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The Atos Monologues- 2 – by the Atos Stories Collective

May 31, 2018

Not funny like The Vagina Monologues =- but then again they’re not supposes to be. They are intended to be used wherever it makes sense to read them, at a protest, in a theatre, a pub, a shopping mall. They are intended to be read by people who’ve experienced Atos, people who care for those who’ve experienced Atos, disabled actors, non-disabled actors, and anyone else who wants to spread the word about what is happening right now to disabled and sick people.

It starts with the official line that the new rules are meant to help people beck to work, to help them stop being dependent; cruel to be kind.

Quotations:

As an ESA claimant I was first expected to fill in the 28 page ESA 50 form 28pages!! There is now an electronic form which is just as well, because the paper form is inaccessible. Not only to people with visual impairments, but also to anyone, like me, who is unable to write comfortably or legibly as a result of their disability. Equally the space provided in the form is utterly inadequate for anyone, again like me, who needs to discuss several decades of experience of a complex disability. And whilst someone could potentially fill it in for me, there are details of how my disability affects me that I’m not even comfortable discussing with my specialists, never mind anyone else

My assessment was at the Bradford site which, believe it or not, is in the pedestrian precinct in the city centre! It’s a minimum 60m walk from the nearest road if you don’t mind getting a ticket. There are no parking/no loading restrictions in the area. I told them in the form I would need to travel door-to-door by car – they ignored this.

informed Atos in advance that I would require adjustable seating because of the difficulty in sitting that results from my disability. This is in fact the core of my problems regarding working, so pretty much fundamental to the whole assessment process. They didn’t provide one. I was shown to a waiting room with non-adjustable seating. Completely inappropriate not just for me for all of us with musculo-skeletal, pain and fatigue based disorders. Within seconds of trying the seating I realised I was unable to sit in any comfort. I could only tolerate it by rolling sideways on my hip. After I complained they rearranged the appointment. I returned home having wasted my time and experienced major amounts of pain as result. This pain triggered a massive flare-up in my condition. I spent the next week on the floor of my bathroom, wracked by one muscle-spasm after another, not knowing even what day it was. I eventually managed to get to my GP, who doubled the strength of my opiate painkillers. This brought the flare-up under control, but at the cost of my wandering round in a daze for several months, with no energy or volition. The loss of control in this kind of flare-up is extremely distressing both physically and mentally. I was completely unable to cope with my post, so missed a letter calling me for another assessment. Naturally, I did not attend, I was barely conscious at the time. Atos told the DWP that I hadn’t turned up and my benefits were withdrawn

My pain-management consultant has told me that it is almost impossible to get doctors who are not specialists in pain management to understand how disabling pain is. My assessor was clueless. As the session went on I was in so much pain I was not answering effectively and was not making a strong case for myself. Rather than trying to listen to the details and understand my condition, the doctor seemed to find it irritating.

I was awarded 0 points had to wait 8 weeks for my report, therefore too late to appeal. I was forced to walk to the Job Centre or not be able to claim JSAbenefit. When I told the clerk, I had walked there because my ESA had been cancelled and I had no money, he decided that he couldn’t finish my claim (it was only 4pm), and I would have to come back again the next day. If I did not he would cancel my claim. I was ill and in significant pain for a long time because of his cruelty. They then told Atos and other DWP departments I did not have a problem with walking- twisted evil people.

The nurse who performed my assessment was not trained in mental health – Atos does not employ any mental health nurses, despite “mental and behavioural disorders” being far and away the most claimed for group of illnesses, at around35% of all claims. This has implications both for the amount of people wrongly deemed able to work, and the amount of people able to fool an untrained assessor into declaring them incapable.

It’s online here.

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