A nurse working for the controversial outsourcing company Atos Healthcare repeatedly lied about a disabled man he was assessing for the government’s new disability benefit it has been claimed.The Atos assessor stated in his report that claimant Colin Stupples-Whyley had attended the personal independence payment (PIP) assessment alone, even though his partner David* had sat with him throughout the interview.The couple, who arrived by car, had been accompanied by a friend, who stayed in the waiting-room, but the nurse claimed that Stupples-Whyley had travelled alone to the assessment in Barking on 5 June by public transport.The allegations raise fresh concerns about the decision of work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith to award two lucrative PIP assessment contracts to Atos, when the company had already been heavily and repeatedly criticised for its performance in delivering “fitness for work” assessments.Atos was allowed to pull out of that contract early after activists pointed to links between the way it carried out the assessments, and relapses, episodes of self-harm, and even premature deaths among those being assessed.But its performance on the two PIP assessment contracts in the two years since the new benefit was launched has plunged Atos back into controversy.Only last month, Disability News Service (DNS) reported how the proportion of disabled people stuck in the queue to be assessed for PIP was more than five times higher in parts of the country managed by Atos, compared with those in areas managed by rival outsourcing giant Capita.Stupples-Whyley, from Grays, Essex, has been able to prove that he was not alone at his PIP assessment by obtaining a copy of part of the Atos signing-in book under data protection legislation. The page shows his signature, as well as those of David and their friend.Stupples-Whyley has agoraphobia, general anxiety disorder, depression, fibromyalgia, and diabetes, but he said the impact of these impairments on his day-to-day life was completely misrepresented by the assessor.The report claims he was able to do sums and spell a word backwards, neither of which he said he was asked to do in the assessment.He provided a long list of his diabetes symptoms, but the nurse simply wrote down “urinates a lot”.He also had a panic attack during the assessment, but that was not mentioned in the nurse’s report.Among other inaccuracies, the assessor stated in the report that a counsellor had diagnosed his mental health conditions, despite being told it was a psychiatrist.Stupples-Whyley claims that the entire section of the form devoted to a physical examination supposedly carried out by the nurse was completely fabricated, as no such test took place.The nurse repeatedly claims on the form that difficulties reported by Stupples-Whyley were “inconsistent” with the findings of his assessment.As a result, he scored zero points on the test and was found ineligible for PIP, while the DWP confirmed that decision after he asked for it to be reconsidered.Stupples-Whyley said the assessment was “very unpleasant” and that the nurse had become “very rude and disrespectful” after he learned that David was his civil partner.He said: “The atmosphere was awful throughout and he was more interested in telling us why I wouldn’t get benefit. He would try and put words into my mouth, and he disputed anything I said.”He added: “I went to the assessment very naive and trusting. I had asked to be seen first or last so that I didn’t have to wait in the waiting room with lots of people.“When I arrived this had not happened, so I was already very anxious before we went in.“I honestly thought I would have the assessment, they would obtain my medical records to verify what I had said, then they would or wouldn’t grant PIP payment.”He now plans to insist that any future benefit assessment is recorded.He said: “I have no trust in Atos or DWP at all now. I feel angry that lies have been told, I feel angry that DWP refused to even investigate Atos when I said the report was fraudulent.“I feel hurt that the people I believed to be there to help people are in fact just a department that does everything in its power not to pay any money to claimants.“I just never in a million years expected to be treated the way I have.”Because of the experience, his psychiatrist has had to increase his mental health medication.Stupples-Whyley said he had become “obsessed” with his PIP experience, which had left him determined to prove that he was not a liar.He said he felt “huge relief” when he received the paperwork that proved all three of them had visited Atos Barking on the day of the assessment.He said: “I have found the whole complaints process overwhelming. DWP take no responsibility and in a few days’ time it will be two months and still no response from anyone at Atos.“The overall affect for me is that my world has just got even smaller, because now I do not trust government nor healthcare providers to have my best interests at heart, nor to act with honesty.”He plans to appeal to a tribunal, and his MP, Jackie Doyle-Price, has written to Atos to request a fresh assessment.Today (Thursday), two days after DNS contacted the company’s press office about his story, Stupples-Whyley was telephoned by Atos to inform him that his complaint was now being treated at the most serious level of internal inquiries.He was told that he would be interviewed soon about his complaint, and was offered a reassessment.An Atos spokeswoman only provided a comment on the condition that DNS did not name the nurse.She said in the statement: “A complaint was received by us from Mr Stupples-Whyley a few weeks after his assessment. It has been thoroughly investigated and we have spoken to him directly.“In the interests of fairness and transparency we have offered Mr Stupples-Whyley a reassessment.“It is distressing for all concerned that Mr Stupples-Whyley is so unhappy about his assessment and we are sorry that this is the case. All complaints to us are taken seriously and thoroughly investigated.”But she has refused to confirm that the investigation is ongoing, if any disciplinary action has been taken against the nurse, whether the nurse is still carrying out assessments for Atos, and whether Atos accepts that Stupples-Whyley did not attend the assessment alone.*Not his real name
