Ouch Too - a place for and about disabled people.

Forum => Welfare Rights => Topic started by: gorbut on 24 Jul 2013 05:34PM

Title: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: gorbut on 24 Jul 2013 05:34PM
I took my son for his Atos 'medical' assessment this afternoon at the Romford centre. We knew it was on the second floor but that there was a lift. We had to state that he could get down the stairs if there was a fire and the lift wasn't working which we did  as he can walk a short way. He always suffers from pain when walking more than a very short distance but if it was a question of life or death I could get him down the stairs. We wanted to go to this centre as it was only an hour journey door to door.

We got up to the correct floor ok and waited until 20minutes after his appointment time until he was called. We went over to the door leading to the long corridor with rooms off it but we were not allowed past the door unless he left his wheelchair behind. He objected to this as 1) there was no information on how far he would have to walk along the corridor and 2) he was using his very expensive electric wheelchair and wasn't prepared to leave it unattended.

They said it was for health and safety reasons but after the journey and the wait he was at more danger himself from walking

We will be taking this a lot further. He is making an official complaint to Atos and the DWP on the grounds that all centres should be accessible under the equality act . There is no accessible centre in the whole of East London which has a very large population.We will also of course be writing a detailed letter tonight to our MP who happens to be IDS although I am not holding my breath for much help from that quarter
 >biggrin<

I am a bit annoyed about the amount of time I had to waste too as I do have other things to do as well as battle with Atos. So I suppose I ought to finish this and go and do them.
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: starsmurf on 24 Jul 2013 08:53PM
My sister has her WCA tomorrow.  The centre has no disabled parking nearby. >doh<

You really couldn't make it up.
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: bubble on 24 Jul 2013 11:08PM
 >angry< Im annoyed for you too..........

My hubby has an appeal soon, and we,re pretty sure there is no parking near the place. I dont know how we will get in there. My son is taking us but he has to get my scooter out and put it together, how can he do that on a busy street, then who know where he can park

We cant just drop hubby off and then him wait for us because who know how or where we would have to park, Im still recovering from hospital, but am trying to help represent hubby, he cant walk far, so its a blooming mess.

I was going to ring them about access and parking, as if we get there and cant park of get in we will have no choice but to come home.
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: devine63 on 25 Jul 2013 01:39AM
Gorbut in these circumstances the centre should have either arranged for the assessor to use an office on the ground floor to see your son, or they should have offered and made a home visit.   It is simply not acceptable!

If you would like help writing a letter to IDS just let me know,. I would be absolutely delighted to help!!!!
regards, Deb
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: gorbut on 25 Jul 2013 11:13AM
Thanks for the replies and especially Deb with the offer of help writing the letter >biggrin<

I think that C will want to write the letter himself and when he is well enough he does this very well. He has had some success getting the OU to pay the fees for a course when they said he was no longer eligible for help and is now complaining with some success about the way his application to another university was handled as his disability was not taken into account where it was relevant. He is probably what used to be referred to as a barrack room lawyer >biggrin< I did suggest he do a law degree instead of computing but he said he would find it too depressing as natural justice and common sense do not always go hand in hand with written law.He will be starting at a central London university in the autumn but on a part time basis and the support he has already had there from the excellent disability officer encourages us in the belief that he will manage.


As he is doing this we can't really claim that he can't travel for a WCA but the alternative centre is in Marylebone which seems quite a way from the nearest accessible tube station Kings Cross. There is a bus  according to the tfl journey planner but access on buses can be hit and miss. I think it will have to be a taxi from Kings Cross which he is going to try to get Atos to pay for. He doesn't want a home visit anyway as he wants the assessment recorded. This had been set up at the office he went to yesterday.

Life would be so much easier if the NHS was set up to support people for benefit applications. It is a catch 22 situation. He has come to the end of funding at the CFS/ME clinic and didn't make much progress anyway. He doesn't have any up to date medical evidence due to this and his GP although supportive doesn't really understand the system and writes very short letters. Lack of recent medical evidence to Atos and the DWP seems to be taken as there being nothing wrong with you. His sister had only very recently finished at the clinic when her ESA and DLA renewals came up so had a recent discharge letter detailing her condition and she was put into the ESA support group and had her DLA renewed at HRM and MRC in a very short time too.

