New claims of Atos assessment lies are ‘tip of a massive iceberg’


New evidence proves that the controversial outsourcing contractor Atos should be stripped of all of its disability benefit assessment contracts, say disabled campaigners.

Fresh concerns about the behaviour of Atos and its assessors emerged after Disability News Service (DNS) revealed last week how an Atos nurse repeatedly lied about a disabled man he was assessing for personal independence payment (PIP).

The nurse, who is believed to be still carrying out assessments for Atos, stated in his report – in addition to a string of other incorrect statements – that Colin Stupples-Whyley had attended the PIP assessment alone, even though his partner had sat with him throughout the interview.

Now, following the publication of that story, other disabled claimants have come forward to describe to DNS how their Atos assessors “lied” about them in benefit assessment reports.

Former nurse Sue Hardy, who lectured on nursing for 22 years at the University of Bedfordshire, until she was forced to retire due to ill-health in 2013, said she was appalled when she read the report written by the Atos nurse who assessed her for the out-of-work disability benefit employment and support allowance (ESA).

The report was littered with errors, but most worrying was the cognitive tests section, which was filled in by the assessor even though none of the tests had been carried out.

Hardy, who was accompanied by a friend to the assessment, said: “This nurse lied on my assessment form. Having just had to give up my 35-year career as a nurse and senior lecturer, I found her assessment erroneous in many areas.”

She appealed against the decision to place her in the work-related activity group of ESA, and won her appeal at tribunal, but also lodged a complaint with Atos, and with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

In the NMC complaint, she said the assessor had “completely fabricated, and invented the results of the cognitive assessment”.

She told DNS: “I think Atos is a joke. How many people out there are being denied a fair assessment?

“Nurses have a duty of care to all patients and clients and are bound by their code of conduct.

“To omit an assessment or part thereof is negligence, and thus that duty of care is broken.

“Atos employ nurses alongside doctors and physiotherapists, who are bound by similar codes of conduct.

“So if the nurses are being caught fabricating assessment results, what about the other disciplines?

“It is very worrying, and Atos obviously can’t perform these assessments to the required standards, resulting in people missing out on their benefits.”

Although Atos handed over the ESA contract to another company earlier this year, it still has two major contracts to carry out PIP assessments.

Colleen Hardy [no relation to Sue Hardy], from Kent, has described how a report written by the Atos physiotherapist who assessed her was littered with either basic errors or deliberate untruths about the impact of several chronic health conditions, including depression, anxiety, a thyroid disorder, and fibromyalgia.

She was accompanied to the Atos building for the assessment by both a community psychiatric nurse and a friend, and both of them were able to dismiss the assessor’s claims that she had climbed a flight of stairs without help and by holding onto the bannister.

Hardy later told DWP that the assessor was “either unqualified to give an informed opinion or she is being blatantly misleading and/or obstructive with the actual evidence”, and that she had simplified the impact of the fibromyalgia to a “ridiculous extent”.

She said: “When I received my copy of the report, I was gobsmacked. It was full of inaccuracies and, let’s call a spade a spade here, lies!”

As a result of the assessment in July 2012, she was removed from the support group of ESA and placed in the work-related activity group.

After she appealed, a tribunal ruled that the original report was accurate, but still placed her back in the support group, although it did not reimburse her for the benefits she had lost in the meantime.

Hardy said: “Atos and all involved never once explained any of the outlined inaccuracies in that report and stood by the physiotherapist completely.

“I lost a fair amount of money, I lost confidence and my health suffered so much. This was all after the assessor deciding – despite all the professional opinion to the contrary she was shown – that in three months’ time I would be fit enough to work.”

She added: “I can’t believe that Atos are more than happy to allow a liar to continue working for them.”

Three other claimants have also come forward to accuse Atos assessors of lying in their reports.

One told DNS how her Atos assessor asked her three questions, two of which required one-word answers, and then told her that her medical records answered all of the other questions.

After giving the assessor a two-minute rundown of her week, she was “ushered out” of the assessment.

She said: “When I was told I had (of course) failed the test, scoring the usual ‘0’ for mental health issues, I was shocked to read the report, which stated the interview had lasted 25 minutes, and a whole raft of questions had been asked!

“To say the least, I was gobsmacked at this thick tome of utter fabrication.”

