Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

An Open Letter to Atos Healthcare.

with 3 comments

An Open Letter to Atos Healthcare

 This was due to be published this weekend.

I have signed it, as has the Suffolk Coalition for Public Services

Lisa Coleman

General Manager for the DWP Contracts

Atos Healthcare
4 Triton Square
Regent’s Place
London, NW1 3HG

Dear Ms Coleman,

We the undersigned are seriously concerned by the fact that Atos Healthcare, the provider of the Work Capability Assessment for sickness benefits, has threatened legal action against the Internet hosting companies of three websites which circulated letters from sickness benefit claimants – ‘Carerwatch’, ‘After Atos’ and ‘Atos Register of Shame’ (now relaunched as ‘A### the Truth’).

These websites have given members of society who are often isolated and have traditionally found it difficult to take joint action, the chance to come together and share their experiences. We find it unacceptable that a large IT company, which receives £100m per year for their assessment of claimants, has deployed their legal department against individuals or small organisations who dared to circulate people’s comments and concerns about their treatment at Atos’ hands. 

As acknowledged by both the recent Harrington Report and the Parliamentary Select Committee on welfare, the Work Capability Assessment implemented by Atos Healthcare was found to be mechanistic and Atos’ ‘medical reports’ far too often did not reflect circumstances and discussions that had taken place during the assessments (Harrington Report, pp. 40-41). In addition, ESA claimants have now been told that twelve members of Atos’ staff are under investigation over allegations of obscene criticism of benefit claimants and improper conduct.

Atos Healthcare has given assurances that the shortcomings identified by the Harrington Report are being addressed. Yet many claimants are still experiencing the distress of poor and rushed medical assessments based on Atos Healthcare’s computer programme.

Amid growing concern that Atos Healthcare is failing to raise its methods and professionalism to acceptable standards, the company is now attempting to silence those claimants and their small organisations who have had the courage to speak up. At a time when we see that major corporations such as News International are able to use the threat of legal action to hide their wrongdoings, it is important that Atos’ actions are brought to account.

It is also the case that government bodies are unable to sue for libel. Atos’ argument is that they are taking legal action to protect their business reputation, but in this case they are performing the work of the DWP, and receiving public money for doing it.

For these reasons, we ask that Atos withdraw these threats of libel action, that they publicly guarantee that they will not in future use the libel laws to close down criticism of their practices, and that they make a public apology to those individuals and websites which they have tried to silence.

Pip Tindall for
Brighton Benefits Campaign
Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition

UNISON (Sussex Partnership) EBCMHC Rep

http://brightonbenefitscampaign.wordpress.com/

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Written by Andrew Coates

September 11, 2011 at 9:44 am

3 Responses

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  1. I learn this is to be published today.

    It is important, nto only for those dealing with ATOS but for those of us criticising the ‘providers’ of the Employment Programme.

    Those who have signed.

    Brighton Benefits Campaign

    Tony Greenstein Brighton & Hove TUC Unemployed Centre

    Caroline Lucas MP

    Amanda Sebestyen Writer

    Paul Smith Atos Victims Group

    Holly Smith (President) Brighton and Hove Trades Union Council

    Brighton Keep Our NHS Public

    Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition

    Brighton Disabled People Against Cuts

    Ipswich Unemployed Action

    Disabled People Against Cuts

    False Economy

    Southampton United for Pensions and Public Services

    National Coalition for Independent Action

    Redhill Coalition Against Cuts

    Lewes Stop the Cuts

    Art Uncut

    DLA Help Group

    The Broken of Britain

    Winvisible

    Suffolk Coalition for Public Services

    Queer Resistance

    Newport Trades Union Council

    Cornwall Anti Cuts Alliance

    Cornwall Disabled People Against Cuts

    Oxford Save Our Services

    Kilburn Unemployed Workers

    Those who have signed

    Andrew Coates

    September 12, 2011 at 9:53 am

  2. Either we stand up to these bullies or we are assisting them with their despicable programmes

    Bernie in England

    September 19, 2011 at 1:22 am

  3. About bloody time there was some movement on this dispicable gvernment exercise in bullying the dusenfranchisedthat even franz kafka would have had problems imagining in his fertile mind…….i have been seen twice within one calender year by this company ..second time got usual threat that if i did not turn up my benefit could be cut…..i arrive at 2pm to be told there is at least a 2 and half hour delay as one of examiners off sick…the paradox and irony of this bizarre situation waz not lost on people not least cos many of us had conflicting family responsibilities which were now being comprimised by this ironic twist of circumstances….and the govt wonder why atos staff feel threatened…..! This is incidentally after 1 hr journey from hatfield to luton…utter natonal disgrace…….steve del monte

    steve del monte

    February 25, 2014 at 1:33 pm


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