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aktion t4 at its best

Postby jeff3 » Tue May 15, 2018 6:57 am

Atos is a French-based company that holds contracts with the UK government to carry out billions of pounds worth of services

But not without controversy.

The government announced in 2014 that a contract Atos had with the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) for ‘fitness to work’ assessments was being terminated early, after concerns over ‘significant quality failures’. However, the company still carries out assessments of people claiming the ‘PIP’ (Personal Independence Payment) disability benefit.

But again, not without controversy.

The bonus letter

A letter has emerged from Atos to its health staff and ‘site coordinators’ offering them an extension of what amounts to ‘bonuses for volume’ in completing PIP assessments:

atos2.png

Sent in May last year, the letter praises staff for the ‘whopping‘ number of ‘extra‘ claimants they have processed, makes clear that incentives to increase throughpout had already been in place when the letter was sent and extends the bonus scheme into two additional months.

The idea that staff are being incentivised for the volume of assessments they complete raises obvious concerns that staff wanting to increase their income might be tempted to compromise quality and accuracy in order to get them done faster.

In January, the Disability News Service claimed that a the assessment of a Dorset PIP claimant continued even while he suffered a series of ‘grand mal’ epileptic seizures:

atos grand mal.png

DWP appeal-rejection targets

Those concerns increase in the light of House of Commons documents published late last year showing that the DWP sets a target for how many first-line appeals – known as ‘mandatory reconsiderations’ against the removal or reduction of disability benefits must be rejected.

In other words, DWP staff have to ‘hit’ a set number of rejections, rather than assessing appeals on their merits. As the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee (WPSC) asked the DWP in a letter sent at the end of November:

wpc 1.png

In fact, the DWP does far ‘better’ than its target. A WPSC statistical report shows that, between April 2013 when they were introduced and March 2017, only four percent of PIP-related ‘mandatory reconsideration’ appeals were upheld.

The letter to the DWP also points out how DWP staff feel under pressure to ‘rubber stamp‘ decisions by IAS and other providers – and questions how the DWP’s own focus on speed can be balanced with “good quality decision-making“:

wpc 2.png

The DWP/Atos response

The SKWAWKBOX asked the DWP for its opinion of speed- or volume-based incentives of the type outlined in the Atos letter to its staff. The DWP declined to comment except to say to contact Atos, which had already been done.

A further request for the department’s own position has so far gone unanswered.

A press spokesperson for Independent Assessment Services (IAS), the recently-renamed Atos entity carrying out the assessments, told the SKWAWKBOX:

When we have more cases to assess and to help minimise the time it takes for claimants to receive their assessment we will ask our Health Professionals, who undertake the assessments, if they are able to work additional hours to help complete more cases and we compensate them for doing so. However, we are clear that quality cannot be compromised and that satisfying all assessment criteria fully in each and every assessment is the number one priority. Health Professional quality is monitored closely to ensure this is met.

Hide and seek

The government does not want to reveal the monthly self-assessment reports submitted to it by Atos and another company involved in the assessment of disability claimants.

On receiving a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents, it began a battle of over a year to avoid releasing them. The DWP’s tactics included a claim that releasing the reports would damage the ‘commercial interests’ of the companies.

In January, it was told to release them by the Information Commissioner – but four months later it still has not done so. A DWP spokesperson told the SKWAWKBOX:

We have received the ICO judgement and we are currently considering our position.

Four months and still ‘considering our position’ looks very much like another tactic to avoid or delay the release of the information is has been ordered to disclose.

This tends to support the opinion of campaigner John Sheridan, who submitted the FOI request and told the Disability News Service,

I suspect what they will show is not only that the contractors are struggling but also how bad DWP is at managing contracts.

The DWP appears to be concerned that the reports will reveal ‘Windrush‘-style targets it sets its assessors on how many claimants they should ‘fail’, as it told the Information Commissioner the information could be,

maliciously misinterpreted to feed the narrative that the Department imposes ‘targets’ for the outcomes of assessments.

Since the setting of targets by the for the rejection of appeals against negative decisions is now a matter of parliamentary record, it is questionable whether the data would require any ‘misinterpretation’ to reach that conclusion.

A spokesperson for DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) said:

This is just an extension of what Atos have been doing for many years – profiteering from dehumanising disabled people. The welfare reform system and process have already been shown to be harmful and to cost lives; and instead of learning from this the government response is to scale up the money given to Atos etc at the expense of disabled people.

Disabled people need to take action in their communities to highlight the great damage being done.

Comment

The whole disability assessment system appears to be set up to move disabled people off benefits regardless of need. The government has been accused of ‘tormenting’ disabled people through disability assessments and the companies it uses.

