Paralympics sparks Atos assessment row
Vision charity the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has
called for the government to shake up its work capability assessment
(WCA) scheme amid protests against supplier Atos Healthcare's
involvement in the Paralympics.
Atos, worldwide IT partner for the London 2012 Games, has faced
criticism over what protesters said were flawed medical assessments of
UK residents claiming disability allowances, including those with visual
Steve Winyard, head of policy and campaigns at the RNIB, said: 'Not
only are a high proportion of Atos' assessments producing decisions
that are plainly wrong, but the process itself is creating fear, distress
and anger. It is also important to remember that the government sets
the criteria used for assessments and a fundamental review of the
WCA is urgently needed. It is deeply flawed and fails to recognise the
real barriers that disabled people face in obtaining and retaining paid
Atos, which has been involved with the Paralympics since 2002, said
its service followed guidelines set by the government.
A spokesperson said: 'We do not make decisions on people's benefit
entitlement or on welfare policy but we will continue to make sure that
service that we provide is as highly professional and compassionate as
it can be.'
Winyard added: 'Atos is a large international business, and delivers
many services for the government. It would have been contracted to
the Paralympics several years before the difficulties with their provision
of the work capability assessment for Employment and Support
'We are disappointed with the experience blind and partially sighted
people are having with the WCA.
'Blind and partially sighted people, who face some of the biggest
barriers to finding and retaining work, are routinely being found "fit for
work" under the WCA and put onto Jobseekers Allowance.'