A DISABLED former soldier who was diag- nosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has criticised the government’s welfare reforms after he was wrongly stripped of his benefits twice following humiliating “back to work” medical assessments.
Rudolph Champagnie, who served for eight years in Northern Ireland, was asked by the Department of Work and Pensions contractor Atos to pick up a 1p coin from a table to prove his claims were genuine.
The 57-year-old former Fusilier, who lives in Gray’s Inn Road, King’s Cross, said: “Atos got it wrong two times in my case. They have put me through so much pain and hardship. I don’t know how I find the strength to stand up today. When the government call us scroungers it is very depressing. I fought for my country and I am dis- abled because of that service. They should be treating us better.”
Atos, who are reassessing hundreds of disabled benefits claimants to see if they can go back to work, have faced intense criticism after more than one third of their decisions were overturned on appeal.
Mr Champagnie said he was assessed by nurses each time he visited the Atos HQ in Marylebone. Doctors had already declared him unfit for work after an accident in a City law firm where he broke a plate in his neck.
But following an assessment by Atos the DWP took away his incapacity benefits for more than six months until the decision was overturned on appeal. In a separate decision, Atos down- played the level of his “mobility status”, reducing his income further. Again his status was changed back after specialist advice from Disability in Camden (DISC).
Speaking on Tuesday, after a gala event marking 40 years since the group was founded, Mr Champagnie said: “When I had the right amount of benefits I could go out for a meal, I could take a train to Manchester to see my mother’s grave. I could afford to be out with a friend, or if something is missing at home I could buy some new plates or whatever. When they took my benefits away I just cocooned myself in the house.”
Mr Champagnie, who was born in Jamaica and came to this country before independence as a “proper British”, aged seven, said he had been “pumped with anti-depressants” for almost three decades before being diagnosed with
PTSD 18 months ago.
“I was walking wounded and in the early 1990s had a breakdown,” he added. “For 30 years I didn’t know what was wrong with me but 18 months ago I was diagnosed with PTSD. Each time I take one step forward, the feeling of flashbacks and fear and the isolation returns.”
Last week, a spokesman for Atos – which has a £184million contract with the DWP – said: “We understand fully that the assessment process can cause huge anxiety and we do everything we can to treat people with sensitivity and compassion.”
“Anybody who is not satisfied with their assessment can complain to us directly and we will review their case and take appropriate action.”
read more here: http://www.camdennewjournal.com/news/2013/dec/former-soldier-suffering-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-tells-humiliating-atos-medical
Published: 11 December, 2013 in the 'Camden New Journal'
By TOM FOOT