Isn’t it amazing how the number of people who choose to speak out about injustices multiply once the first reports are published
Many more disabled people have come forward to describe how the healthcare professionals who assessed them for the UK government’s disability benefits lied in the reports they compiled. The benefits are paid to people with many different disabilities including multiple sclerosis.
Their evidence further confirms the results of a two-month Disability News Service (DNS) investigation, which revealed last week how assessors working for the outsourcing companies Capita and Atos – most of them nurses – had repeatedly lied, ignored written evidence, and dishonestly reported the results of physical examinations.
Having seen the first revelations of the DNS, more personal independence payment (PIP) claimants have come forward with their own evidence of dishonest assessors.
The second DNS report said:
One PIP claimant, who has impairments including ME, fibromyalgia and a heart condition, has described how his disability living allowance (DLA) award of the higher rates for both care and mobility was lost after his PIP assessment left him with zero points (a claimant needs eight for the PIP standard rate and 12 for the enhanced rate).
He remembers his assessor telling him when she arrived at his home and he asked if she knew anything about ME and fibromyalgia: “I’ve dealt with a couple of people with yuppy flu before.”
He said: “When I received the assessor’s report I thought it was for another person as it contained so many omissions, inaccuracies and conjecture. There were also several instances of fabrication.”
Information from his previous applications for incapacity benefit, DLA and employment and support allowance (ESA), and his successful appeal decisions for DLA and ESA at tribunal, had been omitted from her report.
David told DNS: “The report states I carried out tiptoe and ‘balancing on each foot’ tests and had no problems walking. I did not walk a step and did not carry out the tests described.
“The report states that I turned around in my chair and picked up a bottle of medicine from the surface behind me – the surface behind me was an oven hob and all my medication was on the table in front of the assessor.”
When he described how his medication had sent him to sleep in his back yard, the assessor claimed that he said instead: “I wonder [sic]round the fields outside my house,” while being able to open a ring-pull can was interpreted as “able to prepare a meal”.
He is appealing the decision, and is complaining about his assessor to the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
David said: “Since receiving the report, the consequences of dealing with the complaints procedure and making another tribunal appeal have been a noticeable deterioration in my health and have put a strain on both my wife’s and my own mental health (loss of peace of mind, anxiety, knocks to self-confidence and a feeling of being discriminated against because of the nature of my disability).”
Many other claimants came forward and told similar stories.
A DWP spokeswoman told the DNS:
“We expect the highest standards from the contractors who carry out PIP assessments.
“We do not accept it to be the case that there is dishonesty amongst them.
“As we said, we are committed to making sure the PIP assessment process works fairly and effectively, which is why we welcome independent reviews such as the ones led by Paul Gray, the second of which is expected in April 2017.
“Anyone not happy with their benefit decision can ask for it to be looked at again, and then appeal to an independent tribunal.
“There is also a comprehensive complaints procedure in place for claimants who are not happy with the service they have received from providers.”
So many tales of wrongdoing, yet the government department does not accept there is dishonesty among its contractors’ assessors. What is wrong? It is high time that government ministers and civil servants opened their eyes, ears and put whatever brains they have to good use. In fact, the evidence exists, they just need to approach it with open minds. It is time for action not complacency or denial.