Secret filming by GP about ATOS disability benefits ‘health-checks’

Demonstration near ATOS examination centre on Stoney St. in 2011
Demonstration near ATOS Healthcare examination centre on Stoney St. in 2011
We have previously covered the antics of private company ATOS Healthcare who carry out ‘health-checks’ on behalf of the Dept. of Work & Pensions. Job Centres are making daily decisions on huge numbers of people currently on disability benefits (Employment Support Allowance) with the aim of tranferring them on to Job Seekers Allowance if they are deemed fit enough, using a very contraversial computerised testing procedure owned by ATOS. Secret filming of ATOS ‘training’ by a GP has revealed that there is an implicit quota to pass recipients of benefits as fit for work. ATOS is paid a vast sum to carry out the tests.
Dr Steve Bick, a GP with 20 years’ experience, applied for a job as an assessor with Atos to carry out the work capability assessment (WCA) and secretly filmed his training for Channel 4’s Dispatches programme. […] The trainer tells trainee assessors: “If it’s more than I think 12% or 13%, you will be fed back ‘your rate is too high.'” When Bick questioned how the company could know in advance the precise proportion of people who needed to be put in this category, the trainer replied: “How do we know? I don’t know who set the criteria but that’s what we are being told.”

Notts activists have taken action against ATOS locally. The story of one part of this can be found in the excellent pamphlet: ‘Too much of this sort of thing’.

More about opposition to attacks on benefits and some history of ATOS’s testing software: End of the Social Wage? Radical responses to the Welfare Reform Bill

More about benefits on Notts SOS:

MAY DAY MAY DAY: Organising Against Austerity – meeting at the Mechanics – Tuesday 1st May 2012

MAY DAY MAY DAY: Organising Against Austerity


A MAY DAY meeting for all those interested in organising against austerity outside of parliamentary avenues. Hosted by the Anarchist Federation.

Download: MAY DAY MAY DAY Leaflet or read same text below.

As the cuts sink in around us, neoliberalism is adapting rapidly to overcome public resistance. But new forms of collective, direct, and effective action against capitalism have bubbled up across the world at the same time. The work begins locally and spreads rapidly, but it can only happen here if we put our heads together, work with the resources we have, learn from our successes and setbacks, and mobilise. May Day seems like a great place to start!

Come one, come all, but leave anything you’re selling at home. The meeting will be facilitated and focused around main ideas presented before and perhaps during the event. A free literature table will be available and everyone’s encouraged to fill it up. Organisations are welcome but party-political speeches telling us what we already know are not.

Please come with ideas to share on the following sorts of topics or suggest your own via email or facebook

What remains of the anti-cuts/anti-capitalist movement in Nottingham? What is its focus and aims? How do the people involved see things progressing?

Have we lost the battle against the cuts? If not, where should we focus our activity? If so, what does organising against austerity now entail? What do we mean by ‘success’ in this context?

How is our class experiencing and responding to austerity? What will we settle for? How long before regular mass civil disturbances take off? What could they achieve?

How would a successful movement relate to permanent organisations such as trade unions and charities? And what is the role of existing, long-standing campaigns?

Email: nottingham [at] or find the facebook event to find out more or suggest topics, questions or participants.


Sunday 29th April, 2PM: Open House at the Sparrows’ Nest, St. Ann’s: Making plans and placards for Nottingham May Day on 5th May. Bring stuff and ideas. Phone or email The Sparrows’ Nest (details on website).
For more info on this year’s May Day March see facebook, or

Occupy Nottingham Withdrawal Announcement 21.04.12

For an update and more info, see also:
Occupy Nottingham Withdrawal Announcement 21.04.12

As of 9:00 pm Sunday 21 April Occupy Nottingham will end their occupation of Nottingham’s Market Place after 190 days.

