannot be too much of a surprise to learn that those working in welfare hold out little hope that anything will improve in the short term, despite the fact that HH Judge Martin identified medical reports by Atos Healthcare that "failed to coincide with reality". Indeed, recommendations by the Work & Pensions Select Committee have also been totally ignored, so it is unclear why there is an ongoing attempt to defend the totally indefensible activities of a private contractor that terrorises the disabled British public?
Indeed, the unethical doctor who wrote a totally bogus medical report about his meeting with me is now being investigated by the General Medical Council(GMC) and everyone concerned with welfare are familiar with the fact that the medical reports provided by Atos Healthcare are free from all public accountability, as confirmed by the GMC and the Care Quality Commission. Also, the so called DWP Decision Makers are basic grade civil servants, totally incapable of comprehending medical reports, and they "rubber stamp" anything written by Atos staff, as identified by my original research and confirmed by the recent Harrington Review.
Furthermore, despite constant reassurances in the House of Commons, a civil servant writing to a dying man confirmed that, to date, the DWP have not actually bothered to conduct any audit on this œmulti million government contract with this corporate giant, and the only things monitored are the targets, including the numbers of welfare claimants removed from disability benefits. Hilary Brierly wrote the following: ".the Department has not exercised its contractual right to access for purposes of auditing Atos Healthcare's compliance with its contractual obligations."(2) Clearly, saving money remains the only priority and the welfare of the chronically sick and disabled population are considered to be nothing more than an expensive inconvenience, as demonstrated by comments by the Minister for Welfare Reform, namely Lord Freud.(1)
Now that former staff members from Atos Healthcare have found the courage to expose the requirements of working for Atos Healthcare(6), which is totally unrelated to welfare and exclusively devoted to a reduction of the welfare budget, it is proving easier to expose this sinister government funded medical tyranny. For example: "If you turn up to your claimant interview in nice clothes, you've failed" she says. "If you turn up washed and with hair neat, you've failed." "And, because it's not done properly, thousands of people are losing benefits they are entitled to." "The job was making me sick," she said. "It's against my principles to treat people with long term illnesses in such a disgusting way, so I had to give up."(6)1. Letter to Lord Dannatt including detailed research evidence - March 2011 2. Atos Healthcare or Disability Denial Factories - an independent research report by Mo Stewart - June 2010 3. Letter to Dr Bill Gunnyeon, DWP CMO - 18th March 2011 4. Letter to John Murphy, Correspondence Manager CDMS - 23rd June 2010 (see contents of letter to Lord Dannatt) 5. President's Report 2007-08 by HH Judge Robert Martin (see contents of letter to Lord Dannatt) 6. "Sick firm told us to catch out disabled people." www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=24468
Government funded medical tyranny, using a totally unaccountable private contractor against the most vulnerable citizens, including our disabled veterans, cannot continue to be used as a deficit limitation programme and I trust, Minister, that this letter now permits you to be much better informed.
I hope not to receive any more letters from you attempting to silence me and I can confirm that your recent letter was not considered to be helpful in any way.
Yours, most sincerely
Mrs S..., Disabled veteran (WRAF), Retired healthcare professional
Enclosures:1. Letter to Lord Dannatt, including detailed evidence - March 2011 2. Atos Healthcare or Disability Denial Factories - a research report by Mo Stewart, June 2010 3. Letter to Dr Bill Gunnyeon, DWP CMO - 18th March 2011 4. - see contents of letter to Lord Dannatt re letter to John Murphy, Correspondence Manager CDMS 5. - see contents of letter to Lord Dannatt ref report by HH Judge Robert Martin 6. 'Sick firm told us to catch out disabled people' - article featured in the Socialist Worker, 9th April 2011
Letter sent to the DWP Chief Medical Officer.
Date: 9th May 2011 To: Dr W J Gunnyeon DWP Chief Medical Adviser Private & Confidential Level 2 Caxton House Tothill Street Without Prejudice London SW1H 9DA Dear Dr Gunnyeon
Many thanks for your letter of 3rd May and for taking the time to respond to my letter of 18th March.
Considering that the Minister for Employment advised last November that my original report had been sent to you, many people have been waiting six months to learn your opinion that was, sadly, both predictable and lamentable.
I note that you do not wish to enter into further correspondence regarding my original report but should advise that your claims are not supported by research and please be further advised that Dr Peter Carter, the Chief Executive of the RCN, does not share your explanation as to why the RCN refused to accredit the Atos nurse training.
Furthermore, whilst it is true to say that I have had extensive correspondence with both the SPVA and Atos Healthcare, I would dispute your suggestion that my concerns had been 'thoroughly investigated' by anyone. All that happened was that both administrations spent a long time attempting to silence me without success.
Given that I am a retired healthcare professional, and I reported a serious breach of medical ethics by a presumed doctor in the employ of Atos Healthcare, all efforts employed were simply to resist the complaint. Indeed, I have access to exchanges of emails that find the Medical Director of Atos Healthcare confirming that he never, personally, commits his opinions in writing for fear of possible investigation by the GMC. That admission alone should be setting off alarm bells and, certainly, the young doctor who visited me and produced a totally bogus medical report should make reference to the hallowed Hippocratic Oath that clearly states: "First do no harm."
Enclosed, for your further consideration please, is detailed additional very disturbing research evidence, now freely distributed and referenced by many professionals working in welfare. The information from the RCN Chief Executive, Dr Carter, can be found as enclosure number 4. This additional evidence was offered in the form of a letter to General Dannatt, whose known to be concerned for the welfare of disabled veterans, and I await his response. Furthermore, Baroness Shirley Williams has invited me to distribute this document to as many as possible in the House of Lords and that process is ongoing as and when funds permit as postage costs are substantial.
With reference to the pending PIP assessments, please be advised that the only 'customer' involved in this entire process is the DWP. Chronically sick and disabled people are not customers but they are the victims of a government funded medical tyranny, using a private contractor, whose medical assessments have been identified as "inadequate" by Professor Harrington and "totally unfit for purpose" by every front-line charity working in welfare within the UK. It is interesting to note that you claim that the PIP contract has yet to be awarded. I suggest that no other company will be in the running in the "fair and open competition" given the amount of Atos resources in place, nationwide, and I think we both know that the awarding of the contract can be presumed to be a foregone conclusion.
Furthermore, up to 500,000 people have been wrongly judged fit for work and disallowed incapacity benefit over the past 15 years according to Steve Griffiths, a former government consultant, and more damning evidence is being exposed daily.(2)
As previously advised, your response to my original report will be widely distributed and I invite you now to please examine the enclosed much more damning evidence as this problem is growing, I will not be silenced nor intimidated, and many professionals now access my detailed research.
Mrs S..., Disabled veteran (WRAF), Retired healthcare professional
Suggested essential reading:
Enclosures:(1) Letter to Lord Dannatt plus detailed enclosures. (2) Coalition plan to save 20% on disability benefits in the reverse of Robin Hood, feature by Edward Lawrence of The Guardian. (3) Letter to Chris Grayling, Minister for Employment. (4) Letter to Brian Pepper, Atos Healthcare 1st March 2010"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" Edmund Burke"Never believe anything until it's officially denied." John Pilger".never underestimate the power of persistence." Nelson Mandela
Letter sent to the Minister for Defence Personnel.
Date: 14th June 2011 To: The Right Honourable Andrew Robathan MP Private & Confidential Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare & Veterans The House of Commons London Without prejudice SW1A 0AA
Re: Betrayal of chronically disabled older veterans
Two years of research has identified the unacceptably close relationship between the Department for Work and Pensions(DWP), Atos Healthcare, whose parent company is Atos Origin, together with the discredited American insurance giant known as Unum; formerly known as Unum Provident and First Unum.(1)
I wish to bring to your attention the fact that Unum are confirmed as the welfare advisers to the DWP(2), and that they were identified in 2009 as the second worst insurance company in America by the American Association for Justice(3). When known as Unum Provident, this company were identified as denying genuine disability claims(3)(4)(5) and, subsequently, were banned from 15 states in America and several countries worldwide, including New Zealand. Therefore, this past history begs the question as to why the British government have encouraged the involvement of Unum at any level, especially when it applies to the welfare of this nation's disabled veterans? The BBC offered evidence in an exclusive news report in November 2007.(5) Atos Origin, the parent company of Atos Healthcare, whose medical assessments of disabled British citizens and veterans are identified as being a copy of those used by Unum(6)(7), also just happened to have been awarded the IT contract for the 2012 Olympic Games, plus other lucrative government contracts too.(7) This is no coincidence and the evidence is conclusive.
My initial research concluded in June 2010 and now forms part of a much larger website, with details of both at the top of this letter.(6) Further evidence, revealing much more damning evidence about the abuse of chronically disabled veterans, was exposed in information supplied in a letter to General the Lord Dannatt(7) and subsequently distributed to front-line charities and welfare organisations within the UK, who were very grateful for the research evidence. Baroness Williams invited me to distribute my disturbing research evidence to other members of the House of Lords.
