Written evidence submitted by John Heeps |
Can I take this opportunity to express my outrage
at a system which privatises the bureaucratic exclusion of genuine
claimants for disability support to which they are entitled by
virtue of their contribution to the public purse over long and
productive working lives. Had I imagined that taking my particular
appeal to Tribunal would mean it could be considered on its merits
and not gauged against some [in the words of The Government's
own advisors] "mechanical" and "not fit for purpose"
process, then I would have done so, but I know full well that
the nodding of sympathetic heads will not allow me to achieve
some ludicrous target of 15 points based on whether I can raise
at least one arm above my head and not having an aversion to using
When a daily tabloid trumpets that "75% of all
claimants on disability benefit are 'scroungers' it is surely
only endorsing successive Government's public spin. Clearly Atos
has deemed me a 'scrounger'".
Yesterday I attended my bi-annual Oncology Clinic
at The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham. In passing, I
related to my consultant the findings of the Atos professional
who conducted my review. I told him how I had been assessed as
having 70% abduction of my damaged shoulder/upper arm without
the good doctor bothering to leave the comfort of his chair to
actually examine me. That my consultant could only shake his head
in disbelief says everything. The actual rotational ability of
my shoulder struggles to make single figures. As pointed out in
my appeal letter, this particular Atos professional could not
tell his abduction from his elbow. Not that it would have made
any difference of course. Upper limb disability and 24/7 pain
is still only worth zero points. An aversion to using public transport
may have gained me a point had I chosen to play that particular
gamethe honest don't of course. My consultant also made
it clear that I was in for a lifetime of pain and discomfort that
only amputation could remedy. Maybe the DWP would prefer that
I agree to a lifetime regime of opiate-taking just to switch from
one benefit to another.
It is a scandal that hundreds of thousands of able-bodied
young adults are allowed to remain on disability benefits because
successive Governments have neither the jobs, training opportunities
or another world war to occupy them, whilst people like me are
thrown onto JSA and told that after six months their benefit will
stop. It is equally a scandal that adults who have never contributed,
or contributed very little, to the public purse are granted civic
parity with those who have worked long and prudent lives and who,
when illness strikes before retirement, are told that their private
pension pots are to be means-tested. Some incentive to plan for
If the Atos experience is one that is to be repeated
within the creeping privatisation of the NHS, the beneficiaries
of this brave new world will not be the "customers",
but rather the shareholders based in Dubai or Boston.
MR JOHN HEEPS
Atos Medical 27/10/2010
I wish to appeal against this decision on the grounds
1. My ongoing pain and discomfort at this
stage of my recovery will render me a less than effective and
productive addition to the workplace.
1.1 It was made clear to the Health Care Professional
(HCP) at the outset that pain was my major issue, yet this is
not remarked upon in the summary. That would be understandable
if there were no clinical evidence to substantiate this declaration,
but there demonstrably is. My ability to squat once or lay down
on the couch once were achieved in spite of the pain in my shoulder.
My shoulder is in a permanent state of dislocation because there
is no surgical procedure available to replace the muscle and ligament
removed during surgery to enable the head of the prothesis to
engage with the shoulder cuff. The most comfortable position for
my arm is resting at my side or at 90 degrees to the vertical.
I have been provided with a surgical harness which provides some
psychological support, but in truth little that alleviates either
the pain or the dislocation.
I have been assured that with time, physio and hydro-therapy
that the pain will diminish as the operation heals and other muscles
in the shoulder strengthen and compensate, but as my consultant
says "I will have only very limited function". This
disability will not prohibit a return to a career in Information
Technology or indeed any office-bound occupation as there is voice-activated
software available to work hands-free, pain however will. The
summary states that I use a computer at home for an hour at a
time, but does not say that this restriction is due to pain. My
own setup is not ergonomically correct and unless the keyboard
is on my lap, I am forced to type and perform other functions
2. The non sequitur of a final judgement
upon my condition.
2.1 The judgement that "my disability amounted
to a 'moderate impairment of the shoulder'" is not the logical
inference that can possibly be drawn from the clinical record,
my declarations as summarised by the HCP or the demonstrations
of my physical difficulties.
"It was also noted that Mr Heeps had difficulty
using a pen in the right [my dominant] hand, but appeared to have
no difficulty getting out and handling papers with both hands".
What is being said here? If the writer is stating
that the latter activity in some way qualifies the degree of difficulty
of the prior activity and of the shoulder, it is a misdirection.
I can use my lower limb, elbow to fingers. I can remove and insert
papers in an inside jacket pocket as long as the hand is not required
to reach head height. Writing, and using the lower arm for other
restricted activities are entirely different. As I have discovered,
writing is primarily a shoulder movement. As demonstrated to the
HCP this involved a clumsy mechanical performance of physically
lifting the right arm by the wrist onto the paper and guiding
it across the page. This describes "difficulty using a pen".
The HCP seems to have come up with the equation:
functioning elbow + non-functioning shoulder [zero
= "moderate impairment of right shoulder"
This inference was either a moment of temporary illogicality
or my integrity was being questioned. I'd rather it were the first.
Typed by Laura Jayne Heeps
Dictated and verified by John Heeps