Atos exit cautiously welcomed in Derry

The Atos assessment centre in Londonderry.
The Atos assessment centre in Londonderry.

A move by controversial medical assessment firm ATOS to end it’s government contract has been cautiously welcomed in Derry.

Sinn Fein councillor Colly Kelly said the assessment process for the Personal Independence Payments carried out by ATOS has “proven to be a shambles, not fit for purpose and excessively costly to the public purse.”

Last month the Journal revealed almost 900 ill or disabled people in Derry have been wrongly told they were fit to work by the company since mid 2011.

At that time Maureen Collins from the Derry cancer support group The Pink Ladies - who have held a number of protests outside Atos’ Derry offices - said the work capability assessment process was both “flawed and discriminatory.”

Now councillor Kelly called for a complete review of the entire medical assessment procedures .

“Moving forward we must ensure that the health professionals employed for whatever scheme comes next are qualified to deal with the complex and varied needs of those who will have to undergo the assessments.

“This process must be monitored very closely to ensure that people are not disadvantaged and that the gross failures of the ATOS assessments are not repeated. It must adhere to human rights and equality standards and that it will treat people with disabilities with respect and afford them the dignity that they deserve,” he said.

In late February a spokesman for Atos confirmed it was looking to end its contract with the UK government.

“For several months now we have been endeavouring to agree an early exit from the contract, which is due to expire in August 2015,” he said.