I had better get back to the DIY - we are working on changing our utility room into a small kitchen suitable for our son and daughter . Not to cook main meals as they just haven't got the energy for the but if we can sort out a work surface they can sit down at, easy to reach equipment and a counter top dishwasher they can do their own breakfast and lunch and warm up a ready meal which will aid heir independence and mean that my husband and I might manage to get away for a night or two on our own >biggrin<
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: devine63 on 25 Jul 2013 03:36PM
Hi Gorbut

I'm delighted to hear that one of my colleagues is doing such a good job!   (I work in a central London Uni too, but  we are very specialist, so he is unlikely to be heading our way).  Do remind C to use the advice from the British Institute of Human Rights and cite human rights legislation when complaining (this case is a violation of the right to dignity just for starters) along with whatever else he says - that will particularly irritate IDS.  >biggrin< >biggrin<

As for getting to Marylebone:   come out of Kings Cross through the main exit, turn right and go along towards St Pancras about 50 yards then cross over Euston Road at the crossing.  The stop right opposite St Pancras has the bus number 205 stopping there.  It's a double decker with a ramp to the rear door and one wheelchair space.  Wheelchair users are not expected to pay as they are assumed to have a disabled person's card.  It is tactful to wave to the driver before moving towards the rear door, so he cannot claim that he has not seen you.  They run about every ten minutes in the daytime and stop right outside Marylebone station.   If C really wants to use a taxi instead use the north exit from KX, there is a layby there where the taxis can pull up easily so should not have trouble picking one up there; it will cost about 8-10 to Marylebone as long as the traffic is not too heavy.

regards, Deb
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: Monic1511 on 25 Jul 2013 07:22PM
>angry< Im annoyed for you too..........

My hubby has an appeal soon, and we,re pretty sure there is no parking near the place. I dont know how we will get in there. My son is taking us but he has to get my scooter out and put it together, how can he do that on a busy street, then who know where he can park

We cant just drop hubby off and then him wait for us because who know how or where we would have to park, Im still recovering from hospital, but am trying to help represent hubby, he cant walk far, so its a blooming mess.

I was going to ring them about access and parking, as if we get there and cant park of get in we will have no choice but to come home.

Bubble you should phone the tribunal service as soon as you get your new date and explain the access problems you will have, the tribunal service I use will book a taxi to take you there and back as long as you have a doctor letter saying you can't use public transport.   >hugs<
Monic
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: gorbut on 25 Jul 2013 08:32PM
I am feeling upset about this now. DS being a young man videod part of the argument and put it on utube. Someone commented who said they were there telling him he gave genuine disabled people a bad name and if he could argue for a hour he cold get a job. They also referred to me as a banshee >yikes<  what do they think he should have done said ok then and asked for another appointment meekly as in Oliver Twist.
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: Sunshine Meadows on 26 Jul 2013 02:01PM
Quote
They said it was for health and safety reasons but after the journey and the wait he was at more danger himself from walking

I cant think of a health and safety reason that applies in the corridor beyond the door that was mentioned and not in the waiting area.

Is the electric wheelchair bigger than an ordinary chair? Even if it was going to block the corridor they could have let him get to the room in the wheelchair and then have you take it back to the waiting area.
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: Sunshine Meadows on 26 Jul 2013 02:03PM
Bubble,

I agree with Monic about getting a taxi. Good luck
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: oldtone27 on 26 Jul 2013 02:09PM
It is possible that the wheelchair may have been considered and obstruction in a fire escape route, but that is not an excuse. The interview rooms should be accessible.

Mind you I was wondering if the logic is 'if you can get to the interview room you are fit for work'.  >whistle<
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: Sunshine Meadows on 26 Jul 2013 02:19PM
Quote
Mind you I was wondering if the logic is 'if you can get to the interview room you are fit for work'.  >whistle<

Good point but had it been me I would have crawled because my walking would have been a health and safety risk in that leaning on walls, doors and door frames makes me more of an obstruction than being in a wheelchair. Also in unfamilar places it is harder to work out where to lean and hold so generally I end up on the floor anyway. Crawling I can get a bit of speed up and my guess is it would wrong foot any assessor expecting to tick box me off ESA.

