NATIONAL SHAME: 800 disabled Brits’ benefits slashed after assessment by French data firm : Express.

BEDRIDDEN, disabled and vulnerable Britons are having their benefits slashed by the Government on the word of “unqualified” staff working for a “target-setting” French data company.

Express.co.uk has obtained new figures showing every week more than 800 Britons are being stripped of disability benefits or having them cut in half, often leaving them too sick to work, too poor to support themselves and too frightened to fight the decisions.

The assessment process carried out by Atos Healthcare, an arm of French data company Atos, has been described as “disgusting” and “shocking” by those who have been put through the “brutal” tests and MPs across political parties.

And while our own elderly and infirm face a barrage of humiliating tests and frightening challenges to their honesty, Theresa May’s Government bends over backwards to supply foreign aid to nations led by cruel dictators and considers tests to the honesty of so-called ‘child migrants’ coming to Britain to be inhumane.

Campaigners and experts have claimed the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) now led by Damian Green MP is “pushing” the narrative those on benefits are scroungers – when in reality the level of fraudulent cases is tiny.

Figures obtained from the Motability charity, which allows disabled people to pay for cars, which can be specially adapted, through their benefits, shows 3000 people per month are having cars, scooters and even motorised wheelchairs taken from them.

Disabled Britons in tears after PIP cuts

Government contract for PIP assessments must be scrapped by Damian Green, campaigners say.

Atos branded

Disabled Britons have protested against Atos for a number of years.

The charity told Express.co.uk for the last three months they have seen 800 claimants removed from the scheme EVERY WEEK after brutal Atos re-assessments.

French data firm Atos has banked more than £500m in tax payer cash through the DWP contracts.

Disability Living Allowance was scrapped in favour of personal Independence Payment (PIP) in 2013.

The Conservative Government awarded the contract for PIP assessments to Atos for people aged between 16 and 64.

At the same time the Department for Work and Pensions demanded a review of cases -which has led to people, who are genuinely disabled, being cut from the scheme.

A Motability spokesman said: “We have seen around 38,000 existing Scheme customers lose eligibility to the upper level of mobility support as they are reassessed from DLA to PIP, and have therefore returned their vehicles.”

The term vehicles covers scooters and wheelchairs which can be taken back from people, despite doctors and social services assessors ruling them incapable of travelling without them.

The figures given are a drop in the ocean since only one third of those who receive the Higher Rate Mobility Component of PIP use the Motability scheme.

Hundreds or thousands more may be being axed every month.

Pensioners who have worked and paid into Britain’s National Insurance scheme for decades, hoping for protection and support should they become infirm, told Express.co.uk they have been left feeling like fraudsters and are being treated like “liars”.

Many fear for their future.

Put simply the Government of the day has moved the goalposts and changed the rules making eligibility for high rate PIP close to impossible.

Debbie Abrahams MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary said: “Recent statistics show an increase in assessment decisions overturned, which is a damning indictment of this Government’s cruel social security reforms and six wasted years of austerity.

“These flawed PIP assessments cause substantial distress to disabled people who are repeatedly subject to them and only create further waste and expense, as thousands upon thousands are overturned in the courts.”

Atos hated by disabled community

The Department for Work and Pensions makes benefits payments on the word of Atos assessors.

Linda, 68, is crippled with arthritis and other health issues, including a large hernia, while trying her hardest to care for her bedridden husband.

She is one of tens of thousands judged ineligible for higher rate disability payments, despite previously being given a lifetime award by the DWP under DLA.

The cut will mean her income halves from £600 to less than £300 per month.

She said: “I feel like I am fighting every day to have a life – I don’t have the energy to fight them.

“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how I am going to survive.”

Linda was assessed by a nurse who carried out a home visit – but  Linda says the ultimate report was wildly different from what happened on the day.

She said: “I couldn’t even get up and get to the door – I was on the sofa.

“The nurse came in and she said she wouldn’t do the tests because she could see how much pain I was in.