The enclosed letter was written to the Minister for Disabled People(8), in February, inviting Mrs Miller to offer an explanation for the identified government funded medical tyranny now imposed on to the chronically sick and disabled British public, including disabled veterans whom, I suggest, should be offered the best of all possible welfare support this nation has to offer.(8) However, the Minister has yet to offer me the courtesy of a personal reply to evidence that her introductory comments within the Disability Living Allowance(DLA) Reform consultation document were incorrect, demonstrating another Minister that fails to fully comprehend the disability legislation.(1) Letter to Minister for Employment - 27th April 2011 (2) www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/tpca.pdf - Annex C (3) The ten worst insurance companies in America: www.Denied-disability-claim.com/media/2009/02/tenworstinsurancecompanies.pdf (4) Unum Provident denied disability claims. www.accfocus.org/international/item/2193-unum-provident-denied-disability-claims.html (5) BBC 10 pm news transcript - exclusive report ref Unum - 6th November 2007. (6) Atos Healthcare or Disability Denial Factories: www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html (7) Letter to General the Lord Richard Dannatt - 25th March 2011 (8) letter to Minister for Disabled People - 7th February, 2011
The totally unacceptable IT medical assessment system used by Atos Healthcare, copied from that used by Unum, and using a computer programme instead of detailed medical examination, has been challenged by every national front-line charity working in welfare who identify the assessments as being unfit for purpose, but successive governments don't appear to be listening.(9)(10)
It was no coincidence that the award of War Pensions ceased in 2005 with the introduction of another system of compensation for military forces disabled in the service of the nation. However, that did result in all the older disabled veterans, in receipt of a War Pension, being left to the mercy of these unacceptable medical assessments by Atos Healthcare, with the resulting distress that that experience appears to afford to anyone who may be obliged to tolerate it.
The Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA) are meant to exist to support our disabled veterans, but are identical to the DWP, and spend all their time defending Atos Healthcare and demonstrating no concern whatsoever for the chronically disabled veterans. They are a disgrace.
During his time as the President for the Appeal Tribunals, His Honour Judge Robert Martin produced ten consecutive annual reports that all challenged the medical assessments provided by Atos Healthcare and insisted that the Atos medicals "failed to coincide with reality"(11) yet successive governments ignored all recommendations offered in every report. Therefore, you will appreciate that professionals and volunteer groups alike find little evidence to support the government's suggestion that these welfare reforms are meant to help people, as all evidence suggests that they are in place for no other reason other than a reduction of government expenditure.
As this government's representative responsible for our veterans I invite you to advise when this nation will demonstrate its duty of care to our disabled veterans? It will need a lot more than a Veterans' Day parade to rectify this betrayal and, given that disabled veterans have already endured a government medical assessment, to retain a War Pension, I see no need whatsoever for any disabled veteran to be reassessed to retain access to Disability Living Allowance(DLA). Indeed, I suggest that to conduct another government assessment for an identified chronically disabled veteran would be a waste of limited resources, and chronically disabled veterans should automatically, by definition, be exempt from any reassessment for their DLA.
Mrs S..., Disabled veteran (WRAF), Retired health professional(9) Macmillan Cancer Support, Failed By The System: www.macmillan.org.uk/Documents/GetInvolved/Campaigns/Benefits/ FailedByTheSystemReport.pdf (10) CAS: Unfit for purpose: www.cas.org.uk/Publications/publications/Evidence+reports/ unfit-for-purpose-scottish-cab-evidence-on-esa (11) Standard of Decision Making by the Secretary of State: www.appeals-service.gov.uk/Documents/SSCSA_PresRep07-08FINAL.pdf Copied to: General the Lord Dannatt, Baroness Jane Campbell, Baroness Wilkins, Judge Andrew Bano, Nick Clegg MP, Stephen Barclay MP, The Work & Pensions select committee, Chris Grayling - Minister for Employment, Maria Miller - Minister for Disabled People, Chris Francis - RAFA, Charley Downey - Trustee, The Forgotten Heroes, Front-line charities
Letter sent to the General The Lord Dannatt.
Date: 20th June 2011 To: General The Lord Dannatt GCB CBE MC DL House of Lords Private & Confidential London SW1A 0PW Without Prejudice
Thank you very much for your letter of 17th June and for your very kind offer of specific help.
It's true that my concerns unexpectedly escalated into a campaign. This was not my intention when I first began all this research, as a reaction to a visiting doctor from Atos Healthcare who actually breached medical ethics and produced a totally bogus medical report about me. Happily, that young man is now being investigated by the General Medical Council.
With reference to specific help needed by disabled veterans, please be advised that the government, and in particular Lord Freud, has now decided to introduce annual re-assessments for everyone in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA), which is an income that's about to be abolished and to be replaced with a much harsher benefit, namely the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Indeed, Lord Freud appears to struggle with the fact that many of the disabled people now in receipt of DLA were awarded this income permanently, without any comprehension it seems that the majority of profound disability and chronic illness is actually, by definition, permanent. All reported evidence has confirmed that bogus DLA claims amount to no more than 0.5% of the entire budget, with 1.5% administrative error which is a common problem with all administration from the Department for Work and Pensions(DWP). (They made a mistake with my RAF Invalid Pension and funded the incorrect pension for 2 years.) It should be noted that DLA is the most secure of all benefit payments, as confirmed by national front-line charities. However, Lord Freud's stated intention is to reduce the numbers of DLA claimants by 20%, demonstrating that these reforms are simply to re-address a budget deficit and are totally unrelated to genuine welfare.
With reference to your specific help, I would be most grateful if you could please establish that a War Pension is, in effect, a government disability pension for disabled veterans, and it requires a government medical for any reassessment of %age disability. Therefore, having established that every War Pensioner is a veteran disabled in the service of this nation, I strongly challenge any need for our identified disabled veterans to have any re-assessment for their DLA or future PIP, let alone an annual re-assessment, as proposed by the present Minister for Welfare Reform. Not least, this constant re-assessment would be a total waste of limited resources as well as being an unnecessary concern and anxiety for our disabled veterans.
When considering that those of us too frail to contemplate paid employment, which is something else that Lord Freud appears to doubt, we already struggle with limited income and it is totally unacceptable that we should now live under a constant threat that DLA may be removed to balance the DWP's budget. The removal of DLA will have a catastrophic impact, not least because we access our Motability car that's exclusively funded by DLA. The removal of DLA will remove independent transport for our disabled veterans, apart from those of us at the highest levels of War Pensions, and this threat is unacceptable. The government keep moving the goal posts and most view these so called welfare reforms as an attack on the most vulnerable people in society. I am, therefore, suggesting that chronically disabled veterans should be totally exempt from any reassessment for their DLA.
There are two parts of DLA, namely the care package and the mobility package. The present administration of War Pensions correlates DLA for the higher awards of pension. For example, as soon as the War Pension rises to a 70% disability(like mine), the mobility part of the DLA is stopped and a mobility supplement is added to the War Pension, funded at a slightly higher rate, and this continues to offer access to a Motability car. As soon as the War Pension acknowledges an 80% or higher disability, DLA is stopped altogether and incorporated into the higher War Pension. Therefore, the disabled veterans under threat of these unnecessary annual DLA re-assessments are mainly those whose pensions vary up to a 70% disability, and someone should surely remind the government that a War Pension is not a benefit.
Given that the award of DLA is totally unrelated to employment, a fact that seems to escape the present Minister for Disabled People, and the majority of the long-term chronically sick or profoundly disabled people are unable to benefit from paid employment, there can be no justification to assess disabled veterans twice and the fact that they are in receipt of a War Pension is confirmation that they are, in fact, disabled. Therefore, if disabled enough to be awarded DLA, disabled veterans should not live under a constant threat to have it removed as, in my case, DLA represents over 20% of my entire monthly income. The loss of DLA would remove my car and, probably, my home too.
If your Lordship would be willing to offer support by establishing that we should be exempt from annual assessment of DLA or the new replacement PIP, this would help countless thousands of our older disabled veterans.
I hope I may look forward to your support.
I remain, Sir, your obedient servant.
Yours, most sincerely
Mrs S..., Disabled veteran (WRAF), Retired healthcare professional
Copied to:Baroness Jane Campbell Baroness Rosalie Wilkins Baroness Shirley Williams Dame Anne Begg Judge Andrew Bano Dr Stephen Hall Dr Margaret McCartney Dr Christopher Johnstone The Work & Pensions select committee Adam Douglas - Chair, The Forgotten Heroes Charley Downey - Trustee, The Forgotten Heroes Various national front-line charities
Letter sent to the DWP Correspondence Manager.