Prior to the last court hearing our legal team at Public Interest Lawyers has given us a 50-55% chance of success. During the hearing Judge Inglis dismissed all of the Council’s allegations against the camp, but said that any proposed deal between the Council and the camp was not the business of the court, he also stated that any issues over human rights, rights of assembly, or to protest were secondary to the issue of lawful possession of the land. He accepted that the Council were the legal owners of the land and therefore showed inclination to grant the order for possession in favour of the the Council as landowners.

In addition we are in no position to contest the land ownership, as this has to be dealt with at a separate land registry hearing. Based on the fact that legal aid was refused both individually and as a group for the current case, we would be even less likely to get it in assistance with the land status and being as we have so far been unable to gain the services of a land lawyer pro rata, we are currently unable to explore this avenue further.

This meant that at the next hearing of the three day trial due to begin on 30th April, that our barristers had a hugely difficult task to win the argument for the camp to be able to remain on the Market Place.

Whereas initially the risk of costs being awarded against camp members was removed from the previous hearing, that was not the case for the trial with a risk of some 20-30K in costs, which didn’t seem such a worthwhile risk with a much lower chance of success and unlikelihood of winning the case. A protective costs order was denied by Inglis on the grounds of a vested interest in the outcome, insurance cover was attempted but that too was unsuccessful.

It was decided that it would be best to remove Carl Freeman from being named defendant and that he should withdraw from the protest to protect him from costs, but that would then put any other camp members whose names were known to the Council of being at risk for the costs themselves.

Feeling that we were no longer in a good position at this point to negotiate a deal with the Council with their certainty of winning, the camp decided it would be best to withdraw from the Market Place and regroup. It was felt that in order to avoid the hearing going ahead and then costs being awarded against camp members that it be best to remove the camp before the barristers and Judge prepared for the case and generated costs.

It was never Occupy Nottingham’s intention to do ‘battle’ with the Council, as we have said all along, they may have made some decisions that we do not agree with, but we understand their hands are tied so to speak to a certain extent and they are are part of the 99% too. We also realise that should the trial go ahead, then the costs generated be awarded to camp members and there is no way anyone on camp could possibly afford to pay them. That would result in 20-30K in lost resources for the City, which as it is already struggling through lower available funds, we would not want to add to such a problem (even though we still maintain that was never any need for a hearing if the Council had only maintained negotiations and as such the costs generated would have been a direct result of the Council’s mismanagement of failing to reach a comparable position with our protest), no matter who was at fault or liable for such costs. On those grounds too we felt it was time to withdraw.

During the stay of over six months on Nottingham’s Market Place, Occupy Nottingham feel that they have been successful with what they initially set out to achieve in raising awareness of the issues we currently face in our society, the reasons behind them and begin discourse to find solutions to the problems. We have helped raise what were almost unheard of subjects for discussion in to regular daily conversation for many people throughout the City and thus begun a chain reaction of increasingly better informed and more aware members of the public, who are thinking for themselves, researching their own answers and making up their own opinions away from those of the media and government. In turn these people will discuss these subjects with others and so it roll’s on.

We would make it quite clear that although we are leaving the Market Place, we are not packing it up or giving in, we realise there is a lot more work to be done and many more people to be reached. We make no attempt to hide the fact that the past six months of the protest have been hard work to maintain and we are not a little bit tired, many have had to take a break and that has reduced numbers and put more pressure on those remaining, along with the pressure of the court case sapping motivation. Therefore a break and some recuperation was not only needed but well deserved.

We have decided to use a short break to regroup, plan our next actions and reorganise before we take the campaign mobile, there are many people who are still not aware fully of the issues we are facing, or even of Occupy Nottingham. There are many more places and towns that we could and will visit now, and aim to take our protest throughout the Shire and even to support groups in other City’s.

The decision to leave was not an easy one, but the camp now feels that the time is right to move on and begin a new chapter for Occupy Nottingham, this will help us to regain the initiative and put a fresh spark of energy and ideas in to action.

On a final note we would like to thank everyone who has shown or given us support in any way, Public Interest Lawyers for their steadfast advice and support throughout the legal proceedings, Nottingham’s Police Force for their understanding and fair treatment of us throughout, Nottingham Council for being open to some form of liaison and Richard Antcliff for being willing to perform that role.