Another claimant, with conditions including diabetes, a chronic degenerative disease that has ruptured all but two of the discs in her neck, arthritis, high blood pressure, and panic attacks, was told she had scored zero points in her assessment.

She said: “The tissue of lies was unbelievable. It’s a bloody farce, the whole thing.”

Among the inaccuracies in the report, the assessor claimed the claimant had opened the door to the assessment centre, when her daughter had done so, and that she had no problem removing her coat and undoing the buttons, even though she had not been wearing a coat.

She said: “There was nothing to indicate any of the responses I’d given. They also stated I had no problems getting on the couch, [even though]they had to get me a step and she had to help me down.”

A third claimant – the fifth in all to describe their experiences – described how an Atos doctor wrote in his report that he had performed “squats” in front of him, and “repeatedly climbed on and off the assessment couch without problems”.

He said: “Not only is it impossible for me to squat, but the assessor actually had to provide me with steps to get onto the couch and help (alongside another person)… lift me on and off.”

Although a tribunal subsequently found the report to be accurate, despite a witness and statements from specialists and doctors saying it could not have happened, the assessment was subsequently “completely dismissed” at a supersession – which allows DWP to change a benefit decision if a claimant’s circumstances change or if the decision was made without knowledge of the full facts – requested by his MP.

He said: “The whole system is obscene and bordering on corrupt.”

Rick Burgess, co-founder of the campaign group New Approach, said he was now hearing of many PIP claimants who were experiencing the same kind of “fraudulent healthcare professional reports” that ESA claimants had been subjected to, allowing DWP decision-makers to disallow their claims.

He said: “I have yet to meet someone who thought their report accurately recorded the assessment and their impairment/illness. Seriously, no-one!

“Sadly, the abuse and horror that was meted out to ESA claimants is now going to come to DLA/PIP claimants on a scale hitherto unseen.

“I think many who have not experienced a work capability assessment and tribunal have been sceptical of the reports of abuse and fraud from Atos and the DWP, but unfortunately that will be happening to those making PIP claims now.

“The government has a target to cut half a million [PIP] claims… the only way to do that is to commit medical/welfare fraud on disabled people on a massive scale; just as they do with ESA.”

Lawyer and benefits expert Nick Dilworth, also a co-founder of New Approach, said he had helped hundreds of disabled people with appeals and requests for reconsiderations of benefit decisions, mainly those who had undergone testing for ESA eligibility by Atos.

He said it was “commonplace for question-marks to be raised by clients over inconsistencies in what had been said with the healthcare professional conducting face-to-face assessments”.  

He said: “Clients would regularly allege that Atos lied over how long they had remained sitting or standing or [had been]seen walking from waiting areas to the examination room.  

“The amount of time a claimant was reported as ‘sitting continuously’ simply wouldn’t tally with the timing on the ESA85 [assessment form]detailing how long the assessment lasted.  

“You could see the same report remarking on how, within the same time, the ‘claimant rose unaided several times’; it didn’t add up.”

He said it was too early to say whether PIP assessments were any better than those for ESA.

Dilworth said he had been impressed when he attended an Atos PIP assessment, although “others have told me the whole report is ‘a complete joke’”.  

Linda Burnip, a co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), said: “Sadly none of these complaints about the appallingly low standard of Atos assessors comes as a surprise.

“Atos has consistently failed to meet the terms of their contracts for PIP assessments, with inaccessible centres still being used in many parts of the country.

“They are still unable to attract high-calibre staff and they should be stripped of the PIP contracts with immediate effect.”

John McArdle, co-founder of the Black Triangle campaign, said he agreed with Hardy’s concerns about assessors who were doctors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, as well as nurses.

He said: “Private companies should be driven out of anything to do with the assessment of disabled people, because their first duty is to shareholders, to maximise profits.”

He said the concerns raised with DNS were just “the tip of a massive iceberg”.

He said: “Atos are still employing people who are demonstrably liars. It shows the General Medical Council [for doctors]and the NMC are not doing their job.”

DPAC researcher Anita Bellows added: “We have received similar complaints about PIP assessments.

“I would advise claimants to request the assessment to be audio-recorded and to bring somebody with them.

“If they are unhappy about the outcome, they should request the assessor’s report. In the meantime, this needs to be formally investigated.”

