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A DWP-contracted assessor ‘asked a gay man if he wanted to be cured’

A DWP Assessment Centre and the DWP logo

An assessor working for a company contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) allegedly asked a gay man if he wanted ‘god’ to ‘cure’ him of his homosexuality in 2012. The man, Keith Morgan, has now spoken out.

The DWP-contracted assessor 

As Disability News Service (DNS) reported, Morgan had a work capability assessment (WCA) with Atos in 2012. DNS reported that, during the assessment:

The GP [assessor] told him [Morgan] that when a car had a problem it had to be returned to the dealer to be repaired, just as he needed to be returned to God to be cured of his homosexuality.

DNS also reported that the doctor told Morgan about a TV show showing gay men being ‘cured’. She allegedly gave him the details of one of the men ‘cured’, and the details of a Christian website.

The doctor involved admitted to some of the claims. DNS said:

Although the doctor disputed making some of the comments, she accepted she had told him about the television programme, asked Morgan… if he wanted to ‘change’, and suggested the best person to help with problems in her own life was God, ‘the one who made and understood [her]’.

An admission

Atos issued the doctor with a formal warning, but allowed her to keep her job. She reportedly no longer works for the company. In 2013, it agreed to an out-of-court settlement with Morgan and admitted discrimination against him. The settlement included a confidentiality clause, but he has chosen to break that, after alleging that the company ‘harassed’ him during a recent assessment.

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A 2013 letter from Lisa Coleman, then a senior vice president of Atos, to Morgan said:

Atos sincerely apologises for the upset and hurt that has been caused to you as a result of [the doctor’s] comments made on the 14 August 2012.

Atos view… that it is wholly inappropriate for any health care professional to behave in this manner, and appropriate management action has been taken to prevent a recurrence of the behaviour.

It would not comment on the case to DNS.

The DWP says… 

A DWP spokesperson told DNS:

We’re committed to ensuring that disabled people get the full support that they need, and under PIP 30 per cent of people are getting the highest rate of support, compared with 15 per cent under disability living allowance.

Assessments work well for the vast majority of people, but one person’s poor experience is one too many, and we’re committed to continuously improving the process for people so that they get the support they need.

‘Ruining my life’

The DWP’s assessment companies have been controversial; not least a scandal involving assessors allegedly asking claimants ‘why haven’t they killed themselves, yet?’. Also, as The Canary recently reported, the DWP has issued guidance telling assessment companies it’s “not appropriate” to ask to see scars from self-harm.

Morgan told DNS of both his assessments:

These people are supposed to be qualified nurses.

How do they live with themselves, knowing they are harming the very people they are supposed to care for?

They are ruining what little life I have, and I am tired of dealing with it. I just don’t have the strength.

Featured image via Google Maps and UK government – Wikimedia 

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