I am not saying C should have crawled just I think it is an approach some people might be able to take.
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: gorbut on 26 Jul 2013 03:49PM
He could have walked but without his stick he was likely to be very wobbly but he is pig headed. He wanted a reason why , shouldn't have brought him up to have an enquiring mind  >biggrin<
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: devine63 on 26 Jul 2013 05:39PM
Hi

most probably the corridor was built too narrow to be appropriate for a wheelchair user, which is exactly why he should not have needed to go upstairs in the first place as it is obvious they don't have proper emergency evac equipment or procedures in place.   The wobbling, leaning & crawling comments all indicate why this is a dignity issue!!!!  They should never need to ask him to get out of his wheelchair unless it is part of a full scale medical assessment - which the WCA is not

regards, Deb
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: gorbut on 26 Jul 2013 08:25PM
It can't be that as the corridor looked wide enough to me. No different to ones at various hospitals and Drs surgeries we have been to. His chair is not massive, he had a standard self propelling one adapted for power when he got fed up with not being  able to propel himself any further than he could walk. The idea being that he can be independent of his aged parents a bit >biggrin<

He is less personally angry now so, as long as they don't mess him about at the next assessment, he will be concentrating more on joining any general campaigns for all centres to be accessible as they should be under the equality act. Atos are not happy that he recorded some of the argument and uploaded it to utube. Not quite sure what the legal position is on tht one.

So far he hasn't felt well enough to write to IDS but he is planning to start at the weekend. Because of the extra stress he has felt worse than usual after an outing and because he has had to take the full does of cocodamol which makes him feel sick he hasn't eaten properly until this evening. I expect his DLA news cheered him up >biggrin<
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: Sunshine Meadows on 26 Jul 2013 10:55PM
Quote
I am feeling upset about this now. DS being a young man videod part of the argument and put it on utube

I looked up the video and just watched it  >thumbsup< if you want to post the link here please do. Also if you would like the Ouch Too volunteers to write out a transcript I am sure they would be willing to help.
 >bighugs< to the Gorbut household.

Btw I have cp , TN and Menieres + Fibro so the consequences of me deciding to crawl - if I did would be much less than someone with CFS/ME
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: devine63 on 27 Jul 2013 12:07AM
Hi Sunshine

the consequences of crawling for you (in terms of energy loss and so on) might be less than for some others and of course if you are willing to crawl that is your choice.   My point was that a government mandated WCA process planned and intended for disabled adults  should always be conducted in such place and such a fashion that the dignity of all participants is maintained - i.e. the assessor should have a ground floor office in a building with level access and wide enough doors, corridors and doorways that no one has to get out of their wheelchair at any point.    Someone else might feel absolutely mortified by having to crawl from their wheelchair into the assessor's office  in front of (potentially) a waiting room full of total strangers ....
regards, Deb
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: Sunshine Meadows on 27 Jul 2013 10:14AM
Deb,

I should have been clearer in that I understand the dignity issues and I do agree with what you posted. I was just posting my thoughts about one approach to take because it is what I might have done. The stress and anxiety of waiting for the day of assessment and getting there on the day would mean for me crawling would be an option to consider if it got the assessment over and done with. There is a difference in what I think should happen and the DWP should do and my potential actions under difficult circumstances. I suppose maybe me crawling (if I did) would have the DWP employees thinking it was okay for a claimant to have to crawl but I doubt it.

The DWP do have some accessible assessment centres, I went to the one in Derby and claimants are told they need to travel to one of those centres if the need access issues met. The problem with that has already been illustrated in Gorbut posts. Also if a person was 'seen' manage to travel for over an hour and a half to get to a centre it could negatively impact their assessment process and outcome.

It is apparent that the people going to Romford are allowed to use the lift once health and safety issues are resolved eg ability to evacuate the building is confirmed, however this gives a false impression about the accessibility of the rest of the building. It is good that we are hearing about this because it means people reading the thread will know access issues go beyond the front door and stairs.

