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ESA advice needed after traumatic medical!


panther50
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Hello, this is the first time I've posted on this site. Sorry this is going to be a long post.

 

Just to give a bit of background I have been on IB for 10 years, originally due to clinical depression and anxiety. Over that time I have had a few medicals, but the last assessment in 2008, I passed on the form alone & was told I would not be reviewed for 3 years. Two years ago I became extremely ill & was also diagnosed with lupus sle, I couldn't walk anywhere, eat properly or even sit in a chair - certainly housebound and almost bedbound naturally my depression worsened. Like rheumatoid arthritus, lupus is a disease of the immune system there is no cure, my immune system confuses my own body (this can include organs such as the heart, kidneys,lungs too) as an infection & attacks it.

 

Recently the DWA got round to changing my IB to ESA. I found the new IB50 form very difficult complete & get across the varying nature of my 2 conditions, but I gave them everything I could & a letter from my GP clearly explaining how both these things affected me. As expected I was asked to attend a capability for work assessment.

 

I read the helpful advice on this site & horror stories on the web. I took my partner who works in HR (so he's experienced in these kind of meetings) with me and asked him to covertly tape it, in the unlikely event of something bad happening in it. I was in quite a state over it, in the week leading up to it.

 

I was 'interviewed' by a nurse, who seemed to read my GPs letter, but not my form. She was abrasive, intimidating and unpleasant from the moment I walked in. I did my best to answer her questions accurately, but explained that lupus is a condition that varies over weeks and months not over the course of a week. I also did my best to explain how depression affects me. She didn't let me speak properly, she pushed me to give answers to her own statements. I felt very intimidated & bullied.

 

In my application I had focused on the areas where I met the descriptors, I said I could use stairs for example, but she focused her questions on alot of the physical areas where I hadn't even claimed. Did my house have stairs how many times did I use them? Was my bathroom upstairs? Then she asked if I had a shower? How long did I take in the shower? I had no idea & turned to my partner & asked him. He laughed and said 'you probably take about a minute!' (it was a running joke that I'm far quicker than him in the shower). I said yes I probably do take about a minute. Then out of the blue she just turned to us and said 'Right I'm finding the level of sarcasm is too uncomfortable for this interview to continue and I'm quite happy to end it here!' She also made some comment about my partner taking notes & some sort of legal implications. I was gobsmacked. I had had no sense of any sarcasm, I was taking it very seriuosly, I was also very anxious, finding it very difficult & had been stressed about it & not slept properly the whole week before.

 

She seemed to have no understanding at all of mental illness & seemed incredulous when I explained I often didn't see people or didn't get out of bed. I felt extremely judged. The thought of having virtually got to the end of the interview & then having to go through it again (who knows what effect this would have on my claim) was devastating.

 

My partner apologised explained there was no sarcasm intended & this was simply a running joke between the two of us, suggested her approach to someone who suffered with anxiety was maybe not the best and said that he personally was feeling very threatened by her behaviour.

 

She finally agreed to continue & carried out a fairly laughable physical examination, at one point saying 'can you not lift you legs any higher than that?!'

 

I was left feeling very traumatised by it, so was my partner (& he's not ill!). I would really appreciate any advice anyone can give me about what to do about it. I don't know at this stage if I passed (I doubt it) but regardless of this I feel that her behaviour was totally unacceptable, unprofessional & actually think she was unfit to do the job! I have no confidence in Atos's complaints procedure, I understand they consider taping it as an invasion of privacy so I can't show them how she behaved. It'll be my word against hers & she obviously thought we were being difficult, I also don't want the extra stress & I'm worried it would be detrimental to my claim. I'm thinking of taking it to my MP does anyone know how I do this? Do I give them the evidence before I see them or just explain what happened? Possibly contacting a journalist? Or can I complain to the DWP?

 

I want to make people aware of what happens in these 'interrogations' where the people interviewed may be vunerable due to mental illness. It seems that unlike any other private company, because this is paid for by the taxpayer ATOS aren't really answerable to anyone.

