Atos, the company contracted out by the DWP to conduct ‘fit for work’ tests, has come under renewed criticism with a man they deemed fit to work going on hunger strike.
Christos Palmer, who is both mentally and physically disabled, was judged by Atos to be fit for work. As a result of the way he was treated and the company’s ignorance of disability, he went on hunger strike (in association with Disabled People Against Cuts) outside Atos in Cardiff from November 5th until 1:00pm yesterday.
Christos believes Atos is responsible for worsening the illnesses and causing the deaths of some of those they have judged:
“Atos are killing people left, right and centre. One of my friends, Karen Sherlock, died earlier this year whilst trying to claim her benefits. I want Atos staff to see me out here to know disabled people are suffering and in pain.”
This is not the only case of Atos’s policy having a catastrophic effect. Political Scrapbook reports Brian McArdle, a man paralysed down one half of his body, blind in one eye and who couldn’t speak, died the day after his disability benefits were discontinued.
Brian’s family put the heart attack that killed him down to the stress he suffered as a result of Atos’s testing. This is part of a wider problem, with many disabled people suffering health problems and even dying as a result of their being forced to work by an Atos ruling.
Uunfortunately, these incidents are not isolated. Many people suffering from crippling illnesses like Parkinson’s and cancer are deemed fit to work by Atos. Unsurprisingly there has been public outrage and calls for a policy review from the Labour Party.
With the removal of Chris Grayling from the DWP, it is to be hoped his successor Mark Hoban will be humane and curb this disgusting policy.