Date: 23rd June 2011 To: Mr John Murphy Commercial Directorate Medical Services Private & Confidential Correspondence Manager Commercial Management of Medical Services Department for Work & Pensions Room 36 Norcross Government Buildings Without Prejudice Norcross Lane Thornton Lancashire FY5 3T 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 adviser.
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 refering 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
ignored the fact that I am a retired health professional
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.
Mrs S..., Disabled veteran (WRAF), Retired healthcare professional
Letter sent to the House of Lords seeking redress for the disabled.
Date: 27th April 2011 To: House of Lords WELFARE REFORM - REDRESS FOR THE DISABLED
The government's devotion to it's main priority, which is a dramatic reduction of the welfare budget, has meant that the concerns of respected front-line charities such as Citizens Advice(1), Macmillan(2), Scope(3), and the Disability Alliance(4) are all totally ignored. These welfare organisations, and many others, have collectively expressed serious concerns regarding growing evidence that the disability evaluation system, using the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), is flawed and totally unworkable - but the government isn't listening. Hence the planned legal challenge now being undertaken by the Disability Alliance, which may lead to a Judicial Review of the government's welfare reforms.
Government concern expressed for the welfare of the chronically sick and disabled people of this nation has been demonstrated to be totally insincere when employing the services of Atos Healthcare to assess them, and whose existence is dependent upon a 500 page contract provided by the Department for Work and Pensions(DWP). Indeed, the assessment of the long term sick and disabled population by a totally unaccountable private contractor, using computer software instead of a detailed physical examination, has been identified as unnecessarily traumatic.(1-5,7,8) This dangerously flawed medical assessment system uses a computer questionnaire, based on a points system, whilst the DWP dismiss the fact that the identical evaluation system, used by Unum (Provident) Insurance, was actually banned from fifteen states in America, and various countries worldwide. They were identified as being "disability denial factories"(5) by a judge in America, yet Unum Insurance are government advisers for UK welfare reforms.(5) Why?
Successful government propaganda has the able bodied general public convinced that the majority of people in receipt of Incapacity Benefit(IB) or Disability Living Allowance(DLA) are mainly scroungers. This is despite the fact that all evidence supports the fact that, out of the entire DLA budget, less than 0.5% were bogus applications with 1.5% admin error.(1,4,5,6) So why do the other 98% need to suffer other than because the chronically sick and disabled population make very easy targets? Since when is the opinion of medical experts, namely consultants, unacceptable as a level of a patient's ability to work other than when the DWP need to reduce costs? This is a very dangerous and medically unacceptable precedent, imported from America, that has basic grade administrators and an unaccountable assessment system deciding the fate of often desperately ill and chronically disabled people.
The DWP's resistance to employing qualified medical administrators has meant that basic grade administrators, known as Decision Makers, who confirm that they lack the ability to interpret medical evidence, have betrayed the sick and disabled people the WCA was meant to protect. The actual disability assessment, as reported by the contracted healthcare professional (HCP), is simply one extremely limited opinion derived from a dubious computer evaluation programme, as confirmed in the WCA review by Professor Harrington.(6) By definition, when all evidence of care, concern, compassion and human dignity is removed from any medical assessment, all that's left is medical tyranny as now funded by the British government against its own most vulnerable people.
The main responsibility of the DWP Decision Makers, as identified in the government contract with Atos Origin Healthcare Services, is to correlate all presented medical evidence including the detailed reports of GPs and consultants, who know the claimant and have actually treated them. Given that the opinions of these medical specialists are accepted in every court in the land, it seems more than reasonable to consider their clinical judgement when deciding if anyone is fit to return to work or to retain disability benefits. However, the Harrington Review(6) confirmed that Decision Makers routinely failed in their responsibility and exclusively accepted the opinion of the contracted HCP from Atos Healthcare, who enjoy "total immunity from all medical regulation" according to the General Medical Council(GMC) and the Care Quality Commission.(5) Therefore, large numbers of chronically sick and genuinely disabled people are being forced to appeal the often alarming decisions of totally unqualified junior civil servants.(1-6) Welfare agencies now advise that nothing has improved since the Harrington review, hence the challenge by the Disability Alliance.
This deeply flawed medical assessment process was identified for a long time by His Honour Judge Robert Martin when President of the Appeal Tribunals. For over a decade Judge Martin's consecutive annual reports constantly identified serious problems with the Atos medical assessments that "failed to coincide with reality"(5) yet, to date, none of His Honour's recommendations have been implemented by successive governments, as confirmed in evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee.(7)
The evidence confirmed that almost half of all WCA Appeal Tribunals find in favour of the applicant(7) with 70% of claims being upheld for claimants who have representation at the Appeal Tribunal.(8) However, the stress and distress of the need to wait for months to attend an appeal, in order to retain financial support to which these invalids are morally entitled, is totally ignored. If these were civil cases, generous compensation would be offered as an acknowledgement of the unnecessary distress and suffering caused to the many victims. However, all successful applicants can expect is a reluctant reinstatement of their disability payments, and a back dated award to when they were forced to accept Jobseekers Allowance instead of Incapacity Benefit (IB) or, eventually, the new Employment Support Allowance.(ESA)
With plans to rapidly transfer IB to the new ESA and DLA being renamed and reallocated to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), all reference to incapacity or disability is being systematically removed. How can a chronically sick or disabled person, who will never again be fit enough to work, be allocated a benefit named Employment Support Allowance when employment is not a realistic possibility? How does this support anyone with a permanent serious illness or profound disability? What happened to welfare? The Minister for Welfare Reform happened to welfare. and it is cause for concern that the input of one unelected official can threaten the welfare provision for millions, with compassion replaced with a price tag.(9)
The Minister made his intentions clear in a press interview(9) in 2008 when he claimed that: ". somebody will see a gap in the market and make their fortune" and the article went on to claim that the Minister's idea was to eventually put the private sector in charge of the long-term unemployed. "There will be bonuses for hard cases, and no special treatment of disabled people or lone parents with children at school."(9) As Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud's past history in finance demonstrates a dangerous lack of comprehension that a serious illness or chronic disability can indeed be permanent, hence past awards of DLA permanently offered to invalids who, by definition and diagnosis, are clearly unfit to work.
Now, the most vulnerable people in our society, already faced with a limited quality of life, are being terrorised with the threat of an annual review of their financial support, despite their confirmed permanent inability to work.
Decisions need to be made to enable justice to be seen to be done. The DWP should either cancel this totally flawed disability assessment contract, or introduce a generous compensation scheme for the many hundreds of thousands of genuine chronically sick or disabled victims of this DWP medical tyranny, now masquerading as medical assessments, as conducted by Atos Healthcare.
Mrs S..., Disabled veteran (WRAF), Retired healthcare professional
References:1. Citizens Advice: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/not_working_march_2010_final.pdf 2. Macmillan: www.macmillan.org.uk/Documents/GetInvolved/Campaigns/Benefits/FailedByTheSystemReport.pdf 3. Scope: www.Scope.org.uk/sites/default/files/counting_the_cost.pdf 4. Disability Alliance: www.disabilityalliance.org/dbcpress3.htm 5. Atos Healthcare or Disability Denial Factories: www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html 6. The Harrington WCA Review: www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/wca-review-2010.pdf 7. Decision making and appeals in the benefits system. Second Report of Session 2009-10 - the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee. www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmworpen/313/313.pdf 8. Citizens Advice Scotland: Unfit for purpose - http://www.cas.org.uk/Publications/publications/Evidence+reports/unfit-for-purpose 9. Welfare is a mess, says adviser David Freud www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/1577313/Welfare-is-a-mess-says-adviser-David-Freud.html Telegraph - 2nd Feb 2008. David Freud interview with Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson.
Letter sent to Mr Stephen Barclay MP.
Date: 29th June 2011 To: Mr Stephen Barclay MP The House of Commons Private & Confidential London Without Prejudice SW1A 0AA Dear Mr Barclay Ref:
Thank you for your letter of 28th June including the response from the Minister for Veterans, Mr Andrew Robathan MP, dated 20th June 2011.
Needless to say, I do believe that had the Minister been offered my further and more detailed letter to you of 11th June then his answer would not have been limited to generalities that are already well known.
As previously explained, war pensions vary a great deal and I am clearly not referring to any war pensioner with a small pension. However, the review medicals for war pensions are every bit as distressing as those suffered by other victims of the Atos Healthcare(AH) medical tyranny, and I do believe that you are very familiar with the detailed evidence following my unacceptable and totally bogus AH medical assessment(1). In fact, the doctor who visited me from AH is now being investigated by the General Medical Council. Furthermore, the Minister should be advised that not all war pensioners are very old and some of us are still of working age, hence my concerns given the contents of his letter.
