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Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson calls for Atos Healthcare to be axed in benefits row

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Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson calls for Atos
Healthcare to be axed in benefits row
Sep 6 2012



by Janine Yaqoob, Crosby Herald

AN AMPUTEE who can’t work because of his poor health has
been told he is no longer eligible for disability benefits.

George Mullen, from Brighton-le-Sands, had a leg amputated
when he was 18 after an accident as an apprentice joiner.
Despite this, he continued to work for over 35 years full-time.

At the time, a solicitor told him not to go back to work, but he
ended up as a successful clerk for a small business, despite
suffering from chronic pain.

From chronic infections and abscesses at the amputation site, to
developed arthritis in his neck, shoulders, back, and the knee
and foot of his remaining leg, every day is a struggle for Mr
Mullen.

But, despite this, he continued to work until a member of the
HR department at the company told him he was being retired on
health grounds.

Now on a 24-hour blood pressure monitor because stress
pushes his blood pressure to dangerously high levels, Mr Mullen
applied for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) as a last
resort.

After recently attending a work capability assessment, Mr Mullen
was shocked to discover his money was being stopped.

Critical of the disability assessment carried out by Atos
Healthcare, Mr Mullen contacted Sefton Central MP Bill Esterson
for advice.
Now the MP is calling on the Government to replace the private
company which works on behalf of the Department for Work and
Pensions (DWP).

He said: “I’ve met with constituents who clearly have disabilities
where Atos reports bear little or no resemblance to their own
circumstance.

“The accuracy of these reports needs urgent investigation.

“George Mullen’s case is just one of many which have been
brought to me. It came as a complete shock to have his ESA
stopped recently, when the year was up. He has applied again
and awaits his assessment.”

Bill Esterson, who spoke in a Westminster Hall debate about
Atos Healthcare, added: “There is something fundamentally
wrong with this system.

“That has been supported not just by the claimants, but also the
British Medical Association.

"This is about real people – at-risk people in our communities –
who need help.”

An Atos Healthcare spokesperson said: “We fully understand
that applying for benefit can be an emotive experience for those
involved, which is why we continue to make sure that the
service that we provide is as highly professional and
compassionate as it can be.

“We do not define welfare policy or make decisions on people’s
benefit.

“The process and criteria for all assessments are set by the
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and approved by our
democratically elected Parliament.

“Our focus is to ensure that our team of fully qualified doctors
and nurses carry out thousands of accurate assessments every
month, in full accordance with the detailed guidelines set by the
DWP.

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: AN AMPUTEE who can’t work because of his poor health has been told he is no longer eligible for disability benefits. George Mullen, from Brighton-le-Sands, had a leg amputated when he was 18 after an accident as an apprentice joiner. Despite this, he continued to work for over 35 years full-time. At the time, a solicitor told him not to go back to work, but he ended up as a successful clerk for a small business, despite suffering from chronic pain. From chronic infections and abscesses at the amputation site, to developed arthritis in his neck, shoulders, back, and the knee and foot of his remaining leg, every day is a struggle for Mr Mullen. But, despite this, he continued to work until a member of the HR department at the company told him he was being retired on health grounds.