It would have seemed hard for Atos to further worsen its appalling reputation on the Work Capability Assessment, but in a blatant PR puff-piece in the Financial Times it seeks to create an impression it wants to withdraw from the WCA because of repeated death threats to its staff by disabled campaigners.
According to the FT “Atos Healthcare said the political environment had become untenable and that it was no longer fair to employees to leave them vulnerable to attack. ‘It is becoming incredibly difficult for our staff; it’s pretty unpleasant,’”
‘it’s pretty unpleasant’ seems rather ironic given the hundreds of thousands of disabled people repeatedly subjected to the incredibly distressing WCA by Atos.
Now death-threats are clearly unacceptable, but what is particularly interesting here is Atos have never before alleged their staff were at risk, and they had the perfect opportunity in front of the Work and Pensions Select Committee barely a month or so ago. When it comes to unacceptable behaviour, the focus has rather been on Atos staff indulging in such unprofessional behaviour as homophobic rants to patients, or attacking claimants as ‘scroungers’ on social media. Indeed the BMA found it necessary to remind doctors working for Atos that basic honesty was a professional requirement.
The true explanation for Atos’ behaviour may be revealed further into the article, where it admits ‘The French IT company has been in discussions with the Department for Work and Pensions with a view to exiting the deal since October last year, because it views the tests as “outdated”. “In its current form it is not working for claimants, for DWP or for Atos Healthcare,” Atos said. “For several months now we have been endeavouring to agree an early exit from the contract, which is due to expire in August 2015.”’
In other words the campaign by disabled people to reveal the truth about Atos and the WCA has been so successful that it has destroyed the company’s reputation in the
and it is desperate to find a way out. UK
Atos could simply have said ‘We are being asked to implement a policy that doesn’t reflect the needs of those subjected to it,’ and guaranteed themselves a PR win for being mature enough to admit when they are wrong; but, in an absolutely classic example of bullying behaviour, Atos seeks to turn its disabled victims into the aggressors for forcing the truth of their behaviour into the public conscience, and there we find the true measure of Atos.