#ATOSUni Campaign Update No. 4: Enter Margaret McCartney

 

ATOS PROTEST BANNER
Image by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty via Flickr

 

Great news!

As promised to me in my last ATOSUni Campaign Update, today on Twitter @mgtmccartney has sounded the klaxon calling for nurses who have taken part in Derby University-Atos training to speak to her in confidence.

M. McCartney Twitter Screenshot
@mgtmccartney, Twitter

Margaret McCartney is the GP who sensationally added to the Atos maelström with her British Medical Journal feature “Well enough to work” in which she investigated the ethics and fairness of the disability assessment process. #ATOSuni will be part of a planned follow-up and Dr. McCartney can be contacted privately via e-mail at margaret@margaretmccartney.com.

#ATOSUni has yet to hit mainstream consciousness even with the Machiavellian farce that is the House of Lords Welfare Reform Bill discussions and voting lead by Investment Banker Lord Freud. A testament to just how badly the decks are stacked against people with disabilities and benefits recipients in general are the Welfare and Employment Conference 2012, featuring Department of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, which takes place on 26th January and Lord Freud’s “Of Mutual Benefit Launch” Demos event held in March 2011. The latter is all the more odious as it was “a privte, invitation-only roundtable taking place under Chatham House rule in the Wilson Room, Portcullis House, House of Commons”.

I can but hope that Dr. McCartney is able to make inroads where I have not.

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Scrounging Statistics and Soundbites No. 1 #WRB #Benefits #ukpolitics

New to the blog: a Category for Facts & Figures. Factchecking prompted by disablist Labour loyalists spouting right-wing tabloid rhetoric about benefit fraud. Especially disturbing as one fronts a Think Tank.

It’s important to note that tax credits have left half of working families dependent on welfare and stuck in menial, demoralising jobs that don’t pay a proper living wage. 

Tax Credits, themselves a Benefit, are a subsidy for employers making it easy for them to maximise profits and  perpetuates disenfranchisement that’s very difficult to escape.

Continue reading

@CreativeCrip #ATOSUni Campaign Update

Earlier this month ATOS Healthcare, a subsidiary of French IT firm Atos Origin, quietly made it known that they had joined forces with University of Derby – Corporate to accredit training for Atos Nurses. Their Certificate of Achievement – Disability Analysis will give Nurses 30 of 120 credits required for a BSC (Hons) in Nursing.

It is important to note that just a few days after the ATOS-Derby announcement, The Green Party called for the removal of ATOS from benefits assessments.

There are many concerns about this alliance and  programme that need addressing. It is even more imperative in the aftermath of the Second Reading of the Welfare Reform Bill in the House of Lords and subsequent push by the Liberal Democrats to amend the WRB time-limiting ESA stipulation at this year’s Party Conference that we get much-needed answers.

  • The Coalition’s Secretary for Work & Pensions Iain Duncan-Smith & Disability Minister Maria Miller have been conspicuously quiet on this matter as have the Liberal Democrats and Labour Opposition. Again, only The Green Party has specifically addressed the growing concern of ATOS’s questionable practices and called for the French IT firm to be completely removed from benefits assessments.
  • The ATOS-Derby press release implied that ATOS Healthcare is fully in control of the methodology by which ESA & DLA medical assessments are carried out. 
  • How is it that what really amounts to little more than corporate “in-house” training (namely medical “observation” at ATOS centres & getting to grips with the ATOS LIMA computer system ) can be
    1. professionally accredited and
    2. comprise 25% of a BSc (Hons) nursing degree (30 of 120 credits)
  • If the Department of Work & Pensions is in total control, then surely the process should be opened up to more than a single “Provider”, as with there other government-outsourced healthcare services? Proposed NHS reforms specifically come to mind along with existing Back To Work programmes (ESA WRAG & JSA)
  • On the basis noted above, would other Providers
    1. have to  adhere to ATOS methodology (including LIMA)
    2. be required to have the ATOS-Derby Certificate
  • As ATOS has mandated this Certificate as a requirement for their nursing staff, who covers the cost of the programme – them or their employee?
  • Conversely, how would the same apply to other Providers and their employees if lumbered with ATOS as the official DWP overseer?

Even with the proposed amendments to the WRB, the deck is still being stacked against people with disabilities with this ATOS-Derby alliance and the related nursing certification. This in spite of Harrington himself finding ATOS-driven benefits assessments “unfit for purpose”.  It is interesting to note that many universities around the globe offer either specialist disability training as part of a nursing degree or as a standalone specialist nursing  qualification, so far not one them has partnered with a profiteering IT corporation influencing government policies which themselves are driven by anti-welfare disablist ideology.

Note: 

Thank you to Mark Brown (@MarkOneInFour) for his feedback on Twitter and kotaatok for their comment. on my original post. I attempted to raise this with several media contacts; will be vigorously pursuing to raise awareness.

Atos – University Accreditation in “Disability Analysis”

The latest announcement from Atos Healthcare could be perceived as a rather cynical bid to add credibility to the contentious health exams it carries out for the DWP.

The subsidiary of French IT firm Atos Origin has joined forces with University of Derby – Corporate to accredit training for Atos Nurses. Their Certificate of Achievement – Disability Analysis will give Nurses 30 of 120 credits required for a BSC (Hons) in Nursing. Continue reading

MUST READ: New Labour, the market state, and the end of welfare #Atos

A very illuminating paper by Jonathan Rutherford published in 2007 examines the tenuous links between government and the insurance industry “in their joint project to reduce eligibility for sickness benefits.”  For anyone not entirely clear on the role of private contractors like Atos Origin administering State welfare programmes, this is a useful primer.

New Labour, the market state, and the end of welfare

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