“When I got the letter I was so shocked. It said I was touching my neck and my back and could reach the floor with my feet – I didn’t even get up.

“When I called they said her word is the final word.

“I thought she must have got me confused with someone else – or she’s lying.”

Department of Work and Pensions cuts

Elderly PIP claimants are having their benefits slashed as they worry how they will live.

Steve, 46, was left horrified when his wife was denied higher mobility PIP and made to give back her disability car.

He said: “She has a degenerative spinal condition – it’s in the title really – she isn’t getting better.

“She tried to keep her dignity and put on nice clothes and do what they asked her at the test centre – she couldn’t do it all but she tried – and they crucified her for it.

“Most days she can’t get further than the living room. They are monsters.”

He branded the assessors ‘bizarre’ for hammering the people who tried to overcome disability and complete test exercises.

Campaigners, politicians and the disabled have accused of the Government of offering incentives to those who turn down PIP requests and cancel those already in place.

Assessors have also been accused of underhand tactics including hiding and watching people walk into test centres then crossing the walking test off their list – failing to ask whether the claimant was in any discomfort or could do such a task daily.

Nurses

Atos test assessors have come under fire over “tricks” and “lies”

Tactics employed by the Atos staff have been described as “disgusting” with some suggesting they “confuse” claimants and mark them down for dressing in clean clothes and trying hard to complete the tasks.

Assessors have also come under fire from health professionals who claim they are not qualified to make such huge judgements – for example some assessors are physiotherapists who lack mental health training.

A senior social worker told Express.co.uk he has been shocked by the assessments, which differ greatly from the opinions of other experts. The decisions are usually being overturned in court.

He said: “These people are not qualified. If they are a mental health nurse they do not have GP-level understanding of complicated diseases and how the hell can a physiotherapist begin to understand mental health?

“The NHS has the notes, written by the GPs, yet we are putting these people through more hell.

“It’s a national disgrace.”

Baroness Thomas of Winchester has been campaigning against the assessments, which she suggests have tricked and confused disabled people.

Lady Celia Thomas of Winchester

Lady Celia Thomas of Winchester has been campaigning against cuts.

The Lib Dem peer and champion for disability rights believes accusations around assessors watching people enter tests centres and striking off questions on that basis are correct.

Lady Thomas said the tests no way reflect how a person can live their life.

She said: “I urge the Government to take action to halt this cruel and heartless PIP mobility test before any more disabled people lose their Motability cars.

“The assessments are so variable round the country that fairness has gone out of the window.”

Lady Thomas questioned how the word of an assessor can be taken over GP notes.

She said: “They are overriding decisions made by the NHS and that is not right.”

Disabled people turned down for higher payments

Wheelchair user Star Anderton is fighting her own battle with Atos over her assessment.

UKIP National Disability Spokeswoman Cllr Star Anderson had her own higher rate mobility cut, despite having adaptations in her home and needing a carer.

The campaigner who fights for others, as well as herself, said the Tories are making cuts in the most dishonest way.

She said: “It just shows that the £12bn in cuts are going ahead because they’ve moved the goalposts.

“It’s not about helping people live with their disabilities it’s about cutting numbers claiming PIP.

“Far too many disabled people are committing suicide because of the anxiety caused when they have to change from DLA to PIP.

“There are a growing number of people who are being told they are no longer eligible for any assistance and this group are being hit hardest.

“We all understand why there has to be a rigorous system to ensure those who need extra help get it.

“There are a very small percentage of people who obtain disability benefits fraudulently. We know there will always be cheats but it does feel like those who know how to cheat the system are still getting away with it.”

People suffering from ME, arthritis, organ failure, heart disease, spinal injuries and sever psychiatric illness have had their benefits taken from them.

Dr Simon Duffy from the Centre for Welfare Reform said it is his belief the Government is trying to turn the national view on disability.

He said: “The DWP appears to be pushing this narrative that disabled people are scroungers and there are millions of false claims.

“It is simply not true.

“There are severely disabled people being put through these tests and having to fight in the courts. It’s unbelievable.”

