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Called for DLA to PIP Assessment at private physio

5 years 10 months ago #165861 by Maggie
Hello there!

This morning my husband received a text message from ATOS to "remind" me that my assessment is on Tuesday 16th August. This was the first we'd heard of it, as we're on holiday in Wales. Fortunately our daughter was able to call into our house and found the letter, which was dated 2 August! I'm pretty sure that it was only delivered this morning, as our next door neighbour was going in to check the post as I was worried the letter would arrive while we were away.

I have ME/CFS plus spondylolisthesis L5/S! and also have poor lung function, have an appt for Spirometry on 25 August.

I am not being sent to an ATOS PIP Assessment Centre, despite there being 2 in Liverpool, and 1 in Birkenhead. Instead I am being sent to the Woolton Physiotherapy Clinic:

Am quite concerned about this, as they are specialists in Rehabilitation. They do mention ME on their website, under the heading "What we treat":

Neurological Conditions – Such as stokes, head injuries, nerve injuries, and M.E.

(and yes, it does say "stokes" which I assume is meant to be "strokes".

I've not heard of anyone being sent to a private clinic for assessment before, and find it worrying. Has anyone else been sent to a private clinic for ATOS Assessment for PIP?

Thanks for any insight you can give me about this!


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5 years 10 months ago #165912 by Gordon

Whilst it's not impossible that ATOS have sub-contracted the assessment to Woolton I think it far more likely that they are simply leasing space in their offices for an ATOS assessor to carry out the assessment.

Even if it were a Woolton employee to do the assessment then they would have to have completed and passed the DWP required training for PIP assessors and would be required to carry out the assessment to DWP standards.


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5 years 10 months ago #165962 by slugsta
My PIP assessment was held at a private physio clinic. As Gordon says, it was simply that ATOS rent space in the clinic, the assessment was not undertaken by clinic staff.

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5 years 10 months ago #166105 by Maggie
Thank you Gordon and Mrs Hurtyback for replies. :)

We just arrived back at our interrupted holiday in Abersoch following my PIP assessment. We also had probs with my Motability car that the local Renault garage said they couldn't look at for 2 weeks! :angry:Fortunately the RAC man who attended within 2 hours of our call (car parked outside our home, so not urgent as some calls can be) was able to do a temporary fix for us... Long story!

I'm too knackered to write more this evening, but I'll try and write what can remember about assessment tomorrow or possibly later. Husband was with me so took a few notes at the time and is trying to write more now while it's fresh in his mind.. Maybe my experience could be useful to others.

Best wishes from a field in Wales!

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5 years 10 months ago #166153 by Maggie
NB apologies for long post - so much detail to cover in hopes it may help others. :)

Totally knackered this morning as husband and I sat up till 1 am going over and over the interview!

A lot of this is a direct copy of husband's (J) notes that he made after we got back to the caravan. Bits from me will be (M)

J. We arrived maybe ten minutes early for our 9am interview. When we saw someone come out of the front door we realised it was open and I went to ask if we could come in. The young lady I was speaking to went to fetch the ramp, but needed help from another lady to get it fixed right. (One does wonder whether this was or was not an arranged ploy to see how Maggie coped.)

M. Shortly after we arrived a young woman arrived in a wheelchair with a much older woman (Mum? Grandmother?) pushing her, she looked very very pale and ill and worried. I have to say I wondered if she was a fellow ME patient, but one of the Severely Affected. Then a woman came and asked for my name and then proof of identity. I offered a selection, including Birth Cert, 2016 letter from DWP about benefits I get, Blue Badge and more I've forgotten now! :whistle:She went off with the Blue Badge, presumably to photo copy it..

M. At start of interview the woman introduced herself as "Pam". I'm not very happy with that - surely she should have given her full name? Then went on to say she was a trained physiotherapist and something else I didn't hear properly, something like and I'm trained in Disability Assessment.

J. Lady introduced herself as "Pam" and I think she may have had a name badge. She said she didn't normally work there but had been called in "from Anfield" as cover for someone on holiday. We didn't have the nous to make sure exactly who she is, but can probably find out.

M. This leads me to believe that she works for ATOS as there's an ATOS centre in Anfield, but the private clinic doesn't have a branch there. So I think you were right about ATOS renting rooms there, Gordon and Mrs Hurtyback. Strikes me as a bit underhand - makes you think you're going to see a *real* physiotherapist who does the job with *real* people. :(

J. The general tenor of the interview was a bit sympathetic and a bit business like, certainly no locking of horns. It was clear she had read Maggie's forms. Only bit that rankles was when Maggie apologised for breaking down in tears while enumerating all her difficulties and problems when Pam said "Don't worry you're not the first Claimant to cry in front of me, and I doubt you'll be the last". We would have preferred "not the first *person*... " But if, for example she is actually employed (and trained by) ATOS, perhaps she doesn't see any "people" anymore, only claimants..

