ESA medical assessments, the reality. My experience this week. 

Apologises for the extra blog, I meant to post it yesterday but I have been far too busy to do so. Such is life it seems these days.
A lady that comes to speak to me at our demo every week had an appointment to attend her ESA assessment. I asked her if she had a family member or a friend that could take her but she said that she didn’t, and the reason why I asked this is because it’s always best if a person that knows them well attends the medical with them. This is because they know the person far better than any person from an outside organisation can ever do. However, we do offer very good advice on how to handle the so-called medical etc. This is essential.

Because this wasn’t possible, I volunteered myself to accompany her. I didn’t have the money to do so, but at the time her needs came first. She’s very vulnerable and I certainly didn’t want her to go into the lion’s den so to speak alone. She is also a very quiet, shy person and has refused to access other local organisations. So I accompanied her, much to her relief.

I met her to start our journey which wasn’t a short one. She was understandably nervous and anxious so I did my best to reassure her that I would look after her to the best of my abilities, which I did.

I’m sure that my readers are aware of how horrible these so-called medicals are. It’s not just having the medical, it’s also the journey there and the building itself. The DWP like to choose places that can look intimidating and sparsely furnished.

Albert Bridge House, the assessment centre that we had the misfortune to have to visit. The entrance itself is around the corner, but they don’t make it easy to find. But I suspect that’s the intention, isn’t it.

Upon attending a medical like this, the assessment process often starts before you enter the building. As in the case of the Manchester assessment centre, there are cameras outside watching you arrive and leave. They say that they don’t but whilst waiting with the lady in the waiting area, I clearly heard the receptionist say to a man “Well, we saw you arrive in a taxi”. Unless they had seen this on a screen inside, this wouldn’t have been possible.

So beware of this, make a note and remember.

Upon entering we were met by two G4S security guards, this adds to the feeling of oppression and intimidation and does nothing to give a person confidence. The reception desk is behind clear plastic, and the staff quite rude.
A person isn’t greeted or asked if they are ok. Considering that they are dealing with sick and disabled people, they should show a glimmer of concern. Instead, a clipboard is thrust into your hands through a gap in the plastic, and they say with no understanding “Fill this in”. It states that they want to see a persons proof of identity, although nothing is said about this in the letter that the person receives. I pointed this out to them and they said to fill it in anyway. I did this for the lady, but they offered no help or even asked if she was able to do so.

The building itself is old, shabby and harks back to a time, probably the 1960’s and 1970’s. There are lines of chairs in poor condition, one water fountain (which is a new edition, it wasn’t there the last time that I visited) and basic toilets. Everything is dark wood and shabby carpets long past their best. The only nice thing about the room is that it has big windows, looking out across the road where upper-class housing is being built. This is tragic, rubbing their noses in it I thought.
We found a spot in a corner at the back of the room, I was trying to make the whole awful experience less daunting for her. She struggles in crowded spaces and felt more at ease there.

As soon as we sat down, a young man stormed out of his assessment. He was shouting and was angry, which was very understandable. He told the room full of people that he has a mental health illness, that he struggles. He went into his assessment and was asked to move his arms and legs. He was asked NOTHING about his mental health. He knew that they were going to fail him and as he stated, and as we know, he wasn’t given a medical relevant to his condition. They saw him and decided that they would fail him. He went on to tell everyone sat in the room to challenge everything, to appeal and to do what I do. Expose every wrongdoing that they are guilty of. He was then walked out of the building by the security guards.

I don’t want to scare anyone, but this is how easy it is for a person to lose everything. A so-called medical ‘nurse’ deciding that they are going to wrongly assess a person. This is why it is very important to take the assessors name, qualification and the medical body on which they operate under. These are all vital details needed to make a complaint and appeal. Also, if you are able, write a transcript of the medical when you arrive back home.

