If ever there was a tragic example of the overall incompetence of government funded Atos, the death of Linda Woodman must be one.
Linda Woodman, 49, received a double lung and heart transplant which left her with severe health complications which meant she was unable to work.
Despite having regular blackouts and high blood pressure as a result of the transplant, Atos ruled that she was fit for work, even though Linda had to give up her job at the local council because of her symptoms and the effect of being on 10 different medications a day.
Linda has her first transplant in 1985, and had to have another one in 1989 because her body had rejected the first transplanted organs.
As part of the government policy of supposedly ‘getting tough’ on welfare, Linda had her benefits cut in February of this year as a result of an Atos medical and losing her appeal against the decision.
On 24th April this year, Linda passed away in hospital after learning that her benefits were being stopped all together.
In an article in the Daily Mail, Linda’s husband, Peter, said “I sat there and listened to my wife drown in her own body fluids. It took half an hour for her to die; a woman who is apparently fit for work.”
In the same Daily Mail article a DWP spokesman said ‘A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough assessment, and after consideration of all supporting medical evidence.’
It is common knowledge that the DWP does NOT take into account all medical evidence. Reports by professional medical experts are ignored in favour of the uninformed opinion of some unqualified desk jockey.
There was a case not long ago where a woman suffered sleepiness as the result of medication. The person she spoke to at the DWP – who was totally unqualified – told her to go to her GP and get them changed!
The Daily Mail also reported that in November last year it was revealed a heart patient was told he was fit for work – just a day after a double heart bypass operation.
Danny Shurmer, 60, received the letter from a healthcare firm working on behalf of the Government as he recovered in the intensive care unit of Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital.
Mr Shurmer’s employment and support allowance – a benefit which has replaced incapacity benefit – was later stopped. It was only restarted after he went to a tribunal.
Despite the horrendous record of Atos, the government have taken no initiative to make sure realistic and professional decisions are made about the people Atos assess. Perhaps this is because the government don’t give a damn provided statistical targets are reached.
To purposely ignore highly qualified medical professionals expert opinions and reports is just unbelievably ridiculous. The government are treating these professionals as collaborators to defraud the benefit system – yet these are the people who are genuinely providing accurate information on the person’s ability to work.
Atos don’t give a damn either. As long as they continue to meet their government set targets as part of their £400 million plus deal they will do whatever it takes. And if that means people suffering and dying as a result they seem very happy with their lot.
Let’s not forget that Atos has their fingers in a lot of other government pies as well, including a very lucrative computer contract with some government departments.
No doubt that many a palm has been greased to ensure Atos were successful in their bid and to be able to keep milking the cash cow.