Urgent action is needed to address the plight of tens of thousands of mental health service-users who are subjected to detention and compulsory treatment under “intrinsically discriminatory” legislation, according to a leading disabled expert.Dr Rachel Perkins pointed to figures which show that the number of detentions under the Mental Health Act (MHA) rose by its highest proportion in 2014-15, to more than 58,000.This compared with 44,000 people in 2007-08, and less than 22,000 in 1987-88.Perkins (pictured) told Disability Rights UK’s annual conference in north London that MHA “deprives people of their human rights” and is “a law that only applies to you if you are deemed to have a mental health disorder”, but few if any organisations have been campaigning to address that discrimination.Perkins, vice-chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s disability committee, a senior consultant with Implementing Recovery through Organisational Change (ImROC), and herself a mental health service-user, said the issue would be raised with the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities.Evidence of the discriminatory nature of mental health legislation will be included in the shadow report being compiled by Disability Rights UK and other disabled people’s organisations on the UK’s implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.Perkins said the dominant narrative in mental health was the need for better access to treatment, and for service-users to be more open about their impairments.But she said the discriminatory Mental Health Act meant that people with mental distress were at risk of being locked up, forcibly treated and injected with drugs, even though most of them have the capacity to refuse or consent to treatment.There were more than 4,500 community treatment orders (CTOs) in 2014-15, compared with about 4,100 in 2009-10, the first full year after CTOs were introduced by the Labour government in 2008.The original estimates suggested there would only be 400 to 600 CTOs a year, she said.Perkins told the conference that Labour had argued that CTOs would lead to fewer people with mental health conditions being locked up, but detention had instead continued to rise.She said: “This should have reduced the number of people in hospital. It hasn’t.“The number of times we have used this law to detain people in hospital has gone up and up and up.”In 2014-15, she said, there were 58,000 occasions on which “we locked people up in hospital and injected them against their will, the largest increase ever seen in a year.“It’s getting serious and it’s getting much, much worse.”She pointed to research in The Lancet from 2013 which showed that the use of CTOs “does not confer patient benefits, despite substantial curtailment of individual freedoms”.She told the conference: “CTOs do not benefit people in any way.“We cannot talk about independent living while there is a whole class of disabled people for whom a completely separate law applies.”Perkins told the conference that once people are seen as having a health condition rather than being a disabled person they can become “trapped” and subject to “medical interventions, charity and good works”.And she said that people with mental health conditons have not seen the advances in rights enjoyed by other disabled people, and are still often forced into institutions, with only 60 per cent of people using mental health services having a “secure and stable place to live”.She told Disability News Service later that the issue was causing “huge amounts of distress” among service-users.She said: “People are extremely angry about it. People see themselves as doing something wrong, as being prisoners; they see mental health services as policing their treatment, rather than providing support.“Where do people turn to for help if those people supposed to be helping them just end up forcing them to [take medication]?”She added: “It feels to me that what has happened is we have moved towards the right to treatment and that has substituted for the right to life, the right to participate.“They are talking about parity of esteem for mental health services and not parity of esteem for people who experience mental health challenges.”And many CTOs lead eventually to service-users being recalled into detention, she said.She added: “I think there’s a reluctance for anyone to take [this issue] on because there is still some emotion that people with mental health problems are going to be dangerous and therefore we need to protect everybody or protect people from themselves – very much ‘looking after’ rather than a rights-based narrative.”She said the “disability world was still not seeing mental health as a core part of its business”, so the issue was not taken up.She added: “I don’t think there is a large, social-model, rights-based mental health movement.“My sadness is there has never been a joint working between the mental health world and the disability rights world, as there has been in other parts of the world. In Britain it still seems really separate.”
