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When claimant Daniel Marshall arrived for his Personal Independence Payment assessment he was already stressed and anxious. This isn’t unusual.
Disability assessments are at best stressful stressful, and, more often than not, extremely traumatic experiences for many disabled people.
Thanks to decades of despicably anti-working class ‘scrounger’ rhetoric within the media and political establishment, many disabled claimants have been made to feel like they have to ‘prove’ they’re not lying about their conditions.
So when Mr Marshall turned up for his assessment, he probably wasn’t expecting to suffer a series of severe ‘grand mal’ epileptic fits within minutes of beginning.
Most shockingly, however, is that when he did suffer a series of severe epileptic fits during his disability assessment, Marshall’s wife claims the assessor simply continued asking questions whilst her husband lay fitting on the floor.
The seizures were so severe that it is claimed they ’caused violent convulsions and led the father-of-two to bite his tongue and begin to bleed from his mouth.’
According to Mr Marshall’s wife Sinitta, once the convulsions had subsided, the assessor stepped outside the room, called her boss for advice, and then asked if she could continue the assessment. At the same time the assessor is also alleged to have reminded Sinitta that her husband would receive no PIP if he was unable to complete the assessment.
As Sinitta described it;
We feel like she may as well have prodded his twitching body with her foot while still taking notes.
During his first set of seizures, Mr Marshall is said to have lost control of his bladder and wet himself – a common symptom in grand mal seizures. After the second series had finished, the assessor is alleged to have continued asking questions. A third series of fits after the assessment saw Mr Marshall taken to hospital.
Incredibly, despite having witnessed these seizures, the government-employed assessor, according to Mr Marshall, didn’t think to include them in the report she sent to the DWP.
The DWP disputes the Marshall’s account, stating;
Following a review of this case we do not recognize the account that has been provided and no complaint has been received.
Tory Welfare Policy; Admired by a few, hated by the many.
ATOS, one of the private companies contracted by the Department of Work and Pensions, has a shocking reputation for both the quality and accuracy of its assessments.
Its work has been roundly slammed by advocacy groups, disability organisations, as well as the Parliamentary Work and Pensions Committee.
Stories of assessors with no specialist qualifications assessing claimants with multiple, and severely complex interlinked conditions are rife. Furthermore, accusations of assessors simply inventing manifestly inaccurate assessment statements are equally numerous.
Seemingly cruel decisions based on these assessments are also commonplace. Complaints about PIP assessments, including those alleging flagrant dishonesty from ‘health professionals’ conducting assessments have shot up in recent years.
Unfortunately for claimants, their claims are usually decided by the DWP based solely on these assessments. If, as so many have claimed, assessments are often inaccurate, dishonest or otherwise unacceptable, it’s almost always the most vulnerable claimants who suffer the most.
This comes after recent confirmation of the DWP’s 80% quota for refusing Mandatory Reconsiderations (MR). Until recently, the DWP had an 80% target for refusing to change the original decisions reviewed in MRs. However, this deeply flawed target was scrapped after huge pressure from disability campaigners and the Work and Pensions Select Committee who argued that such a target couldn’t possibly be compatible with producing fair and accurate assessments.
ATOS; Not the only problem.
This despicable level of dishonesty and injustice isn’t simply confined to ATOS. Maximus and Capita have also come under similar fire.
According to the Committee for Work and Pensions, neither ATOS or Capita has, at any point during their PIP contract, met the maximum 3% target for assessments deemed unacceptable. Indeed, Capita’s own internal audit found almost 60% of its assessments were ‘unacceptable.’
Not forgetting, naturally, the UN report describing the UK’s current treatment of the disabled as a ’human catastrophe’ involving ‘grave and systematic violations’ of disabled people’s human rights.
This being the same UN report sneeringly dismissed by disgraced former Cabinet Minister Damian Green – then DWP Secretary – as ‘patronising and offensive’ while claiming current Tory policy supposedly made Britain a ‘world leader in disability rights and equality.’
A few who haven’t been unfortunate enough in life to experience the humiliation of disability assessments may well agree with the likes of Green and his cohorts.
The many, however – especially those suffering under the significant weight of seemingly endless Tory austerity – will almost certainly beg to differ.
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