Whilst waiting, I heard a woman complaining that she had waited for over an hour, had travelled 45 minutes to get there and she couldn’t stay any longer because she couldn’t cope anymore. She made another appointment and left.
In front of us, a woman was half sat, half lying down on a couple of chairs. She was curled up in a ball and was obviously unable to cope with being there.
An 81-year-old woman was wheeled into the room by her carer. I had no idea of her circumstances but there is no way on this earth that an 81-year-old woman should have to attend a medical. No one should have to attend a medical like this.
Towards the right to us, there was a lady clutching hold of her carer, rocking back and forth talking to herself. Her carer was furious that she had to attend and told me that it will take her weeks, if not a month to get over this experience.
Further down, there was a woman sat with her partner. She looked very nervous and wasn’t talking to anyone. When her name was called, she refused the offer of help from her partner to go in the assessment with her. I really hope that they didn’t fail her but the odds were stacked against her.
Sat at the front, near the reception a woman was sat silently looking at the ground, bewildered, unsure of why she was there and what was going to happen. She was also on her own.
A lady was sat with her carer to the right of us, asleep. She had to be woken up to attend her assessment.
All of these people were clearly too ill and disabled to attend thisso-calledd medical. They clearly shouldn’t have to attend, no one should. Their consultants or doctors assessment and diagnoses of their conditions should enough, it always used to be. This process is designed purposely to humiliate and degrade a person, to make them feel unworthy and to question their illness or disability. I’m sure that most people leaving these assessments leave under a dark cloud of depression, stress and worry.
As for the lady that I accompanied, we waited two hours, she had a panic attack and I had to rearrange the appointment.
This folks is the reality of this cruel system, and this is exactly why I will continue to fight it. No one deserves to be treated like this. The whole DWP system in the form that it exists in now kills people. How many more deaths is it going to take before people take notice. This needs to become a priority, and soon.
Footnote; This is not the first time that I have attended a medical with someone, and it won’t be the last time either. I just wanted to share this experience. It is not my intention to scare anyone, but reality is reality and it needs sharing.

I do this at my own expense, and this week I have had to make the decision of heat or eat myself. I had to choose eat, the emergency gas will have to last. If I don’t blog tomorrow, it means that my internet has been disconnected due to non payment, and I have no credit on my telephone either. I will access free wifi at Ikea on Friday if this is the case. Once again I’m just stating the reality of the situation, and the situation is the same for thousands of people.

Be the kindness that you want to see in this world.

I featured on the Adrian Chiles show on Radio 5 Live on monday. Here is the link. This was recorded outside Ashton Jobcentre last Tuesday.

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28 thoughts on “ESA medical assessments, the reality. My experience this week. ”

  1. you are spot on with everything u say,down to the fill this in thru the glass does make you feel awful ,guilty if you like of doing nothing for the people you say was in wheelchairs and disabled physically or mentally and obviously unable to work.i too saw a male nurse who made the decision and yes thats right i didnt pass the so called medical they dont check you over all they do is listen.i went to my own gp and told him the outcome he wasnt happy at all his words were (ok so im a liar now ,questioning my judgement whose the doctor me or him).it really annoys me he said,i didnt spend all those years at medical school for nothing.i wouldnt say you were unfit for work for the fun of for you eating or heating again thats been me since before xmas .i was sanctioned and 240 pound stopped out of my money for not attending an appointment i didnt recieve in october and three months prior to this and no apptment since no text message no letter guys if your not psychic chances are you wont get paid either.i am going to appeal against the decision but doubt i will get anywhere and my boiler is flashing as i type no gas and freezing.


  2. Of course we all choose how we write, I was only thinking of those who are not used to expression like ‘fail a medical’.
    I have written to you longer, by email. Thanks for writing, and for taking the time to read our comments and reply to them!


      1. Hey no worries! You do such a great job and such great deeds every day. May be just one more when you have time: check your spam folder if you haven’t seen my mail yet 🙂


  3. For the non-initiated, it would be useful to indicate that to “fail the assessment” means to be found fit for work therefore be directed to job seekers allowance therefore have to prove that you are looking for work. Unless it means something else entirely 🙂
    Also, you always mention leaflets, is there any way of accessing those online?
    Thank you for this blog. I use it for people who argue and friends who need help.


