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 Survey results condemn Atos WCA tests

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PostSubject: Survey results condemn Atos WCA tests   Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:43 am

Survey results condemn Atos WCA tests
17 September 2012

Controversial benefits assessment methods being used by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) were today condemned as not fit for purpose following the result of a major survey of people with M.E. who have been through them.

More than 460 people with M.E. who had applied for Employment Support Allowance in the past year, took part in our survey of
experiences of the controversial Work Capability Assessment run for the DWP by Atos Healthcare.

Our subsequent report Time for Action on WCA, forms the basis for our response to Prof Malcolm Harrington’s call for evidence for his
third independent review of the WCA, which he will present to Parliament later this year.
Action for M.E. is also using the report to lobby Ministers and MPs as part of its Time for Action campaign to end the ignorance, injustice and neglect faced by people with M.E., once and for all.

Among the survey’s headline findings were:
l 80.1% (329 people) of those responding said the ESA application form was difficult or very difficult to complete l 90% of respondents (358 people) said the process had caused stress and anxiety that had made their condition worse l more than a third of those responding (36.3%;149 people) were not given the opportunity to supply supporting evidence from a healthcare professional of their choice l almost two thirds (63.7%; 261 people) of those who did obtain supporting documents were charged between £15 and £90 for them.

l almost half of respondents (48.8%; 118 people) were not given an opportunity to see a copy of the report from their face-to-face
assessment l of those respondents who did see a copy of the report, well over three quarters (82.1%; 87 people) said it was not an accurate
reflection of the answers they gave l only just over a quarter of respondents (28.8%; 71 people) thought the Atos healthcare professional asked about all the
symptoms/aspects of their condition l only 13.3%(33 people) thought the Atos healthcare professional understood their condition l more than two thirds of respondents (68.6 %; 166 people) thought the Atos healthcare professional did not take into account how
their condition fluctuated l more than half of our respondents (55.3 %; 182 people) said they had already appealed or were planning to appeal against the
DWPs decision l nearly half of those who knew the results of their appeal (43%; 34 people) had been moved to the Support Group.

Action for M.E. Chief Executive Sonya Chowdhury said, “Our survey exposes major failings with the assessment methods being used by
Atos.

They are simply not fit for purpose for people with a long-term fluctuating condition such as M.E. We reiterate our call for the process to be put on hold immediately for people with M.E.” Following the survey, Action for M.E. is demanding that:

l ESA applicants are clearly advised to present additional evidence in support of their claim and this is given due consideration. l the ESA application form is made easier and simpler to complete by consulting with disability organisations.

l all face-to-face interviewees are automatically given a copy of the Atos Healthcare medical report. l more efficient communication between the DWP and Atos.

l healthcare professionals who carry out the face-to-face assessment receive specialist training about fluctuating conditions, developed in consultation with organisations that support people with M.E. Training is as frequent as the staff turnover at Atos
requires.

l the WCA incorporates an individual’s fitness, history and needs. l the DWP should keep people regularly informed of the progress of their claim and/or appeal using the preferred method of communication indicated by the claimant.

l the DWP develop the support offered to those in the Work-Related Activity Group so that people with fluctuating conditions have more suitable options.

Read Time for Action on WCA in full or as an Executive summary.
This latest Time for Action report follows our earlier damning exposure of NHS commissioning of specialist services for people with M.E entitled Ignorance, injustice and neglect.

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