Please sign & share the petition to investigate Atos PIP assessments.
Now this one is of particular interest to me as I have suffered from anxiety for the last 2 years, both during employment with, and after resigning from Atos. I have a full medical history, have been sectioned (fortunately only over night, but incompetently by 3 police officers who used the wrong section after entering my house illegally), I am currently seeing a psychiatrist every 6 weeks, yet I know that due to the lack of appropriate mental health training at Atos; it would be virtually impossible to gain an award.
As I have pointed out on numerous occasions through my other channels, it took me 3 years (plus a foundation year) just to be able to call myself a physiotherapist; yet Atos believe that 10 days of training on the assessment and report writing process, plus documents like this, make physios, paramedics, nurses and occupational therapists competent to make calls on serious mental health conditions. About 14 years ago, I made a bit of a hash of my life and suffered moderate depression, I learnt more about mental health through that episode, than any of the “training” offered by Atos. Since April 2017, that knowledge and empathy has skyrocketed.
Now here’s the problem, the vast majority of assessors don’t have that level of personal experience to make up for the lack of training. I am normally one of the most outgoing and confident people you could meet, & slowly, I’m getting back there. But for the best part of a year, I have not been able to leave the house for anything other than the most urgent reasons. What Atos will do at assessment is use the fact that you are at assessment to say you can’t be that bad. The assessor uses a series of drop down boxes to give their opinion on how well you looked, how you were dressed, how “kempt” or “unkempt” you appeared. So whilst you may have been tearful for part of the assessment, if for the majority, you were able to hold it together, they will select “coped well”.
I know from personal experience that when suffering from anxiety (and many other mental health conditions), that memory and concentration can be badly impaired. The may use some spurious tests such as can you take 7 way from 100 (93), can you take 7 away from 93 (86) etc, and use things like this to justify that your cognition is not impaired.
Support organisations & charities that may offer help;
Anxiety UK (https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/) Mind the Mental Health Charity (https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/anxiety-and-panic-attacks/) Young Minds (https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/conditions/anxiety/) No Panic (https://www.nopanic.org.uk/) Social Anxiety NHS (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/social-anxiety/)
Most importantly, if you are struggling, having thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself, find someone to talk to or contact the Samaritans(https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/contact-us) Telephone 116 113 (UK or ROI)
As with all claimant’s I recommend you take an advocate with you to any & all assessments, appeals and tribunal. This can be anyone, ideally, if you have a social or support worker, take them, but even a family member can be useful to take notes, ask questions and ensure you are not put under undue pressure. I did assessments with the claimant, plus 2 or 3 people to support them. Don’t forget, you are entitled to record the assessment but Atos will make this very difficult, due to the need for the use of a device which is immediately able to make 2 identical copies on cassette or CD. The assessor (at the time I resigned), could also refuse to conduct an assessment if it was to be recorded. Bearing in mind, on my first day on the job, I said I’d be happy if the whole of every consultation was recorded. You’d think Atos would want to have some really good reason why an assessor wouldn’t want to be recorded no?
And here’s the link for the anxiety disorder training appendix