Wednesday, August 28, 2013

UNUM’s UNACCEPTABLE INFLUENCE on DWP-ATOS Disability Assessment Regime


"journalists have confirmed, in confidence, that there is a press ban on mentioning the links between Unum Insurance and the DWP welfare reforms"

Letter to President of The Faculty of Occupational Medicine Royal College of Physicians


Mo Stewart
Disability researcher
Disabled veteran (WRAF)
Former healthcare professional
Dr Olivia Carlton
The Faculty of Occupational Medicine of
The Royal College of Physicians
3rd Floor, New Derwent House
69-73 Theobald’s Road

Re: SENSITIVE RESEARCH EVIDENCE – Unacceptable influence

Please excuse this unsolicited contact. However, as I bring to a close this independent research, I believe that I am duty bound to bring this evidence to your personal attention in your capacity as the President of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine. I make no apology for the length of this letter.

For in excess of three years I have examined the relationships between the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the private contractor Atos Healthcare and a corporate American healthcare insurance giant, now known as Unum Insurance. The final two published research reports are enclosed for your attention please as I believe that the information exposed is cause for serious concern. Older reports, as referenced, will also be included and this evidence has been cited several times during welfare debates in the House of Commons, the House of Lords and in Westminster Hall.

Mansel in the Middle
Mansel Aylward (Middle)

However, what is of significant concern is the identified disturbing influence of Unum Insurance with the British welfare reforms, ongoing since 1994, and the long history of the Professor’s close relationship with this highly discredited American corporate giant.

Together with Gordon Waddell, whilst funded and published by Unum Insurance at the UnumProvident Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research, Cardiff University, Sir Mansel co-authored The Scientific and Conceptual Basis of Incapacity Benefits.(1) This text was, effectively, the design for the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) as introduced by the DWP to assess all long-term sickness benefit claimants. Yet, this impressive looking report is identified by Professor Alison Ravetz as being seriously flawed and largely self-referential.(2)

Unum Back-Up Plan Logo

Professor Malcolm Harrington, who conducted three consecutive annual reviews of the WCA, on behalf of the DWP, may also be a member of the FOM. The calls for evidence for the Professor’s reviews were reproduced on the FOM website. With reference to the WCA, the Professor’s consecutive annual reports failed to identify the disturbing evidence regarding the WCA, as conducted by Atos Healthcare and as exposed by many others, including national frontline charities.(3) Yet, after stepping down from the role, Professor Harrington willingly appeared in a television documentary confirming that “..people will suffer.”(4)

Professor Malcolm Harrington
Professor Malcolm Harrington

Using the WCA, claimants diagnosed with life threatening conditions such as Emphysema or Heart Failure are being found fit for work and many die whilst placed in the ‘work related activity group’.(5) Patients who are in-patients in psychiatric units are being found fit for work in their absence(4), when sectioned, and this totally bogus WCA “occupational assessment” system is nothing less than medical tyranny influenced by corporate America.

unum denied

The introduction of the WCA, as designed in collusion with Unum Insurance, was the next step as successive UK governments planned to destroy the Welfare State, to be eventually funded by private healthcare insurance.(6)


However, following complaints by disability activists, the long ago planned mass marketing of Income Protection Insurance by Unum Insurance, that flooded the television channels last year, was quickly stopped by the Financial Services Authority.

They advised that the company were benefitting from “insider knowledge” having been government advisers on welfare reform. As a consequence, Unum Insurance suddenly announced that it would no longer provide Income Protection Insurance for access by the general public.(7)

Atos logo 2011

Last September Sir Mansel was challenged by a group of campaigners following attendance as a keynote speaker at the International Forum on Disability Management, hosted by the Royal Society of Medicine. During interview, as reported by the Editor of the Disability News Service(8), the Professor unexpectedly admitted that the BPS model of disability assessment was “..unsatisfactory” and that it “… no longer addresses the real needs of disabled people and the exclusion of disabled people from society.”

Sir Mansel continues to tour the world offering keynote speeches about the use of the BPS model of assessment, as provided by both Unum Insurance and Atos Healthcare, and used to resist funding benefit to as many as possible. No doubt the Professor was confident that any pending press release as a result of his comments would be totally disregarded.