    1. This blog post was about the experience whilst having to endure a medical. It was my choice to write it his way a further post might be written to explain this. The leaflets that we hand out are made by us, a Pdf can be sent although the info on the back is tailored to my local area. Thank you for reading my blog xx


  4. The Class War just took an even more sinister turn. I was just looking at jobs on UJM & the DWP are advertising to recruit “Work Psychologists”. Yep, they are actually in the process of employing shrinks to attempt to convince people with mental/emotional health issues that their lives really will be improved by working some stultifying dead-end job in return for minimum wage, if they only try harder to be more positive. God help us.


  5. The one in Plymouth wasn’t as bad when I went, but one thing DEFINITELY in common was the impossible to find entrance. Iirc one vague “assessment centre” sign that pointed round the back of three identical buildings, with nothing on the entrance to help you know where to go.

    The person assessing was nicer – but then I’d put a lot of effort into showing I knew what I was doing (wording in the form, asking for a recording, bringing the best-dressed friend I could find). I’ve had the same experience with doctors – whether they are nasty or sympathetic changes depending on how you dress, and if you make veiled threats of legal action 😛

    The waiting room only had one person but that was fucked – similar story to your own except it was cleaner.

    The centre was closer than most to the city, but still about as far out as possible which is madness considering how many empty buildings there are in our city!


  6. This was a very interesting read. In particular for me as I too have faced the dreaded WCA. As the author found, the buildings are drab, off putting, and the staff about as friendly and helpful as SS guards at Buchenwald. ‘Name’, ‘number’, sit down over there. They then gawk at you through a glass screen as they study the ‘untermensch’ gathering to ‘waste’ the states money. The waiting room was cramped and full of people all looking pale and concerned, and no-one offering any advice or concern as, yet, as the author says, these are all people with disabilities. When I attended I arrived 10 minutes early, as I hate being late. I was told they were running late, no explanation given.

    One guy was being quite aggressive, alternately ringing his mates to arrange to meet at the pub, then growling about how he didn’t do ‘waiting’. Surprise, he was moved ahead of everyone else and we were all forced to wait longer. My appointment was originally for 20 past the hour. By the time I was actually ushered in it was half past the hour. I mention the times as this is important.

    When I sat down, the ‘interviewer’ said she had all the information she needed from the GP and would only need to ask me a few questions. She made some vague questions around what I do during the day, no direct questions, then ended the interview. It lasted 8 minutes. I know this as I went in at half past, and was on the bus ringing my daughter at 47 minutes too. The bus stop is four minutes walk from the DWP centre, and the bus arrived a few minutes later.

    I received my score a few weeks later. As with virtually everyone who suffers from mental health issues I scored zero. Totally shocked, I checked online, and fortunately, as I felt pretty sick and concerned, the mental health website staff were very supportive as were the forum members there. They told me not to worry too much about the score, as it was consistent – no-one scores above 0. Unsurprising, as I was to find out, given no questions relate to it. To add to my shock, as part of the assessment, I received a hefty pack with a multitude of those questions – not one of which I had been asked! Yet somehow the ‘assessor’ had the answers. We now know of course that they just forge the questionnaire, but then I was pretty horrified that someone working for the DWP had just made it all up! Eventually the DWP rang to ‘follow up’ and I gave my thoughts on what had happened. They of course refused to accept my version of events, and claimed the assessor had spent 25 minutes with me filling in the form. I stated then, and did later to the review team, that this was not only a lie, it was provably impossible. It was.

    This was one of the worst experiences of a very bad period in my life. Thanks DWP and ATOS – for nothing.