Occupy Nottingham

Coming to a place near you soon…

We are the 99%

We are legion

Expect us.

Attached Files – Letter to NCC:

Contact email: occupynottingham [at]

Health and Social Care Bill passes – Keep Our NHS Public response

Following the passing of the Health and Social Care Bill, here is the press release from Keep Our NHS public. Wendy Savage spoke in Nottingham last year, followed by the relaunch of Nottingham KONP.

Keep Our NHS Public

Media Release
For Immediate Use: Wednesday 20th March 2012

Health Bill Passes: New Campaign Begins

The Health and Social Care Bill has now completed its passage through Parliament and will become law. This is despite the Bill being opposed by the great majority of doctors and health professionals, and by virtually all their professional bodies. It is also despite public opinion: polls have repeatedly shown that a large majority of the public want the Bill scrapped.

Prime Minister David Cameron has put his political future on the line by backing this badly drafted, illegitimate, chaotic and damaging Bill which received over 1000 substantive amendments, most which were not discussed in the Commons. He has told worried Conservative MPs that he is “prepared to take a hit” over the Bill, but that opposition will die away after the Bill becomes law. In this forlorn hope, he is wrong. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has inflicted permanent damage on his own Party by claiming to have transformed the Bill, while in fact leaving all its worst features intact. Even his own Party activists rejected this transparent excuse at the Liberal Democrat Spring conference.

Plans are already in train for a major campaign to save the National Health Service, that will run at a national and local level until the next General Election and beyond. There will be hundreds of battles to be fought across the country in the next few years, as Clinical Commissioning Groups struggle to deal with a morass of contracts and the overstretched CQC try to ‘kitemark’ services; predatory private healthcare companies and management consultants scramble to pick the bones of the NHS; and dedicated healthcare professionals fight against the odds to continue to provide a comprehensive, high quality and free service to the public.

The struggle against this dreadful Bill is only beginning. And the high political price to be paid by those MPs who backed it is only just starting to become clear.

Commenting, Professor Wendy Savage of Keep Our NHS Public said:

“I want to thank everyone involved in the campaign against the Health Bill. It has been a remarkable campaign, uniting doctors, nurses and health professionals with the general public. It has been highly successful in exposing the myths and lies peddled by politicians trying to sneak the Bill past without proper debate or scrutiny.

This is an awful Bill. It will damage patient care. It will waste precious public money on an unaccountable and more complicated bureaucracy and legal costs as private providers fight for thousands of healthcare contracts. It will damage the health of the most vulnerable patients and their communities. If it is not scrapped as soon as possible it will destroy the National Health Service, so valued and loved by those who work in it and those who depend on it.

We will make sure that the Bill haunts the Coalition Government from now until the next General Election. Mr Cameron will find his belief that defence of the NHS will soon fade from the public mind to be an arrogant and stupid delusion.”



Professor Wendy Savage 020-7837-7635 home 07939-084-544
Ian Willmore (media) 07887 641344

Wendy Savage
Cochair Keep Our NHS Public
19, Vincent Terrace, London N1 8HN

Campaigners condemn city council budget decision – Notts SOS press release – March 2012

Campaigners condemn city council budget decision

Download Press Release: Notts SOS Nottingham City Council budget decision press release March 2012

Campaigners from Nottinghamshire Save Our Services (Notts SOS) have condemned the budget, voted through by councillors on Monday 5th March.

Councillors overwhelmingly voted for the budget which included a 3.49% council tax increase; the sell-off of Portland Leisure Centre; the closure of two centres for older people, Marlstones Elderly Person’s Home in Bulwell and the Willows Centre in Beechdale; the closure of the Museum of Nottingham Life at Brewhouse Yard; the ending of food waste collections and closure of nine recycling centres; and a reduction in funding to Connexions, a support service for young people.

There were only four votes against – the city’s few remaining Tories voting who have no particular objection to cutting services, but opposed the council tax increase.

