Claims DWP assessors ask: “Why haven’t you killed yourself?”

Doctor

Mentally ill claimants complain they are being asked to justify why they are are still alive 

2nd March 2017 by Robert Armour 12 Comments

Disabled people are being asked why they “haven’t killed themselves yet” by Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)-contracted medical assessors, it has been claimed.

A number of claimants who are being assessed for the new Personal Independent Payments (PIP) have spoken of their outrage on social media after being asked  "deeply inappropriate questions" by assessors employed by Atos and Capita

Alice Kirby, who has mental health issues, posted on Twitter that an Atos assessor appeared to be questioning the validity of her illness because she was “still alive”. 

Assessors are usually medical proferssionals trained to conduct the assessments but can have limited knoweldge of mental ill health. 

Kirby said: “Cuts are costing disabled people their lives, but the assessments themselves can also put us at risk. They are designed to be intrusive and manipulative, and I wanted to raise awareness of that.

"When applicants are asked questions like this, we are forced to explain our reasons to stay alive. No one should be expected to do that, especially in such a toxic and unsupportive environment. Assessors do not have the time or skills to explore the answers to this question with us, and they are not able to provide the support which may be needed afterwards.

“This question was also completely irrelevant to my assessment, it had no impact on the outcome of my award and it wasn’t even referenced in the report. And so we must question the motives behind it.

“These assessments are not safe, people are terrified of going through them, and many are traumatised afterwards. Government needs to investigate the assessment process as a matter of urgency, and it needs to explain why questions like this are being asked.”

Another tweeted: “I was asked that too,” while one tweet recounted an incident where the person’s brother was asked the same question as Kirby.

An Atos healthcare spokesperson said: “We are unaware of a complaint but we will investigate if one is made. Our role is to provide a well evidenced report based upon information obtained using the criteria laid out by government.

“The professional and compassionate service we provide to claimants is our primary consideration.”

Atos says its Personal Independent Payment assessors undertake “thorough training, particularly on assessing those with mental health conditions”, and that experienced mental health professionals are available to teams to offer additional guidance and support when needed.

Comments

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2nd March 2017 by Jeff Smith

Truly disgraceful, and shows just how arrogant and ruthless these so-called 'assessors' have become.

3rd March 2017 by jeffrey davies

atos the land of of the liars yet these highly trained hcp hmm are just there to stop one getting through to your benefit if these hcp told the truth then the government would sack all these companies that do its bidding

3rd March 2017 by Still Oaks

Brown envelope on the doorstep arrived It said an “Invitation” to claim for PIP Of my “Lifetime” Award I was deprived Means to survive they meant to stripMental Health Problems? Suicide tried? Why are you still alive? The Physiotherapist asked My failure in death? Explanations, I must provide His sneers and ridicule barely maskedHis bonus in mind my failure he did contrive The report full of lies and speculation Zero points. Not enough to be worthy of being alive Of my ultimate demise it lays the foundationFor the lives being lost they live in denial For the lives they have taken they must stand trial...

3rd March 2017 by Still Oaks

Apologies the above formatting was not as the original...

21st March 2017 by Julie Fowles

I was assessed aswel an she said she had 20 yrs experience as a nurse ,she didn't know anything about my mental health or my mobility issues it's degrading and i hated every minute i was there ,the government seriously need to change the way ppl get assessed

6th April 2017 by Miriam elliott

I've got my second pip interveiw I'm at a panic again ..the cut my mobile last time and only gave me basic pip for care ..I lost my carer as I can pay her mom ..my son who live get travel to see most evening when he can as he does drive so walls over 3miles to see me make sure I've got good and help me get dressed which is not right he as his own life ..now he taking time to take me too my interview . I keep up to date ..I have mental health issues did artrist had catratery surgery last year eye are getting better but it still hard to see near glasses help but not much double vision still ..I don't go out as I get panic attacks .. lost. Confused ..so tomorrow a bit day ..and it fighten too ... it well not a lot I can do now just hope all goes well for me ...I've had my children taken off me when they were young ..in and out of hospital .. now they are grown they do all the work for me when they visit as I love on Essex they bet one love in London so the yongerst looks after me the most ..bless him ...

12th April 2017 by Clare

I had my PIP assessment on Monday. As many people know, the "why haven't you done it yet" (killed myself) was asked. At the time, I didn't really register the question. I can't remember my answer, but a strange thing has happened since then. I'm now wondering if my reasons for not trying again are good enough. And who should decide if the things that have kept me alive since are enough? I used to work in mental health, a regular question would be to ask about protective factors, what stops a person from ending their life. In the context of an assessment, this is a valuable question allowing a person to reflect on the important parts of their existence that are meaningful, valuable and provide a sense of worth in their life. I can't help thinking that a question designed to be supportive in one context has been twisted to be an abusive one in the context of an interview with narrow parameters, in a financial decision. That's certainly left me awake for the last couple of nights, questioning my own validity, wondering if the decision I made when clinically depressed was the correct one. My conclusion, this question is applied liberally, dangerously and with no clinical or financial validity. My physical health is poor, and has not been changed by the assessment, but my fragile mental health certainly has. And no Capita, not for the better.

14th April 2017 by Kevin Blakey

UNFORTUNATELY THIS DISGUSTING BEHAVIOUR DOES NOT SURPRISE ME AND I HAVE SUFFERED SIMULAR QUESTIONS.

16th June 2017 by ian

if the nurse wont give her / his name I would say, well you could be anybody, I need your full name, I will run a check on you before doing any assessment to make sure you are who you say you are.if still no name comes forward, then I would terminate the interview on safety grounds as I would not disclose any personal info to a unknown person

16th June 2017 by ian

if one of these pathetic assessors asked me why I haven't killed myself, I would say THIS question is irrelevant or NO COMMENT

12th October 2017 by Bel

That person who said that must be sacked. To have said this to a person who already have a mental health problem is disgusting. Just wait until she ends up with this condition and someone said that to her. What would she thinks then.

12th October 2017 by Carole McGowan

Pity the assessors don't kill themselves! They are all a waste of space as far as I'm concerned,and have the people skills and compassion of a nat. Still ,what goes around,comes around!