My partner had an indefinite DLA award due to several chronic conditions some of which he has had since childhood. Last spring he was transferred to PIP and was assessed by a young physiotherapist employed by ATOS.
It is very hard to manage several medical conditions at the same time because not only you have to deal with the symptoms and the side effects of the medications but also how different drugs regimes interact with one another and how at times certain therapies have to be stopped because they make another condition worse. And how at times some conditions will have to be left untreated because it would be too dangerous to do anything.
In the claim form he explained in detail how this makes daily life hard and complicated and he included medical evidence from three consultants.
The result was zero points for everything. The assessor did not even try to understand the problem preferring to focus on manual dexterity and eye contact which are both completely irrelevant in this case. She did not take into account the constant pain, fatigue, dizziness and other physical symptoms. And the amount of energy and time required every day to ensure that all conditions are kept under control. Most of the questions were standard and irrelevant.
The report was also shoddy, she did not list all his medical conditions, forgetting two, including one which causes significant problems. She did not list all the symptoms or side effects. Not all medical evidence provided was listed in the report, with two letters completely ignored.
Both the claim form and the medical evidence stated that two of his medical conditions are not well controlled and one is only managed conservatively because of the impact any intervention would have on other conditions. The assessor wrote in the report that all his conditions are well controlled with medication and there are not problems in managing them. The fact that his disabilities have extra costs and require constant support was not even taken into consideration.
In many instances she wrote exactly the opposite of what was in the claim form and was said at the assessment. He stated that he no longer reads books as he does not have the concentration to do so because of fatigue and pain. She wrote that he regularly reads.
He stated that he tries to go out once a day in the morning, which is the best time of the day for him, but often has difficulty managing even this, she wrote that he goes for walks three times a day.
He stated that he tries to have about 2 long baths a week because they are good for his circulation but that it is becoming increasingly difficult to organise them. And she wrote this.
3-4 baths a day! Where did she get that from?
For his Mandatory Reconsideration two of his consultants wrote new very detailed letters, spelling out that given the precarious state of his health removing any support “could lead to increased complications, hospitalisation and risk of mortality”.
It was also pointed out to them the poor quality of the report on which the decision to award 0 points was based.
The decision maker for MR replied that while doctors can make diagnoses they can’t assess how these affect people’s lives while the assessors are properly trained to understand the impact of a disability on people. And they stand with zero points for everything.
My question is how they can do this when they don’t even ask the correct questions, neglect evidence, focus on irrelevant issues and record facts inaccurately? I also do not believe they can understand decades of complex health issues and the cumulative effect they have had on someone’s mental and physical health in 30 minutes!
I know for a fact this is not an isolated case, there are lots of similar experiences. Some are luckier because they are supported by family and friends. Some are on their own and besides the impact of the loss of financial support and the access to other services people would get with PIP, it is extremely hard to be betrayed and let down by those institutions which are supposed to help.