Thursday, 25 August 2011

ATOS Healthcare are disgusting

As regular readers will be aware, yours truly is currently heavily involved with a motion about the treatment of the sick and disabled that is going forwards to the Lib Dem autumn conference. Essentially the motion is about the Work Capability Assessment which determines whether sick and disabled people get support from the welfare system or not. At the moment it's failing thousands of those in need and putting them through real suffering.

The firm that conducts the assessments on behalf of the government (and who get paid £100 million a year for doing so) are ATOS Healthcare. This is a company whose conduct has been regularly criticised by various investigations and committees looking at the welfare system and who have something of a shabby record when it comes to the way their staff treat disabled people (such as calling them "parasites").

But that's besides the point. You see, as part of my work with the motion, I joined a forum called Carerwatch which is a support group for carers looking after sick or disabled friends and relatives. It's nothing special as forums go, just carers and disabled people talking about how things are going for them, how they're finding the assessment process, and so on.

But a few days ago, the forum was shut down completely by the hosting company. No advanced warning, no nothing. The people who ran the forum didn't even have access to a list of the emails of users so that they could let them know what had happened. They were inundated with emails and phone calls from people in tears who relied on the forum for moral support and as a place to talk about what they were going through.

It turned out the reason the forum had been shut down was that Atos lawyers had complained about unspecified "libellous" comments made in the forum to the hosting company who shut down the forum rather than risk being taken to court. The people who ran the forums have written to Atos about it and offered to remove any libellous comments as long as they are told which are the comments in question and Atos have agreed that the site should be restored (subject to conditions) but, as of the time of writing, the forum is still down.

This isn't the first time something like this has happened either. Various other websites that have criticised the way Atos treats disabled people, such as After Atos and Atos Register of Shame, have been forced to shut down in the face of threatened libel proceedings from Atos.

Atos is a £4.4 billion company which, once again, has used bully tactics to silence critics. Carerwatch is currently being very careful with what it says in order to avoid any further problems with Atos but I'm not a part of Carerwatch and I don't have to worry about other people suffering as a result of what I say.

So let me say this plainly and clearly on behalf of all those who might be thinking this but daren't say it themselves. Atos healthcare are bullies and the way they have moved to silence their critics is absolutely disgusting. And if Atos has a problem with me saying that then tough as they won't be able to bully me into silence.

8 comments:

  1. Well said, George, and I agree with you absolutely. If Atos think they are being libelled, they should refute the comments by giving their side of the story. I think it was Robert Maxwell who used to silence critics with threats of legal action. | will say no more!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well, I'd hate your excellent blog to be shut down by the erm, uhh, people (for want of another word), at Atos so what I will say is that the government in London which is responsible for this (and I make no political point as the scheme was Labour's, firmly and warmly embraced by the coalition)has encouraged the evil practices which have meant that people have died in poverty.

    Of course as neither Cabinet ministers nor their families are likely ever to be in the position of depending for their life upon the niggardly pittance that the UK thinks that poor sick people deserve, I guess there is little chance of any change there.

    As long as there are companies with a love of making easy money, a lack of any kind of morality, and medics who have no problem in hurting the already hurt... that is ANY company and not a specific one... this is the kind of regime that will survive.

    They say that you can judge a people by the way that it treats its poor, old and sick. If so the UK stinks on ice.


    The very best possible of luck to you in your endeavours to unhinge this hateful penny pinching against those who need the money most, Mr Potter.

    ReplyDelete
  3. In my view the whole point of the ATOS testing is that it facilitates the transfer of hundreds of millions of pounds from the public purse to the private sector. There, it may be divvied up by the crooked businessmen and corrupt politicians (of all parties) involved. It's just a scam. The tests have no medical merit and no practical application other than the above. These people being declared fit to work are in reality unemployable. The testing ignores any difficulty claimants are likely to have in actually getting to and from any place of work and as many can't take care of themselves someone would have to be employed to take them to the toilet and feed them as necessary. The fact is that by any reasonable assessment these people are unemployable and so clearly entitled to the financial support the government is taking way from them. The whole scheme appears to me to be a get-rich-quick scam, nothing more. Atos want any criticism shut down so they can carry on their theft from the public purse.

    BB

    ReplyDelete
  4. Go George! It's about time people stood up to this sick bullying. Just a word of advice, if you preface what you say with "in my opinion" you should be perfectly entitled to say what you believe without recrimination!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well said George. Not the best example of how French companies behave is it? It is a puzzle to me as well why the brish government are so keen to hand out contracts to foriegn companies.
    Employ foriegn advisors from america etc to sort out the british benefit system and now to sort the policing tactics regarding rioters?
    No wonder there are so many unemployed british people!

    ReplyDelete
  6. What happened to British Jobs for British Workers, Anon, ...or was that the slogan of the last idiot at No 10?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for the words of support. The good news is that the carerwatch forums are now back up and I'll definitely be sure to use the phrase "in my opinion" in future to be on the safe side ;)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Whether a person can work or not is one thing, but whether they can 'sustain working conditions' is quite another. Atos and the DWP are completely wrong in these medical assessments from one hour to the next, people can go right down hill with their disabling conditions. Take respiratory conditions such as emphesema/COPD. Picture the scenario: a floor that has just been swept can trigger a very nasty attack of breathlessness rendering that person virtually useless to work! A change in atmospheric conditions can also trigger an attack. Atos/DWP are not addressing the real issues of individual problems a click on a computer screen is not a medical assessment it is a farce. By not seeing real distress in the working environment for thousands of disabled people, this corporation called ATOS and the DWP has a lot to answer for. The GMC needs to intervene fast, as proper doctors are being made to look stupid.

    ReplyDelete

I'm indebted to Birkdale Focus for the following choice of words:

I am happy to address most contributions, even the drunken ones if they are coherent, but I am not going to engage with negative sniping from those who do not have the guts to add their names or a consistent on-line identity to their comments. Such postings will not be published.

Anonymous comments with a constructive contribution to make to the discussion, even if it is critical will continue to be posted. Libellous comments or remarks I think may be libellous will not be published.

I will also not tolerate personation so please do not add comments in the name of real people unless you are that person. If you do not like these rules then start your own blog.

Oh, and if you persist in repeating yourself despite the fact I have addressed your point I may get bored and reject your comment.

The views expressed in comments are those of the poster, not me.