A war pension medical is another government medical using AH and, for those of us with identified extremes of disability, who are already allocated an Unemployability Supplement, due to a confirmed and permanent serious disability, this threat of yet another medical by AH is unacceptable. Therefore, I suggest that there is no possible justification to force yet another medical assessment to again confirm serious disability to retain the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or the new Personal Independence Payment(PIP). Clearly, this would be a total waste of resources and cause needless anxiety and distress to those who are already living with a seriously reduced quality of life.
In anyone's language, an identified Unemployability Supplement means that the veteran is totally unfit to consider paid employment for any reason, and most live with extremes of pain as well as profound disability. QED, there is no possible valid reason to insist that any chronically disabled veteran, already identified by the government as being totally unfit for paid employment due to confirmed extremes of disability, should be required to have an additional assessment for DLA or PIP. That income should be guaranteed to our seriously disabled older veterans.
Do please bear in mind that access to DLA for social care is the one thing that local authorities look for when offering care support in the veteran's home. If this is removed, due to a discredited assessment by AH, then our chronically disabled veterans run the risk of losing their carers who permit them to enjoy independent living within their own homes.
(1) Atos Healthcare or Disability Denial Factories: www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html This also applies to veterans living in care homes who run the risk of losing the mobility component of DLA, thus removing the vital Motability car, as proposed by the Minister for Welfare Reform whose past history is clearly in finance, and the welfare needs of the chronically disabled appear to be of no concern.(5)
This constant threat of yet another government medical assessment is unacceptable, is causing unnecessary distress to our seriously disabled war pensioners, and that distress can be removed by not requiring anyone with a war pension in excess of 60% disability to need any further medical assessments for DLA and/or PIP. Once the disability is acknowledged as being at 80% then all DLA is removed and a higher war pension is provided. A confirmed 70% disability provides access to a mobility supplement added to the war pension, thus removing DLA for mobility. Therefore, this suggested limitation would only be relevant to the seriously disabled veterans with disabilities at between 60% - 70% disability who are, quite clearly, seriously and permanently disabled.
I concur that, in theory at least, the assessments for war pensions and DLA are meant to assess different things. However, once a veteran is at a level of identified profound disability, that means they can never again access paid employment, then that subtle difference is quite meaningless and that is my clinical opinion as a retired health professional. No other seriously disabled war pensioner should be exposed to my experience and this level of confirmed disability should actually guarantee DLA. Therefore, I totally refute the need for any DLA re-assessment.
Furthermore, now that the Prime Minister has confirmed that the Armed Forces Covenant is to be enshrined in law, claiming that "..wounded servicemen and women will get VIP care..." it is time to demonstrate this nation's commitment to those of us seriously disabled in the service of our country, in years gone by, rather than dismissing us to the activities of a totally unsupervised private medical contractor, who has already been identified as providing unacceptable levels of medical assessment.(1),(2),(3),(4),(5),(6)
The House of Commons Work & Pensions Committee have attempted to draw attention to the many serious problems identified when using Atos Healthcare for medical assessments, and this same company are now also involved with the re-assessment of our older war pensioners. The totally unacceptable experiences of many have been ignored by government with evidence from Professor Harrington being exclusively acknowledged, when detailed reports offering serious cause for concerns by Citizens Advice, Citizens Advice Scotland, MacMillan and the Disability Alliance are all disregarded.(1),(2),(3),(4,(5),(6)
I trust you will please raise these much more detailed queries with the Minister and provide him with a copy of this letter.
Mrs S..., Disabled veteran (WRAF), Retired health professional(1) Atos Healthcare or Disability Denial Factories: www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html (2) Atos Healthcare unacceptable treatment of seriously ill people: www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatos.html (3) www.cas.org.uk/Publications/publications/Evidence+reports/ unfit-for-purpose-scottish-cab-evidence-on-esa - an example of the many disturbing reports from national welfare agencies identifying unacceptable experiences of clients involved with Atos Healthcare. 70% success at appeal with representation. (4) Citizens Advice serious concerns regarding hastily introduced DLA reforms www.citizensadvice.org.uk/citizens_advice_response_to_the_dwp_consultation_on_dla.pdf (5) DLA Reform Consultation Response – Jan 2011 www.justice2008.org/DLA_REFORM_CONSULTATION_-_Response_-_Jan2011_-_FINAL.pdf (6) MacMillan Cancer Support: Failed by the system www.macmillan.org.uk/Documents/GetInvolved/Campaigns/Benefits/FailedByTheSystemReport.pdf Copied to: (1) Dr Stephen Hall (2) Adam Douglas – Chair, the Forgotten Heroes (3) Charley Downey – Trustee, the Forgotten Heroes (4) General the Lord Dannatt (5) Baroness Jane Campbell (6) Baroness Rosalie Wilkins (7) Henry Rowlands - CAB (8) Chris Francis – RAFA (9) The Work & Pensions Committee (10) The Joint Committee for Human Rights
Letter from the Minister For Defence Personnel Welfare and Veterans dated 1 August 2011 forwarded 16 August 2011.
[Letter sent on 16 August 2011 from Mr Stephen Barclay MP, House of Commons, London SWlA OAA] MINISTRY OF DEFENCE FLOOR 5 ZONE B MAIN BUILDING WHITEHALL LONDON SW1A 2HB Telephone: 020 7218 9000 (Switchboard) THE RT HON ANDREW ROBATHAN MP MINISTER FOR DEFENCE PERSONNEL WELFARE AND VETERANS Our ref: D/Min... 1 August 2011 Dear Stephen,
Thank you for your letter dated 7 July on behalf of your constituent Mrs S... of ... concerning War Pensions.
As I explained previously when assessing individuals for the replacement for the Disability Living Allowance, the Department for work and Pensions (DWP) will be using a wide variety of evidence, including evidence from other assessments such as for a war pension. However, the assessment used to confirm a percentage disablement under the War Pension Scheme (WPS) is designed specifically for the purposes of that scheme and would not itself go into enough detail to determine eligibility for different schemes, administered by other Departments.
DWP have advised my officials that they do not think it right to judge people purely on the type or level of impairment they have, labelling individuals by these impairments and making blanket decisions about benefit entitlement. They recognise that people lead varied and often complex lives, with differing circumstances and needs - and that they do not fit neatly into boxes. The new Personal Independence Payment reflects this, providing support tailored to these personal circumstances. That is why the new assessment is being designed to consider an individual's personal circumstances and the support they need, rather than basing eligibility on any medical condition or percentage level of disability. The assessment will take account of the fact that many people have complex support needs and more than one impairment or health condition.
DWP have also confirmed that they are aware that for the purposes of the War Pensions Scheme injured service personnel have their medicals undertaken by practitioners with experience and training in specific service related conditions and impairments, They have also confirmed that this is likely to be an invaluable source of information and that the use of such information might reduce unnecessary duplication of work and could remove additional and unnecessary burdens for injured service personnel.
However, it is an important part of the assessment process for most individuals to have a face-to-face consultation with a trained independent assessor, allowing an in-depth look at their circumstances and giving individuals the opportunity to put across their own views of the impact of their impairment on their everyday lives. This approach will ensure that decisions reflect the best evidence.
No decisions have yet been taken on the delivery model for the assessment and DWP are still in the process of developing the new claims and assessment processes.
I hope this explains the current situation.
THE RT HON ANDREW ROBATHAN MP
Letter sent to Professor Malcolm Harrington CBE regarding the WCA Independent Review.
Date: 10th September 2011 To: Professor Malcolm Harrington CBE Private & Confidential WCA Independent Review 6th Floor, Section B Without Prejudice Caxton House, Tothill Street, London SW1H 9NA Re: WELFARE REFORM - REDRESS FOR THE DISABLED
Enclosed, for your personal information, please find a copy of a highly sensitive report now distributed to a total of 360 members of the House of Lords, in advance of the welfare reform debate on 13th September.
Given the significance of the exposed evidence within the report, it has also been distributed to large numbers of professionals working within the care professions, to frontline charities, MPs, online disability support groups, Judge Andrew Bano and to two government select committees. Therefore, whilst highly sensitive, I do not intend to keep this exposed disturbing information secret.
The only people who will never know the content of this report is the general public, given the total press ban on ever mentioning anything related to Unum Insurance. Reported claims in some text advise thatUnum Insurance are valued at $4 Trillion. This is incorrect and should advise that Unum Insurance are part of the $4 Trillion US healthcare industry  and, when known as Unum Provident Insurance, they were identified as the 2nd worst insurance company in America by the American Association for Justice. It is not terribly comforting to know that our welfare state is dominated by the influence of this corporate giant with the most diabolical past history against their own clients.
I should also advise that I have been conducting research now for about two years, health permitting, and I have had the great privilege to have contact with a variety of high calibre professionals working within the medical, healthcare and welfare professions. To date, I can find no other medical or healthcare professional who confirms your insistence that the DWP Decision Makers should not be Medical Administrators. The present Decision Makers may well be intelligent Professor, but they are clearly under qualified for the important role they are expected to carry out. It is a given that, without the relevant experience and qualifications, these administrators are incapable of deciphering the detailed medical language that is inevitable in every specialist medical report and increasing their self esteem, as in your report, can't increase their skills or qualifications. Qualified Medical Administrators would easily identify, from diagnosis, all those whose health is so poor that they should never be troubled and they could prevent this fear and anxiety now imposed on everyone who are too ill or profoundly disabled to work but who must exist on benefits.
