Derry’s Pink Ladies have vowed to hold further protests against cancer patients being forced to undergo work capability assessments.
The support group who demonstrated outside the ATOS building on Wednesday said they were highlighting the fact, that despite providing supporting evidence from GPs and oncologists, some cancer patients are still required to undergo Work Capability Assessments (WCA). They were joined on the protest by the Mayor Martin Reilly, members of the public, local politicians and members of local trade unions. The tests are a list of questions or indicators, which inform the Department of Work and Pensions whether a claimant is fit for work or should remain on sickness benefits.
The practice was described by Michelle McLaren of The Pink Ladies as: “an abhorrent intrusion and a waste of time.”
“People basically have to justify the fact that they have or have had cancer, in order to continue claiming already awarded benefits. Cancer treatment is difficult enough.”
Pink Ladies group coordinator, Michelle, added: “Who are ATOS questioning, the patient or the doctors?
“Why are forms filled in by medical experts, who have examined and treated the patient, not acceptable evidence?
“The opinion of the medical professionals should be valid for ATOS and DWP.
“We argue that this series of random questions simply can’t be allowed to replace indepth medical tests.
“Yet if you don’t go you get wiped. This is an additional ordeal being placed on people who are already in the midst of a health ordeal.
“Sick people just shouldn’t have to go through this.”
The Pink Ladies say the tests make no fiscal sense either.
“The cost of the assessments are £350 each, so how much do they save on these tests? Of those whose benefits are cancelled and appeal, 39% have the money reinstated.
“So the question is where are the savings here?”
The Pink Ladies are planning more protests at ATOS office, Strand Road in September.
As part of their campaign the Ladies are compiling case studies of ATOS assessments, and asked for those who’ve dealt with the company to share their experiences with them.
Michelle said: “We will gather the medical and personal evidence and then present it to the government. So even if you wish to remain anonymous please help us highlight all that is wrong with the ATOS model.”
Michelle concluded by stating: “We are calling on all of Derry, please come and support Derry’s cancer patients, support our campaign. Cancer patients should not have to undergo these tests.”
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