The controversy surrounding the role of French company ATOS in carrying out the government’s assessments of people on sickness and disability benefit, illustrates the barbaric and callous nature of the Tory attacks on the poor and most vulnerable section of society in response to the economic crisis.
The Scottish Daily Record is playing a lead role in highlighting the injustices being perpetrated by ATOS, but now it is time for the Scottish Government to step in and nail its colours to the mast when it comes to standing on the side of the victims of this despicable process. Joyce Drummond, a former nurse and an active socialist, worked for ATOS carrying out assessments, but resigned in protest. Her story was covered by the Daily Record back in September, and now she’s calling for the Scottish Government to carry out its own investigation.
Solidarity issued the following press release:
A former nurse has called on Alex Salmond and the SNP Government to establish a parliamentary inquiry into the performance of ATOS, the private company used by the Coalition Government to carry out controversial Work Capability Assessments on the sick and disabled. The results of these tests determine whether or not people continue to receive benefits or are forced to find work. The French company has received a barrage of criticism from disability campaigners, trade unions and health professionals.
ATOS has declared that over 70% of disabled people assessed in Scotland should no longer receive benefits and instead need to seek employment. The remainder of those assessed and deemed to be unfit for work are told to expect to be put through the process again as they attempt to shave millions of pounds from the welfare bill. The company’s methods however have been called into question with up to 40% of claimants having the original ATOS decision overturned on appeal. In addition, disability campaigners claim that some of the verdicts delivered by ATOS have resulted in the death of claimants forced back to work.
The Black Triangle Campaign and other disability rights activists have protested against the company, The British Pain Society have recently published a report saying that ATOS are failing chronic pain patients whilst the STUC will debate a motion at their annual congress in April calling for ATOS to be removed from the list of sponsors from the Commonwealth Games.
Joyce Drummond, a Solidarity member from Glasgow, resigned from her job after ATOS employed the former nurse to carry out assessments.
“The assessments are a farce designed to trick sick and disabled people out of benefits they are entitled to. Simply by turning up for an interview, being well dressed, pushing a pram, admitting to owning a pet or being able to complete forms would count against a claimant.”
I could not stomach the job any longer after bosses told me I was being “too nice”. All I wanted to do was help those who needed it most. I had worked for over 20 years in the Southern General Hospital and I knew sick people when I saw them. The company had no interest in my professional or clinical opinion, their only interest was in getting as many claimants as possible deemed to be fit for work.”
Joyce quit her job with ATOS but the stress she suffered as a result of her experiences has meant she has not been able to work since. The former staff nurse wants to see the Scottish Government do more to protect the vulnerable people undergoing Work Capability Assessments.
“The sick and disabled are being discriminated against and people are dying in a bid to save money. The poorest and most vulnerable are again being scapegoated by this government of millionaires. The methods and procedures used by ATOS need to come under proper scrutiny. The UK Government won’t do it so the Scottish Government needs to act here and bring more pressure to bear on the ConDems. Even if welfare and benefits are reserved to Westminster there must be more Holyrood can do to expose the scandal of these assessments. This needs more than a committee. If an inquiry can be set up to look at the cost of the Parliament Building then something could be done to help the tens of thousands suffering at the hands of ATOS. Evidence could be heard from health professionals, claimants and campaign groups.”
“It’s time to kill off ATOS before ATOS kills off anymore sick, vulnerable and disabled people.”