An Atos spokeswoman said: “All assessment services for ESA transferred to a new provider earlier this year.

“As part of that process, we transferred all the claimant data we held to the DWP.

“Therefore we now have no way to look back at these cases and investigate but can assure you that we had a stringent complaints policy in place when we ran the contract and all complaints made were fully investigated.”

When asked if that meant that Atos had no record of complaints made against its staff while it was carrying out the WCA contract, she declined to comment.

An NMC spokeswoman said the organisation did not have any data on complaints about Atos assessors, and could not confirm any details about a specific complaint unless it reached a “fitness to practice” hearing.

  • User Ratings (38 Votes)
  • My PIP assessment was theoretically by Atos, but was done by a subcontractor at their own (physiotherapy) practice premises, and was pretty much faultless. Excellent manner, accurate report except for the odd minor point that made no difference.

    My partner was assessed by Atos at their own premises, and it was a fiasco. Assessment was rushed, report inaccurate, and absurd logic (can’t have MH problems if you have no meds for them or specialist involvement, as if specialist involvement were easy to get). Reconsideration didn’t bother to wait for our evidence even though we told them why it was delayed – they waited until the very day the arrival of the evidence was logged, though. Didn’t use it, and refused to look at it afterwards.

    So, off to appeal we go…

    • Richard bond

      I had 2 Atos assessments and on both occasions the assesors was in my opinion un qualified to carry out the so called obsevasions it went to appeal and I won,i have now given pip more evidence that my condition has worsened and guess what ANOTHER ATOS appointment more lies and half truths to look forward to but my partner will be recording the assesment

  • Di ane

    “An NMC spokeswoman said the organisation did not have any data on complaints about Atos assessors, and could not confirm any details about a specific complaint unless it reached a “fitness to practice” hearing.”

    I complained about the terrible treatment of my husband and the NMC didn’t do anything to the so-called nurse, I was shocked to my core, until I found out ATOS run the company that dealt with NMC complaints! So complaints NEVER get to the “fitness to practice” hearing.”
    The whole system is rotten to the core!!!

    • Can you give me any more details about this company that deals with the NMC complaints?

      • Di ane

        hi: I can’t find the info offhand but the link between ATOS & KPMG is well documented.

        In my husband’s case the ATOS nurse NEVER did the WCA and yet he was found fit for work. I presented all my evidence to the NMC and they didn’t want to know, when I contacted them they glibly said over and over that she wasn’t a practising nurse she was a disability analyst.

        I hope you find some info from these web sites:

        I will keep looking for the original info that I had, in the meantime: I hope this helps?

        • Thanks, Diane, that is really helpful…

          • Di ane

            You are most welcome.

        • Interesting. I contacted the NMC and GMC on a hypothetical basis a couple of years back, and both assured me that any registered individual working in a role that requires their registration is considered to be a role in which they are working as a nurse, midwife or doctor.

          Perhaps John could get them to clear this up to him as a member of the press.

      • Di ane

        NMC and Atos – conflict of interest

        In a previous FoI response you admitted the following regarding a
        member of the NMC using work as an HCP to remain on your register:

        “In order to maintain their registration with the NMC, nurses and
        midwives are required to pay the registration fee annually. In
        addition to this, every three years they are required to declare
        that they have met the Prep requirements of 450 hours of registered
        practice* over the last 3 years and 35 hours of learning activity
        over the last three years by completing a Notification of Practice
        form (NoP). Overseas registered hours can be used to meet these

        I have attached a copy of the NMC Prep Handbook for your
        information. It states:

        ‘The NMC defines ‘practising’ as you working in some capacity by
        virtue of your registration as a nurse, midwife or specialist
        community public health nurse. Practice can include administrative,
        supervisory, teaching, research and managerial roles as well as
        providing direct patient care.’

        The NMC requires nurses and midwives to use their professional
        judgement in determining whether the roles they are working in are
        utilising the skills of their qualifications and registration.”

        The above gives members far too much leeway, in my opinion,
        however, what I want to know is, do you accept that your members
        are working in a medical capacity when employed by Atos as HCPs?