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No I haven't had the outcome to this 'medical' yet. Really annoys me they even refer to it as a medical. I went expecting a medical, but would have been better prepared if they'd told me it was a DWP interview. It was only a few days ago she couldn't tell me when I'd be likely to get the decision. Do you think I should complain to Atos (I'm worried I'll make it worse) or see if my MP will take it up on my behalf? It's already affecting my health. Ironically the more you fight back the more they probably think it proves you can work (really feels like a no win situation).

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Hello there.

 

It might be worth speaking to your MP if it makes you feel better. Some of them have got involved and helped people here.

 

Otherwise, I think Atos's complaint procedure could be your only other option. I'd like to be wrong about that.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Why not get your partner to complain on your behalf (regardless of who actually writes the letter), but remember to include a letter of authority signed by you?

RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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Is it actually OK to record these "medicals"?

 

I have to accompany my mum to her first one (she been on ESA since August 2010, recently had DLA re-assessed to lower rate, and now atos have sent her a letter)

 

Read quite a number of atos nightmare threads on here, and I think a full & complete record of what was asked and answered would be helpful incase of appeal.

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Ask Atos for a full copy of the health professionals report and when it comes it will have the nurse's name on it, you can complain to ATOS and the General Medical Council about her. With taped evidence s/he could lose their registration, that wouldn't be the first ATOS health professional that has happened to!

 

My opinion though is that nurses are the worst assessores of mental health as a registered general nurse will only have done a small handful of weeks in Psychiatry when they were a student many moons ago and most do that in elderly care so have knowledge of dementia and little else. Therefore their ability to assess you is zilch.

 

Most important of all though is, when the result comes and is negative, appeal it and then at tribunal you will meet a Doctor who knows and understands mental illness and you will be given a fair and compassionate hearing.

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Thanks thats really helpful, I was wondering how to get her name, as neither myself or my partner caught it, if she gave it. I would be interested if anyone knows where I stand legally on using the recording. I thought if I taped it even if I can't submit it as evidence. At least I'd have a verbatim record of the conversation and could quote from it.

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Apparently you have no right to record the medical without permission and sometimes they give permission and sometimes don't if asked. You wont be able to use the recording at a Tribunal for instance as evidence; anyway the Tribunal isn't interested in what happened at the medical, they will be interested in whether you fit the descriptors in their opinion so what happened at the ATOS medical will be irrelevant at that stage.

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I'm thinking along the lines of what Bankfodder said in the debt collection forum about recording phonecalls with DCAs e.t.c.

 

If they say the call will be recorded, you have implied reciprocal consent to also record the call.

 

In the Jobcentre, there are signs saying you are being recorded (images and audio) so what is to stop you recording them too?

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I can understand your problem and I'm sure many people - no, I know, many people who have had problems with ATOS.

 

I, myself, have muscular problems and find it difficult to walk - so of course my doctor walked off to the room very quickly and left me following, though I had to put myself in pain to try and keep up because I have 6/60 vision and needed to keep him in sight. When I told said doctor I had 'septo-optic dysplaxia' he said, 'Ooo, long words,' and seemed to hold no idea of what it was or what it might mean - worse is that he didn't ask. He asked me why I did not help my partner more at home and I felt so guilty, after I explained that due to my recent muscular problems my partner was left having to cook and clean. He also told me that there was no way I did not leave the house to go to the shops, despite me telling him that I did not, and could not.

 

Long story short, the man was rude, judgemental and lacking any medical knowledge in my view. I am currently taking my decission of 0 points to a tribunal, but I am unsure wether to include and push my complaints about the 'interview' along the same means or leave them for a seperate complaint all together. Should I lodge them with ATOS or the job center or the actual Tribunal?

 

Good luck, I hope something comes out of your attempts to complain though I myself would be sketchy about complaining to ATOS themselves.

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