With reference to your most recent letter, I can certainly confirm that I do not claim, request nor, with the greatest of respect, do I require your personal endorsement of my research. The only endorsement I need I already enjoy, and that is from other chronically sick and disabled people within the UK who tolerate this government funded medical tyranny, masquerading as the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), using the services of a totally unaccountable private contractor and a discredited computer software. The evidence against the WCA is overwhelming but the only opinion the DWP will accept is yours, so the suffering continues unabated. How can any credible assessment of the ability of the sick and disabled population fail to consider variable conditions and extremes of pain? Yet, this is what the British people now endure to retain disability benefits which are needed for their very survival. Forcing disabled people off disability benefits onto Jobseekers Allowance, and employing additional large numbers of DWP staff to harass and bully these people, when there are no jobs to be found even for the able bodied unemployed, is simply another form of government tyranny against those least able to protest.
I have no doubt that you believe that your reviews are a valuable contribution to the assessment process. However, my concerns are for the numbers of future victims of this torment, and the countless thousands of future additional totally incorrect decisions, that will guarantee an enforced Appeal in order to find some sort of justice. If the government continue to disregard all recommendations by the Senior President of the Appeal Tribunals, the select committees and the frontline charities then, clearly, nothing can or will improve. I regret that the annual report by your good self on the WCA by Atos, and not on a system best suited for purpose and need, hardly offers any comfort to the hundreds of thousands now living in fear of their future Atos assessment.
Please also be advised that the DWP's insistance that the high number of successful appeals - now running at 70% with representation - is due to the claimants arriving at the appeal with masses of additional medical evidence is not confirmed by research. Indeed, His Honour Judge Robert Martin is quite insistent that it is more to do with the fact that there is a chance that "they may actually be believed" that is the overwhelming factor that leads to the high numbers of successful appeals. It is also a very sad fact to discover that this discredited assessment system is now also being used against our disabled veterans, to resist increasing War Pensions for disabilities gained in service to this nation when in uniform. This is a national disgrace, when our forces are committed in war zones, as the British government resist supporting our older disabled veterans.
What is still missing is any compensation for the months of distress and trauma suffered by these innocent victims whilst waiting for their Appeal Tribunal. Nothing can ever really compensate for the profound stress and emotional trauma they suffer, but it should be acknowledged.
I wish you no harm Professor. Clearly, you have a job to do and you cannot concern yourself with what are political decisions. However, you surely cannot ignore the overwhelming evidence of distress by hundreds of thousands of people and, with the greatest of respect as always, from your reported comments you do not appear to comprehend that any official annual report will do little to allay any fears.
I am now taking an enforced rest as my health has plummeted. In time I have no doubt that I will need to conduct research once again, and I live in hope that someone will acknowledge the evidence within this report before it is too late.
Yours, most sincerely
Mrs S..., Disabled veteran (WRAF), Retired healthcare professional
Copied to: Baroness Campbell, Baroness Masham, Baroness Wilkins, Baroness Gardner, Professor the Baroness Lister Richard Hawkes - SCOPE, Neil Coyle - Disability Alliance, Tom Pollard - MIND, Mike Hobday - Macmillan, Dr Stephen Hall, Prof Paul Gregg, Prof Peter Beresford, the W&P Select Committee, the Health Select Committee, HH Judge Andrew Bano, Phil Lockwood - Black Triangle Campaign, Dame Anne Begg MP, Stephen Barclay MP, General the Lord Dannatt, Adam Douglas - The Forgotten Heroes.
Enclosures: WELFARE REFORM - REDRESS FOR THE DISABLED
 Unum Group revenue was $10.19 billion in 2010, $10.09 billion in 2009, $9.98 billion in 2008, $10.52 billion in 2007, $10.54 billion in 2006 and $10.44 billion in 2005 (Source: www.wikinvest.com/stock/Unum_Group_(UNM)).
More financial information is published on the Unum and Business http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosbusinessunum.html#financial) page.
Letter from the Rt Hon The Lord Strathclyde regarding Welfare Reform - Redress for the Disabled.
Leader of the House House of Lords London SW1A 0PW Telephone 020-7219 3200 Rt Hon The Lord Strathclyde email@example.com
14 September 2011
Dear Mrs S...
Re: Welfare Reform - Redress for the Disabled
Thank you for your letter of 7 September in which you outline your concerns around the Governments proposed welfare reforms in general, but on the future of healthcare funding in particular.
I read your thoughts with interest especially as this subject is a focus for parliamentary consideration at the moment.
I have taken the liberty of forwarding your letter on to the Minister responsible for Welfare Reform, who will no doubt give it his attention.
Thank you for taking the trouble to write.
Letter sent to Mr Stephen Barclay MP regarding DLA assessment exemptions.
Date: 20th September 2011 To: Mr Stephen Barclay MP South Fens Business Park Fenton Way Chatteris PE16 6TJ Dear Mr Barclay Ref: DLA assessment exemptions
Thank you very much for taking the time to raise my queries with the Minister for Veterans, Andrew Robathan MP, and for a copy of his reply. I regret that I must advise that the Minister's reply is utterly and totally unacceptable, as it will be to others who fully comprehend chronic, permanent long-term illness and disability.
Medically, administratively and financially, the Minister's explanation beggars belief and is clearly guided by unacceptable DWP input, who view all benefit claimants as bogus until proved otherwise. They are guided by the input of the unelected Minister for Welfare Reform whose only skills are in finance, not welfare.
Using the excuse that I have a War Pension, which may be awarded due to injury in the field, is an excuse not an explanation. My condition is a profound, deteriorating, chronic and permanent disability. This is due to a secondary permanent illness, as contracted via a classified virus, when on detachment to the Institute of Aviation Medicine. It is not a battlefield injury. I was in the RAF Medical Branch and not a frontline soldier !
Medically speaking, the Minister's comments are without precedent, are unacceptable and totally unjustifiable. A confirmed illness or disease is a confirmed illness or disease Mr Barclay. Given that I have been visited by a Consultant, representing the Appeal Tribunal, who confirmed my permanent and serious disabilities, I totally reject the Minister's claim that I am still required to be reassessed to keep access to my DLA which, by definition, is a benefit offered to disabled people. Having had my serious disabilities confirmed by a Consultant, that includes extremes of pain 24/7, I totally reject that there is any need whatsoever to constantly be reassessed for any disability benefit.
The DWP's instructions that a Consultant's opinion for a War Pension "...would not in itself go into enough detail to determine eligibility for different schemes..." is civil service speak for avoiding the question. This is utterly absurd given my diagnosis which is permanent, painful, incurable and unrelated to battlefield injuries. As I've told you before Mr Barclay, I CANNOT get better and I utterly reject the suggestion, by medically unqualified DWP civil servants and not by medically qualified senior staff, that there can be any justification for someone like me to be annually reassessed. You will appreciate the absurdity of this suggestion I think, and you will also appreciate that many other chronically sick and disabled veterans are awaiting the outcome of my enquiry.
Whilst the theory of not "labelling individuals by their impairments" makes good press headlines, nevertheless, it is also nothing short of medical tyranny if the diagnosis is to be ignored by totally unqualified administrators. I use Diamorphine daily for pain control, and my profound disability is not in doubt by anyone medically qualified so to judge.
Given that at times I am struggling for breath, I totally reject any need for my access to disability benefits to be annually reassessed other than by a paperwork exercise. This would only be acceptable if conducted by a qualified medical administrator. An unqualified civil servant, using the exalted title of 'Decision Maker' who are, by their own admission, totally unqualified to make decisions regarding medical matters, is unacceptable. This nonsense is a copy of a system used by the totally discredited Unum Provident Insurance. They were identified as the 2nd worst company in America by the American Association for Justice, they are advisers to the government since 1994, and they were fined $600 million due to their bogus assessments of their clients. The enclosed report offers more detailed evidence.(encl 1)
Given the exposure of the unacceptable activities of Atos Healthcare in my previous research report: Atos Healthcare or Disability Denial Factories, the Minister's comments making reference to a "...face-to-face consultation with a trained independent assessor, allowing an in-depth look at their circumstances..." beggars belief. The Minister really needs to catch up with the multitude of professional reports from frontline charities; especially from Citizens Advice and MacMillan. They all, without exception, condemn the so called 'assessments' as conducted by Atos Healthcare as being unfit for purpose. As I believe I have already mentioned, I will never again permit a staff member from Atos Healthcare into my home, and I am physically unable to consider a journey to any assessment centre, anywhere. My disabilities are not in dispute Mr Barclay. The bogus assessments conducted by Atos Healthcare are, as confirmed in ten annual reports by His Honour Judge Robert Martin when President of the Appeal Tribunals. I suggest the Minister reads those too...
