Fun and games with ATOS

A few days ago, I got two very strange letters from ATOS. One was informing me that my appointment on 11th May had been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances, and the other said that my appointment on 7th May (huh?) was also cancelled. The one about the 11th was odd enough, but the 7th? What appointment on the 7th? And according to the letter, that one had been due to be held in Gloucester. Gloucester? Are you kidding me? It’s 30 miles away!

Puzzled, I got on the phone to ATOS yesterday. They denied all knowledge of the 7th, and said the appointment on the 11th was going ahead, and that a BSL interpreter has been booked. No explanation for the letters. I asked what the 7th had been all about and the advisor suggested it might have been linked to DLA. I asked why DLA would suddenly arrange appointment. They said they didn’t know, all they could see on their system was my old ESA claim – which stopped nearly two months ago – and that I would have to call DLA as it was two different departments. They said that ATOS handle all benefits, but I would have to contact the DLA department. I asked, reasonably I thought, that if ATOS handle all benefits, why DLA wasn’t showing up on their system as it’s all the same company. They replied that they were two completely seperate benefits (Are they? REALLY?) and that I would have to call the DLA department and – surprise, surprise – they didn’t have the number. I said I’d find it and hung up.

There you have it. As part of the radical overhaul of the benefits system, instead of government departments that don’t share information, you get two corporate departments – of the same company – who don’t share information. Fantastic.

But it didn’t end there. I couldn’t find a number specific to DLA for ATOS, either in the letters or online, so I called the general helpline again today. Again, they denied all knowledge of the 7th, and having been reassured that I wouldn’t be accused of deliberately missing the appointment if it turned out to be for real, I let the matter rest. Then I brought up my other reason for calling. I am nervous of the medical, and I have read few, if any, good things about them. I have no idea of who the BSL interpreter will be, and thus no idea of the qualifications they will have. I asked if I could tape the medical and have it transcribed so that I could be sure of what the interpreter was saying for me.

They said that I could tape the medical, but that I needed to call the centre directly and let them know, and helpfully gave me the number, and even more helpfully, it turned out to be the correct number.

I got through on the fourth attempt, having been cut off twice. After the usual security preamble, I explained my reason for calling; that I was concerned about my interpreter accurately translating everything I signed, and that I would like to tape the medical and have it transcribed.

They asked me to hold the line while they ‘got advice’.

After a minute or so, they came back and said that all they could say was that a “signer” had been booked, and that they were a “professional signer” and that that was all they could say. Ignoring the slur on interpreters and choosing not to correct the ‘signer’ term – cowboy terp anyone? – I asked “but does that mean I can record the interpreter?”

They said they had no provisions for recording medicals.

I said my Dad has a couple of old tape decks (he does) and I could bring them.

They asked me to hold the line.

When they came back, they asked if they could have a number to call me back. I said that I was calling from a minicom and I wouldn’t be around all day and my mobile is strictly text messages only. They said they completely understood and promised to text me back.

I’m still waiting.

5 thoughts on “Fun and games with ATOS

  1. Rosie Coomber

    Interesting blog as always Donna which has started a conversation in my office! Of course one of the things I would advise you – as I am sure you already know – is to ensure that the interpreter has their NRCPD card displayed or ask to see it if not. If they are unregistered you have the right to refuse to go ahead with the medical since they have employed the services of someone who potentially is unqualified and has no insurance.
    I personally don’t see why the interpreter would have a problem with you recording the conversation. Of course what you really need to do is film it so you also have your signing but maybe that’s going a bit OTT!
    You also have the right to know the name of the person who has been booked – it is your information that you are asking for.
    Good luck and let us know how you get on!

  2. Wendy Mann

    This government is totally against the vulnerable in the UK. What a bunch of wealthy tossers they all are. Cameron had a disabled son, he should know the difficulties people have when they have a body that doesn’t function. But hey, seems like he used his own son to gain sympathy to the stupid electorate who voted him in. Has Cameron no shame in what he is doing to people who can’t cope? Stopping the teeny bit of benefits, when people are already desperately hard up. How does that man sleep at night?

  3. Carl

    Thatcher was bad, stealing milk from children, then the poll tax, then privatisation, list goes on. It’s a wonder that the gas chambers are not up yet, that’s what Hitler did to the disabled, Tory party take note, it’s cheap and efficient, after all you all have a pathological hatred for the wheelchair brigade.

  4. Anna Oliver

    Can’t believe the coalition is so nasty when people have cancer, yes cancer patients are being made to attend work capability tests, and found fit to work, it’s a bloody disgrace. Haven’t they got enough problems without being made to attend Atos medical interrogations.


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