The latest attempts by politicians and charities to push for a solution to the social care funding crisis risk ignoring the voices of service-users, according to disabled campaigners.They spoke out as representatives of the social care and health sector and a cross-party group of MPs tried to put further pressure on the government over the need for more funding.An open letter to the prime minister, signed by 75 individuals and organisations across the health and social care sector, was published on the same day that Liberal Democrat shadow health secretary Norman Lamb issued a joint statement from cross-party MPs that warned of “very serious” consequences if the government did not take immediate action to deal with the “unsustainable strain” on the NHS and the social care system.Lamb then raised the issue at this week’s prime minister’s questions, and Theresa May agreed to meet his group of MPs.Both the open letter – drafted originally by the older people’s charity Independent Age – and the MPs’ statement call on the government to establish a cross-party review of health and social care funding.But Professor Peter Beresford (pictured), co-chair of the national service-user network Shaping Our Lives, and the Independent Living Strategy Group (ILSG) both spoke out this week to warn that disabled people and other service-users needed to be at the centre of any such discussions and reviews.ILSG, chaired by the disabled crossbench peer Baroness [Jane] Campbell and whose members include Shaping Our Lives, says in its open letter to the prime minister that, while it supports the call for a cross-party review, there is a “need to ensure that the people who use such support are central to, and have opportunity to influence any proposed settlement”.It adds: “We are our own experts on the support we need and therefore we must be included in any discussion.”In the wake of continuing emphasis by politicians and the media on the care needs of older people, the ILSG letter also points out that a third of social care spending supports working-age disabled people.Beresford told Disability News Service that he was unhappy with the failure to put service-users and carers “fully and equally” at the heart of the Independent Age letter.He said: “They don’t call for the constituencies that are most affected by this crisis – the people that are dying as a result – for their involvement in it.”And he was critical of the decision of Helena Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, one of the organisations to sign the Independent Age letter, to accept a CBE in last week’s new year honours.He said: “How can you be part of a carers’ organisation in 2017 when you know what is being done to disabled people and carers and accept a CBE?”Beresford also said there was no point discussing social care “in isolation”, without also examining welfare reform and housing.He said there had been “minimal” involvement of service-users in social care policy development over the last six years.He agreed that there had to be “a root and branch review” but that it must be “inclusive”of user-led organisations, disabled people’s organisations, carers’ groups, trade unions and organisations of social care professionals, and must include them “on equal terms”.He said he was concerned that any inquiry might instead be tilted too much in favour of other “very powerful interests”.He said: “Without the stakeholders… you can’t provide the right answer and it’s as simple as that, and it’s got to be a long-term answer.”Beresford said there had been a history over the last 20 years of politicians “avoiding biting the bullet” on social care funding.He said that funding social care adequately would be cost-effective because it would cut costs in so many other areas, while the only acceptable solution was to do so alongside the introduction of a progressive system of general taxation.But he said that increasing funding for social care was not the only answer to the “desperate crisis”, because any solution also needed to address the culture of social care.There needs to be both an appropriate person-centred culture as well as adequate funding, he said, and added: “Anything else is just tinkering at the edges.”
SAINTS have announced their squad for Friday’s Super League home opener against Hull FC.Nathan Brown names the same 19 that featured against Warrington last week.They are:1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Jordan Turner, 4. Josh Jones, 5. Adam Swift, 6. Lance Hohaia, 7. Luke Walsh, 9. James Roby, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 11. Sia Soliola, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Willie Manu, 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 16. Kyle Amor, 17. Paul Wellens, 18. Alex Walmsley, 22. Mark Percival, 24. Gary Wheeler, 27. Greg Richards.Lee Radford will choose his Hull FC side from:3. Ben Crooks, 4. Kirk Yeaman, 5. Tom Lineham, 6. Richard Horne, 7. Jacob Miller, 8. Mickey Paea, 9. Danny Houghton, 11. Gareth Ellis, 13. Joe Westerman, 14. Richard Whiting, 15. Joe Arundel, 16. Jordan Thompson, 20. Jamie Shaul, 22. Josh Bowden, 26. Iafeta Palea’aesina, 32. Jordan Rankin, 33. Aaron Heremaia, 34. Fetuli Talanoa, 35. Garreth Carvell.The game kicks off at 8pm and the referee will be Richard Silverwood.Tickets remain on sale for the big game from the Ticket Office at Langtree Park, by calling 01744 455 052 or by logging on here.Stat Pack:Richard Whiting has scored a try in each of Hull FC’s last three meetings with St Helens.Super League Summary:St Helens won 24 (includes win in 2006 Grand Final & wins in 2001 and 2006 play-offs)Hull FC won 103 drawsUps and Downs:St Helens highest score: 74-16 (H, 1999) (also widest margin)Hull FC highest score: 44-6 (H, 2005) (also widest margin)Career Milestones:Paul Wellens remains one point short of 1,000 for his career.He has scored 953 points (218 tries, 40 goals, 1 field goal) for St Helens since 1998.He has also scored points for Great Britain (18 – 4 tries, 1 goal), England (16 – 4 tries) and Lancashire (12 – 3 tries).
For all the latest from the game, click on the Match Centre button to follow the feed and enjoy exclusive content throughout the 80 minutes! The game kicks off at 8pm and team news will arrive from about 6:45pm!