Today I had my dreaded medical examination with ATOS in Luton. I arrived on time, thanks to The Mothership chauffering me. She couldn’t get parked anywhere near the centre (which has NO designated parking – what a massive fail that is) so she drove to a side street and I went in alone.
I was in a great deal of pain today, mostly due to my neck flaring up and so the receptionist let me sit down and she came out of her office to “book me in”. After a 15 minute wait, I was asked to walk down a long corridor to meet Dr D.K.Mallick. Dr Mallick was lovely, which really surprised me as the last “Dr” I saw there was extremely cold and defensive with me.
He began by asking me about my recent foot operation, moving on to cover my last employment, medication, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Home life, neck problems and Mental Health. This took over 3/4s of an hour. It should have taken half of that time.. The reason? The computer system for Luton and several other towns (names escape me but they were local), has had “issues” since December. Where they used to handle 10 claimants per day, now they are lucky to see 6. At one point he was so frustrated and embarrassed he threatened to walk out in protest. I am pretty sure it is a “sharing” issue as the form he fills in is online. Possibly the broadband speed needs increasing. Anyway, I’m not a computer expert but it’s pretty much
fucked up borked.
Dr Mallick skipped through a few points (including the physical exam) as he was so stressed and could see I was in a lot of pain. He did have a look at both of my feet though and told me that I would probably be called back in 6 – 12 months. Luckily for me, I won’t have to go back as I have been offered a job working from home. My Fabulous New Bossman (FNB) knows all about my health issues and is happy for me to do what I can, when I can. I have, for once fallen *on* my feet instead of falling because of them!
Something struck me though during the process, he kept referring to CFS in a “mental” disorder, rather than a neurological condition. I called him out on this at the end of the session and he explained that the computer test is set that way.. However, this link from @latentexistence clearly shows that CFS is regarded as a physical condition for DLA claimants. I hope that when the current ATOS test is reformed, this is corrected.
Although my examination went well today and the good Dr told me that I should have passed with no problems, the ATOS test is badly managed. Claimants who should be exempt are still being called in, the current test is a “tick box” one which is simply not working.
Please sign the petition below if you care about this important issue.
Want to make an FOI request about ATOS? Click this link: http://foiwiki.com/foiwiki/index.php/Main_Page
Whilst I gained enough points to qualify for ESA, I was added to the “Help back to work” group and an interview was arranged for me at the Job Centre. I never made it to the interview however as I was lucky enough to be offered a job by my neighbour. I have been working for him ever since and am SO grateful to him I can’t tell you, nobody else would have given me such a chance with my recent sickness record (and another operation pending). I now have my dignity, a decent standard of living (despite what some say, life on benefits is REALLY hard) and I met a lovely man who fell in love despite my very attractive boot ; ) I know I am one of the lucky ones but I promise to keep fighting for the rest of you who are being so very badly treated by this government. Much love, HC x