        Do you accept that Atos and its ilk will only employ your members
        in a medical capacity for medical assessments – bearing in mind
        that HCP MUST have a medical qualification and 3 years experience
        in their professional field in order to carry out medical

        Do you accept that, therefore, in their capacity as medical
        professionals working for Atos, etc., as HCPs, your members are
        governed by your regulations – especially as they must be
        registered with the NMC in order to secure the job of HCP in the
        first place?

        Do you accept that, given your members are working as medical
        professionals for Atos, etc., the NMC must treat all complaints
        about said members as if they were working for any other employer –
        such as the NHS, for example?

        If you answer in the negative to any of the above questions please
        explain why and provide evidence to back up your answer.

        Regarding the relationship between Atos and the NMC:

        In what capacity does KPMG work for the NMC?

        If handling complaints about your members from the public (which is
        my understanding of one of KPMG’s roles in your organisation), why
        do you not consider this a serious conflict of interests when
        dealing with complaints about Atos HCPs (as Atos owns KPMG)?

        Can you provide any legislation that shows a company working for
        the NMC is allowed to police complaints about itself and/or

        Member stats:

        Can you provide me with the figures for the number complaints
        you’ve received about members whilst in their capacity as HCPs
        working for Atos, as opposed to complaints about members working
        for the NHS? The figures for January 2012 to December 2014 would be
        useful, as this ensures you would have them collated by now.

        How many of those complaints about Atos and NHS members resulted in
        disciplinary action by the NMC?

        Is lying on a medical report in order to meet targets a reason for
        the NMC to instigate disciplinary action against a member?

        Is deliberately misrepresenting personal information on a medical
        report in order to meet targets a reason for the NMC to instigate
        disciplinary action against a member?

        Finally, is the NMC concerned about the vast number of serious
        complaints being made against your members in their capacity as
        HCPs working for companies like Atos? Negligence by your members is
        leading to death and destitution for the most vulnerable – a
        situation about which you are fully aware, so please try not to
        fudge the issue with a disingenuous non-answer – so I’d like to
        know what the NMC intends to do to ensure its members behave
        appropriately and within the law from now on?

        • Good luck, Diane…

        • jeffrey davies

          Go on d go get the liars jeff3

          • Di ane

            I do my best jeff, & will keep at them

    • Paul C. Dickie

      Has the GMC or the NMC ever faced a “fitness for purpose” hearing?

  • christine

    I too have also had a report done by an Atos health care worker that was full of inaccuracies. I am appealing because I have lost my car and that has left me with no way to be independent. Without my car I cant work, go to appointments at Hospital doctors or pain management. It’s wrong that someone can do this and cause a massive set back in someone’s health and mentality because of there lies.

  • Miss T

    Good, they all need sacking.This happened to me, he was completely.predujice against me because of horrific trauma that I have been through involving child abuse and trying for years to get a paedophile arrested, who is now in prison. He’d googled me before and started telling me that he’d read that I.protected a child abuser!!! He’s read that nowhere because that never happened, police protected him, I kept reporting him.
    The day after my assessment I logged a complaint with Atos but they didn’t send me a complaint pack and I ended up having to email it days later. The day after I sent that email I got a decision letter from DWP, he had Marked zero on every score even though I gave him letters from doctors and hospital and doctors had written that they’d seen swollen painful joints, and he said I can walk more than 200metres, I can’t even make it to GP appointments two doors down sometimes. After my assessment I had a very bad attack, my hands and feet swelled I couldn’t move off the sofa, I had to cancel the next day’s rheumatology appointment for a steroid booster injection because the medication hasn’t kicked in yet, so now I’m suffering even more with pain :(. I suffer with anxiety and panic attacks and only venture out to appointments if I have to and can make it without pain, this experience has set me back even further. Who are these people that are meant to be “health workers” and we’re supposed to be able to trust, how many more people have been prejudiced against because of their sexuality or lies invented in the assessors own head?

  • paula

    My assessor told nothing but lies I scored 4 points in all for pip,yet I was on dla. I have arthritis following a knee operation plus uncontrolled epilepsy, a hole in my heart with fast heartbeat, asthma and hardening of arteries on my brain. She said I was able to do most things myself,and needed little help. I had a home assessment with no witnesses. I have appealed and am going to tribunal plus I have filed a complaint against the assessor. I am due another knee operation yes I’m sure I’m totally fit for work,NO I AM NOT! NOTHING BUT LIARS SACK THEM ALL. It’s about time they felt the pinch of claiming benefits its not an easy ride at all, I dare say many of us would love to go back to work if able,I wish I was.

