Sunday, 2 December 2012

Atos vigil, Save Lewisham Hospital and "Converge on Kershaw" this week

Vigil in Remembrance of Atos Victims
to be held on International Day of Disabled People
3rd December 2012

Assemble outside Atos Assessment Centre, Stephenson House, 2 Cherry Orchard Road, Croydon, CR0 6BA at 12.30pm for a Minute’s Silence to be held at 12.45pm

Speakers:  Janet Richards, Chair of Croydon Disability Forum and Ellen Clifford, Disabled People Against Cuts

A vigil will be held outside the Atos assessment centre in Croydon on 3rd December in remembrance of disabled and ill people who have suffered as a result of the punitive regime of assessments carried out by Atos Healthcare to test Incapacity Benefit/Employment and Support Allowance claimants. Croydon and Bromley Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) are organising the event in response to John McDonnell MP’s call for International Day of Disabled People which falls on the 3rd to be held this year to remember all Atos victims.

73 disabled people found ‘fit for work’ through Atos Healthcare’s notorious Work Capability Assessments die every week. Some die of the conditions Atos have assessed them on, others take their own lives in sheer desperation at the hopelessness of their situation.

The British Medical Association voted overwhelmingly that these Assessments are unethical and should be stopped with immediate effect yet the misery continues with disabled people terrified of the day the brown envelope calling them up to assessment comes through.

Suffering is not limited to the thousands of disabled people undergoing the distress of continual assessments, removal of benefits before they are even informed of any decisions and the stress of appeals, it also affects the families, friends and carers of disabled people.

The 13 year old son of Brian McArdle wrote to Atos to tell them they are ‘killing genuinely disabled people like my Dad’ after his Dad died from a heart attack the day after his benefits were stopped. Mr McArdle, having suffered a blood clot on his brain, was left paralysed on one side, unable to speak properly and blind in one eye and yet was summoned to an Atos work capacity assessment, before which he suffered a further stroke.

This is just one of thousands of similar cases across the country. People with terminal illnesses are routinely found fit for work alongside soldiers returning from Afghanistan with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, people with severe physical impairments, people with learning disabilities and mental health survivors.

Atos enjoys a one hundred million pound contract with the Department for Work and Pensions and last year their Chief Executive pocketed a cool one million pound bonus for running a company linked to bullying of staff and failing to pay workers a living wage.

Meanwhile the tax-payer picks up an extra fifty million bill for the cost of appeals against judgements made through the Atos WCA process.

Atos carries out its contract with the Department for Work and Pensions with callous disregard for the welfare of disabled people. The General Medical Council are investigating numerous healthcare staff employed by Atos for professional misconduct while the assessment centre in Croydon is not even accessible to wheelchair users, leaving them having to travel miles away to an alternative centre.

The vigil is being called by members of Croydon and Bromley Disabled People Against Cuts but we invite everyone who believes in social justice and the rights of disabled people to join us.

Then on Monday evening 7pm, 3rd December, a Save Lewisham Hospital organising meeting, Waldron Health Centre, Amersham Vale, New Cross
More details Lewisham Keep Our NHS Public website

Tuesday 4th December, 6pm Calabash Centre, George Lane SE6 3HH

Matthew Kershaw, the special administrator appointed by the government is "consulting" with the public. Come and tell him why you object to his proposals.

The event coincides with the 55th anniversary of the Lewisham train crash when 90 people died but many lives were saved due to the proximity of Lewisham Hospital.

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