‘Here’s a map now get to Ipswich’ what woman was told in latest twist in Norwich disabled centre saga

Marion Fallon has been told she has to travel from Norwich to Ipswich for a work capability assessment. Photo: Bill Smith Marion Fallon has been told she has to travel from Norwich to Ipswich for a work capability assessment. Photo: Bill Smith

Friday, May 9, 2014
1:06 PM

A disabled Norwich woman has spoken of her shock at being sent a map and told to find her own way 45 miles to Ipswich to find out if she is fit to work.

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Marion Fallon, who is in constant pain and can only walk slowly with a stick, was told to go by public transport to the Suffolk county town because the second floor Norwich assessment centre cannot be used by people with walking difficulties.

It comes as another West Norfolk woman was told that she was going to be sent on a 240-mile round trip to Nottingham for her assessment.

Private company Atos holds work capability assessments in St Mary’s House in Duke Street in Norwich.

But those using wheelchairs or with other mobility problems are unable to use the centre because of the fire risk.

Atos said that it highlighted that access to the centre may be difficult for some customers with decreased mobility when it was arranging appointments by telephone or in writing, but where it was made aware of this, it offered an appointment at an alternative centre with full reimbursement of travel expenses or alternatively a home visit.

Ms Fallon, who has now cancelled the appointment, but does not know when it will be rescheduled or where, said as well as the mobility issues on the journey, Atos had not taken into account how tired she would get.

“I am going to go and be stressed about what is asked, and I am going to be exhausted when I get there,” she added. She has arthritis, Fibromyalgia and Scoliosis, meaning she can only walk short distances with a stick and is in constant pain.

The 52-year-old, who was working but was not kept on at the agency she was employed at because of her productivity, has to have a work capability assessment before she can claim employment support allowance (ESA).

She was sent a letter just before the Easter holidays telling her to go the Ipswich.

She said: “When the letter arrived which said you have to attend on May 7th in Ipswich. I thought ‘Ipswich, I don’t know Ipswich. I have no idea how to get to it’.”

She said the letter contained a map and suggestions of how she could get to Ipswich on public transport.

The West Norfolk woman, who does not want to be named because she is a victim of disability hate crime, was told that she would have to travel to Nottingham for her work capability assessment. The 41-year-old, who has a degenerative spine disease, was told that transport would be organised so she could go to the assessment 120 miles from her house.

But she said that she could not travel for two hours in a taxi because of the pain.

She has now rearranged the assessment in her home, but said the stress of trying to convince Atos to change the appointment had left her “feeling like I was going to crack up”.

“I live everyday in nine to ten hours of pain. I would like to be working and I would like a job, but I have been medically retired for 20 years.”

Atos said: “Information is issued with our appointment letters which helps with travel and directions to the centre. It is explained within the appointment information that this is a suggested journey planner. We advise customers to contact us if they foresee any difficulties in attending our centres and we will always do our upmost to assist.

It added: “We aim to treat people with courtesy, compassion and respect at all times and will always investigate complaints thoroughly.”

Mark Harrion, from the charity Equal Lives said; “We are being inundated with cases where people are being phoned up and told to go to centres 50 miles away from their home. The new disturbing thing is they are now telling disabled people they have to get themselves there. They are not taking any responsibility for it - the fact they have a centre in Norwich which is not fit for purpose. It is an example of putting private sector profits before the needs of disabled people.”

39 comments

  • ...."If your stay abroad is temporary, including a holiday, you can usually continue getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for 26 weeks.".....so it doesn't have to be a short break, a long break, perhaps in a cheap self catering in Portugal would be ok, but I am not sure how it would effect housing benefit.

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    Claire Voyant

    Monday, May 12, 2014

  • Please forgive those too callous to know the facts, their comments here should have been moderated out, but what can you expect from the EDP, they would be towing the line even if we put poor people into work houses again.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Saturday, May 10, 2014

  • As regards your comment about a million people ending their claims, these claims were not withdrawn because they were going to be assessed, the majority were withdrawn because the person got better whilst waiting for an assessment, which can take many months. The Daily Mail etc corrected this headline (given to them by Grant Shapps) when it came to light that the info was misleading, as the people had just got better! Also these were all new claimants, not people who were transferring from incapacity benefit. People on Incapacity benefit have always being assessed on a regular basis, but now the test for employment and support allowance has "moved the goalposts" I have had 2 of these assessments, both subsequent reports should have started with "Once upon a time..." they were full of errors, omissions, assumptions and downright lies! I was awarded 0 points, but on appeal got more than enough points to qualify. The whole debacle is a complete lottery and a cruel sham! I agree people should be assessed in order to qualify for this benefit, BUT, the test should be fair, accurate and honest, and the work capability assessment, Atos and the DWP are none of those things!