Against a background of admitted DWP targets for the rejection of appeals – and the continued attempts of the government to avoid revealing whether it sets targets for ‘failed’ disability claim assessments – the news that one of the main contractors involved in those assessments incentivises staff to increase the number of assessments completed is of serious concern, not only to disabled people but to anyone who wants to live in a country civilised enough to treat its vulnerable citizens with dignity, respect and compassion.

https://skwawkbox.org/2018/05/14/leaked-letter-shows-atos-incentivising-staff-for-volume-of-disability-claimant-assessments/
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Re: aktion t4 at its best

Postby jeff3 » Sat May 19, 2018 6:43 am

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reportedly left one man so “destitute” that police were called out because of people’s concerns for his “welfare”.

The DWP: leaving people “destitute”

Police Community Support Officer Chris Hamer works in the Irwell area of Lancashire Constabulary. He took to Twitter to expose a disturbing incident:

Luckily we, and @raftfoundation were there to try and pick up the pieces. Genuine lad who was trying his best to get back into work. This is happening too often which makes people destitute and other services have to step in and sort things out 2/2

— PCSO Chris Hamer (@PCSO7637) May 17, 2018
Nothing else is known about the man’s case. It appears that he was trying to do what the DWP asked of him, and yet the department sanctioned him anyway.
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Re: aktion t4 at its best

Postby jeff3 » Sat May 19, 2018 5:34 pm

More than three in four sick and disabled people who contest disability benefit decisions by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in some parts of the UK are seeing those decisions over-turned on appeal, according to damning figures obtained by BBC Wales.

The shocking statistics have prompted one charity to urge the UK Government to “get a grip” of “fundamental flaws” in assessments for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), claiming too many people are wrongly denied the financial support they desperately need.




Figures obtained by BBC Wales reveal the shocking number of incorrect decisions, with around three-quarters of appeals in some parts of the UK ruling in favour of the claimant.

South-West England sees the highest number of successful PIP appeals, where 76% of appeals heard at tribunal sided with disabled people.

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In Wales alone, more than 8,000 PIP claimants successfully appealed PIP decisions in 2017, in spite of promises by DWP ministers to improve the accuracy and fairness of assessments.

Success rates in other parts of the UK vary between 59% and 68%, but these areas also see a higher number of appeals when compared to Wales or South-West England.


DWP HQ, Caxton House, London. Photo: Paul Billanie for Welfare Weekly.
BBC Wales highlights the case of Steven Evans, a wheelchair user who suffers with cerebral palsy and osteoarthritis, who warned the stress of having to navigate the system could drive vulnerable people to suicide.

“What the hell is going on with the welfare system that is meant to be supporting me as a vulnerable person?”, Mr Evans told the BBC.

“It’s not doing that. People will commit suicide because they’re not listening, they’re not doing their job with common sense.
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Re: aktion t4 at its best

Postby jeff3 » Sun May 20, 2018 6:32 am

Husband Mick Amos and daughter Karina Mann, with the letter from the DWP denying sickness benefits to Mrs Amos on the day she died.

Dozens of deaths similar to that of Dawn Amos have been reported. Undoubtedly hundreds – possibly thousands – have taken place in total.

At first, the DWP told us that “lessons would be learned”.

After so many years, I have to ask: What were the lessons these bureaucrats learned? How to deny responsibility for the deaths of innocent people?



In this case, the DWP response is that the decision was based on evidence, including information from Ms Amos’s own GP.

That doesn’t excuse what happened.

Yet it is put forward as the explanation.

The fact is that this woman was entitled to her benefits, and they would have made her more comfortable in the days before her passing. The actual explanation is that a DWP official decided she should live in pain instead.

We’ve heard this story before, and the agenda is clear.

As far as the Conservative-run DWP is concerned, if a person has a long-term illness, they are a “useless eater”, as defined in the ideology of Nazi Germany.

Unlike the Nazis, the Tories don’t actually kill the sick and disabled directly. Instead, they deprive their victims of the money they need to live – so they either starve to death, die of their condition, or take their own lives.

I was writing about this, nearly four years ago.

And nobody has made the Tories, or the DWP, take responsibility.

That is the most sickening part of it.

A mother battling a serious lung condition was told she no longer qualified for benefits on the day she died from her illness.
Dawn Amos, 67, died as a result of suffering chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a collection of lung diseases.
It left her with difficulty breathing, unable to walk for long periods of time, dress herself or do daily tasks independently.
She received attendance allowance from the Department of Work and Pensions to help with the cost of her personal care.
Heartbroken husband Mick Amos, 64, of Masefield Road, Braintree, discovered a letter sent from the department two days after his wife’s death.
It notified Mrs Amos that her allowance was being withdrawn based on ‘treatment, medication, symptoms and test results’.
It had been sent on the day, November 27, Mr Amos had taken the decision to turn off Dawn’s life support machine.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/19/dwp-told-mother-she-was-too-healthy-for-sick-benefits-on-the-day-she-died/
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Re: aktion t4 at its best

Postby jeff3 » Mon May 21, 2018 6:16 am

Sandra Burns

Social security was originally designed to ensure that everyone was protected from the worst ravages of unfettered capitalism. To say that we have regressed as a society since then is an understatement.

