Those poor folk at ATOS appear to be working the bank holiday as I have just received a response to the complaint I did not make!
On 24th May ATOS issued the following letter in respect to my last email to them, outlined in my previous blog-post, ATOS & DWP question whether disabled can go abroad.
Dear Mr Hunter
Thank you for your recent communication, in which you expressed concerns regarding your application for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
An investigation will now take place into the issues you have raised and we aim to complete our investigation within 20 working days. However, if the investigation takes longer than anticipated I will continue to update you of our progress.
Should you have any queries in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact our customer service team on the above telephone number or myself at the address below.
Client Relations Officer
PIP Customer Relations
PO Box 1006
Today's response is:
Dear Mr Hunter
Thank you for your email, in which you express your concerns with regard to your application for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
As part of Atos Healthcare’s commitment to provide a service of the highest standard, it is important that we continue to be open and receptive to the views of those whose lives are affected by the service that we provide. I am, therefore, grateful for your feedback.
I understand from your correspondence that after you received a letter for a face to face assessment you contacted the Customer Service Centre and the Agent requested a Home Consultation (HC) which unfortunately was denied.
Home Consultations (HC) are reserved for claimants who do not leave their properties for any reason due to their conditions. In some instances, exceptions can be made to this rule providing that certain criteria can been met. Upon review of your questionnaire, it was established that you were able to travel abroad therefore could attend an Assessment Centre (AC), however you have explained the circumstances behind this and a Paper Based Review (PBR) has been completed after Atos Healthcare spoke with health professionals involved in your care.
I am pleased to tell you that the report has now been completed and returned to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), for a decision to be made. For any further update the DWP can be contacted on 0345 850 33 22.
This concludes the investigation carried out in regards to your complaint. I understand you feel we have not met your expectations during this time and I would like to apologise for
any distress or upset caused; I can assure you this is never our intention. I do hope that any future dealings you may have with our service will not cause you any further concern.
Apparently: "Home Consultations (HC) are reserved for claimants who do not leave their properties for any reason due to their conditions."
What an absurd position!
You can get to a hospital appointment - no HC
You can get to your GP's - no HC
You can get to the dentist - no HC
You can get to the optician - no HC
You can get to the podiatrist - no HC
You can get to the physiotherapist - no HC
You can be wheeled out for a breath of fresh air - no HC
Such absolutist stances are disablist and contrary to common-sense. No account is taken of fluctuating conditions; the need for medication prior to, during and post appointments, nor their effects on one's mental capabilities; the ability or not to travel over distance; the amount of stress, whether physical &/or emotional; the need for support to attend appointments; the ability to travel on public-transport; and so on.
And note: I only got somewhere because I had the gumption to stand up for myself and wrote back to ATOS pointing out the stupidity of their position. Most folk would probably have done as instructed, i.e. refer back to the DWP. At the point where I raised the possibility that attending a medical examination centre would not be possible, ATOS ought then to have acted pro-actively and contacted my medics for their medical opinions. I had to press them to do so.
Health is not black and white: if x then y. It is innumerable shades of grey: if a then b or c or d or…
ATOS' standard of healthcare is illogical, unreasonable and contrary to common-sense and additionally costs the tax-payers of the country each time they carry out a review. As I stated previously, if ATOS returns cases to the DWP, they can then claim a further payment for a further review.
Scotland is getting rid of private contractors from the social security system. It's about time England followed suite!