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    Norma Roberts

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • They should have the option to have their the claim assessed at major airports so that claiments can combine their assessment with a short holiday break abroad...say Benidorm or Torremolinos.

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    Fly Tipper

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • ATOS is supposed to be an independent Company. But is paid for by their results to get people off benefit's. Whilst I totally agree with scroungers being found out a blanket covering everyone no matter what their problems is totally wrong. ATOS don't listen, they are only interested in asking questions that try to catch people out. Give a wrong answer and it's either twisted to suit them being able to reject a claim or taken that a claimant can do more than they are capable of. Certain problems are not considered despite the medical profession fully backing a claimant. Yes, the amount paid out has to be reduced, but not at the expense of genuine claimants.

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    whymarkmariner

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • Blister you're just having a joke, right?

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    marty r

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • I cannot see how any political party can be blamed for ATOS property experts selecting such unsuitable property. Let us hope the new supplier of the service will have a property department that has an understanding of their clients. Ground floor with parking!!!

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    jennifer jane

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • I have first hand experience of dealing with ATOS and the DWP on behalf of a disabled relative. Neither show compassion (as they claim) but what annoys me the most is that they are wasting taxpayers money through their sheer incompetence. I agree that the fraudsters need to be weeded out but all the current system is doing is penalising the genuinely disabled whilst the cheats carry on benefiting because they know how to work the system.

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    Just Me

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • el84, Peter Watson, pete22 thanks for your comments, you all bring up excellent points. I'm sure many others have too, apologies if I don't mention you all, but please keep this madness in mind when elections come up and or you meet any candidates, MP's !

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    marge

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • Blister, I truly hope you're having a laugh with your comment (trust me the situation I and many others are in is no laughing matter) because if you're not, I fear for the mentality of someone who could reply to this real life story the way you have. The "powers that beauthorities" are not trying to help and anyone with some brain cells could work that out. In fact, it's not even a matter of who you vote for, it's humanity, but sadly, many people in this country seem to lack that? If it was dogspets who were treated this way, there would surely be an outcry!!!

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    marge

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • Let us not forget that the last Labour government sold off most of our gold reserves at a knock down price that resulted in huge losses in our finances, just one more reason why Labour left us bankrupt and needing to make savings , sad really but typical of the way Labour always needs lots of cash to throw at us all to make us vote for them.

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    blister

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • Yer all heart blister, did you actually read this ladies problems before you made that daft comment,

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    James Carrigan

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • It is a bit ungrateful of this lady to complain that she has had no help from the authorities when on fact they have provided a map which taxpayers have to fund. I would be thankful that at least somebody had offered help to me if I was in her shoes.

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    blister

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • Yes blister it is like night follows day. No doubt the UKIP vote will gift Labour a win next year and then we will be in big doo doo again.

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    BG

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • Ever since I can remember we have had a few years of Labour government which has always ended with the country bankrupt they have become unpopular because of this and the Tories have got in to sort things out, they are forced to make savings, improve finances but become unpopular because of the savings and Labour get in only to wreck everything again, guess that is what will happen next year. Etc etc

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    blister

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • Atos are nothing short of heartless scumbags, i had to drive a friend to the Ipswich centre for his assessment , we stopped 5 times on the journey there because of the pain he was in through sitting in one position ,he suffers from severe scoliosis, has breathing difficulties and uses a stick to balance himself when having to try and walk,he takes some kind of pill(s) for a slight heart defect, however all this was in vain when seeing the unqualified woman who had no knowledge of his condition, completely fabricated the interview with various lies,and he ended up with nil points, if i ever saw this woman on the streets i would give her a piece of my mind after what she has put my friend through and the complete lies she wrote down, a truly disgusting piece of work as far as i am concerned and i sincerely hope that one day she finds herself in the same position my poor friend did, absolutely disgusted at the way the disabled are being treated and in very many cases die, this government should be thoroughly ashamed of itself, but i wont,

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    James Carrigan

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • I.D.S is rubbing his hands, benefit reform is working he says, thousands are coming off benefits, why ? because they cant get accessed, because their job seekers benefit is being stopped etc, etc.

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    gerry mitson

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • I love the comments from the deluded Tories on here, doffing their caps to the landed gentry MP's. Know your place plebs and dont dare question the wealthy aristocrats running this country. Or else Paul H and Co will liken you to Joseph Stalin. Good luck with the next election chaps, and losing a large percentage of your vote to UKIP...

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    Greg F

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • Savings do have to be made,but do ground floor offices cost more than first or second floor offices ? Which is the whole point of the article

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    Reader

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • When the previous Labour government left power a treasury minister left a note for his incoming coalition successor saying , sorry we have spent everything there is no money left, the country was bankrupt which is what usually happens after a few years of Labour government, that is why savings have to be made.