  • Allie

    My Atos PIP assessor told me from the outset she was a doctor, when she was a nurse, arrived an hour after the 9-11 slot and lied throughout. I had an anxiety attack during the assessment to which I was told to stop crying and getting myself in a state. The whole thing was a farce. I complained to DWP and asked for a mandatory reconsideration in March and have heard nothing since but daren’t challenge it as I am too worried about losing out completely….what an awful state of affairs for those of us in genuine need 🙁

  • Cat

    I’ve just had the same experience. I was in ESA Suppost group and I’ve just scored zero points overall. The assessor nurse lied about how far she seen me walking, sitting and getting up from an armless chair, carrying a coat, etc etc. I’m sick with worry now.

  • Trevor Playford

    I have fibromyalgia and mental health issues and am currently going through the battle with pip, it’s at tribunal and I’ve just received my ATOS report, complete and utter lies the whole thing, I have challanged it and am waiting to hear. Also still waiting for my esa to change once they decide what group I’m in, supposed to happen after 14 weeks it’s now been about 24 weeks and still nothing

  • Lucy Wikeley

    Despite my hubby’s decision last year including the quote ‘.. I have decided not to review your award before 15 April 2018.’ We just received a new assessment form (for a review!). Started filling it out only to notice that half the questions on last years form (including most of the ones my hubby got points for) are now missing…one example being ‘Do you need supervision with your medication?’ and another ”prompting to eat or take nutrition?’ which this year is now reduced to ‘can you get food to your mouth?’ he has severe mental health issues but he’s not a paraplegic!!

  • Karen Leckie

    My husband has chronic pancreatitis, heart disease and type 2 diabetes and he has deemed fit for work. He was refused pip and has just been for the assessment for esa to be placed in a group. He has now been taken off esa and told he has to claim jobseekers and say he’s fit for work, even though he had yet another sick line from the doctor that they wouldn’t accept. He takes high doses of morphine as well as having a morphine patch and taking 30 tablets each day. His diabetes is out of control and he will be going in to insulin in june as that’s the earliest appointment. Bullied into signing for jobseekers that or no money whatsoever. I am struggling to see the logic here.

  • Intel

    I just got the paperwork back and omg the assessment was about 80% right
    but the decision maker is a liar

    for example i can not walk more than 5 meters but i got no mobility payment
    as he said he has decided i can walk to the maximum distance needed
    he ignored what was on the assessment and put what he wanted

    they all need sacking and there must be a EU investigation in to all

  • Lesley scott

    When I read my report it was filled with lies from start to finish. I wrote to dwp abt how disgusted I was and never received any kind off reply.

  • Liz Draper

    When I worked as a civil servant, ATOS was in charge of the workplace assessments for long term sickness and judged whether you were able to work. An ATOS “nurse” (her credentials were never proven, her language and behaviour did not suggest a background in general medicine, misspelling medical terms and using a pressure cuff incorrectly) recommended that my employment should be terminated due to ill health, if I took another prolonged absence. I had another prolonged absence (2 weeks in the local mental health unit, consequent diagnosis of fibromyalgia to go with the depression, arthritis, fibroids and heart problems) and decided to resign before I was sacked. It was the same company, ATOS, who decided that I was fit for work at a PIP assessment not 12 months later. The report was full of misrepresentations, that I was able to climb stairs without pain, that I could walk more than 50metres unaided, that I was able to answer questions – when mostly I just directed the nurse to the letters I had from various hospitals. How many people have had the same experience but have not known who to discuss them with? Who haven’t had the mental capacity or physical energy to fight it? If there are thousands who have complained, there must be just as many who haven’t been able to.

    • Vivienne White

      I am trying to get a petition together with regards to unfair treatment and bullying from the Health Assessment Advisory Service who do the interviews. My daughter was constantly told if she didn’t talk then she would loose her benefit and if I talked for her as she suffers voluntary mutism which is part of her ASD and has OCD due to Severe Anxiety and has reports that she would still loose her benefits and the interview would be ended.