Atos assessors described as cruel

Some disabled people who cannot walk have been told they are not unwell enough for benefits.
Figures to September 2016 show 61% of 90,000 claimants who appealed against a PIP decision at a tribunal won their case, showing what has been called “proof” the assessment process is deeply flawed.

The appeals are held in criminal courts and decided upon by judges, something campaigners have called “cruel” and “frightening”.

Before the court stage the DWP will carry out a mandatory reconsideration.

Earlier this year around 40% of considerations ended in the disabled person having the decision reversed upon assessment.

However, only around 22% were successful between June and October 2016.

Of 526,000 DLA claimants reassessed for PIP up to October 2016, 21% were rejected altogether and 23% ended up worse off.

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Decisions for PIP are made after considering evidence from the claimant and their GP.

“Anyone who disagrees with a decision can appeal and in most cases anyone leaving the Motability scheme is eligible for a one-off payment of £2,000 to help meet their needs.”

Who is Atos?

ATOS Healthcare covers assessments in all areas except the Midlands and Wales where Capita won the bid.

The companies are employed to carry out face-to-face assessments of all new claimants, and reassessments.

The idea behind the overhaul is to get rid of self-assessment and gain “a more accurate” understanding of every situation.

Atos has been accused of “preying on the vulnerable to make Government cuts”

It has showed extreme incompetence and bowed out early from the contract under which it was tasked by the Government to carry out the Work Capability Assessment.

Last year after it was revealed 2,380 people had died between 2011 – 2014 soon after being found fit for work through disability benefit assessments.

Unbelievably, the Government still employs Atos for £3bn worth of contracts across the country – one of which is the assessment of Personal Independence Payment applications.

An Atos Healthcare spokesperson said: “All of the Atos assessment teams are fully qualified health professionals who must have the qualifications and experience specified by the DWP and be accredited directly by them.

“Each assessment is carried out under the guidelines delivered by the DWP.”

Link : Daily Express.

NATIONAL SHAME: 800 disabled Brits’ benefits slashed after assessment by French data firm : Express.

BEDRIDDEN, disabled and vulnerable Britons are having their benefits slashed by the Government on the word of “unqualified” staff working for a “target-setting” French data company.

Express.co.uk has obtained new figures showing every week more than 800 Britons are being stripped of disability benefits or having them cut in half, often leaving them too sick to work, too poor to support themselves and too frightened to fight the decisions.

The assessment process carried out by Atos Healthcare, an arm of French data company Atos, has been described as “disgusting” and “shocking” by those who have been put through the “brutal” tests and MPs across political parties.

And while our own elderly and infirm face a barrage of humiliating tests and frightening challenges to their honesty, Theresa May’s Government bends over backwards to supply foreign aid to nations led by cruel dictators and considers tests to the honesty of so-called ‘child migrants’ coming to Britain to be inhumane.

Campaigners and experts have claimed the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) now led by Damian Green MP is “pushing” the narrative those on benefits are scroungers – when in reality the level of fraudulent cases is tiny.

Figures obtained from the Motability charity, which allows disabled people to pay for cars, which can be specially adapted, through their benefits, shows 3000 people per month are having cars, scooters and even motorised wheelchairs taken from them.

Disabled Britons in tears after PIP cuts

Government contract for PIP assessments must be scrapped by Damian Green, campaigners say.

Atos branded

Disabled Britons have protested against Atos for a number of years

The charity told Express.co.uk for the last three months they have seen 800 claimants removed from the scheme EVERY WEEK after brutal Atos re-assessments.

French data firm Atos has banked more than £500m in tax payer cash through the DWP contracts.

Disability Living Allowance was scrapped in favour of personal Independence Payment (PIP) in 2013.

The Conservative Government awarded the contract for PIP assessments to Atos for people aged between 16 and 64.

At the same time the Department for Work and Pensions demanded a review of cases -which has led to people, who are genuinely disabled, being cut from the scheme.

