Thousands of terminally ill and disabled people across the UK have died following assessments by Atos, it has been revealed.

Opening a debate in Parliament, former Labour minister Michael Meacher said that 1,300 people have died after being placed in the “work-related activity group”.
He said: “I have been sent nearly 300 case histories, many of which make heart-rending reading. I cannot begin to do justice to their feelings of distress, indignation, fear, helplessness and, indeed, widespread anger at the way they have been treated.

“The first example concerns a constituent of mine who was epileptic almost from birth and was subject to grand mal seizures. At the age of 24, he was called in by Atos, classified as fit for work and had his benefit cut by £70 a week.

“He appealed, but became agitated, depressed and lost weight, fearing that he could not pay his rent or buy food. Three months later, he had a major seizure that killed him. A month after he died, the DWP rang his parents to say that it had made a mistake and his benefit was being restored.”

Over 2,200 people died before the assessment process was completed and 7,100 died after being placed in the group for those entitled to unconditional support as they are too ill or disabled to work.

Mr Meacher accused the firm of “ruthlessly” pressurising the sick and disabled into work and said that it had little regard to their needs.

He continued: “Is it reasonable to pressurise seriously disabled persons into work so ruthlessly when there are already 2.5 million people unemployed and, on average, eight persons chasing every vacancy?”

Bridgend MP Madeleine Moon added that the framework of the assessment is unable to clarify realistically whether someone is able to work.

She said: “The telephone line to my office is often clogged with crying people. They often ring several times a day, as they are unable to cope with the stress that they are facing.

“Many have mental health problems, and are unable to cope with the paperwork. They are unsure what to do with it, and they ring me to ask for help in the most tragic and personal way.”

Even MPs from the Conservative party were critical of Atos with Tory former Cabinet minister Cheryl Gillan saying she was concerned about the treatment of people with autism.

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