Journal of IiME Volume 5 Issue 1 (May 2011) The Involvement of the PACE Trial Principal Investigators and the Director of the Clinical Trials Unit with the Department for Work and Pensions continued content is adhered to and the Learning Set aims achieved”. There is a requirement to ensure that “verification of the learning aims have been satisfied”. Although nominally a DWP Training and Development Programme for assessors, the DWP Medical Services Guidelines state: “It is also necessary to demonstrate that the outcomes of the Learning Set satisfy the requirements of the Continuing Professional Development Programme for Atos Healthcare”. This sounds disturbingly like cult indoctrination and it is little wonder that so many people with ME/CFS report that their assessment(s) by DWP and Atos-trained assessors are traumatic experiences. In February 2011, the BMJ published an article by Margaret McCartney about Atos Healthcare (Well enough to work? Increasing numbers of people previously deemed medically unfit to work are being taken off state benefits after assessments by a doctor. BMJ 2011:342:d599). McCartney‟s article was enlightening: Atos Healthcare is a “French information technology firm, which is subcontracted to the Department for Work and Pensions to provide work capability assessments. In November last year (2010) Atos announced a three year extension to its contract with the department, worth £300 million, to „support the UK government‟s welfare reform agenda‟. Atos is the sole contractor….A quick glance at internet discussion forums suggests widespread dissatisfaction from people who have been assessed”. “The adverts for Atos, however, consist of a smiling, badged professional saying, „Getting home on time has become part of my daily routine‟. The lack of on-call duties and the 9-5 office hours were also the major advantage plugged at the evening, where nurses and doctors working for Atos helped to promote joining the company”. From her attendance at an Atos recruitment evening, McCartney reported: Invest in ME (Charity Nr. 1114035) “The message from the recruitment evening was quite clear. We were told: „You are not in a typical caring role….We don‟t call them patients…We call them claimants‟. Training is provided for each type of benefit examination. Its length…depends on experience but is generally up to five days of classroom training, followed by sessions accompanied by a trainer that are audited afterwards”. “Full time doctors can earn £54,000 as basic salary plus various benefits including private healthcare. Sessional doctors work a minimum of four sessions a week….The application forms for sessional doctors state that ‟10 DLA domiciliary visits per week would earn £40,211.60 per annum. Five LCWRA cases (limited capacity for work related activity) per session, for six session per week, would earn £62,883.60 per annum”. “From the recruitment evening, it was clear that the medical examination consisted of a computerised form to be filled in by choosing drop-down statements and justifying them”. “Is the current method of assessment fit for purpose? There is a queue of people who think not. „Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) is extremely concerned that many clients are being found fit for work…despite often having severe illness and/or disabilities. Our evidence has highlighted the cases of many clients with serious health conditions who have been found fit for work, including those with Parkinson‟s disease, multiple sclerosis, terminal cancer, bipolar disorder, heart failure (and) strokes‟. The report found that clients often „felt hurried in their assessment and that the healthcare professional was ignoring the answers they were providing to the questions in the assessment. There was a general feeling that the assessor made little eye contact with the claimant and spent most of the assessment entering information into their laptop‟. This tallies with the recruitment evening, when it was made clear that efficiency with entering details into the computer system was a stipulation of employment”. www.investinme.org “The Department for Work and Pensions says… Continued page 39 Page 38/58

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