Atos 'told woman with Crohn's disease to wear nappy to work'
Private company hired to check out welfare claimants attacked by MPs for 'degrading and crass' attitude
ATOS, the French-owned private company employed by the government to expose benefit fraudsters, faces renewed criticism for its "degrading and crass" attitude towards welfare claimants. It follows the revelation by a Labour MP said Atos asked a constituent with Crohn's disease to "wear a nappy for work".
Iain Wright, the member for Hartlepool, made the allegation during yesterday's parliamentary debate about Atos, which is contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions to assess if those receiving incapacity benefits are fit for work.
Wright complained his constituent 'Mrs M' was one of several treated like "dirt" by the company when she was told to wear the nappy.
"Her assessment and appeal were degrading, insensitive and unprofessional," said Wright. "She was described throughout her appeal notes as a man. Incorrect dates and fictitious telephone calls were placed on her files—in other words, lies."
The Independent reports that fellow Labour MP and former minister Michael Meacher, who opened the debate, said 1,300 people had died after being placed by Atos in a category of people expected to begin preparing for employment – the so-called "work related activity group".
Conservative MP and former Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan raised concerns about how claimants with autism were treated while Robert Halfon, the Tory MP for Harlow, said Atos had "not covered itself in glory".
Writing on Twitter following the debate, Meacher said he had "never seen such unanimity" among MPs that Atos had failed. He promised not to let the issue go after what The Guardian described as an "emotional" discussion.
Responding to criticism, Atos has said that during the "difficult process" of discovering whether benefit claimants are fit for work their employees follow "strict guidelines" and they "continually ask for feedback".