“I am a 53 year old woman who suffers from PTSD, severe anxiety, depression, panic attacks and insomnia. I also have problems with my eyesight and previously had cancer (my PTSD stems from the cancer and its treatment).
I am on ESA ( Support Group) and currently still in receipt of DLA.
I am in the process of being moved to PIP.
Last February I was re-assessed for ESA, the prospect of a face to face assessment triggered suicidal thoughts and they became so urgent that I went to A & E. I was under the Crisis Team for a couple of weeks afterwards. The DWP granted a paper- based assessment and I was awarded ESA Support Group again.
When I submitted my PIP form I mentioned this and I had a supporting letter from my GP. I also submitted 20 pages of evidence. In the form I pleaded not have a face to face assessment.
After submitting my form I received a letter from Atos saying that I possibly won’t need a face to face assessment but my GP has been contacted for further information. I contacted my surgery and found out that my GP was away for three days.
The next day I got a friend to phone Atos, I’m too scared to talk to them myself. My friend was going to tell Atos that my GP was going to be back in a couple of days. The woman from Atos said that they tried to contact my GP twice on the phone but didn’t get to speak to her, therefore they made an appointment for a face to face assessment for me in two weeks’ time.
When I heard that I screamed in terror and threw myself on the floor. The phone was on speaker and the Atos employee heard my reaction. All she said was that the doctor has to fill in a form and get it to them before the date of the assessment. There was no compassion for my distress. I was in an absolute panic.
The next day I contacted the lady from Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group who helped me fill in the PIP form. She advised me to email the district manager of the DWP, explaining exactly what happened and also contact my local MP. I also spoke to WinVisible who advised to phone my local MP’s office and ask one of her assistants to call Atos on my behalf.
I did that.
The next day I got a phonecall from someone from the customer resolution team from the DWP. She said she called because of my email and apologized for the distress I suffered. She told me that my face to face assessment was cancelled and I would get a paper-based assessment. She told me that they did speak to my GP. That was the day before my friend called Atos for me, and was told no contact was made and I needed a face to face assessment.
I spoke to my GP the same day as I got the confirmation of paper- based assessment, she confirmed speaking to them the day before I was told that they didn’t.
I still got a letter saying I had a face to face assessment, but the next day I had another letter from Atos confirming it is cancelled. I also had a letter from my MP saying that they contacted Atos and I will have a paper-based assessment.
At this point a week a later I still don’t have a decision on my PIP claim. At least I don’t have to go to the dreaded face to face. I still don’t know why I was told there was no contact with my GP, when indeed there was.
This has caused me an immense amount of distress and anxiety. All along, Atos knew about my suicidal thoughts regarding face to face assessments.
I wonder what would have happened without the help and advice from KUWG, WinVisible and my MP?”