A Motability spokesman said: “We have seen around 38,000 existing Scheme customers lose eligibility to the upper level of mobility support as they are reassessed from DLA to PIP, and have therefore returned their vehicles.”

The term vehicles covers scooters and wheelchairs which can be taken back from people, despite doctors and social services assessors ruling them incapable of travelling without them.

The figures given are a drop in the ocean since only one third of those who receive the Higher Rate Mobility Component of PIP use the Motability scheme.

Hundreds or thousands more may be being axed every month.

Pensioners who have worked and paid into Britain’s National Insurance scheme for decades, hoping for protection and support should they become infirm, told Express.co.uk they have been left feeling like fraudsters and are being treated like “liars”.

Many fear for their future.

Put simply the Government of the day has moved the goalposts and changed the rules making eligibility for high rate PIP close to impossible.

Debbie Abrahams MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary said: “Recent statistics show an increase in assessment decisions overturned, which is a damning indictment of this Government’s cruel social security reforms and six wasted years of austerity.

“These flawed PIP assessments cause substantial distress to disabled people who are repeatedly subject to them and only create further waste and expense, as thousands upon thousands are overturned in the courts.”

Atos hated by disabled community

The Department for Work and Pensions makes benefits payments on the word of Atos assessors
Linda, 68, is crippled with arthritis and other health issues, including a large hernia, while trying her hardest to care for her bedridden husband.

She is one of tens of thousands judged ineligible for higher rate disability payments, despite previously being given a lifetime award by the DWP under DLA.

The cut will mean her income halves from £600 to less than £300 per month.

She said: “I feel like I am fighting every day to have a life – I don’t have the energy to fight them.

“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how I am going to survive.”

Linda was assessed by a nurse who carried out a home visit – but  Linda says the ultimate report was wildly different from what happened on the day.

She said: “I couldn’t even get up and get to the door – I was on the sofa.

“The nurse came in and she said she wouldn’t do the tests because she could see how much pain I was in.

“When I got the letter I was so shocked. It said I was touching my neck and my back and could reach the floor with my feet – I didn’t even get up.

“When I called they said her word is the final word.

“I thought she must have got me confused with someone else – or she’s lying.”

Read More : Daily Express.

Taxpayers’ cash should go to the needy. Here’s where it actually ends up : Guardian.

More than £500m has been spent on PIP assessments for the disabled – where’s the sense in that?

Protest by disabled people

‘Companies get a fat cheque, courtesy of HM Taxpayer, disabled people get treated appallingly, and all for what?’ Photograph: Alamy

 

Let me raise a glass to your festive generosity. You, the taxpayer, have showered your charity on the needy and deserving: otherwise known as Atos and Capita, two private companies that have been given more than £500m of your money since 2013.

Your munificence is boundless: you don’t expect returns from your donations, given to these companies to provide effective personal independence payment assessments (PIP) for disabled people. No: despite years of being solemnly told that there simply isn’t enough money to properly fund services and the welfare state, you have made it your mission to look after the hard-done-by shareholders of state-dependent companies.

I realise it’s Christmas and anger should be reserved for burning the sprouts or arguing over the TV remote, but seriously, you should be teed off. Companies such as Atos and Capita are paid to carry out what are, frankly, pretty degrading government tests on sick and disabled people to see if they really do deserve benefits.

Many claimants fail these tests, forcing them to endure a long period of anxiety and worry, and then go through a stressful appeal process. According to figures obtained by the Daily Mirror, six out of 10 of the 90,000 claimants who appealed over PIP decisions won at tribunal. So the companies get a fat cheque, courtesy of HM Taxpayer, disabled people get treated appallingly, and all for what?

This is, in the grand scheme of things, a rich country. One of the richest countries that has ever existed, in fact. The problem is how we decide to allocate the nation’s huge wealth, much of it concentrated in all too few hands. Hundreds of millions are doled out to companies like Atos and Capita, while our government does all it can to prise paltry sums of money from the hands of disabled people.

Link : The Guardian.

Private firms rake in half a BILLION pounds for cruel disability benefit assessments : Daily Mirror.