M. It was really only when we got out and I started thinking about it later that I thought it felt quite demeaning to be called a Claimant. It's objectifying the person and making them less of a person in my view. It was then that my hackles began to raise. :ohmy:

J. Most of the questions she asked were keyed to questions on the form - maybe attempts to start a conversation and see whether or not there were discrepancies with the written answers on the form. Or to gain a better understanding of the answers? The question which came across vaguest is the one "can you *plan* a journey?" (maybe this is deliberately open-ended?)

M She enlarged on this question, asking If I could walk could I find my way to the local shops? Yes. Then Could you find your way into Town? I was less sure of this, but I don't get the feeling she really took it onboard. It may have been here that she asked about did I use buses or trains? Used bus once in London when visiting daughter, but it was very difficult as only the one space for wheelchairs and buggies. Never use train, drive places only. Neglected to say when going to visit daughter & grandchildren in London that we have to take 2 days to drive down there, stopping in hotel on M6 Toll road overnight, and similar on way back. More fool me. :(It shows that can't do a journey that long. Oh well. :dry:

J. One question not on the form was:
"Did you ever work?"

M. Strikes me that the way it was put was REALLY loaded!!! I replied that I was working when I got sick. " What did you do?" I was a Medical Laboratory Technician in the Regional Cytogenetics Unit. I cultured blood, and looked at chromosomes in blood cells. "Do you have a degree?". No, I have an HNC in Clinical Chemistry. Head of department employed technicians for some jobs as they are cheaper than Graduates.

Going to take a break now! Will come back with more on the interview later. This is a pretty long post already!!! :ohmy:Sorry for that!

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5 years 10 months ago #166194 by Maggie
Continuing my PIP from DLA Assessment experience.

J. Somewhere along the way we got into the subject of gardens, and she told us about the bee houses and bee-friendly flower bed she had made for her grandchildren, but still didn't see many bees. To which I chipped in "It's hardly surprising we don't all see more bees and butterflies when you look in the gardening section of a supermarket and see mainly poisons for killing this that or the other! No comment at the time, but while we were wrapping things up she made a point of recommending some weed-killer she uses that kills them all in a few hours whatever the weather.

M. It was something on QVC, she recommended the person who does this stuff:

J. Pam queried why Maggie was taking Calcichew (Vit D and Calcium supplement)) did she have osteoporosis? Maggie said taking this one as it has no aspartame. Pam agreed aspartame not good.

M. She also asked why I taking Folic Acid. Reply was on routine blood test found to be low in Folic Acid. We also talked a bit about my high cholesterol and diet, though I think that was earlier when she asked about eating.- which she didn't get - it was all about my muscle ache in jaws and not interested in my total lack of appetite. And difficulty eating and finding smell of food repulsive.

J. She asked why Maggie had the lung test -.

M. I told her about the Liverpool Healthy City stuff that is supporting this. I saw a nurse in GP's surgery, over 65 invited to take part. I told her about having Chest CT scan, but neglected to tell her that I''d had possible exposure to asbestos in the past. Doesn't matter as Chest CT results were all clear.

M. Oh prior to that she asked why I'd mentioned maybe having COPD. Reply was that I'd done the huffy stuff into the tube for the nurse at lung health check and my result was rubbish. Admitted to being a smoker herself (though trying to cut back) then Pam showed us her vaping device. I replied I'd cut back a lot using the vaping stuff, but didn't manage to share I'd cut down from 40 a day to around 10 a *week*. Unfortunately I'm so stressed now over the ATOS assessment I'm back to certainly over 20 a day, probably more. :(

M. We both lost track of when questions asked, and in what order. So further stuff will be a bit random. not necessarily in order questions were asked. Sorry!

J. Pam said "ME has been around for a long time now but there doesn't seem to have been much found out about it". To which Maggie replied "There is some research in Australia showing changes in brain scans, and some immune stuff that I don't understand."

M. Pam asked me to do some physical stuff: Not necessarily in order (forget order):

Put hands behind neck.

Put hands up and down (from wrist).

Touch 1st finger to thumb.

Raise leg to horizontal from knee.

Flex foot up and down from ankle.... Which is when Pam noticed my R ankle was swollen compared to left. I suggested might have had an insect bite, that I had become sensitised to some insects I didn't know what, they brought me out in horrid blistery stuff. She said "Like Hives?" But I didn't manage to answer as not like Hives as I've had Hives and def not the same! I answered with a quote from my Dad about this kind of stuff - "Whelks and Bubucles"

Raise knee while she was pushing it down.

Grasp her fingers.

J. Maggie has less problem with strength than with stamina, which was not tested.

J. When we were there it 'felt' like she was supportive and on the side seeking the truth. Looking back, this changed when she said "I've seen plenty of claimants cry in front of me, and I'll see plenty more."

M. I may have more to add later if I remember more. But this is the major stuff as my husband and I remember it so far. I hope that it will help others, and maybe help them to add more detail in the way I didn't manage to do on some questions.

Good luck to all people who are battling through this process, and also to all people fighting for ESA .

Usually in Liverpool, but returned to disturbed holiday in Wales, so Cyber Hugs to all "Claimants" - though I prefer to think of us as People! :)

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