Atos misery: scrap work capability assessments!

The government recently announced that they will be bringing more private companies in to do work capability assessments alongside hated current provider Atos. This is after a review showed unacceptably poor reports resulting from Atos assessments.
Here a South Yorkshire Mental Health Nurse shows that it’s not only Atos’ failings but the Con-Dems’ whole approach to disability benefits that is causing misery to millions. Work capability assessments must be scrapped and previous benefit levels returned to all who’ve lost money.

This morning I sat with a 52 year old man as he wept. I’ve been a mental health nurse for more than two decades and commonly see patients in different states of distress but on this occasion the man’s tears were not caused by a psychiatric disorder. He was crying because his benefits have been stopped and he has no idea how he will survive.

I work in a mental health home treatment team. Our remit is to provide intensive community support for people who are acutely unwell. Without the input of our team, most of our patients would have to be admitted to hospital.

Despite the fact that this gentleman is unwell and has had sick notes and supporting letters from our consultant psychiatrist confirming this, his Employment Support Allowance has been stopped and he has been told that he must apply for Jobseekers’ Allowance and demonstrate that he is actively seeking work. Due to his current poor health, this is impossible for him to even start to contemplate.


I wish I could say that this gentleman is an exception, a rarity, but he is not. As the Con-Dem austerity knife cuts deeper, my colleagues and I are seeing more and more people in the same predicament. Vulnerable people who find themselves dragged to a dreaded Atos assessment or stung by the bedroom tax and have their already fragile mental health further undermined as a result.

I advised the gentleman to go to the Citizens Advice Bureau, ensured that a family member would be able to take him and moved on to my next visit.

I am angry. Furious that the most vulnerable people in one of the world’s richest countries are intimidated in this way.

If you feel the same when you hear stories like this, don’t just sit on that anger – use it. Let it motivate you to redouble your efforts to build the Socialist Party and to fight for a world where every human being is able to live with dignity and free of fear. That’s what I do. It’s how I stay sane.