I would be most grateful if you could please now offer the Minister a copy of this letter and invite his personal input, and not the repeated input from the DWP. Short of a miracle cure, the suggested repeated assessments are medically unjustified, administratively incompetent and financially a total waste of money for the DWP.
I humbly suggest the Minister benefits from the facts before he accepts the standard civil service excuse for medical tyranny, as identified in the damning report: Welfare Reform - Redress for the Disabled, as now accessed by 360 members of the House of Lords. A copy is enclosed for your personal attention and I suggest you copy the report to the Minister.
A copy of this letter will be provided for General the Lord Dannatt, who is aware of this continued attack on disabled veterans who have served this nation. I shall also copy it to HH Judge Andrew Bano, who will keep HH Judge Robert Martin informed.
Yours, most sincerely
Mrs S..., Disabled veteran (WRAF), Retired healthcare professional
Copied to: Dr S Hall, General the Lord Dannatt, Adam Douglas - Chair The Forgotten Heroes, HH Judge Andrew Bano
Enclosures: Welfare Reform - Redress for the Disabled
Letter sent to the Lord McNally regarding Human Rights and Civil Liberty abuses: DWP and Atos Healthcare.
Date: 24th September 2011 To: Lord McNally The House of Lords London SW1A 0PW Dear Lord McNally
Ref: Human Rights and Civil Liberty abuses: DWP and Atos Healthcare
I understand that you are the Minister of State for Justice and, as such, I attach very sensitive, detailed research evidence regarding the many abuses of the £100million per annum DWP contract, as conducted by Atos Origin IT Services UK Ltd Medical Services; commonly known as Atos Healthcare. Please excuse this direct contact but, I regret, I do not find departmental administrators reliable when offering sensitive and damning information.
Please take note that the 'medical assessments' conducted by Atos Healthcare are a replica of those conducted by the US corporate insurance giant Unum Insurance. Formerly known as Unum Provident Insurance, this company has been involved with the DWP since 1994, when the then DWP Chief Medical Officer, Prof Mansel Aylward, introduced this highly discredited American insurance company to the UK government. Unum continue to fund the Professor as Director at the Unum Centre at Cardiff University, a position Professor Mansel has occupied following his departure from the DWP.
Also, and of much greater concern, when trading as Unum Provident Insurance this US company were fined many, many times in the US and, eventually, they were fined $600million and ordered to re-open almost 300,000 previously closed disability claims. This is something the company has still failed to complete years later. The detailed and disturbing research evidence: Welfare Reform - Redress for the Disabled refers, and is now enclosed for your information. Why this dangerous company were not closed down by the US government remains a mystery.
Therefore, the question must be asked as to why this discredited US corporate insurance giant is involved in any way with the welfare of British citizens??
Please also understand that, as a disabled female veteran and former healthcare professional, the enclosed research report has been widely distributed and was quoted by two noble members in the recent welfare reform debate in the House of Lords. Furthermore, given the serious nature of the disturbing evidence in the report, I do not consider this evidence to be limited to a constituency matter although my MP is fully informed.
You will please note the enclosed recent letter from the Leader of the Lords and I await with interest the input from the unelected Minister for Welfare Reform, whose previous life as Vice President for a Swiss banking corporate institution only confirms the Minister's total incompatibility for the Ministry he now commands without challenge. The enclosed evidence includes testimony from the Minister that confirms that he has no comprehension whatsoever regarding chronic and serious illness, or profound disability, and this is why this nation's disabled community live with such fear. The Minister for Welfare Reform's knowledge regarding disability is that it costs a lot of money, which is his particular expertise. Breaches of human rights and civil liberties are identified, and are cause for serious concerns, yet the DWP continue to dismiss all evidence from frontline charities and high calibre professionals, and only accept input by Professor Harrington.
Given the overwhelming evidence that 40% of DWP decisions based on the Atos assessments are overturned on Appeal, and this figure rises to 70% with representation at Appeal, I am interested to learn why the Secretary of State for Justice has been noted by his silence on what is a breach of a £100 million per annum DWP contract on a daily basis. Indeed, if you manage to read the full research report, you will discover that, together with identified breaches of human rights, there are also breaches in contract which are widespread and very easily demonstrated.(1) (2) (3)
Perhaps you could please encourage the Secretary of State for Justice to now afford some of his valuable time to addressing this serious problem, with daily breaches of a £100million per annum contract, as the UK take another step towards the US healthcare system, funded by insurance. Unlimited testimony of medical tyranny, as funded by the DWP, is widespread. Evidence demonstrates that, within a few months of being assessed, disabled victims of this tyranny are required to be re-assessed with constant threats of the removal of their benefits that they need for survival. Therefore, comparisons with previous identified medical tyranny against disabled people in years gone by, during WW2, cannot be a total surprise. For exampIe, I have just been assessed for my War Pension yet, despite the fact that I have an Unemployability Supplement as I am too ill to work, and can't ever recover, the DWP are attempting to insist that I also need to be reassessed for my DLA. This is DWP tyranny and dangerous nonsense.
Quite clearly, the Minister for Welfare Reform is unchallenged, the Minister for Disabled People demonstrates every time she speaks that she has no comprehension of profound disability, and both Ministers are unconvincing in their claimed concerns for the many and growing numbers of innocent victims of this government funded medical tyranny, masquerading as disability assessments, and generously funded by the DWP.
500,000 people have now been unjustly denied disability benefits and wrongly found fit for work(2). Since the DWP disregard all evidence offered by all authorities, it's surely time for Justice to take a stand before this nation descends into anarchy due to this US imposed nightmare of the constant attacks on the chronically sick and disabled population. We make easy targets. As for the bogus assessments, all evidence points to only 0.5% bogus claims, with 1.5% admin error. So, why do the other 98% need to suffer??
The fact that the committee stage of the welfare reform bill will not take place in Chamber only accentuates the distrust now held by the entire disabled population, and I refer you to the contribution made to the welfare reform debate by Baroness Jane Campbell in particular.(4)
Despite the fact that the major frontline charities all confirm that the 'assessments', as conducted by Atos Healthcare, are totally unfit for purpose, the government have totally disregarded all reports including the 10 consecutive annual reports by HH Judge Robert Martin as President of the Appeal Tribunals. The government also totally disregarded critical evidence of daily breaches in contract, as well as the clearly identified medical tyranny now imposed on the UK's chronically sick and disabled population by a private contractor whom, to date, have had no audit despite claims to the contrary in the House of Commons.(1)
The DWP do tend to hide behind Atos Healthcare and resist all evidence as to the atrocities, and needless human despair generated, that are very easily demonstrated.(1)(3)
Unfortunately, Dr Gunnyeon as the present DWP Chief Medical Officer broke the first rule of writing, as he wrote in temper when writing to me. I am happy to enclose my reply as it seems that I appear to irritate the Chief Medical Officer, who has not managed to silence me to date. Reports by the W&P select committee have attempted to expose the dangerous limitations of permitting a private contractor to be involved with the welfare of this nation's sick and disabled population to no avail.(1) Indeed, even the Business Secretary, Dr Vince Cable, has now confirmed in writing that the Atos assessments have been 'a disaster' so far..... So why keep them at a cost of £100 million per annum???
Minister, before being tempted to remove yourself from any responsibility, may I please suggest that this matter should be of particular concern to the Department of Justice, with overwhelming evidence of abuses of human rights and civil liberties as well as breaches of a large DWP contract. Quite clearly, if a disabled person's Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is confiscated due to a compromised and unacceptable 'assessment', the victim will lose DLA and their Motability car that's usually funded by it. This is tyranny.
Furthermore, Professor Harrington, with whom I have exchanged a number of letters and who invited my permission to access my original research for his studies, suddenly wrote a very defensive letter claiming that he didn't 'endorse' my research when no-one had claimed that he had. Oh dear! I wonder why these people are becoming quite so sensitive or, could it possibly be, that my research is being noticed in high places and the Professor is under pressure to try to silence me when no others have managed to achieve that goal?
In closing, I invite you not only to please access all the information now provided but also to offer it for the personal attention of the Secretary of State for Justice. An able bodied unelected Minister, with the title of Minister for Welfare Reform and no experience of the daily struggles, the needs and the vast variances of disabilities, has no business making decisions that impact on the welfare of millions of people who already face life with a disadvantage and, sometimes, live with constant extremes of pain.
Perhaps the Department for Justice may now offer some hope and comfort to the chronically sick and disabled population where the DWP have offered medical tyranny masquerading as welfare reform?