Notts SOS held a joint protest with Nottingham City Unison outside the Council House at lunchtime and another for people coming from work at 5pm.

The group also handed in a petition to the council calling on the council not to implement a cuts budget. This was presented by Councillor Alex Norris during the budget meeting.

Tom Unterrainer from Notts SOS said, “Labour councillors made a lot of speeches, all of the ‘with a heavy heart’ variety. Piffle. If they had any heart – or backbone – they’d have set a no cuts budget and taken their fight to the government with action not hot air.”

Richard Smith from Notts SOS said, “This is not the end of the campaign. This is the fourth year in a row the city council has cut its budget and they already expect to slash a further £24m by spring 2015. Sooner or later, something’s going to give. Hopefully it’s some of the local Labour councillors rather than any of Nottingham’s residents.”


Email list:

Notes for editors

1. Notts SOS was set up in the autumn of 2010 to campaign and oppose
all cuts to services in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. We have been
fighting council cuts on many levels since then, including organising
a 1,200 strong march to the city centre in November 2010.


Nottinghamshire Save Our Services (Notts SOS)
Sign up to our email list for regular updates:

Know the Cuts – Notts SOS campaign against City Council cuts in 2012-13

Notts Save Our Services (Notts SOS) is campaigning against council cuts in both the City and County.

Download our flyer against City Council cuts: Know the Cuts 2012

£20 MILLION CUTS IN NOTTINGHAM! (All figures taken from Council Budget Proposal for 2012-13)

Many city residents will be unaware of yet another year of further proposed cuts to our vital public services, increased costs to pay for them, and axing of local jobs. Below we highlight 10 headline proposals in the City Council budget for coming years. When they tell you “We’re all in this together”, … can see its not true.

* Council Tax up 3.49%
* Selling Portland Leisure Centre
* Closing two Older People’s Centres;
1) Marlstones Elderly Person’s Home, Bullwell
2) Willows Centre, Beechdale
* Closing the Museum of Nottingham Life, Brewhouse Yard
* Stopping food waste collections
* Closing nine recycling centres
* Reducing funding to young people support group Connexions
* Reducing redundancy pay for council staff to legal minimum with proposals for 195 Council job cuts

The council intends to set this budget on March 5th – join our campaign against these proposals

114 user groups face International Community Centre cut – letter from Notts SOS

See also: Campaign launched against ICC cuts

Here is a letter to user groups about the proposed cut in the City Council’s grant from £54,000 to nil for the International Community Centre on Mansfield Road, where we hold our fortnightly meetings. There are 114 user groups at the ICC and at the last Notts SOS meeting we agreed to do our best to contact them about what is intended and see if some will come to our next Notts SOS meeting on Monday 20th Feb and/or take other action. Here is a copy of the letter which is also a flyer that is being put in every room over the next fortnight from today (agreed with the ICC).

To all groups using the International Community Centre (ICC)

Dear ICC user group

Proposed ending of Nottingham City Council grant to the ICC

Are you aware the City Council is proposing in its budget for the coming year to cut ALL of its £54,000 grant to the ICC?

The ICC is at present funded by this grant, financial support from the YMCA to repair and maintain the building, and income from groups like you that use the building. If this grant is cut, prices for use will increase a lot, and make it difficult for some groups to continue to meet here. It will also divert resources from community groups to sustain their community activities to instead being spent on room hire.

There is also the likelihood of further spiralling increases if some groups can no longer afford to meet here and the shortfall having to be met by the remaining smaller number of groups.

This grant was originally set up under a programme to improve the work of the voluntary sector. It has been successful in that there are now 114 different groups that use the ICC.

We urge your group to add its voice of protest to this proposal and request the council reconsider and fully reinstate this cut.

Please join our campaign to retain the grant to the ICC. How you can do this:

• Come to our next Notts. Save Our Services meeting at the ICC at 7.30pm on Monday 20th February. Other details about how you can contact us are listed over the page.