  • Mx1

    Had my assessment and OMFG the poor service was unreal. In short, I was trying to explain how different things affect me but the woman I saw just did not want to know.
    I took medical evidence with me, put it on the table for her to make copies to forward on but she did not want to know, stating to me as soon as I sat down, sorry, I do not have much time, others will be waiting. I thought from that second even, my god, so, the very 1st question she asked, I replied with a detailed explanation of what I could not do on it, but she cut me off after a few words stating, sorry, I don’t need to know why or the reasons, please only answer basically. Again I was thinking, this ain’t a damn script to a simple movie!!!! So, everything she asked me was like this, trying to confuse me, contradict me on everything I stated. 26 odd minutes later the interview ended, she stated: this assessment has now ENDED!!! as I was walking out the door she asked if I had a partner on which I stated of course. So, a few days after my assessment I got a copy of the report, on looking at it I was angry and in tears almost as she mentioned about my partner, even when she stated at the assessment, that it was ended! I put a complaint in to ATOS and just recently had the report back, in short they are covering for the assessor stating that it all went to plan, answers given were accurate and the assessment took 49 minutes :O so I have now messaged my MP about it and I will forward my complaint to the GMC about this woman. I will NOT rest until this person is fored and justice has been taken.

    I now have to forward the report to the DWP’s even though it is all a lie, as I had to ask for a reconsideration as my 1st decision was rejected, and I know my 2nd one will be also. I want to prove these lies before I more than likely have to go to a medical Tribunal so I can get my justice.

    Why the hell does the Government hire these type of people? To lie about alot of different things.

    • Vivienne White

      This sounds so typical. Hope you get sorted and keep fighting.

  • Pattni Jyotikar

    I had my atos pip assessment in July 2016 with an outcome that is shocking. Everything has been fabricated, manipulated, and wrongfully stated by the man who assessed me for merely 35 minutes. What a totally shameless thing to do to a genuinely ill humanbeing.

  • Vivienne White

    My daughter had her assesment and only communicates normally through text or email, if she needs to talk she looks to me her carer/parent to speak for her. She has ASD and Severe Anxiety and Depression and PTSD, and when I explained at her interview she needs to use text or me to speak for her and explain also that my daughter lip reads and has done from the age of 13 years I was told to shut my mouth, that my daughter would have to speak or loose her benefit. When my daughter struggled and I stepped in to speak for her and to her again was told to shut my mouth *exact words of interviewer* and then Kiaya was told if I didn’t stop talking for her and to her Kiaya would loose her benefit as they would end the interview and note nothing wrong. She has suffered with ptsd and mental health problems from the age of 10 and even gave them a copy of her autistic report which they refused to take. My daughter never leaves home or even goes in the garden with out an adult me usually by her side to help her communicate. Her report stated she got it on physical disability only and that she did not have mental health issues, even though under a neuropsychiatrist, counselling long term, medication and is known to self harm. Since her interview she is so traumatised she has not left the house at all, Doctors even psychiatrist do home visits now… and they still state because of the bullying interviewer that she has no mental health problems or autism… but they are not professionals


    May 2015 went for another assessment having been signed off since 2003.
    Very little had improved… slightly less anxiety due to increase in med from GP but with it the side effect of lower BP which is already low. Increased pain despite operations. Yet still I received a letter advising that as a result of ATOS findings my benefit entitlement stopped some 2 weeks before and that was it!
    I raised my concerns with DWP (ESA) and registeed a complaint after the weekend (these letters ALWAYS arrive in a Friday – so it takes two more days to contact them). A couple more days and someone called me back to tell me that they would overturn the assessors decision. However 4 months later I was mandated to attend a Work Related Activity Programme with a local third-party (non-medical) company and that’s where I stay. I am mandated to attend all kinds of things although they admit that I DON’T need to enhance my skills or personal hygiene (yes really) like many of their clients. I am literally in limbo and uncategorised as I am educated and presentable but in pain. I have been trying to get a diagnosis of what is wrong with me since I was 27 and i’ll be 40 soon! I have lost all of my 30’s to not being diagnosed and even today the specialists are going down the FM route. I have hypermobilty so I have such a good range of movement but can easily do damage to my joints… ATOS and other 3rd part conth actors have no concept of this… they only see that I can move. They just don’t comprehend what it ‘costs’ to do so.