Going the Extra Mile

Two months ago we posted a Facebook blog on the long corridor that disabled people are expected to walk down before they reach the room where ATOS carries out PIP assessments in Dundee. Many people have told us of the struggle they faced getting down the corridor, and how their very ability to reach the assessment seems to be being used as a reason not to award them points for limited mobility. As was noted in one of the comments on that post, ATOS appears to be following similar logic to the old witch trials: float and you’re guilty, sink and you’re innocent, but dead.

We are now publishing a plan so that people going for an assessment can go straight to the door by the waiting room and assessment rooms and not be forced to walk the ‘blue mile’. Unfortunately you will still have to navigate the length of the building and back if you need the toilet, because that is at the other end from the assessments.

Most people going to the building would naturally park in the visitors’ parking area, ‘A’ on this view from Google Earth, and go to what appears to be the main entrance, ‘B’, to be told that the entrance for assessments is in the new building further down the path at ‘C’. However that building has another identical entrance at the other end, ‘D’, with more parking spaces just outside. This unprepossessing doorway (see picture) is labelled Fire Exit, but if you ring the bell for PIP assessments, you will discover that the waiting room/ reception area is just by this entrance, with the assessment rooms off it. No need to go down that corridor – unless you need the toilet.

PIP assessment centre

IMG_1273

Just by putting in an additional toilet and some new signs, ATOS could save the people they profess to care for a great deal of agony and eliminate the brutal witch test from their assessments. If they continue to fail to do so, it will be more evidence of their warped priorities.

While we are waiting for them to make this small step back towards humanity, please share this post to anyone who has a PIP assessment in Dundee.  (Our original post is reproduced below.)

 

DUNDEE’S ‘BLUE MILE’: DUNDEE SUWN SPECIAL REPORT, 6/11/2015

blue mile

Many people will be familiar with the film, ‘The Green Mile’, the title of which referred to a corridor in a US penal institution that led from the cell block to the execution room. Well, we can reveal that Dundee can now, courtesy of ATOS, boast its own ‘BLUE Mile’, a corridor that measures 40 metres, which is located within Prospect House, the PIP medical assessment centre at Gemini Crescent, Dundee Technology Park. We have been inundated with complaints from SUWN volunteers and disabled PIP claimants who have had their right to PIP payments affected when they have been tricked into using this corridor to exit the building by the back entrance at the termination of their assessments. Nothing underlines more the repeated claims of welfare organisations that people are being set up to fail assessments than this blatant piece of wicked trickery. According to the DWP’s own guidelines, severely disabled people with mobility problems qualify for the higher rate of mobility allowance if they are unable to walk a distance of 20 metres unaided, but, crucially, the same guidelines also state that a disabled person will ONLY fail this test if they can complete the task without pain or discomfort, in good time and they are able to repeatedly complete the task. We have represented and spoken to a number of severely disabled people who have underwent this trial by trickery and who have been left in great pain and discomfort as a result of the effort, only to find that their claim for enhanced mobility has been rejected – as a result many disabled people, who were previously on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at the higher rate, have now found their right to a motobility car or scooter removed from them.

There are many other issues with this glorified torture chamber masquerading as a medical assessment centre; many people have complained that their taxi’s have dropped them off at Prospect House only to find that there are two Prospect Houses, and the first one that a taxi driver will spot is actually a completely different building from the assessment centre, but that, by the time they make inquiries at the building their taxi has departed and they are left to enter the building by the back entrance, a distance of around 40-50 metres, after which they face the ‘Blue Mile’ meaning a walk of another 40 metres before they reach the assessment rooms at the front of the building – the effort required is often too much for some people and they end up being exhausted, anxious and in pain even before the assessment has started – and when they admit to their mistake in entering by the rear of the building this can often be enough to disqualify them from getting the PIP mobility component at the enhanced rate.

It is also the case that the toilets within the assessment centre are at the opposite end of the corridor from the assessment rooms and reception area, meaning that those attending medical assessments are forced to complete a return journey of 80 metres just in order to relieve themselves, which for many claimants, and particularly those suffering from incontinence, represents a serious obstacle – particularly when we bear in mind that the assessment centre does not even provide wheelchairs – indeed, as is obvious from the accompanying photo, the corridor wall is not even fitted with a handrail, or even a chair.

Some of our volunteers have also reported that they have been told by assessors, when accompanying people into assessments, that they should hand over their notes at the end of the assessment, and, when this hasn’t worked, that any notes they do take cannot be used in any subsequent appeal. This is a very serious issue, as many people who have accompanied family members or friends into assessments in order to provide support, and who are not familiar with the regulations, may well have been intimidated into putting their notebooks away, thus depriving the claimant of an invaluable piece of evidence if their claim does run up against problems.

This assessment centre is a disgraceful example of the way in which the so-called welfare system is actually being transformed into something much more sinister – we now have a government that is waging a dirty war against some of this country’s most vulnerable citizens. It is shameful and must be resisted by all the means at our disposal.

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