A gay woman who was instructed to attend an Atos Healthcare assessment in order to assess her benefit entitlement claims she was subjected to a homophobic outburst by the doctor who examined her.
Writing in today’s Guardian, Clare Allan said that a close friend of hers who suffers from a number of mental health problems, was already in state of anxiety when she arrived for her assessment. Her friend, said Ms Allan, was unable to work and was concerned she might lose her incapacity benefit, which is soon to be replaced with employment allowance and a work capability test.
The patient claimed she was ignored by her doctor for five minutes while he worked at his computer screen. He then asked her about her current health and after disclosing she had been suffering from haemorrhoids, she was apparently “forced to sit and listen as the doctor described in graphic detail the physical damage men did to each other by having anal sex. ‘They’re everywhere!’ the doctor said. ‘They’re running the government.’ He would not allow his grandchildren to be brought up in a country run by homosexuals and paedophiles.”
Ms Allan said that her friend kept quiet about her own sexuality at this point, being stunned by the outburst. The patient was then told by her doctor that a lesbian couple had complained about him, saying that he had rejected their claim because he was homophobic: “‘I had to go to tribunal,’ he said. ‘I could have lost my job. But they found against them and they lost their benefits.’ The doctor then left the room without any explanation. Some minutes later he returned with a nurse and proceeded [with the examination].”
Atos offices across the UK were picketed by disabled people last month, and their ethics have also been questioned in the British Medical Journal.