#ATOSUni Update 3 – Some good news at last!

ATOS PROTEST BANNER

Image by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty via Flickr

In early September 2011, 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. Since then there has been nary a whisper on the subject; not from anyone other than the few disability campaigners and some of our supporters. Most disturbing of all is that the medical establishment itself has been heartbreakingly silent along with the media.

I was able to raise the issue via email with Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson around the time of the last discussion of the Welfare Reform Bill. She is keen to bring this up in the Lords, but unfortunately the nature of the process is such that the “ideal” moment to query Lord Freud about this has yet to arrive. In the meantime, Atos continues to add to its already sizeable coffers with more government contracts – now inclusive of digitising NHS records.

The lives of people with disabilities is hard enough with Atos & the WRB; but this programme is just the latest insidious manoeuvring by the coalition government & opposition to *not* help as many people as possible. Staying quiet or low-key makes medical establishment complicit in what’s going on. My own personal concerns aside, Atos is gathering strength in taking over responsibilities and functions best left under the auspices of the NHS: the NHS which is jettisoning much-needed hospitals, doctors and nurses no thanks to David Cameron & Andrew Lansley‘s austerity cuts; the NHS which also now has our Big Society Prime Minister peddling charity-driven measures to “improve NHS Nursing”; the NHS that the coalition government is privatising despite the outcry against “reforms” that weren’t on the agenda during the General Election.

As if the hatemongering rhetoric against disabled people wasn’t enough, anti-NHS muckraking has reached epic proportions in some parts of the media. It surely can’t be a coincidence that the tabloids only now seem to care about disabled patients being “let down” by the system when not otherwise castigating us as scroungers and frauds? As usual the great and the good in the great British public rush to agree with incessant horror stories, failing to understand the implications of the NHS being able turning over 50% of its beds to private care in England. Of course this has the enthusiastic backing of private health insurers and big charities salivating as they pontificate about the necessity of overhauling medical and social care, with the latter being little more than a sequel to the already inadequate “Care in the Community” model.

The good news is that least two prominent Twitteratti in the medical establishment don’t seem to think much of #ATOSUni a good sign! One is GP and recent Twitter connection @PeteDeveson. Dr. Deveson was kind enough follow my account and share my last #ATOSUni Update post with his colleagues Anne-Marie Cunningham and Mary McCartney. Dr. 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.

In addition to the support of Dr. Deveson, Dr. McCartney assured me via Twitter today that she will be looking into the #ATOSUni programme next month. Suffice it to say that as the next Lords sitting of the WRB is 11th January and the Welfare and Employment Conference 2012, featuring Department of Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, takes place on 26th January, Dr. McCartney’s much-needed investigation will be not a moment too soon.

Mary McCartney - Twitter

Mary McCartney - Twitter

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Another very disturbing news item this week is about how a government report on how it is implementing the United Nations disability convention fails to include a single mention of how the coalition’s spending cuts and welfare reforms will undermine disabled people’s rights. Continue reading

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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.

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@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.

Pushing for answers re #ATOS Uni Accreditation!

#ESA #WCA – I am pushing for answers from RCN / GMC re their
position on #ATOS Uni Accred http://t.co/2Dffs2Nh – #disability #ukcare #ukmh

(note: mobile post from bed; will elaborate & update later…)

URGENT CALL TO ACTION #WRB

Cross-posted from http://thebrokenofbritain.blogspot.com/2011/09/urgent-appeal-for-action-now.html?m=1

After an incredibly constructive debate yesterday in the House Of Lords the government appear to be concerned about how many Lords had significant concerns about the Welfare Reform Bill, even those Lords who in principle supported the bill had major questions they wanted answers to.

For a bill of this size and importance, convention dictates that the next stage of the bill should be kept in the main chamber of the House of Lords for debate. It’s particularly important the bill be continued to be debated in the main chamber as disability access to the smaller committee rooms is very limited and people will not be able to access the committee rooms to exercise their democratic right to observe the passge of the bill from the public chamber.

At 3.30pm today the govermnent are tabling a motion to move the grand committee stage of the bill into one of the smaller committee rooms. Presumably the government are hoping that by moving a bill into the committee rooms it will be harder to scrutinise – there won’t be enough space in any of the committee rooms to allow for all the Lords to participate, let alone for us to scrutinise online or attend in person.

This is an outrage – the government are clearly concerned by the level of queries and opposition to the Welfare Reform Bill highlighted by yesterday’s debate and wish to quietly sideline it to a committee room where they hope it will pass with less opposition. Tabling the motion for the afternoon following PMQ’s is also an underhand trick as it means it will be harder for us to object through the main stream media.

This is our call to arms. This bill affects us, our families and every aspect of our lives, as well as the lives of those currently paying into the system in anticipation of protection should they require it. If we can make enough noise in the next few hours the government will be forced to keep the passage of the bill in the main chamber of the house of lords where it can be effectively and appropriately scrutinised by all.

What you can do to help is this;

Please post copies of this blog onto your facebook, your twitter, stumbleupon, wikio etc. Please email it to everyone you know, please talk about this on your own blogs. Email or phone your MP to register your objections, email or phone the house of lords to explain your concerns, email or phone the media, local or national and explain that whether or not people are in favour of this bill, that it is a fundamental democratic right to have it debated in the main chamber of the house of lords where there is space for all who wish to attend and observe. Highlight the injustice and hypocrisy of the governments behaviour in trying to sideline this important bill into a room too small for all the Lords to attend and certainly too small to allow those in wheelchairs, or with guide dogs, the very people most affected by this bill to be able to observe from the public gallery.

If we make enough noise before 3.30pm today the government will have to drop this underhand tactic and the Bill will continue to be debated in the main chamber of the House of Lords where everyone who wishes to can attend and observe.

By @BendyGirl of @BrokenofBritain

thebrokenofbritain.blogspot.com

Ask UNUM FAQ: Atos, WCA, CardiffU and Biopsychosocial Model

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

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

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Atos Origin is a French IT firm privately contracted by the UK government to carry out health ‘assessments’ for both ESA WCA and DLA. I have had to go through both processes and will be adding a section here comparing the two – they were as different as night and day to my everlasting surprise.

Important  Notes to be expanded upon

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