This morning I attended my Atos medical examination. It is to assess you for the new benefits being brought in, to see if you are physically and mentally capable of work. For many people they have been a cause of considerable tension, some have even committed suicide when they find they are ineligible for the benefits they previously received. As my issue is one I will live with for ever, the ‘healthcare professional’ asked the usual stuff and told me she would be recommending I basically stay on at the same level I am now, so no problems for me. It was interesting that she was the first to ask me about if after my operation, 10 years ago, I had any issues with making decisions and cognitive problems, which I most certainly did, but that is another thing altogether.
I arrived at the medical centre, situated next to McDonald’s on a retail park, as they asked 10 minutes early, for a 9.25am appointment. I was seen at 10.30. They apologised for the wait and I was told that they double booked all appointments in case one person didn’t turn up, and she added, ‘but everyone does’. I noted that the clock in the waiting room was running 5 minutes slow, is that a psychological ploy?
In the waiting room there were a couple of other people, the radio was on the local rubbish station, Signal (oddly another literary allusion as it was what Arnold Bennett in his novels called The Sentinel, the local paper). During the jolly breakfast show a gay couple had asked each other to get married, topical programming, and they played it again. A man in one corner turned to me and started telling me how disgusting it was and how he couldn’t stand gays and how he’d sort them out. I replied that I have many gay friends, that he was making homophobic insults and what harm will it do to him anyway. He looked daggers at me and sat silent, then as he left with a doctor turned to me and in a low voice said ‘fuckin puff’!
Then almost immediately in walked two blokes, both drunk, one very drunk and started drinking down most of a bottle of whiskey. They were loudly both using f and c words constantly. One was going on about how he had failed a medical and how could he get a job and so on. He began taunting a man on the other side of the room, asking his name then constantly getting it wrong, telling the man he was too thin, saying he was an addict, did he drink. He was drinking more and more, then started to smoke, went on about how women had got him into this state and was loud, aggressive and objectionable. He asked my name and began to do like he did with the other man, but I basically ‘told him off’ and he kept telling me how he didn’t trust me. A Hindu doctor came for him and as he left the drunk made some very racist remarks.
He came out at the same time I did and made more abusive racist remarks. I told him to be quiet and if he carried on I’d get him arrested for racial abuse. He kept going on about how he didn’t know why he was there, so I told him why these medicals were taking place, he really had no clue. The man needed proper psychiatric help and drink related support, and also someone to explain what all this change actually means.
Before I left I asked for a complaint form and they are sending me one.
The waiting room was not monitored, it was an unsafe environment, I can verbally deal with an issue like this and don’t suffer any trauma from such events, however many others who attend such a place probably would. The drunk had an aggressiveness that could easily have turned to violence, if I had or anyone else had been physically attacked for ‘crossing him’, then I wouldn’t have been unable to handle such a thing. I am also complaining about the verbal insults to gays the other man made.
Atos, you need to get things sorted and at least offer a safe environment for people to attend, not just have nice posters on the wall to proclaim you have good policies.
Today’s photograph is of chocolate Easter Bunnies in Lidl.