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Disability protest outside Lincoln assessment centre

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: February 19, 2014

  • PEACEFUL PROTEST: DPAC Lincoln spokesman Jane Hills leads the day6 of action

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Disability campaigners are holding a protest outside a medical examination centre in Lincoln today.

Fourteen supporters of the national Disabled People Against Cuts group have turned out in Newland to back a day of action outside ATOS Healthcare offices across the country.

Organiser Jane Hills, DPAC's Lincoln spokesman, said the day-long gathering outside the Viking House assessment centre was important.

Mrs Hills, 61, from John Street in Market Rasen, revealed that her retired policeman husband David's disability allowance had been stopped after an assessment of his arthritis condition last May.

"We want to demonstrate our point of view that disabled people and their families should be treated with dignity and respect, not as scroungers or a burden on society," she said.

Former Mayor of Lincoln, City Councillor Gary Hewson, said: "I'm supporting the demo because I can't see how an employer would want someone back at work if they had been signed off by their GP and then told by an ATOS assessor that they were fit to work."

Councillor Fay Smith said: "I know a lot of people have successfully appealed against their assessment - but it causes a lot of stress and hardship."

Mike Hancock, 22, from Lincoln, said: "I’m not disabled myself but I disagree with how people are being treated.

"There is definitely a loophole in the system and today is definitely a start in bringing equality to disabled people.”

Atos Healthcare said in a statement: “We fully respect people’s right to peaceful protest. However, we want to make sure that it is clear to everyone what our role is, and also the routes available to people for more specific queries or concerns about individual assessments.

“We understand that people may have very strong personal opinions about whether the Work Capability Assessment or welfare policy is fair.

“Peaceful protests are a way of raising attention to issues they would like action on.

“However, Atos Healthcare has no control over welfare policy, the design of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), or the specific eligibility criteria for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). These are set by government."

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  • Menshy  |  February 26 2014, 6:40PM

    I disagree to an extent - there was something wrong with the previous system in that there were people wholly capable of work that were claiming disability living allowances because a GP was certifying them unfit for work...... The whole point of this initiative was to eliminate that whilst protecting those genuinely unfit for work (as opposed to those unfit for work they have the skills/training/appetite to do, and is a judgement that sits outside the medical profession). What they've brought in doesn't work because it doesn't correctly identify what else apart from a 'fit' judgement is needed to enable disabled people to work. So yes it looks like an initiative intended to fleece people of benefits they previously claimed without giving them a realistic chance of finding suitable work.

  • nototoryscum  |  February 26 2014, 12:38PM

    Ascerbia it's not just that - many people who are NOT fit for work (as evidenced by their fully-qualified GPs or/and fully-qualified psychiatrists) are being declared "fit for work" by these so-called tests that have only one aim: chuck as many genuinely-disabled people as possible off benefits and ignore the consequences. There was nothing wrong with proper medical professionals making it clear whether someone was fit for work, after a proper diagnosis. Even IF people were able to eventually return to work after this was confirmed by a proper medical assessment, the Tories would never invest in helping them - they just want to manipulate figures to make it LOOK like unemployment is down whilst claiming their 60 grand salaries then pretending they need expenses on top of that!

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  • Ascerbia  |  February 19 2014, 10:24PM

    There are lots of ex-servicemen who had to retire with horrific injuries that are in work - the difference between them and this government process is that the MOD supports injured servicemen by re-training them for work within their capability and is active in finding work placements for them. The point the government miss is that classing someone fit for work isn't enough - they have to provide training and a supported placement service if they want to get sick or injured people working.

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