Disability assessments and dignity – must they always be mutually exclusive?

A note for Atos.

Nobody is libelling you here but, equally, we, in the disabled community, have every right to criticise and question what we perceive to be a deeply defective system, and one which has a staggeringly malign influence on our lives. Atos – you are NOT exempt from criticism. Nobody is.

Sue Marsh, towards the end of the first part of this blog post says vis-à-vis disability assessments:-

“It didn’t used to be like this. There was a respect, a sense that you deserved a little dignity.”

Damn right!

When I applied for my Mobility Allowance (which pre-dated DLA), in 1986, I asked for a home assessment – and I got one. By a genuine, if retired, GP, with the experience and knowledge not to care that I still had the arm-muscles of someone who’d been a biker since his teens, or the leg muscles of a former rambler, backpacker and cyclist – muscles take time to waste.

He gave me such a rigorous going-over it put me in bed for three days. He also tried to take me for a walk, but abandoned the idea after a few yards as totally unfeasible.

A few weeks later I got the Higher Rate, awarded until my seventies (changed, with the introduction of DLA, to indefinitely).

And, at the risk of attracting the ire of Atos, I would far rather risk being  put in bed for a few days by somebody who actually knows what he’s doing, and cares enough to make a thorough and competent assessment – I almost said “honest” but apparently that’s not allowed now –  than submit to some box-ticking numpty who, in all probability, holds the unfortunates whose lives s/he screws with in the utmost contempt, as has been revealed on Facebook of late.

We must surely have a pool of retired GPs on which to draw, so why isn’t the DWP utilising their experience, instead of paying hundreds of millions to an IT company? IT, for pity’s sake! Not even a medical organisation – since when did a facility with computers translate into medical competence? Then, at least, we would have medically competent assessments that aren’t constantly overturned on appeal (because there would be less need for appeals), and genuine accountability. Probably much better value for money, too.

Just sayin’


A somewhat different version appears in Sue Marsh’s blog comments.

4 thoughts on “Disability assessments and dignity – must they always be mutually exclusive?

  1. Why has it changed? Because we are no longer considered as people, we are figures and figures that don’t add up neatly enough for Government, and here’s the truth of the matter, I was told by an MP that this Government could not afford the penalties that they would face were they to cancel the ATOS contract!

    • That’s possible, but if they terminated Atos on the grounds of incompetence – not too hard a case to make! – I don’t see a problem. The thing is, of course, that the government, or at least IDS, Cameron, and Osborne are happy for Atos to do their dirty work for them.

      Why has it changed? I don’t know, but I believe Cameron is the culprit, judging all disabled people against his dead son. If they are not as bad as he was, they re not disabled. I also think he is, in some perverse way, punishing disabled people for still being alive. As I’ve been saying on my blog for quite a while, the disabled have become the untermenschen of the 2ist century, our position is now directly analogous to that of the Jews in Nazi Germany in the mid Thirties – official, Government-sanctioned, hate figures.

      And we all know how that worked out.

  2. Ron. THANK YOU for being brave enough to talk about Cameron’s attitude in terms of his disabled son.

    Yes, any child dying is a tragedy, but punishing other disabled for it is not acceptable.

    You get this A LOT in the autism community. Those autistic people, (mainly autistic adults) such as myself and many of my autie friends are frequently criticised by parents of so-called “severely” autistic children as they seem to suggest that we are not like their child, so we are not really autistic!

    For goodness sake! Autism is a wide spectrum, and you only have to look at Michelle Dawson’s work to see that ‘functioning labels’ are nonsense as there is no acutal consensus as to what is ‘severe’, ‘moderate’, or ‘high-functioning’ autism.

    Also, a fair proportion of the autistic adults with whom the aforementioned parents have a problem are people who were at some point diagnosed ‘severely autistic’ or ‘severely disturbed’ etc. It is a simple fact that as these children grow into adults, concepts of functioning labels become more fluid as the kind of clear developmental milestones that are used to measure child development don’t exist for adults, and also innovations in technology and AAC have brought about many positive changes for auties.

    It seems that if a disabled person has an opinion and tries to speak / communicate for themselves, or just somehow stand up for themselves and speak out against injustices, they are automatically considered to be ‘not genuinely disabled’ as surely true disabled people would just keep quiet and be grateful for the pittance they get.

    I can only speak for my experience in the autistic online community, but there is a lot of ‘not-like-my-child-ism’ happening which is used to discount autistic adults.

    To have a PM who has this philosophy is incredibly worrying. Trying to punish us for (supposedly) being better off than his son is ridiculous and actually very disturbing.

    Yes, it is a tragedy, but creating other potential tragedies is hardly the solution and is very disturbing.

    • Most people form opinions based on events in their own lives (not exclusively, but to a considerable extent), and I simply can’t see what else could have influenced Cameron in his malign attitudes toward the disabled which, in fact, have hardened noticeably over the past year. He quite clearly has a grudge against the disabled – where else could it have originated?

      Atos are routinely pilloried by the blogging community – and they do leave rather a lot to be desired – but they are simply implementing policies which originate in government, and we’re back to Cameron again. He’s the boss, and nothing happens without his knowledge or approval.

      It’s not really a hard sell.


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