Atos and Capita earn the fees assessing people for PIP despite thousands having their cases overturned on appeal.

Atos and Capita make millions in fees under the scheme overseen by Tory Iain Duncan Smith (Photo: Getty)

Fit-to-work firms Atos and Capita have earned more than £500m of taxpayer cash running a hated Tory scheme to assess people for disability benefits.

Analysis of Government data by the Mirror shows the two firms were paid £211m for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments in the first 11 months of 2016.

That was up from £198m in 2015, £91m in 2014 and £7m in 2013, the year PIP launched.

PIP is designed to help disabled people live independently and is replacing the old Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Yet despite the assessments’ £507m price tag, thousands of decisions based on them are being overturned on appeal.

Figures to September 2016 show 61% of 90,000 claimants who appealed against a PIP decision at a tribunal won their case.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “This adds to the suspicion that these companies are just driven by a profit motive, and the incentive is to get the assessments done, but not necessarily to get the assessments right.

Job Centre

Millions of assessments for disability benefit have been outsourced by the DWP (Photo: PA)

“They are the ugly face of business.”

Labour shadow welfare minister Alex Cunningham said: “It is clear that the assessment process continues to fail.

“Instead of holding their contractors to account for incorrect assessments, which cause huge distress to the most vulnerable, the Government are paying them even more taxpayers’ money.”

Monthly government data to the end of November 2016, totalled by the Mirror, shows £382m of payments to Atos under the PIP assessments scheme with another £125m to Capita.

The money covered three categories – face-to-face interviews, paper assessments and fees for GPs’ reports.

The system has been accused of leaving thousands of sick and disabled people high and dry.

Of 526,000 DLA claimants reassessed for PIP up to October 2016, 21% were rejected altogether and 23% ended up worse off, including people with Parkinson’s and AIDS.

Atos defended its work, saying the final decision on whether to give someone benefits was down to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

An Atos Healthcare spokesman said: “The Atos team undertake PIP assessments on behalf of the DWP and do not take a decision on a person’s eligibility for PIP – that decision can only be taken by the DWP.

“Each assessment is carried out under the guidelines delivered by the DWP.”

However, thousands of cases are also being overturned by the DWP itself.

Before going to an independent tribunal, PIP claimants must first ask for a ‘mandatory reconsideration’ by the DWP.

Figures to October 2016 show people have done that 428,000 times with 17% winning a change to their award – including 32,000 who were transferring from DLA.

MPs criticised the rise of outsourced disability assessments in a report by the powerful Public Accounts Committee in March.

They warned the system could present “a real risk to value for money” and questioned why the cost of one type of assessment had risen from £115 to £190.

A DWP spokesman declined to say whether the cost of each PIP assessment had risen too.

The DWP spokesman said: “Payments to our providers reflect the amount of work they do for us.

“We introduced PIP to replace the outdated DLA system, and as we invite more people to claim PIP, claims have been steadily increasing quarter on quarter since summer 2015.”

Capita did not return a request for comment before our deadline today.

Atos and Capita bosses previously apologised for flaws in the assessments system generally when MPs grilled them.

Capita’s divisional managing director Chris Stroud said in February: “Let me apologise and acknowledge that our quality has not been acceptable, and there’s no shying away from that.”

Link : Daily Mirror.

I assess if you are fit for work. I hate having to score your life this way : Guardian.

As the person who hurriedly judges your medical condition for the DWP, I have to decide if you qualify for disability benefits.

ESA is a contentious type of benefit and the people who I assess are often anxious, angry, scared or pessimistic

ESA is a contentious type of benefit and the people who I assess are often anxious, angry, scared or pessimistic Photograph: Keith Morris/Alamy

I’m the person who assesses whether or not your medical condition is stopping you from being able to work – and I have never felt so dejected by a job.

It’s my job to carry out work capability assessments to see if people qualify for Employment Support Allowance (ESA). For 18 months, I’ve been working for a private company to which the the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) outsources this task.

