If I hadn’t been personally involved in this inhumanity from the United Kingdom’s government, I’m embarrassed to say that I wouldn’t have ever known about it. My mind and thoughts would have been filled with ‘more exciting’ stories of the World Cup for example. The coverage of this disgusting attitude from the government towards the sick and disabled leads one to only shudder to think about their ‘genuine’ thoughts for us as a nation and citizens.
Atos is a French international technology services company with a very impressive annual revenue of 8.8 billion euros. Through their success, they have had the opportunity to establish many brands, which include ‘Atos Healthcare’. Atos Healthcare have a contract with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), established by the previous Labour government in 2008, of £110 million a year. They were brought in to set up a system to regain citizens who are/were claiming disability benefit and to see if they were fit for work determined by the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). Seems fair enough, can’t argue with that.
However, Atos showed themselves to be immoral and regularly incorrect with their WCA’s that deemed people to be fit for work. Like David Coupe, a 57-year-old man with an injured back, diabetes, ulcers and a heart condition. Hardly someone capable for any kind of job, I know I wouldn’t feel right putting him to work, but then again I do have the advantage over Atos by having a conscience. Mr Coupe was found fit for work by the WCA with all of the problems listed above. To add to this devastating blow, Mr Coupe was diagnosed with cancer and given weeks to live, this happened while he was trying to appeal against the decision made by Atos. Mr Coupe, sadly, passed away before the decision was finally overturned. There are thousands more cases like this I am very sorry to say.
When questioned about the deaths and suicides of individuals who were on disability benefit following their Work Capability Assessment, Atos said:
‘The FOIA lists a number of exemptions that may prevent the release of
part, or all, of the information that you have requested. We will make an
assessment of the requested information and if it is subject to an
exemption you will be informed of this’
Till this day, exact figure of the deceased have not been released.
Even though they are sick and incredibly disadvantaged, the people undergoing this terrible bullying by their own government are fighting back with protests. George Rolf, a man who was deemed fit to work, went on a hunger strike which he intended to continue until demands were met to ameliorate the treatment of the sick and disabled. There’s also Black Triangle which is an Anti-Defamation Campaign in Defence of Disability Rights.The name comes from when the Nazis forced people with mental and other disabilities to wear black triangles in the extermination camps during the Holocaust. The generic classification they used was translated as literally “Workshy”. This is also a favoured term used by the right-wing press of today to describe the sick and disabled.
Recently, the contract has had an exit end date settled upon by Mike Penning, MP (The Minister for Disabled People) which is to be August 2015.
This is, of course, much to the relief of all the sick and disabled people whose quality of life depends on the welfare state.