Written evidence submitted by Heather
My experience of a Work Capability Assessment
and how it failed me completely
1. I attended an assessment funded by my employer
after suffering chronic depression. At that assessment Atos reported
that my depression significantly affected my life, and should
be treated as a disability. Although my employer made all the
right noises, there was in fact no extra support and I was given
no choice other than leaving my job.
2. At that point the Jobcentre Plus advised me
to apply for ESA, and gave me support to fill in the forms. They
could see no reason why I would not be entitled to it. I was told
by letter shortly after applying that I had to attend a medical
3. I was extremely distressed the morning of
the assessment, but a friend helped me get dressed, and helped
me get there. It took well over an hour on public transport to
get there, and cost a significant amount of money, considering
at this point I had no income.
4. After waiting nearly an hour in the waiting
room with no advice how delayed my appointment would be (the receptionist
was rather rude), I was called into a room for my assessment.
The doctor (I'm assuming he was one) did not introduce himself,
and as I sat down said "You look macho, there can't be much
wrong with you", at which point I got more distressed, and
started to cry. After that he proceeded to ask me to bend over
and touch the floor, walk across the room, sit up on the bed etc.
At no point did he ask me anything about my mental health. The
doctor made very little eye contact, and seemed more interested
in his computer screen than listening to what I was trying to
tell him. I also found him extremely difficult to understand as
his English was very poor.
5. I became hysterical in the waiting room after
the assessment and the receptionist phoned a taxi to take my friend
and me home. I was also not able to claim my train fare there
back as my tickets were lost by the company.
6. I scored no points.
7. At that point I was too ill to appeal thanks
to my treatment at the assessment. I am still too ill to work,
and have to attend interviews at the job centre. They believe
I should be on ESA, but I'm too frightened to go through it again.