• Lobby Councillor Dave Liversidge’s and go and visit him at his fortnightly surgery. He is Portfolio Holder for Housing Strategy and Community Sector, and his surgeries provide an opportunity for voluntary sector and community sector organisations to raise awareness of their work and discuss issues. The surgeries are held at Loxley House, on Station St, on alternate Friday mornings from 9.30am to 12.15pm. The next date is 10 Feb. To book an appointment you need to contact Phil Hearn at NCC 0115 8762183 or email

• Email your comments/views to:

• Write to : Tricia Gilby, Service Manager Voluntary Sector Sustainability, Communities Courtyard, Wollaton Road, Nottingham, NG8 2AD

The Council meets on Monday 5th March to set its budget – so time is short to change the minds of Councillors….

Nottinghamshire Save Our Services (Notts. SOS) was set up in the autumn of 2010 to campaign and oppose all cuts to services in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. We have been fighting council cuts on many levels since then, including organising a 1,200 strong march to the city centre in November 2010.

We can be contacted at:

Indymedia Instrant Messaging:
Facebook: Indymedia:
or phone 07940 952825

Notts SOS protest city council cuts budget

Notts Save Our Services

PRESS RELEASE – January 21st, 2012

Anti-cuts campaigners protest Nottingham City Council cuts budget

Anti-cuts campaigners today (Saturday 21st January) launched a campaign calling on city councillors to vote against Nottingham City Council’s proposed budget for 2013-14.

Nottinghamshire Save Our Services (Notts SOS) held a stall in the Market Square to raise awareness of what the council is planning and collect signatures for a petition calling on the council not to impose further cuts.

Notts SOS is also calling on people concerned about the impact of the cuts to attend consultation sessions being run by the council to challenge councillors to reject the proposals.

Earlier this week, Nottingham City Council announced budget proposals which foresee a 3.49% council tax increase alongside 195 job cuts.

The council are looking at selling-off Portland Leisure Centre; closing two centres for older people, Marlstones Elderly Person’s Home in Bulwell and the Willows Centre in Beechdale; closing the Museum of Nottingham Life at Brewhouse Yard; cutting food waste collections and closing nine recycling centres; reducing funding to Connexions, a support service for young people; and reducing redundancy payments for laid-off staff to the legal minimum.

In total the council hope to save £20m to cover a shortfall arising from reduced government funding as a result of the coalition government’s austerity drive.

The council has also said that this would not be the end to the cuts, with an additional £24m of cutbacks required by the end of the spring 2015.

Notts SOS believe that the cuts agenda is ideologically driven and are urging councillors to stand-up to central government.

Claire Taylor from Notts SOS said, “Council Leader Jon Collins and Deputy Leader Graham Chapman have been vocally critical of central government and often with good reason. Now it’s time for them to put their money where their mouth is and refuse to pass the cuts onto the people of Nottingham. Even a single council refusing to implement a cuts budget would shake the coalition government.”

Rosemary Muge from the group added, “The same week the council announced it’s planned cuts, Goldman Sachs revealed an £8 billion pay and bonus bill for UK staff in 2011 – equating to £238,832 for every worker. The bankers who caused this crisis have avoided paying for it and instead the cost is being borne by ordinary people. Nottingham is already a deprived city it needs investment not further cutbacks.”

Notes for editors

1. Notts SOS was launched in September 2010. They oppose cuts to services, job losses and cuts in benefits and aim to support workers organisations, service users, community groups in fighting cuts in Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire. They hope to inspire confidence to think, meet and act. And to be inspired.

2. Last year Notts SOS held a demonstration when the city council met to set its budget. A petition was presented to Deputy Leader Graham Chapman. Councillors were later heckled from the public gallery and Jon Collins was challenged by protesters while he was being interviewed for the BBC.



Notts SOS website:

Notts SOS Twitter feed:

Notts SOS feed:

Contact email: nottssos [at]

Notts SOS campaigners condemn government of “haves/have yachts”

Notts Save Our Services

PRESS RELEASE: January 17th, 2012

Anti-cuts campaigners condemn government of “haves and have yachts”

Nottinghamshire Save Our Services (Notts SOS) have condemned Education Secretary Michael Gove’s suggestion that a new royal yacht be gifted to the Queen to mark the diamond jubilee.

