Thursday, 17 November 2011

ESA Part 3

I realised today that I hadn't told you about my adventures with the ESA Assessment.  I was scheduled to attend my assessment on the day before I went away on holiday.  As I said in my previous post, they originally rung me up to try and make the appointment for the one week I told them I COULDN'T attend. 

Anyway I managed to arrange the appointment for a day that my other half was on holiday, ie the day before we flew out to Cyprus.  We got there, managed to get a parking space after the third time around the block (and that was with a blue badge).  We got the wheelchair out and the OH pushed me up to the appointment.  It was a new wheelchair and neither of us was quite used to the width, so we managed to smash my hand on the door frame on the way in.  I was nearly sick with the shock of it.  In the end it didn't even bruise that badly, but at the time I was shaking with the pain.  I think nerves about the appointment contributed quite a lot to that level of shock, normally I would have brushed it off.

After I had sorted myself out, ie stopped shaking, we went to the counter to be told they couldn't find a record of my appointment.  Ten minutes after looking into the matter I was told that the appointment had been cancelled.  They hadn't bothered to tell me.  Apparently they had requested some more information from either the hospital or my GP and the file was being looked at by someone at head office.  They couldn't carry out my assessment without my file.  I was told that they might be able to carry out my assessment in my home if the analysis of the file indicated that I needed it.  I actually didn't want my assessment at home.  Home is where I lock out ATOS and the DWP.  It is my refuge.  I can't understand why they would schedule an assessment without having all the information they required.

I was so angry about having to go to an appointment that they had cancelled without letting me know.  I was angry that it would be still hanging over my head when I went on my holiday and I was angry that I had used valuable energy that I would need for the next day for the flight.

After a few weeks had gone by, I got a letter telling me when a doctor would be attending my home.  It only gave me about a 10 days notice.  It was a week when my OH was away with work.  It was a bad week, as I always struggle to cope when he is away, but I just wanted it DONE!  Fortunately, my Mum was planning on visiting that day on her way back to York from her friend's house.  She left an hour or so earlier than she planned so she could be there when a strange doctor came to my house to assess me.  I was glad she was there because it was a male doctor.  He was very softly spoken and gentle, but he was still a male doctor visiting a female in her home. 

I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that situation.  It is one thing to be alone in a room with a male doctor, being assessed in a Centre where people are nearby, it is something completely different being isolated in your home.  He was a nice man, and I had my Mum with me, but what if he wasn't a nice man?  What if he was the sort of man who got off on feeling powerful and in control of your future benefit payments? 

I didn't specify that I wanted to see a female doctor because I assumed I would be going to the Assessment Centre and I would have my OH with me.  I didn't ring up to question it when it was moved to my home because I knew I would not be alone, but what about people who are vulnerable and just believe that all doctors are "good people", and they didn't need to protect themselves.  I just think it leaves too many opportunities for vulnerable people to get hurt.  I'm not saying there will be any people who get hurt by this system, but it leaves that opportunity open for people who would be tempted by it.

You never feel more vulnerable than when you are sick, isolated and are being assessed to see if you are "deserving" of Sick Benefit.  I don't like that ATOS can leave you even more vulnerable than you already are.

I'm still waiting to hear about my assessment.  I don't know which group, if any, I'm allocated to.  I hate this waiting.  I hate that it is hanging over my head like this.  I just wish they would hurry up and DECIDE!

I'll let you know what happens next.

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