Since the last Labour Government privatised the administration of the work capability assessment, their private sector contractors ATOS have failed consistently to carrry out assessments effectively and have caused misery and possibly even suicides amongst some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
It is estimated that 70% of all appeals against claims turned down by ATOS subsequently result in the reinstatement of the benefits. This means that in 70% of cases that are appealed ATOS has failed either to understand the remit it has been given, or deliberately ignored that remit causing misery to the people making the claims.
It is absolutely imperative that one of the first actions to be taken by the Andrew Lansley’s replacement at the Department of Health, Jeremy Hunt, is to persuade his cabinet colleagues to sack ATOS and ensure that the administration of the claims is re-nationalised. This could be done by making the assessments a function of Local Government who already have wide involvement in the commissioning and scrutiny of health services and are already involved in paying other benefits to claimants. They could be paid to carry out the assessments.
Surely the Secretary of State for Health is responsible in cabinet for speaking up for those patients of the health service tragically harrassed and harrangued by this inept company.
However, regardless of who is carrying out the assessments, it must not be ATOS. We will never know if the assessment system works until someone is doing it properly.
I have said it many times before, and I say it again now, sack ATOS!