Gove made the suggestion in a confidential letter sent to Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary and minister overseeing the celebrations, and to the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg.

In 2007, when the Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned, the cost of a new yacht was estimated at £60m.

Downing Street has been quick to insist there will be no government money for the project, despite the suggestion in Gove’s original letter, that might be a possibility. It appears that the key source of funding will be millionaires and corporate sponsors.

The government apparently feels it cannot tax these organisation and individuals to fund public services, but is happy to ask for sizeable donations for a new royal yacht. Whether public money or not, campaigners believe that this is a kick in the teeth to those affected by the vicious cuts imposed by the coalition government.

Rather than directing money to help those afflicted by their policies, the coalition would rather fritter it away on an oversized bath toy for one of the richest people in the country.

Brian Hocknull from Notts SOS said, “We keep being told that there’s no money, which is why services have to be cut. But apparently there’s money enough for the Royal Wedding; money for tax breaks for Philip Green, Vodafone and Goldman Sachs; money for wars in Libya and Afghanistan; money to turn London into a police state during the Olympics; and money for a new royal yacht. It seems the only thing there isn’t money for is ordinary people.”

“So much for all being in it together. My local Authority has had its central government funding cut by at least 28% over 4 years which will lead to decimation of services and privatisation of many remaining ones – both resulting in many redundancies” said Richard Buckwell, Ashfield UNISON’s branch secretary.

“My members also face pay cuts over 4 years, and the government is in the process of stealing £900 million from our pension funds – will this be going to fund a new royal yacht? We should be told”

Claire Taylor from Notts SOS added, “The reality of the government’s so-called austerity drive is that it those at the top are shielded from it. Public sector workers see their pensions under attack and their jobs at risk; disabled people fear being forced off benefits by welfare privateers such as Atos; and unemployed people are expected to work without pay under the Work Programme.

“Meanwhile the rich keep getting richer. Despite a stagnating economy, the number of millionaires in the UK rose by 17% from 2008-11. Bankers continue to rake in massive bonuses. FTSE 100 directors have seen their total earning rise almost 75% since the 2009 recession. We are very definitely not all in this together. This is a government defending the interests of the haves and have yachts.”


Notts SOS was launched in September 2010. They oppose cuts to services, job losses and cuts in benefits and aim to support workers organisations, service users, community groups in fighting cuts in Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire. They hope to inspire confidence to think, meet and act. And to be inspired.


Notts SOS website:

Notts SOS Twitter feed:

Notts SOS feed:

Contact email: nottssos [at]

Leicestershire Solidarity Group – Whose pensions are ‘GOLD-PLATED’?

Leicestershire Solidarity Group have recently formed and have produced a great leaflet about public sector pensions.

While ‘greedy and selfish’ public sector workers are vilified by politicians and the media, remember…

David Cameron’s publically funded pension is £32,978 a year with a pot of £550,725
Francis Maude’s publically funded pension is £43,825 a year with a pot of £731,833
George Osborne’s publically funded pension is £32,978 a year with a pot of £550,725
Nick Clegg’s publically funded pension is £28,404 a year with a pot of £440,000
Eric Pickles’ publically funded pension is £43,825 a year with a pot of £731,833
Vince Cable’s publically funded pension is £39,551 a year with a pot of £660,507
Andrew Lansley’s publically funded pension is £39,551 a year with a pot of £660,507
Danny Alexander’s publically funded pension is £28,404 a year with a pot of £440,000

Average public sector pension is around £4-6,000 a year

Whose pensions are ‘GOLD-PLATED’?

Whatever they tell you WE ARE NOT ALL IN IT TOGETHER!

Public Sector and Private Sector Workers UNITE AND FIGHT THESE ROBBING PARASITES

Download the flyer: leicestershire solidarity group pensions leaflet Dec 2011

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