Disabled activists planning a new wave of protests 30th September

New wave of protests to target ‘fitness to work’ company


Disabled activists are planning a new wave of protests aimed at the company paid to carry out controversial “fitness to work” tests on behalf of the government.Atos Healthcare has been targeted repeatedly by campaigners over the accuracy of its assessments, the way it treats disabled benefits claimants, and the generosity of its contract with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The protests will take place across the UK on 30 September – many of them led by disabled people – with the most prominent likely to be outside a recruitment fair being run by the BMJ [formerly the British Medical Journal] in Islington, north London.

Atos is one of the private sector healthcare companies that has taken a stand at the careers fair at the Business Design Centre, where it will be seeking to recruit new doctors to carry out the hated work capability assessments (WCA) on disabled claimants.

Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), which plans to take part in the BMJ protest, said: “It is important to target recruitment because we think people should know who they are going to work for and what disabled people think about them, and hopefully it will put them off working for Atos.”

Claire Glasman, a spokeswoman for WinVisible, the disabled women’s organisation, which will also be taking part in the BMJ protest, said: “Their association with the BMJ gives Atos medical credibility that they do not deserve.

“The decisions they make are nothing to do with patient welfare, they are exactly the opposite. We would like the BMJ to disassociate themselves from Atos.”

In May, three Atos Healthcare executives were asked by MPs to explain why their organisation was so “feared and loathed” by disabled people, while DWP research found that “negative reports of the tone, manner or approach” of Atos assessors were “reasonably common”.

In his independent review of the WCA – which assesses eligibility for out-of-work disability benefits – Professor Malcolm Harrington said widespread complaints about Atos staff “must be taken seriously”, and criticised “poor decision making and a high rate of appeals”.

About two-fifths of appeals against a decision to find someone “fit for work” are successful, with one welfare rights organisation reporting a success rate of 96 per cent when it represents claimants at their appeals.

The General Medical Council confirmed last week that it is investigating complaints against seven doctors employed by Atos.


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  1. admin says:

    Norfolk Coalition against the Cuts
    Several times over the last 9 months resistance to the cuts has risen, subsided and then risen again

    with increased vigour. Beginning with the inspiring student protests against fees in November 2011,

    a movement against the cuts sprang up from the grassroots in every part of the country to organise

    local protests from December onward.

    In Norwich there was a march of 2000, plus meetings and lobbies of hundreds from across a wide

    range of trade unions, campaigning groups and public service users. Norfolk Coalition Against the

    Cuts was forged in this spirit of unity and has played a central role in organising resistance to cuts


    The rise of campaigning protest groups at both local and national levels has shifted the debate away

    from how deep the cuts should be to a widespread questioning of why there should be any cuts at

    all, with the tax dodging of billionaires and bankers bonuses generating huge public anger.

    This mood came together in the fantastic 750,000 strong TUC demonstration in march and most

    recently found expression in the beginnings of coordinated strike action by public sector workers

    refusing to allow the government to make us pay for the crisis created by the wreckless gambling of

    the rich.

    The coalition Government has been shaken by the strength of this resistance. First with a u-turn

    over selling off forests and then with a wobble over the NHS, they have shown that they are vicious

    but weak.

    However, our side has not yet inflicted a major blow to their plans.

    At times the movement has surged forward at a pace that has amazed even the most optimistic

    campaigners, but at other times has been frustratingly slow to develop. There are elements within

    the labour and trade union movement who have sought to hold back the resistance. Waiting in the

    wings are the racists and fascists of the EDL and BNP seeking to divide us.

    The Norfolk Coalition Against the Cuts has organised this conference against this backdrop.

    • Come and hear people from different organisations debate the best way forward for the

    anti-cuts movement.

    • Join in the discussions and share your experiences.

    • Learn more about what you can do to help stop the cuts.

    Proposed Timetable:

    9:30 Registration & Coffee

    10.00 Opening plenary

    11.30 Workshops

    12.30 Lunch

    1.30 Feedback from workshops

    2.30 Closing plenary: debate

    4.00 Finish

    Invited speakers -

    Paul Brandon: Right to Work Campaign

    Dot Gibson: National Pensioners Convention

    Ian Gibson: former Labour MP

    Adrian Ramsey: deputy leader Green Party

    Alan Waters: Labour Party

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