Our pantomime version of Atos Healthcare’s infamous computerised assessment
12 noon on Saturday 5 February outside Churchill Square in Brighton
Brighton Benefits Campaign has joined an emerging national campaign against the methods used by the DWP’s private contractor Atos Healthcare to assess people for sickness benefits.
In 2005 this medical IT company, then called Atos Origin, introduced a computer system to assess claimants’ incapacity to work. Atos’ system, the ‘Logical Integrated Medical Assessment’ (LiMA) is now known to make assessments impersonal and mechanistic and to create illogical and often surreal ‘medical’ reports.
More than one Social Security judge has noted with alarm that Atos’ computer-based reports did not reflect what the claimants had actually said and contained ‘nonsensical statements’. Examples of unfair or surreal sentences used by LiMA against real claimants are: ‘the customer usually can do light gardening for 1 minutes’, ‘the customer can take adequate care of his goldfish’, ‘customer does pottery all day’ (of a claimant who told the assessor she was pottering about), and ‘the client’s amputation of upper limb is mild’.
Despite complaints and damning reports from benefit agencies such as the Citizen Advice Bureau, in November 2010 Atos had a £300m contract renewed for three more years. Only part of this money will pay the company’s medical and non medical staff: a significant part of it will cover the cost of creating and managing LiMA (as reported by the DWP, this is the cost for ‘new technology and other service improvements’). As if this is not enough, Atos will receive more millions to develop a computer-based test for a new disability benefit (the Personal Independence Payment), which will replace Disability Living Allowance.
While benefits are cut, Atos continues profiting from them. It’s time to demand the dismissal of Atos and a return to a professional medical service, publicly run, and not for profit.
Audience participation encouraged!