Work Capability Assessments

This week, Panorama and Dispatches are both covering the disability benefits in the UK. The government has been insinuating that most claimants are fraudulent, and that we are the ones destroying the economy by leeching money off deserving taxpayers. The newspapers have been inciting hate crime against disabled people, filled with stories of fraudulent claimants and bogus statistics.

The truth is this – less than 0.5% of benefit claimants are fraudulent

32 people a week die after being told they were fit for work, whilst waiting for the decision to be overturned.

More money is lost by the government making errors, than is lost to disability fraud.

The company who is assessing the cases are lying about claimants and distorting the facts, trying to adhere to imaginary statistics given to them by the government – statistics which bear no relation to the actual truth.

If you want any further confirmation of this, the minister in charge of this system resigned this morning, ahead of this coming to light amongst the general public. Here are the two programs, they’re both very short, check them out:

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/4od

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01lldrc/Panorama_Disabled_or_Faking_It/

(These links will only be current for a week)

I want the truth to be known about this, about how the government is forcing the disabled out of help and not into work, but into absolute poverty, into relying on families who can’t afford to support them. I want the truth to be known, because this is ruining my life as well. What this company is doing is wrong. What the government is doing is wrong. We have to stop it, people – we have to stop this. If a people are judged on the way it treats it’s most vulnerable, we have utterly failed.

Here is what happened to me:

I was sent a form to fill out, which took me a week. A week of doing nothing but eating, sleeping, and filling out a stupid form. This is because I can’t write properly, and I can’t think clearly, and doing any activity exhausts me – I’m ill.

As a result, I was told to attend an assessment. My doctor informed Atos that I was too ill to attend. I was told to contact them because they tend to “lose” correspondence – in this case, they had. My doctor re-sent the information, this time Atos claimed to never have received it. They sent the information a third time, but Atos failed to inform me. I was forced to go to the assessment center, or lose the whole claim.

So, I went. It was hell. To travel there, I had to go by bus – utter hells of pain, and ages of recovery. The building wasn’t disabled accessible (ha), so I had to wait for a ramp. Even sitting in a wheelchair is agony for me, but I had to do it. I had told them in advance that I’m unable to sit up for long periods – and by this point it was dire – but they didn’t provide me with a place to lie down. I was forced to lie on the floor in the waiting room. One of the workers told me I wasn’t allowed to, but I had no choice! A security guard asked if there were beds free that I could use – the worker said that there were, but failed to let me use any. So I lay on the floor for over an hour, waiting for the appointment (the one we were told to arrive early for, but they were apparently on lunch break).

I was assessed by someone unqualified – as I have a neurological condition, I need to be assessed by a qualified doctor, but I was given a nurse. She was abrupt and uncaring, and very angry that my photophobia meant I couldn’t keep my sunglasses off. She snarkily permitted me to lie down for the assessment, “if I could get onto the bed myself”. I couldn’t, but my husband helped me.

Since I’ve been back from the assessment, I’ve been worse. I haven’t recovered from it yet, and it was almost two months ago. I’ve been more tired, and had much, much more difficulty with mental tasks than before. Like my doctor warned them, I was made more ill.

Oh, the day after the assessment, Atos contacted me saying they’d approved the home visit I’d needed. A day too late to stop me deteriorating.

Surprise, surprise – I was declared entirely fit to work. This is me, who can’t sit up, can’t walk, can’t cut up food, can’t stand light or sound… entirely fit to work. What job, exactly, could I do?

And what were the reasons? What reason, given the medical evidence provided? Just this – in their opinion, I’m lying. The nurse who assessed me found that I don’t have muscle wasting in my legs (which isn’t a symptom of ME – infact, it’s unusual even in patients entirely bedbound for more than two years) and so decided that all my symptoms were fake. The end. No National Insurance credits for me. Not that I’ll be living long enough to get a pension anyway, so it’s all good, eh?

I’m appealing – of course I’m appealing. How dare they lie about me, how dare they malign my character, how dare they pick on the sick and vulnerable. But the stress is making me worse. I can’t deal with the paperwork anymore. The whole thing is making me more and more ill – so much for “encouraging” people back to work. Oh, yeah, about that – they can’ t encourage me back to work, because I am utterly incapable of work. All they can do is force me further and further into sickness and poverty. Eventually, I’ll be one of those 32 people a week, dying because of them. And til now, nobody’s listened and nobody’s cared.

So please – listen, watch. Tell your MP that you’ve had enough. Tell everyone that you’ve had enough. Now the truth is out, don’t ever, ever let it be shut up again.

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