Linda works as a cleaner for Angela, who is 58 years old, and suffers from a badly damaged back, comprising three fractured vertebrae and five bulging disks. In addition, Angela has also been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a hiatus hernia and depression (these are only her main conditions – she has many more). Back in April, Angela received an ESA form, and she eventually attended a Work Capability Assessment at the Greenmarket Assessment Centre last week. She had been provided with a phone number in order to ensure that taxi travel would be paid for, and, in the course of the phone call to Greenmarket, Linda, who had agreed to help, also asked how far Angela would be expected to walk to reach the assessment rooms – she was informed it was no further than ‘fifteen steps’. Linda was also informed that a taxi could not be arranged for her and that she would need the code to operate the barrier to the assessment centre car park. Things seemed a little more complicated than they should be and Linda agreed to accompany Angela to the assessment centre.
They took a taxi, which managed to sneak under the barrier as a car in front of them entered the car park. When they disembarked from the taxi, however, they found, to their horror, that the ‘fifteen steps’ they had expected to negotiate turned out to be more in the region of 25-30m from the entrance to the reception area. This was a real problem for Angela, as based on the info they had received, she had came with crutches rather than the wheeled buggy she also has, which provides more support. Linda then asked staff for a wheelchair so that Angela could negotiate the corridor, but was informed, to her horror, that no wheelchairs were kept on the premises. Having struggled into the reception area, and nearly fallen over, Angela and Linda were, mercifully, only kept waiting for ten minutes before she was called into the assessment, but they were again horrified that Angela was expected to walk a frightening distance (for her) to get to the assessment room, which she only managed with extreme effort and no little pain.
The assessment itself, they had been told, could last as little as twenty minutes, but it took more than an hour of questions before the male assessor was ready to conduct a physical examination. Angela was asked to stand up and to hold her arms out in front of her. The effort involved was too much for Angela and she fell over, and was left by the male assessor to pick herself up. The assessor then left the room in order to let Angela ‘compose herself’. By this time, Angela was in a highly distressed state, in tears and in a lot of pain. When the assessor came back to the office, after consulting a doctor, he, unbelievably continued with the physical examination, but allowed Angela to be seated, which, I am sure readers will agree, was very compassionate of him.
The assessment came to an end shortly afterwards, but the torture did not end there; Angela still had to walk back the length of the corridor. She was absolutely shattered, emotionally and physically, by her experience at the hands of Maximus. Linda admitted that the experience had also ‘shaken’ her, and she said this as someone who does not see themselves as a person who is easily upset. The treatment that Angela received is appalling, but all too common. We can assure Maximus that they have not heard the last of this inhuman outrage, and we have advised Linda on the best course of seeking redress. As for Maximus, hell mend them.