I’m a healthcare professional who joined after being disillusioned with working in the NHS. I will be honest: for me, as for many of my colleagues, the salary, which is far higher than NHS pay, was a big draw. But like all healthcare professionals, we want to do a good job. We go into caring professions because we care.

But in this job I just don’t always have the time to be as sympathetic as I’d like to be or give people the time they need. We are under constant pressure to assess at least six claimants a day, spending 65 minutes on average with each.

If the company I work for fails to meet its assessment targets it can get fined by the DWP. So I often get a knock on the door to ask how much longer I will be and when I can pick up another case.

ESA is a contentious type of benefit and the people who walk into my assessment room are often anxious, angry, scared, pessimistic or resigned. Many have lost faith in the system and feel the government is abandoning them. We are often the sounding board for the people who come in. They confide in us about the horrific things that have happened to them.

About 80% of the people we see have mental health problems. I have assessed clients who were actively psychotic, in a manic bipolar phase, or severely depressed to the point where they couldn’t speak and a family member had to do the talking for them.

There has been a general improvement in reports since the company I work for took over the contract, but there still isn’t always the time to give full consideration to the complexity of cases. Some people have as many as 15 medical conditions and we have to document and obtain a history for every single one. When this happens, staff know it will take longer. It can lead to us rushing and missing things because we are so concerned about not seeing enough people during the day. It is relentless.

Most people I assess understand we are just there to do a job. But some people are very volatile and some do resort to verbal abuse, intimidation, and occasionally, physical violence. They’re angry at the system – and I can understand why.

As the face of that system, I am the one who bears the brunt of their ire. We all try to placate and soothe the people who come in as best as we can. But sometimes we just can’t. I have had to abandon cases and there have been countless times where the emergency services have been called. Sometimes I feel genuinely scared.

As we don’t make the ultimate decision, we never find out what happens in the end. When someone asks how they have done, it can be very difficult. I’m not allowed to tell them anything, but I know that if I have scored them little or no points, they will most likely lose their benefit and be expected to hunt for a job. It makes me feel so dishonest and I imagine their face when they’re hit with that letter or phone call, delivering the bad news.

It is most difficult with the ones who are trying their best to get by but just aren’t deemed bad enough to qualify for any support. Many claimants are older and underskilled, which makes it much harder for them to find work. I have cried on two occasions after an assessment because I felt so awful that I couldn’t help.

The job is incredibly demoralising and psychologically draining – by the end of the day I’m exhausted. I honestly don’t know how much longer I will last.

Link : The Guardian.

This series aims to give a voice to the staff behind the public services that are hit by mounting cuts and rising demand, and so often denigrated by the press, politicians and public. If you would like to write an article for the series, contact kirstie.brewer@theguardian.com

DWP silent over ‘fitness for work’ tests carried out by drunk Atos nurse : DNS.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is refusing to say whether it has reviewed hundreds of “fitness for work” tests carried out by a nurse who has been struck off for conducting assessments of disabled benefit claimants while drunk.

Although former Atos healthcare professional Heather Margaret MacBean was found guilty of misconduct by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) of charges relating to just one day, 27 June 2013, it is believed that she was drunk at work on other occasions.

The former health visitor and midwife could have carried out hundreds of work capability assessments (WCAs), and it is believed that she also conducted disability living allowance (DLA) assessments for Atos, on behalf of DWP.

In November 2013, when allegations against MacBean first emerged, Disability News Service (DNS) spoke to two disabled people who were each found “fit for work” and so ineligible for employment and support allowance (ESA) after being assessed by MacBean.

One assessment took place in January 2013 and the other in April 2013, and on both occasions the claimants said MacBean had been behaving strangely during the face-to-face assessment and subsequently produced reports that were full of inaccuracies.

Only last week, DNS revealed that a nurse, a personal independence payment (PIP) assessor with extreme right-wing sympathies, was suspended by another government contractor, Capita, after she posted disablist, racist comments about social security claimants on her Facebook page.

