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Ingeus appointment - what are my rights?


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I had an assessment for ESA and like 90% of my fellow ESA claimants I have been placed in the WRAG.

I suffer from mental health issues (bpd (and possibly schizoid? my social anxiety is not social anxiety...it's a complete aversion) paranoid thoughts, depression, severe anxiety, agoraphobia) and a heart condition that causes me to blackout. I got sick when I was 18 and have never been able to work since. I told them I would ideally like to be self-employed in the future or get back into education - however, I don't know how possible that is. My conditions are very debilitating to the point I cannot leave the house unaccompanied for both physical and mental health reasons.

 

I have an upcoming appointment with Ingeus. I have heard nothing but negative things about this company: how they bully people to take part in programmes and workshops, how they get paid for every person they manage to shove off the list, how they use coercion and social control to get people to sign their rights away, sanctioning people for weeks at a time. Even their employees seem to hate it according to their GlassDoor reviews (an average rating of 1.5 stars out of 5!)

 

In fact, the advisor at the jobcentre told me to apply for PIP and DLA so I can get Ingeus off my back and wouldn't have to go through all this nonsense! He said himself he didn't think it was fair at all: forcing an agoraphobic to attend weekly meetings.

 

Anyway, from what I've gathered, at your 1st appointment, the Ingeus advisor asks you to sign two waiver forms. One of these forms gives Ingeus the right to contact your GP and access your medical records anytime they want. Of course, to someone who already suffers from paranoia, this sounds extremely fishy to me. The person I will be speaking to will definitely not be a registered health professional, so I don't see why they should be granted access to my medical records? To me, that is an incredibly private matter. Why would I want someone who works for a greedy, private, international corporation who has nothing but my worst interests at heart accessing my medical records?!

 

My question is, am I really required to sign this form? If I refuse to sign it, can I be sanctioned? Or am I within my rights?

 

The other issue is, I have seen cases of Ingeus bullying people with severe mental health issues into 'training workshops' and self appointed group therapy workshops, as well as CBT. Apparently there are no real regulations or training when it comes to such mental health workshops and really, anyone can open one and call it 'therapy', and that none of the workshops Ingeus runs are legitimate. I am in touch with my own private therapist and I want it to remain that way - I do not want to attend a workshop where they lump all the unfortunate souls the DWP considers 'nutters' together and force them to talk to each other as if that will magically cure their mental health issues. My therapist has told me my mental illnesses are permanent and can only be managed, not cured. However, I'm worried that refusing will also cause me to be sanctioned.

 

So, do I have the right to refuse any such suggestions made by my advisor?

 

Because I know their knowledge of personality disorders and agoraphobia is going to be very limited. I know a girl who was agoraphobic and her advisor told her that her 'task' for the next week was to go for a 30 minute walk every evening and say hello to 5 people on the way! How ridiculous, an unqualified pencil pusher telling an agoraphobic to 'get out more!'

 

I really don't trust this company, I have read all about how heartless and devious they are, and I want to keep my contact with them to an absolute minimum. However, I also don't want to p*ss them off and end up being sanctioned for it. So how do I work and comply with them while also remaining within my limits?

Edited by rosehound
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Doesn't sound like you should be in WRAG. If it's less than 13 months, did you (if not, consider it) put in an appeal?

 

You can't be forced to do something which would cause you problems due to your medical conditions. For example, if you can't sit in a room full of people, they can't force you to do that.

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My question is, am I really required to sign this form? If I refuse to sign it, can I be sanctioned? Or am I within my rights?

 

You can refuse to sign any document that is placed in front of you using what ever language you feel appropriate. When I had the misfortune to attend an A4e scheme, I would either say "I'll read this at home and/or seek a second opinion", or quietly slip the document in to a folder whilst the "adviser" was distracted.

 

If you fear being coerced, you are within your rights to take a companion with you to provide moral support. It also puts them on the back foot when there is an independent witness to their shenanigans. You can also insist (better yet, demand) a private room for all meetings. The Work Programme contract requires them to provide suitable facilities when a request is made.

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I wouldn't sign giving them permission to access my medical records either, as said they aren't medically qualified,and medical records are sensitive information ,protected by the DPA

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I wouldn't sign giving them permission to access my medical records either, as said they aren't medically qualified,and medical records are sensitive information ,protected by the DPA

 

Absolutely correct. They have no right to see anyone's medical records. In fact, I've never heard of any provider actually having the cojones to even ask. OP should rest assured that you absolutely cannot, under any circumstances, be sanctioned for failing to allow a Work Programme Provider access to your NHS medical records.

 

Also note that while people in the WRAG can be required to attend the WP, and be sent on daft courses and the like, they cannot be mandated to look for work, apply for a vacancy, or undertake medical treatment.

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