Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Atos are now miracle healers, apparently.


Today I want to share with you my ridiculous experience with Atos. In May, I was called for a work capability assessment (WCA) to assess my eligibility for Employment Support Allowance (ESA). Obviously I was worried, there's been a lot of horror stories about people who are far more disabled than me being judged fit to work. Anyway, the DWP decided after the assessment that I was eligible for ESA and put me in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG). This basically means that they don't expect me to apply for jobs right away, but they expect to move into paid employment in the future. I was happy with this decision. I do think I will be able to do some work in the future - but I do need support and time to get ready for work. I was also relieved because I knew I wouldn't be eligible for Job Seeker's Allowance - unless I flat out lie about the way my disability affects me. 

Anyway, all was fine and dandy, I attended my first work focussed interview with a lady from the job centre, and it was very positive. We both agreed that applying for voluntary work would be a good place to start with - it'd build up my self esteem, and allow me to test out my work capabilities. I've never worked (I couldn't manage studying for my degree and working so I have no idea what my kind of work is suitable or how many hours I can work. I do know that I will need support to work, I've needed support throughout my life - both in personal care and education- so it's totally unrealistic to expect myself to enter employment without needing support. 

About a week ago I received another esa50 form in the post, to reassess my eligibility for ESA. I initially thought it was a mistake, so I rang the DWP to ask if it was a mistake - and the lady said 'no it's not a mistake, your condition has a six month prognosis'. Flabbergast, I requested a copy of my WCA assessment to see what had been written. 

Anyway, a copy of the report arrived this morning, and in black and white it says 'I advise that work could be considered in six months' the reason given for this was 'The client's level of disability would be expected to improve'. (For some reason I can't upload the picture of the letter, but it's on my twitter @thisisamy_)

The person who assessed me was a qualified doctor. I'm unbelievably shocked that they have written that they expect my level of disability to improve. The first rule of cerebral palsy is that it doesn't improve. If you're lucky it stays the same. For me, it is a constant battle of surgery, splints, botox injections and physio to remain as mobile as I am now. My function won't improve because my brain has permanent damage that means my affected limbs are paralysed. Even non medically qualified people are able to understand that my condition won't improve. Indeed, my cerebral palsy is worsening, my body is struggling to cope with this disability. At the moment, if I have one 'busy' day my body takes a full two days to recover. This isn't meant to be a sob story, this is just my reality. This doctor seems to think my disability will improve within six months. There's no chance. I'll be lucky if my pain and fatigue that I get from my CP hasn't increased. I know full time work will never be an option, I'm not sure how many hours I could cope with at work before pain and fatigue becomes unbearable. That's why I need to do my voluntary work so I can see what my limitations are. In the meantime, I'm going to be reassessed every 6 months to see if my CP has improved - the stress this causes me is ridiculous. It's heightened even further because I know if my ESA is removed I won't be able to apply for JSA, so it's an all or nothing scenario. 


  1. according to the Daily Blackshirt they can all be F1 racing drivers ...not many vacancies for these at JCP I know it's bio - psychosocial nonsense

  2. I'm so sorry to hear about your nightmare with Atos, i too had the same problem with my last encounter with them. I was " assessed " and at that time found to be capable of work in the future but i wasn't according to my own doctor and hospital specialists. I appealed the decision and finally got what i was needed to help me and my wife who cares for me. It's a long hill and a struggle to fight these evil corporate idiots, but keep fighting, don't back down and if they refuse, fight more. I know it sounds easy, it's not. When i received a copy of my so called " test " i received nothing but 3 sheets of a4 paper with questions 32 to 82 missing, i hardly got anything back from the assessment at all, that i could reflect on and possibly take to a solicitor. They cover themselves by not sending out the full copy of the test. Keep fighting hun, i know it feels like a losing battle, but those bastards have no right to tell you that you'll get better. And also, don't believe you're being interviewed by a doctor, majority of the time they aren't even qualified to be cashiers at mothercare, or physio therapists, but most the time, none are qualified to diagnose you, they are just meant to ask questions and lie about the answers. Always get it recorded, always demand your interview to recorded at least you'll have something to take to a solicitor if needed. Best of luck hun, i'm so sorry they treated you like this, it's utterly disgusting.

    I do pray you get the help you need, don't forget the fight.

  3. I hope that you can get it sorted. I was originally put in the WRAG and then reassessed six months later and put in the support group.

  4. This just reinforces all the negative stories I've heard about ATOS and why I'm terrified I might become too ill to work before my mortgage is paid off. How can a qualified doctor expect your condition to improve? There is no cure for CP, just as there's no cure for my MS. The only way is downhill, it's just a question of how fast.

    This government has its own agenda and will tell any number of lies and manipulate statistics until they're unrecognizable to suit their own ends.

    This isn't new, of course. I have a friend with grand mal epilepsy who, despite being medically retired at age 19, was regularly signed fit for work by the DSS (as was) doctor, only to have her neurologist overturn the decision. Eventually, after many years of this, she was given a lifetime award, but I don't know if they still give these to people. I suspect not.

    The current system doesn't appear to take your medical history or GP/attending physician/specialist's opinions into account. From what I've heard (people bleeding out during their assessment!), they don't even take how you appear on the day into account. It sounds to me like they play a game of "pin the tail on the donkey" and whoever's name is nearest gets the benefits. It's an utter farce!

    I hope things work out in your favour and try not to get too stressed.

  5. Get an appeal in, you have a month from finding out the prognosis (how long they think it'll take you to get fit) - it is not a month from the medical assessment, it is a month from you fist finding out this prognosis (I had a question asked in parliament and Chris Grayling said that it is a month from learning of the prognosis)

  6. Stay strong and positive Amy. Hopefully the doctor will see that you're not improving and allow you to continue the way you think will help you best.

    I know this is a messed up silver lining but think of it this way:

    If they force you onto JSA/applying for jobs, then after 6-8 months force you into workfare... when your body shows signs that you are not capable, document it, show it to people.

    The silver lining in that scenario? You told them you couldn't do it. Time for a lawsuit.

    I would say "get well soon" but I'd be no better than ATOS/DWP haha. What a bunch of idiots they are.

    Good luck, best wishes.

    A friend.

  7. You should be making an official complaint about the dr to the relevant body - I think that's the GMC but someone'll know if you ask around. Try Auntie Atos on Facebook, where she hides under the pseudonym Kevin James. She's done this and she knows the procedures. You should also be complaining very loudly to your MP who should take this up on your behalf.

  8. Utterly outrageous!! I am almost as angry as you must be!!

  9. Yet again, ATOS prove to be plonkers - do you have a CAB near you? I'm sure there are support groups for people in your position, there are so many of you. It won't feel quite so scary if you realise you're not alone.

  10. Should this doctor be struck off? She obviously has little understanding of the condition

  11. crazy isn't it. Poor you, that's a crappy bit of uneducated bs you now have to deal with.

  12. I feel for anyone as above, my husband has a rare cancer Angeokeratoma and recent diagnosis 5mm cyst on his lungs they still trying to find him suitable for work. Myself disabled 13 years stopped my dla march am fighting appeal already taken through mp and Esther Mcvey ATOS have lied in comms stating i have had medical whne i have not and feel with a trapped nerve within my brain and many other conditions im fit. yet i have been awarded ESA and do not have to seek work. ATOS are a joke and how they sleep at night is beyond me good luck everyone.

  13. What sort of doctor thinks that cerebral palsy gets better after six months? I hope it all gets sorted out.

  14. I have Cerebral Palsy. I am so glad I live in Canada. What is wrong with these people??? CP does not get better... if anything it gets worse as we age....