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    blister

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • And then politicians wonder why we, the voters, have no respect for them. That a government can preside over this kind of appealing level of incompetence, is systematic of a government incapable of even meeting minimum standards we should expect of them.. That anyone in authority saw a contractor with this level of intelligence as a suitable contractor says as much about the government as it does about the contractor who feels assessing the disabled in a office with no disabled access is a great idea. ATOS & those who placed the contract in their hands are a nation shame & evidence that the system is not just flawed, but managed by morons.

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    el84

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • Oh you angry lefties, no solutions to find benefit cheats from real needy people Just nasty comments about our fine MP's Sad. and childish in a way. hiding behind their own egos.

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    PaulH

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • It is now up to Mike Penning the Minister for The Disabled to urgently consult with local MP's who have a large number of angry and anxious ATOS referrals as part of their constituency caseload. We will know how good he is by his speed of action,or otherwise.Action before a month is out is needed.

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    bedoomed

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • The reason they put it on a second floor is if you do make it up the stairs they class you fit for work! To think this government let tax avoiders get away with billions of tax that should be paid into this country and go after the sick for a few pounds makes me so angry! Are they saying the doctors who actually sign these people off work are incompetent?

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    Rosemary Turner

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • Shame on UK voters for voting in this Government. Maybe next year they will use their vote properly, though I doubt true Blue Suffolk will vote anyone else in other then the Eton 'dont know the price of milk' posh boys

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    zaax

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • Cannot remember name of building but there's a place on queens rd that do DLA appeals what'swrong . With that place ground floor car park opposite to easy I guess.

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    pete22

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • The ATOS contract for Work Capability Assessments is due to end early because allegedly staff are receiving numerous death threats. But the contract to run Personal Independence Payment assessment for disabled people is due to run until 2018. The primary objective of this contract is to reduce payments to disabled people for essential help by 20%. It is clear that ATOS have realised they are only going to get it down that much if they can get disabled people to flip off and die.

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    Cyril the Canary

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • The problem Marion,and most other disabled people have, is that they are not bankers.If they were, they would be given a private plane at taxpayers' expense,a multi-million pound bonus and a nice tax cut waiting for you in the bank when you get home.

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    Peter Watson

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • To those that don't know Atos had are due to finish in early 2015 and a new company will be appointed. Will it be any better? Well probably not.

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    John L Norton

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • Remember when you vote for your friendly local M.P. they probably voted for this company to assess the sick and disabled. It certainly wasn't to help them, it was designed to do a hatchet job on the disabled. It's so easy to cost cut against the vulnerable. Shame on the government for this policy.

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    patbowls

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • Atos said “We aim to treat people with courtesy, compassion and respect at all times and will always investigate complaints thoroughly.” Did they say this with a straight face? Were a load of Atos staff hiding behind a door struggling to stifle their giggles?

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    arfur

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • This from a company that pays no taxes here. It has had ample positive PR for their dastardly behaviour of disabled people, at the Olympics and the Commonwealth games this year, maybe now its time to tell this outfit to sling their hook and be gone.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • Surely the cheapest option would be for them to rent a ground floor room purely for people who cannot access stairs etc.

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    samphirelover

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • I was going to say 'unbelievable', but on very brief reflection nothing about this government and its agencies surprises me.

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    Robotix

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • Why would you have offices on the second floor if your main task is to interview people with disabilities how ridiculous. Also ATOS have lost the contract due to incompetence carrying out the tests and in the frame to replace them are SERCO or G4S you couldn't make it up. The fact that some sort of assessment has to be carried out was proved when a million applicants withdrew their claim forms when the government announced people were going to be assessed. The best way to test is in the applicants own home as not only can you carry out a test but you can assess the surroundings and pick up a lot of information about whether they are genuine or not. It must be cheaper to have a few home based assessors and pay them mileage to travel to see people with a laptop than run a large office with all the overheads involved.

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    royg

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • ATOS using a building meant to assess people with disabilities of any kind, but does not have proper access for those in Wheelchairs or who have great difficulty in walking up the stairs. This sums up this Country. Private firms getting paid huge amounts by this Government. Maybe it is time we brought hanging back, and started off with certain MPs

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    che bramley

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • They sent a taxi for an acquaintance of mine, at a cost of £120 and he can both walk and drive.

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    Vic Sponge

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • Home visit alternative as stated required. .If the lady has genuine disabilities she will be fine,and receive due benefits.Job done. Choice of assessment venue should be on ground level.whoever sorted this place out is not fit for purpose.Fact.

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    PaulH

    Friday, May 9, 2014

  • This abuse of the disabled is all in the spurious pursuit of "scroungers". LibLabCon should be ashamed of themselves over this.

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    marty r

    Friday, May 9, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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