Disabled woman left sitting in urine for two hours during PIP assessment

Author: JT Hughes


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Last year JT Hughes published a report on how the Motability cuts will affect disabled drivers in Shropshire, following the government’s introduction of Personal Independence Payments (PIP) in April 2013. The feedback from the article was alarming (and the controversy continues) with reports of disturbing incidents during the PIP process.

It was reported earlier this month, by the Disability News Service that a disabled woman from London had been left sitting in her own urine for almost two hours. This occurred during a PIP assessment, when a healthcare professional ignored the situation in order to carry on filling out a disability benefit assessment form.

The horrifying experience happened to 59-year-old Maria Lane, who called it "devastating". She wanted to speak out about what had happened in order to prevent other disabled people from experiencing similar situations.

As she was filling out her Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment with a female assessor at an assessment centre in Enfield, North London, Maria realised she had had an accident. It was just 10 minutes into the assessment process, and Maria both showed and told the assessor that her bladder had been emptied into her incontinence pad. Urine could be seen leaking through her trousers.

However, although it should have been clear that Maria needed help, the assessor simply looked at where Maria was leaking, and then continued typing. The assessor works for Atos, a government contractor, who has since launched their own investigation into the matter.

After initially telling the assessor of the problem, and being ignored, Maria then had to stay sitting with her overflowing incontinence pad for almost two further hours, answering lengthy questions.

Throughout the interview the assessor warned her that, if she failed to complete any of the questions, she would be required to come back for another assessment. The meeting, however, was one that Maria couldn't afford to lose as a result of the impact her PIP money has on helping her to cope with her disabilities. She currently has to spend around £55 on incontinence pads each week.

Maria has a number of long-term disabilities and health conditions including osteoarthritis, diabetes, sciatica, slipped disc, depression and high blood pressure. Because of her severe incontinence, Maria has to wear pads as a permanent precaution and is awaiting a major operation on her bladder.

As Maria said when speaking with the Disability News Service, "Once your bladder starts, you have to go. It will continue, no stopping, and then it leaks. I have no control over it... if you’re nervous, it is worse."

She continued, "I showed her [that I had leaked]. She must have seen, it was all over my trousers. She ignored me completely, or she didn’t believe me... She heard me alright because I showed [the leak and my pads] to her. She looked for a second and then went back to her report. She was like a robot. She had no emotions.”

There was also an examination of Maria's physical abilities, in which the assessor put a seat behind Maria, just in case she fell during the process. This did happen at one point, and Maria claims the assessor pulled her arms about and caused her terrible pain. The experience has impacted her confidence, and has left her feeling devastated and embarrassed. She was quoted as saying: "She took all my rights, all my dignity. It was inhuman to allow me to sit there."

The Department of Work and Pensions has described the account as being "very concerning", noting "all claimants deserve an objective, accurate and high-quality service."

JT Hughes would like to hear from anyone in Shropshire and Powys who can share their experiences (good or bad) during a PIP assessment. Please share in the comments box below, or on our Facebook page.

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7/20/2017 3:16:40 PM
More than 2 years ago
I normally would not stick up for assessors, but many things are wrong with this article first point is in the UK no adult with continence issues should be buying their own pads. these are provided free by continence service via the GP. second if the pad leaked after one emptying it is the wrong absorbency for the lady. ok occasionally pads do leak but this is rare unless over full. third point is a two hour assessment is rare most are over in an hour tops. and fourth as most incontinent people will tell you it is not uncommon to be sitting in a wet pad for hours especially if you dribble constantly. ok it is uncomfortable but not as bad as sitting in one full of feces for hours waiting for carers to arrive to change you! being wet down below is all part of incontinence. in the defense of the assessor it is a well known strategy used by many fraudsters to wet or defecate during assessments to 'prove' disability or to postpone assessment to postpone the outcome of being found ok/able to work
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Leah Brzeska
7/5/2017 4:10:11 PM
More than 3 years ago
I'm currently waiting to go to appeal. My assessor appeared to be kind and understanding, however this wasn't actually the case. My report was riddled with lies and assumptions based on what she asked me. Since my assessment and subsequent dealings with the process my health has deteriorated. I am devastated at what happened and what was written about me. I was even penalised for making eye contact, apparently building a rapport with my assessor and being able to discuss my conditions at length (I've been ill for 7 years so I should hope I can discuss my health issues at length!!!) It was a very degrading process.
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7/4/2017 1:37:39 PM
More than 3 years ago
The first pip assessment was very good he was understanding and actually listened to what I had to say he spent nearly an hour with me asking me if I could do certain things, and the report that came back was accurate, the second I had was completely different the person that came spent 20-30 minutes with me she asked a few questions, never asked me to do anything and was very blunt! When the assessment came back it was totally made up only a couplue of things were true! Had to fight through appeal to get it changed which took nearly 6mths with legal advise! Totally different to the first! A waste of time and money, get it right to begin with and there will be no need to pay court and legal fees
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Amanda hughes
7/1/2017 10:46:11 AM
More than 3 years ago
During my PIP assessment the assessor told me if I believed in God, I would get better. She continued on a religious theme, quoting the bible and talking about angels sitting on my shoulder for over three hours. This was a home assessment. Her report did not reflect the answers I gave, and she blatantly lied in some of the questions. Being a local woman, she went on to gossip my medical history all over our small town. This resulted in me being targeted by local troublemakers. I had to move away, leaving friends and family behind. I reported her behaviour to Atos, there was an enquiry, but I never heard the outcome.
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