And DNS also reports this week how a third nurse has been struck off after pretending to assess disabled people for PIP in their own homes, on behalf of Atos, when she was actually carrying out the assessments by telephone.

An NMC panel heard that MacBean’s colleagues were able to smell strong mints and alcohol on her breath on the morning of 27 June 2013 – although she denied that she had been drinking – while in the afternoon her eyes had become glazed and she was slurring her words, and her managers concluded that a bottle she had been drinking from contained wine mixed with water.

MacBean was suspended – and tried to drive home while still drunk – and later sacked by Atos for gross misconduct.

An NMC panel found that the disabled people MacBean had assessed had been put “at unwarranted risk of harm” and could have been denied benefits because “her judgment may have been impaired and her assessments not completed fully and properly”.

The decision to remove MacBean from the nursing register was taken in January but it has only emerged this week.

By 11am today (11 August), DWP had refused to say how many assessments MacBean carried out, how long she worked for Atos, and what action it had taken regarding the DLA and ESA assessments she carried out.

Atos said it could not comment on the case because it no longer holds the WCA contract – having been replaced by another controversial outsourcing giant, Maximus – and so does “not have the files or access to the files”.

Link : DNS.

Atos nurse struck off over PIP assessment lies : Black Triangle.

 

A nurse has been struck off after pretending that she had assessed disabled people for their eligibility for disability benefits in their own homes, when she had actually carried out the assessments by telephone.

Amelia Victoria Bailey was conducting personal independence payment (PIP) assessments for the government contractor Atos when her deception was discovered by her employer.

Atos and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have since had to review every one of the assessments Bailey carried out.

Bailey’s deception was exposed when a manager realised that several of her assessment reports had been completed at times when, according to her diary, she should have been attending appointments.

When Atos contacted some of the disabled people Bailey had supposedly visited at home, many of them said their assessments had in fact been carried out by telephone.

Bailey had made up comments about the appearance of the claimants, and falsified her own clinical findings. She also submitted fake claims for travel expenses in a bid to cover her tracks.

When she was confronted by her manager, she admitted carrying out about half of her assessment reports by telephone and blamed “personal issues and a backlog of work”.

Now she has been struck off the nursing register by a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) panel, which found her guilty of misconduct.

The revelation of her dishonesty comes only days after Disability News Service revealed that another PIP assessor, a nurse with extreme right-wing sympathies, was suspended by another government contractor, Capita, after she posted disablist, racist comments about social security claimants on her Facebook page.

And DNS also reports this week how another nurse has been struck off for conducting “fitness for work” assessments of disabled benefit claimants while drunk.

Bailey’s NMC panel concluded that her behaviour had put the claimants she assessed at “unwarranted risk of harm”, because she would not have been able to identify their “particular needs” properly over the telephone.

It said that such dishonesty in a “sensitive area” such as disability benefits assessments meant her dishonesty was “extremely serious”.

The panel also said that her failure to show “any insight, remorse or remediation since that time suggests a risk of repetition of such behaviour”, and it pointed out that she only admitted her deceit after pressure from her manager.

The fake assessments took place between August and November 2014, and Bailey was finally struck off in June this year.

An Atos spokesman said: “The healthcare professional in question was employed by Atos for a brief period between August and November 2014.

“Our regular reporting processes identified this as an issue and enabled us to inform DWP as soon as it was discovered.

“Atos worked in partnership with the department at every stage of the process, fully investigating and reviewing every case to ensure that all claimants received a fair, correct and comprehensive assessment.

“It is important to recognise that the behaviour of the healthcare professional in question fell very short of the expectations of both Atos and the DWP.

“The NMC decision to remove the healthcare professional from the register is entirely consistent with the serious nature of these actions.”

A DWP spokeswoman said: “We expect the highest standards from the contractors who carry out assessments on our behalf and this behaviour is in no way tolerated by DWP.

“All claimants have the right to a fair assessment and we have been working closely with Atos to fully investigate the situation and review any cases overseen by the individual concerned.”

She said she could not disclose how many PIP assessments Bailey had carried out.

Link : Black Triangle.