'Behavioural economics' are currently embedded within our current welfare system. This is a technocratic solution to essentially politically created problems. It addresses social problems by simply shifting the blame and responsibility from state to individual. This has led to an increasingly punitive social security system, aimed at pushing people into employment, regardless of whether or not they are able to work. 'Nudge' is increasingly being used by an authoritarian Conservative government to ensure citizens behaviours are aligned with neoliberal ideology and policy outcomes.

People who are chronically ill are suffering terribly because of the government's anti-welfare ideolology. Yet most of us have paid tax and National Insurance to ensure that we have access to social security if or when we need it, only to find that the hostile environment created by by the government has made claiming support an ordeal.

Back in 2013, I wrote about the terrible impact of stressful, continuous work capability assessments on disabled people, particularly those with chronic illness. It's long been understood that stress exacerbates the symptoms of illness.

Many people have described a “revolving door” process of endless assessment, ceased ESA claim, (based on an outcome of almost invariably being wrongly “assessed” as fit for work), appeal, successful appeal outcome, benefit reinstated, only to find just three or four months later that another assessment is required.

The uncertainty and loss of even the most basic financial security to meet the bare necessities to survive that this process creates, leading to constant fear and anxiety, is having a damaging, negative impact on the health and wellbeing of so many. It's appalling that in a first world so-called liberal democracy, sick and disabled people are being punished for being ill and disabled by a system that was originally intended to support them in meeting their most basic living costs.

Five years on, nothing has changed. People are still dying because of a system that is fundamentally flawed and not fit for purpose. The government are not listening to us.

I write all too regularly about disabled citizens who have been treated brutally because of Conservative policies, many who have died as a consequence of a system that is intentionally designed to punish people for their need.

I'm saddened to report that disabled woman has died from a heart attack after she was repeatedly refused vital financial support following disability assessments carried out by a private benefits firm, Atos, over a five year period.

Sandra Burns, who lived in Luton, was found dead at the bottom of the stairs at her home on 16 April. She was surrounded by letters from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and overdue utility bills, having suffered what is believed to be a massive heart attack.

Sandra's brother, Ian, told Luton Today: “She was found dead at the foot of her stairs, apparently of a massive heart attack.

“She was surrounded by letters informing her that the gas, electricity, water, telephone and television were all in danger of being cut off.”

“This debt and anxiety lay all around her on the floor”.

Ian also said that the stress of the process had a degenerative impact on Sandra. He says that the work assessments were "punitive" and that they "ignored the comments of her GP".

“These appeals would take six to eight months. Every single time, she won the appeal and got a backdated payment. But in that period, she would get into debt and lose her credit rating.

"And then she’d get back on an even keel until the next year, when the same thing would happen,” he added.

Sandra, who was 57, had worked in retail for 30 years before severe back pain caused by five fused vertebrae in her spine forced her to give up working. She had failed a number of work capability assessments over a five year period but had successfully challenged each decision at appeal.

The disability assessments were carried out at the time by Atos, on behalf of the DWP, who withdrew from a contract to carry out assessments for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) following widespread failures and mounting criticism.

Each time she failed an assessment, Sandra found herself looking at a growing mountain of debts while she fought to have the harsh decisions overturned at appeal.

In a letter sent to the DWP before her death, Sandra wrote: “I am old school and would still be working if I could do it. Do you think I would be silly enough to do this? I have always worked.”

“Why do they think it’s ok to treat me like this? It’s not acceptable”.

Her Brother Ian said the difficulties of living with a chronic health condition, coupled with having to repeatedly fight for the benefits she desperately needed, caused her health to deteriorate. He claims that Atos “based their assessment on the fact she could walk the five or six steps of the stairwell to the interview room”.

“She could walk small distances and couldn’t stand for long”, he said.

“Every time ATOS assessed her, they judged her fit for work."

“She described how one man said, ‘I’ve been watching you walk from the waiting room and as far as I’m concerned, you’re fit for work’.”



Ian Burns, who lives in Denmark, said his sister had become reclusive during the last year of her life, adding that he had last spoke to her on 3 April.

Having not heard from his sister for some time, Ian asked a friend and neighbour to check up on her.

He said: “They knocked on the door and went around the back. Through the kitchen window, they could see piles of dishes.

“The police came quarter of an hour later. They got through the back door and found her at the bottom of the stairs.”

Ian came to his sister’s home the following day. “I came the next day … all around the sofa was a pile of letters and debts.

“It was terrible heartbreak and I just feel it could have all been avoided… everyone is treated as cheats or maybe the DWP have an agenda.

“Whatever it is, it’s putting people like Sandra under incredible amounts of stress.”

A DWP spokesman, offering the usual discordant platitudes, said: “Our thoughts are with Ms Burns’ family. We are absolutely committed to ensuring that people get the support they’re entitled to.

“Assessments are carried out by qualified healthcare professionals who look at how someone’s disability or health condition impacts them on a day-to-day basis.”



http://guerillawire.org/disability/the-revolving-door-of-disability-assessments-and-appeal-is-still-killing-people-who-are-chronically-ill/
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