Yours, most sincerely
Mrs S..., Disabled veteran (WRAF), Retired healthcare professional(1) www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html (2) http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jan/03/incapacity-benefit-compass-survey-dwp?intcmp=239 (3) www.guardian.co.uk/society/joepublic/2011/jul/25/disability-benefits-atos-government-hiding (4) www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?gid=2011-09-13a.658.0
Letter sent to the Baroness Meacher regarding the Welfare Reform Bill.
Date: 4th October 2011 To: Baroness Meacher The House of Lords London SW1A 0PW Ref: WELFARE REFORM BILL
As an introduction, may I please inform you that I am a medically retired former healthcare professional and a not too old female War Pensioner, although I prefer the title of disabled veteran.
I am contacting you as I wish to offer my personal gratitude, and sincere congratulations, for your valuable contribution to the recent lengthy welfare reform debate in the House of Lords, held on September 13th. In particular, I wish to thank you for your insistance of the need for qualified staff at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as Decision Makers, which continues to be resisted by Professor Harrington, engaged by the DWP to consider the implications of the introductions of these tyrannical welfare reforms against the most vulnerable people within the UK.(1)
Over the years since being disabled out of service I have attempted to retain my independence by finding a quality of life being involved with a variety of charities, and working voluntarily when able. As my health has continued to deteriorate I have, in recent years, occupied myself at home by offering administration for the smaller charities and, in the past couple of years, I have been drawn to research as more and more atrocities against the disabled population became apparent.
I must declare my interest as I am in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and there is a possibility that I too may need to endure yet another discredited assessment by Atos Healthcare in order to retain it. However, I insist that, having just had a medical assessment confirmed by a Consultant, on behalf of the appeal tribunal for my War Pension, I totally reject the DWP's attempt to insist that I must endure this medical tyranny again, having had it recently confirmed that not only am I seriously disabled but that my War Pension includes an Unemployability Supplement, confirming that I will never again be well enough to consider paid employment. That detail alone should confirm my eligibility for DLA, yet this doesn't appear to be the case according to the Minister for Veterans.(2) My response to my MP, Stephen Barclay, is now enclosed for your information.(3) DLA is totally unrelated to employment and is a significant fact that does appear to escape the present Minister for Disabled People, according to her recent comments, and she is another Minister engaged with welfare whose past history is in finance.
The battle to transform this tyrannical welfare reform bill into a workable and affordable welfare system, that is acceptable to and not feared by the chronically sick and disabled UK population, is an uphill struggle given the fact that the assessments as conducted by the present corporate contractor, Atos Healthcare, have been consistently identified as being totally unfit for purpose by the main frontline charities and, in particular, by the Disability Alliance, Citizens Advice and Macmillan Cancer Support.(4)
My interest in research was incentivised by personal experience when I was subjected to a home visit by a staff member from Atos Healthcare for a reassessment of my War Pension. This young man presumed to refuse to offer a lone, disabled, female veteran any form of identity despite being invited so to do no less than three times during the disturbing interview. This staff member, who claimed to be a doctor, then presumed to attempt to intimidate me by refusing eye contact, silenced me with a wave of the hand to prevent me speaking and firmly instructed me that I was only 'permitted' to speak in answer to his direct questions. This is the totally unacceptable consequence of introducing a corporate giant into welfare, who are 'free from all public accountability' as confirmed by both the General Medical Council and the Care Quality Commission.(4)(5) Therefore, the general public have none of the usual protection expected from any medical assessment, and this adds to the burden of a discredited assessment system when using computer softwear that isn't fit for purpose. www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html refers.
Given my disturbing personal experience and as a former healthcare professional, I began investigating Atos Healthcare and my initial research report, completed last summer, identified a disturbing reality and first alerted me to the inclusion of a discredited US corporate insurance giant in the background of UK welfare since 1994.(4)(5) Once you have accessed the detailed and disturbing information provided in the original report: Atos Healthcare or Disability Denial Factories(5) you may wonder at the need to produce my most recent report, namely Welfare Reform - Redress for the Disabled(4). I confess that it is not presented using the more usual diplomatic writing but, as confirmed during consultations with the frontline charities, it was the only way to make sure the detailed evidence was accessed by government as opposed to being totally ignored, as tends to happen to every report produced by the main frontline charities.(4) Whilst the more forward tone of my report may have raised eyebrows, it has also raised awareness, and I have had many encouraging letters from members of the noble House as the Bill moves into Grand Committee stage for what I hope will be much more in depth scrutiny.
A recent letter from Lord Strathclyde, as Leader of the House of Lords, expressed his interest and advised that he's forwarded my research to the Minister for Welfare Reform.(6) I am not nearly as convinced as Lord Strathclyde that the Minister will actually respond.
The unelected Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord David Freud, was a previous government adviser catapulted to his own Ministry following the last election, and enjoys an authority that few are permitted to challenge. Yet, the Minister's past experience is as the Vice President for a Swiss financial conglomerate and, by his own admission, he has no experience of welfare and, by his comments, he has confirmed that he also has no concerns for welfare.(4) Together with the Minister for Disabled People, whose past experience is also in finance, this government department in association with an IT corporate giant, have reigned tyranny over the most profoundly sick and disabled people in the UK without concern for consequences except for a cost reduction. Money is the only priority, and the reduction of the costs of the welfare budget the only priority as all evidence of care, concern and compassion are removed. Whilst the need to reduce expenditure is a given, it surely cannot be at the expense of the most vulnerable people in our society using a corporate giant, copied from a highly discredited US insurance company, and demonstrating that their profits are much more important than the welfare of our people.
The most recent Work &Pensions select committee report, chaired by Anne Begg MP who is herself confined to a wheelchair, identified atrocities that had been on-going since Atos assessments had been introduced to our country.(7) The fact that this DWP funded corporate giant felt it reasonable to daily over book all appointments by 20%, so that failure to arrive didn't interrupt their daily through put, meant that chronically sick and disabled people - having made often Herculean efforts to travel to attend the assessment - were then turned away and told to attend another day was ever permitted is cause for concern. It took a disabled Chair of the W&P Select Committee to expose this nightmare and to insist that it was changed, whilst victims of this imposed tyranny can still take up to 135 'phone calls to Atos to re-arrange assessment appointments cancelled by the company. Atos are paid per assessment, hence another example of profits before people as the sick and disabled population live in fear of this unstoppable government funded medical tyranny.(7)
As of January this year there was an estimated 500,000 chronically sick and disabled people who had been wrongly denied incapacity benefit and, by now, the figures are estimated to be in excess of one million people.(8) To remove this embarrassment, the government introduced a replacement benefit entitled the Employment and Support Allowance, limited to an income for only 12 months.
The identified atrocities committed in the US by the government advisers Unum Insurance, formerly known as Unum Provident Insurance, are well documented and freely reported in the US but avoided by the UK national press as the nationals won't risk identifying this corporate insurance giant, identified as the 2nd worst insurance company in America, for fear of litigation.(4) A detailed report published in the Physician's News, an American publication, now refers.(9)
As for removing long-term disabled people from disability benefits to encourage employment, a detailed report by the Institute for Social and Economic Research, at Essex University, makes interesting reading and invites important questions.(10) As it is a 55 page report, I now refer to the website address: www.iser.essex.ac.uk/files/iser_working_papers/2011-03.pdf (10)
As the Welfare Reform Bill moves to Committee in the House of Lords, and is not debated in the public chamber, I trust the enclosed information is considered to be helpful and, should you wish any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me. This cataclysmic introduction of profound welfare reforms, with a total lack of any identity of the dire consequences for many for whom appeals and protests are beyond them, is identified as government funded medical tyranny.
The fact that objections against any Atos Healthcare doctor will be resisted, and the victims of this fatally flawed assessment system are required to complain direct to the General Medical Council(GMC) has placed the GMC in an impossible situation, and they now resist investigating any complaint about medical staff in the employ of Atos Healthcare unless the victim has already been through Appeal and had the original assessment overturned. So now the DWP have compromised the GMC with the growing numbers of victims obliged to wait up to 10 months for an appeal, having first had their lifeline of benefits arbitrarily removed with catastrophic consequences. There have been suicides and this cannot continue to be ignored. These are the most vulnerable people in our society and this identified government funded medical tyranny must surely be seriously challenged.
