Having to deal with Atos, and a Mental Health Trust (part of the NHS tasked with offering health and social care services to those with mental health conditions in England) that isn’t interested in supporting your mental health needs, is no picnic. Atos don’t want to help you at the best of time, so when your Mental Health Trust fails to deliver on their government required responsibility, then you find yourself in a ménage à trois you don’t want to be in.
For those that don’t know who Atos are, they’re a private company paid to do disability and sickness tests for state benefits, such as for Personal Independence Payment (PIP). However, they’ve featured in the news a lot for being woefully bad and a waste of taxpayers money, yet someone they retain their government contracts.
Sometimes it isn’t just the Atos assessor’s fault (they share the blame) you’re denied your claim. In my previous article, I talked about how Atos likes to screw their applicants over. But my Mental Health Trust also seemed to enjoy screwing me over, and over, and over again as well, even when it came to my state benefits.
My Mental Health Trust has let me down, time and time again. Something I had to start a formal complaint about. But for now, I’m just going to talk about how they let me down when it came to them providing evidence for my Personal Independence Payment (PIP) application. They didn’t fail to do this just once, oh no, they failed at this simple task four times.
During my first local resolution meeting with my Mental Health Trust’s complaints manager, I requested they provided me with a letter detailing my mental health conditions and how they affect my day-to-day life. They agreed to provide this letter, on record, for my PIP application. The letter detailing my mental health problems needed to be no older than six months from the date of submission of my PIP application.
I didn’t get the letter in time for my first PIP application, nor did they get it to me in time to appeal my PIP decision. A simple letter detailing my conditions and how they affect me should have been easy to put together from the notes of me on record. I’ve been dealing with this trust since 2005, and this was now 2016.
All my attempts to chase up the letter were ignored. I was constantly told that they were “in a meeting” and they’d get back in touch with me soon. Which they never did. I sent dozens and dozens of emails trying to chase this letter up, but still nothing.
Not only did they miss the deadline to get me this letter in time for the submission of my application, but they also couldn’t be bothered to get it to me in time so I could appeal the decision using the evidence they should have provided.
At the Second local resolution meeting with the same manager from the complaints team, I brought up my need for the letter again. Asking that they provide the letter this time so I can make my second PIP application.
This time they arranged a meeting with someone to help me fill out my PIP application, which they did. But again, the letter which was promised for my second attempt at my PIP application never came in time. And again, they didn’t provide the letter so I could make an appeal either.
In both PIP cases, they had a six-month window to get the letter sorted for me. They failed.
I have no idea why they proceeded to ignore my requests for this simple letter. A letter that anyone claiming PIP or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) would have needed them to provide, so it’s not like I’m making a request for something that’s unheard of, it should be a pretty common request.
I also had to request a letter from my therapist when applying for ESA when I was receiving schema therapy. Which my therapist at the time was able to provide. I even suggested that they just get a copy of that from their records, change the dates, and send me that for my application. It really was that simple. But someone how not simple enough for them to do.
To add insult to injury, when they finally did provide me with a letter, long after both my PIP applications and appeals were over, the letter they provided, which they claimed covers what I requested (it did not), was just a letter covering themselves for possible liability.
It said nothing about how my mental health conditions affect me, day-to-day (or at all). Let alone how they interact with my heart condition. The letter contained zero useful information for any application or appeal for PIP (not that they provided it in time anyway). The letter didn’t mention a single thing about any of my conditions, or that I even had a mental health condition.
As always, leave your feedback about my post in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences of requesting help with applying for PIP/ESA, and your experiences of interacting with your Mental Health Trust in the comments section below as well. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications of new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.