    1. Awful, thats awful, but par the course for them. No one should have to go through these false examinations. Thank god you got through it. This reminds me of the saying ‘There but for the grace of God (go I) because this can happen to anyone. Anyone can become ill and become subject to this evil regime. Keep strong. X


  7. I had my assessment last month I’m not fit for work I was signed off a few years ago now they have stopped my ESA and I have to say I’m fit for work can’t walk at the mo so can’t do a lot about it I’m 60 I have CFS CDS Osteoarthritis and a disabled right hand


      1. Demand that the HP attend a tribunal along with both decision makers! Ask them
        1. How long have you worked for the assessment company?
        2. Part time or full time?
        3. How many books/pages/paragraphs or sentences have you read on my medical conditions, including websites you looked at on reading the ESA50/PIP02?
        4. What is your field of medical expertise?
        5. What makes your opinion take precedence over that of an expert in their field on my conditions?
        6. How do you keep your registration as a nurse current if all you do is write reports that are passed to the DWP?
        7. Surely you must do some actual psychical work to keep your registration current?

        For A Decision Maker

        1. How long have you worked for the DWP as a Decision Maker?
        2. Part Time or full time?
        3. Did you read any medical books or websites/pages on my medical conditions to try and help you?
        4. What is your field of medical expertise?
        5. What makes your opinion take precedence over that of an expert in the fields of medicine for my conditions?
        6. How many reports do you get through on average a day?
        7. Depending on answer: That is less/more than one report every XX minutes. What is your speed of

        Don’t worry they don’t turn up best is a solisitor from the DWP refuse him acting on their behalf after asking them their field of medical expertise they know the law not medicine and will try legal jargon to confuse that only the other solisitor knows, the judge of the hearing.
        Then ask if the decision makers and HP who conducted it are there to answer questions you have for them. When told they are not ask for their report to be thrown out as after sending both authorities your request for them to be here on the day they are not here to answer questions. Do not fall for tell me and I will pass the questions on to them! It’s a trap they aren’t there demand it’s thrown out and they find in your favour. They have given their opinions and have not turned up when requested by contact to their bosses.

        If this was an actual medical then it would appear with other medical records and as it doesn’t it is not a medical.


  8. People attending these interrogations should demand it recording, no recording equipment no assessment, I will always demand it recording and if they’re are no mics I would walk. I haven’t had a face 2 face since early 2010 as they have done paper reports. I put ALL VERBAL COMMUNICATION WILL BE AUDIO RECORDED on any forms I send them or their third parties.
    In 2013 I threatened them with court because I noticed the ESA72 had the phrase WEWILL CONTACT YOU AGAIN ON (DATE) OR AFTER WHERE YOU MAY RECEIVE ANOTHER ESA50 OR CALLED FOR AN ASSESSMENT. I told them I would produce just one sheet of paper as evidence after I returned the ESA50 blank, the second page of the ESA72 that had that phrase on it. I should have just taken them to court but they sent another ESA50 and I made out I needed time to gather evidence that took me over the date on the ESA50 return by so I didn’t bother. The following year they removed the CONTACT ON OR AFTER phrase FROM THE ESA72 they must have been bricking it to remove it from the following year?

    After the recording starts ask them to write the answers VERBATIM if they agree ask them if they know what it means and to explain it in their own words. the reply should take 5 seconds max as it means WORD FOR WORD.

    This week I tried to get a question added to the ESA & PIP forms, through the government petition site, asking if the claimant wanted their assessment recording with a simple YES or NO box for the answer by Sunday it had the minimum 5 emails, it actually had 12 emails, and by Monday they had refused it by saying it was not clear what was been asked for. The Government changed from Incapacity benefit to ESA yet they didn’t think people would want it recorded and are making people contact them by phone and some either won’t because they don’t contact antone but family or friends, or just don’t phone anyone. Perhaps they realised that it would mean they had to pay at least £1800 per centre to equipe each centre with at least one machine, and maybe more. as they have less than 40 machines and many are duel tap.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. These need sharing Written submission Work and Pensions Committee inquiry on UC rollout deadline submissions is Friday 13 October 2017.

    This is Frank Field on how he would have changed the rollout of Universal Credit it’s mind blowing


  10. It’s so difficult to read this Charlotte, heart-breaking and infuriating but it needs to be told and shared. Thank you for your kindness and for also documenting the horrors of living under this cruel Tory government.


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