All attempts to alert the Department of Justice to the many identified breaches in human rights, civil liberties and the breaches of the £100 million per annum DWP contract with Atos have failed to attract attention to date and I enclose a recent letter to Lord McNally as I attempt to raise awareness at the Department of Justice. (11)
Yours, most sincerely
Mrs S..., Disabled veteran (WRAF), Retired healthcare professional
Copied to: Baroness Jane Campbell, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson(1) Letter to Professor Harrington - 10th Sept 2011 (2) Letter from the Minister for Veterans - 1st August 2011 (3) Letter to Stephen Barclay MP - 20th September 2011 (4) Welfare Reform - Redress for the Disabled - an independent report by Mrs S... - Sept 2011 (5) Atos Healthcare or Disability Denial Factories - an independent report by Mrs S... - August 2010 (6) Letter from the Leader of the House of Lords - the Rt Hon Lord Strathclyde - 14th September 2011 (7) The role of IB reassessments to help claimants into employment - W&P Committee 6th Report - 26th July 2011 (8) Up to 500,000 wrongly denied incapacity benefit, figures show - The Guardian - 3rd January 2011 (9) A warning about UNUM - Physicians News Digest (10) Trends in the Employment of Disabled People in Britain - Richard Berthoud - University of Essex (11) Letter to Lord McNally - Minister of State for Justice
Email sent to the Baroness Hollis regarding Welfare Reform Grand Committee contribution.
Date: 7th October 2011
Dear Baroness Hollis
Ref: Welfare Reform Grand Committee contribution
Please excuse this unexpected contact as I wish to offer my warmest congratulations as to your memorable contribution to the debate this afternoon, yet I must apologise as this email is now quite lengthy.
As acknowledged by the noble Lords, your devestating critique regarding the council tax benefit proposals was memorable and brings me to the reason for my personal contact, which is that never before have the most vulnerable people in our society felt under such threat from their own government, and I write as a retired healthcare professional, a female war pensioner and, more recently, a disability activist and researcher. I refer you to my detailed recent letter to Baroness Meacher, now attached, together with attached detailed research evidence.
The council tax benefit suggestions are classic examples of proposals by civil servants with potentially devastating impact yet a total lack of knowledge, or any aparent concern, for the possible cataclismic consequences which will impact on some of the most vulnerable people in our society and, certainly, the poorest.
As to WCA, I confess this thinly veiled pre-occupation by the Minister that anyone on disability benefits is really a fraud, and capable of work, whilst claiming concern for those of us too ill to work is mesmerising and more than a little offensive. I feel quite sure that the Minister believes that the only disabled people really incapable of work are in a persistent vegetative state, with no mention or acknowledgement of profound variable conditions, and the extremes of daily excesses of pain, within the Bill.
Unless and until any medical assessment will acknowledge the input from family doctors is accepted, atrocities as identified by Baroness Campbell will continue and the disabled population will remain living in fear and consumed with anxiety.
When those of us too sick or disabled to work must still subject ourselves to a totally bogus and discredited contractor, Atos Healthcare, with the inevitable and totally unnecessary distress that that causes, this is utterly unacceptable and the noble Baroness Campbell gave a very compelling example of the atrocities of this system and you will know of many more from your mail bag.
I am not privy as to why this totally unnecessary American idea was brought into the UK welfare system, apart from to enforce the suggestion that our family doctors and consultants cannot be trusted, but the system used by Atos Healthcare is identical to the second most discredited insurance system in America, was copied from them, and was designed to resist insurance claims. Detailed evidence is available in the attached reports. with the American insurance company acting as 'advisers' to the Government since introduced by Prof Mansel Aylward in 1994.
There is no suggestion that SOME long-term disabled people will not benefit from the opportunity to enjoy paid employment for new occupations, yet the realities are being totally ignored. How many more reports must be written to demonstrate that, in the present circumstances, employers will not offer themselves willing to introduce the necessary changes, and safety measures needed within the work environment, to make it suitable for chronically disabled people? So, in fact, all that will happen is that income of most disabled people will be reduced from IB to JSA.
The Minister appears to have no comprehension that many disabilities are as a result of serious illness and are, in fact, permanent which is why DLA payments were awarded 'for life' given that the diagnosis and disability was permanent and 'for life'. This simple fact doesn't appear to compute at the DWP. This is why we now have the absurd introduction of annual reassessments for DLA. What a staggering total waste of limited resources and an unnecessary presure on all disabled victims of this gvt funded medical tyranny.
Of course, one wonders what the Minister thinks the long term disabled do all day whilst ignoring the countless hours of voluntary work engaged, when able, by the profoundly sick and disabled population of this nation because we still need to find a quality of life, often met by voluntary activity. I do not have any out of work disability benefits, so this isn't speaking from my experience, but I do know the great value, self esteem and quality of life enjoyed by voluntary work in the community in years gone by.
Where is it stated that significant numbers, by reason of their identified profound permanent and extreme difficulties, should be totally excused from any assessment whatsoever?? Where is the genuine concern and real comprehension?
We can't find a miraculous cure, our conditions will never improve, and forcing an annual assessment is medically unnecessary, administratively incompetent and financially a vast waste of limited resources. So why do it?
All of us who have extremes of identified disability, that's totally incurable and cannot possibly improve, should not have DLA threatened, not least because there is no evidence that anything is wrong with the present system! All evidence has identified that bogus claims were no more than 0.5% with 1.5% admin errors. Indeed, DLA is the 'safest' DWP benefit of them all, so why change it? So, if the DWP staff would improve administration, the present DLA does not need to be altered or changed at all.
If the name of the game is claimed to reduce costs, why is the Minister insisting on wasting £billions on totally unnecessary changes other than to fund yet more civil servants? The total waste of money by the DWP persuing endless unnecessary changes could fund the NHS. The removal of DLA from the disabled will remove their Motability cars, prevent them going to work and increase disabled unemployment and these concerns are all over the Internet identified on the many disability support groups.
Once again the DWP are suggesting changes that adversely impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people without any knowledge, understanding or appreciation of the consequences. Why is this allowed apart fropm a short term ambition of a reduction in costs that will back fire as the numbers seeking additional help will go into orbit and this gvt imposed distress will impact adversly on the overstretched NHS.
Given the detailed sinister contents of the Bill, it does challenge credibility that Lord Freud claimed concern at 2nd reading at noble members' identity that sick and disabled people are terrified, whilst demonstrating that he has no comprehension as to why.
The noble Baronesses Campbell and Wilkins spoke in great detail as to the shocking realities of using a private contractor to assess the most chronically sick and disabled people in the country, and the expected increases in disability poverty by the proposals of the Universal Credit, and other noble Lords offered many other concerns regarding the planned new benefit structure. It appeared to fall on deaf ears.
As a retired healthcare professional it beggars belief that any medical 'assessment' system does so with a total and complete disregard as to the diagnosis, whilst using lay staff with no comprehension of medical terminology to make life changing decisions. Hence this nightmare of an assessment system persecuting very ill people required to travel to assessments when within weeks of end of life. It's a national disgrace that we now terrorise our most sick and disabled people, as copied from the US, and we already have disabled people living on the streets as they don't have the resources to fund their homes whilst waiting 10 months for an appeal to be heard to reinstate Incapacity Benefit, removed by a bogus and discredited so called assessment system. This is the reality of this nightmare and this is UK 2011. Why are we copying the US?
What, as a financier, may make perfect sense when using a spreadsheet and a calculator is a long way away from the things that are much more important such as care, concern, compassion and the one thing that's surely missing from the DWP which is medical knowledge.
As a disabled, female war pensioner, and retired healthcare professional, I undertook detailed and in depth research incentivised by a shocking personal experience with a staff member from Atos Healthcare when at my home. Time has moved on and my detailed reports have been well circulated and welcomed by frontline charities. The Government persistently ignore all their reports.
The WCA is medical tyranny, imposed by the DWP using a totally unaccountable private contractor and guided by the Minister for Welfare Reform, a former Vice President of a Swiss banking conglomerate, and with a confirmed total lack of knowledge, experience or concern for anyone too ill to work, other than the fact they cost the nation a lot of money.
This American system of welfare funding for sickness and disability should be expelled from the UK. This American system is a large part of the Universal Credit now being considered by noble members.
In your own words Baroness Hollis, this is indecent.
Thank you for your time when reading this and I hope the information is helpful.
Mrs S..., Disabled veteran (WRAF), Retired healthcare professional
Letter sent to the SPVA regarding Cold Weather Payment.
To: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: 10 October 2011 21:38 Subject: Cold Weather Payment
War Pensioners on lower percentage pensions will still be in receipt of Incapacity Benefit and probably DLA.
All may well change if forced to submit to a discredited assessment by a private contractor, Atos Healthcare, but that's another matter.
Since my War Pension was increased to 70%, my Incapacity Benefit and DLA mobility payments were replaced with an increase in War Pension.
Had I still been in receipt of Incap Benefit I would, I'm told, be permitted to claim a cold weather payment to contribute towards winter heating costs.
Can you please advise if those of us with more severe and profound disabilities, in receipt of a higher War Pension and DLA for care at the highest rate, still claim a cold weather payment?
If it is confirmed that very disabled War Pensioners should be entitled to this valuable contribution to what will be high winter fuel costs, please advise how this can be obtained given that, as a disabled veteran, my circumstances are not identified on the application forms.
DWP website fails to recognise the needs of seriously disabled War Pensioners for these claims.
Mrs S..., Disabled veteran (WRAF), Retired healthcare professional