Note: I think my experiences when working in the call centre influenced my views and opinions of what I might or might not do.

Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: ATurtle on 27 Jul 2013 03:42PM
I am starting to wonder whether the DWP and Atos have colluded in the positioning of the WCA so that if you can reach them they can tick the box that says "Got here! Sign them off!", I am fortunate in that I live in a town with an Atos centre, an Atos centre that is on the level to approach, has no stairs to get to the examination rooms, all in all ideal.  Except, it is in the middle of a pedestrian only precinct.  The nearest Blue Badge parking bay is 60 metres away.  The path to the door of the centre itself, is 15 metres.  That with the 10 to 15 metres in to the assessment room has you shot down in flames. 

As I keep saying, they do a 15 minute snapshot of you and don't see you for the rest of the day or even the next day when you are curled up in a ball of pain in bed.
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: devine63 on 27 Jul 2013 08:55PM

hi

"I suppose maybe me crawling (if I did) would have the DWP employees thinking it was okay for a claimant to have to crawl but I doubt it. "

that's one possibility.  The other is that other clients, seeing you having to crawl, might feel obliged to do the same, when perhaps they are not up to it, or are less willing than you may be.
regards, Deb
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: gorbut on 29 Jul 2013 04:49PM
This is obviously going to go on for some time. He can't make another appt for a medical as Atos won't until the complaint is sorted out. This means this will be hanging over him for possibly weeks and another medical appt could interfere with his start at university at the end of September. The stress is making him feel worse and making me cross.

Atos complaints procedure seems very one sided although I can't say we are surprised. In a way I wish he wasn't so keen on everything being done as it should be as it can make life difficult but I suppose this must be down to his upbringing so I only have myself to blame  >biggrin<

Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: Sunshine Meadows on 29 Jul 2013 11:31PM
Quote
In a way I wish he wasn't so keen on everything being done as it should be as it can make life difficult but I suppose this must be down to his upbringing so I only have myself to blame  >biggrin<

I know what you mean and my Mum who was disabled and an electric wheelchair user pushed allsorts of boundaries which was good but I also saw the personal cost to herself, wellbeing and health.

 >hugs<

Debs,

I reckon we are now getting more into a discussion about personal responsibility, ethics and also the way social interactions work. I dont want to overloaded the thread with that, we should really start a new thread in Talk. I was going to do it today but completely konked out  :-(
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: NeuralgicNeurotic on 31 Jul 2013 12:40PM
Quote
I am feeling upset about this now. DS being a young man videod part of the argument and put it on utube

I looked up the video and just watched it  >thumbsup< if you want to post the link here please do. Also if you would like the Ouch Too volunteers to write out a transcript I am sure they would be willing to help.

I'd be happy enough to oblige. Can't promise it'd be quick, but still, the offer is there.  >spoonarmy<
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: gorbut on 31 Jul 2013 11:26PM
Thanks for the offers of transcript writing but he has kept a copy .He has taken it off utube for now out of respect for the receptionist it shows as she probably doesn't have much option other than to spout the Atos line.. He has made a copy to give to our MP too with the letter he has written that I shall deliver to his constituency office tomorrow. He has also sent the letter by email to his parliamentary office.  I am sure IDS will be thrilled as he is so proud of his welfare reforms >biggrin<
Title: Re: Another access problem at an Atos assessment centre
Post by: gorbut on 23 Aug 2013 11:42AM
My son had the  answer to his complaint today and surprise surprise it is factually incorrect >biggrin<
What the HCP says she said is not what we heard but as usual in these organisations the word of the employee is taken at the expense of two others.

I am trying to persuade him to drop this now as it is having a detrimental effect on his health. He is worried about going for a medical now as he trusts Atos even less than he did before. He has emailed our MP again as he has had no response to his previous email and letter. I did think the the summer recess was the  time MPs were supposed to deal with constituents but maybe it is different for ministers.

 As C is starting a part time uni course at the end of September  I don't think it will be worth him exhausting himself fighting Atos although he would like to. I would like to take up the fight as regards the assessment centres not being accessible but not quite sure how yet while caring for two adult offspring and my two elderly fast deteriorating parents.

I wish life was fair and just as he expects it to be.