What is of particular concern is the fact that the national press have been compromised and silenced. Sir Mansel’s unexpected admission that the BPS model of assessment, as used for the WCA, was now deemed by the self appointed expert to be “unsatisfactory” has implications for millions of UK citizens and SHOULD have made the front pages of the national press. Yet, the press release was totally ignored, demonstrating once again the government influence with the national press.(9) Indeed, if such comments were genuine, the Professor should have sent out his own press release but journalists have confirmed, in confidence, that there is a press ban on mentioning the links between Unum Insurance and the DWP welfare reforms. This is sinister.

The photograph shows the members of the Faculty Ethics Committee at the launch of Ethics Guidance for Occupational Health Practice in December 2012
The photograph shows the members of the Faculty Ethics Committee at the launch of
Ethics Guidance for Occupational Health Practice in December 2012

According to the FOM website, the stated values are: collaborative, authoritative, relevant, ethical.(10) That being the case, where is the challenge from the FOM to a member whose relationship with a foreign, discredited corporate insurance giant appears to have influenced his professional opinion for very nearly twenty years?

Where is the challenge by the FOM to a tyrannical government who constantly claim that a confirmed totally bogus assessment is an “occupational assessment” and why, if this is the case, is there no challenge to the government given that the private contractor, Atos Healthcare, fail to employ any Occupational Health doctors or Occupational Therapists?

[Insert by Black Triangle]
[Insert by Black Triangle]

The Coalition Government altered the WCA following election, to make it much, much tougher to gain access to long-term sickness benefit.

They totally disregarded the volumes of detailed evidence demonstrating that the WCA can’t work, especially when using totally unqualified ‘Decision Makers’ who are basic grade administrators.

Decision Makers have no knowledge or comprehension of medical terminology and, by their own admission, confirm they are incapable of deciphering detailed medical opinion as provided by GPs and Consultants.(11)

This was blindingly obvious to anyone with medical training, and it was a simple but significant fact that I personally brought to the attention of Professor Harrington when he began his WCA ‘reviews’. We exchanged several letters.

QED the unqualified Decision Makers simply ‘rubber stamp’ anything that the bogus WCA concludes, as provided by Atos Healthcare and designed by Unum Insurance. These administrators are totally unqualified to do anything else. 

This is how medical tyranny is imposed by the British government and why countless thousands now live in dread of the WCA and many more are dying – killed by the State.(5)

Faculty President Dr Olivia Carter
Faculty President Dr Olivia Carlton

Dr Carlton, you can’t be blind to the damage incurred by the disturbing influence of one of your members as the numbers of chronically sick and/or disabled people now dying, committing suicide or crippled due to the onset of profound mental health problems, due to this bogus WCA, are climbing daily.(12) 

The pain and distress is desperate but no-one is listening, and I would urge you to watch a 3 minute video that will tell you much more than I ever could.(13)

If still unconvinced, I suggest you access an American CBS News video as former Unum staff expose the tyranny involved, and you will learn that the activities of Atos Healthcare and the DWP, as administrators, are a replica of this bogus Unum Insurance assessment system.(14)

In 2007, BBC News exposed the fact that a highly discredited corporate insurance giant were advising the British government on transforming the benefit system. The presenter mentioned confirmation with access to Unum documents – now in my possession – that boasted that the company were “driving government reforms”.(15)

Prof. Mike O'Donnell was Chief Medical Officer at Unum for 10 years before joining AtoS in the same role last year
Prof. Mike O’Donnell was Chief Medical Officer at Unum for 10 years before joining AtoS in the same role last year

The author of that Unum report is now the CMO for Atos Healthcare and was formerly the CMO for Unum Insurance….. More recently, Dr Greg Wood resigned from Atos Healthcare and exposed the fact that the WCA was “cruel” and based on “dubious concepts and shaky reasoning.”(16)

Of course, if you resist the detailed evidence provided in this portfolio, as do the national press and media, I can refer you to another significant report: ‘Incapacity Benefit Reform – the local, regional and national impact’ as authored by Professors Steve Fothergill & Christina Beatty.(17)

There are many online disability support groups. However, the Black Triangle Campaign was one of the first and has been the principle motivator behind exposing the many atrocities and the demonstrable human suffering due to the entirely bogus WCA. Black Triangle led the welfare reform campaign and has given detailed and disturbing evidence to the Scottish Parliament.(18)

I note with interest that you have supported the general opinion that “work is good for you”.

Your quoted comments are in keeping with those of Professor Sir Mansel Aylward’s when you claim:
“Too many people believe they can’t work, when with the right range of help and support they can. This new assessment service could be the solution – particularly for the vast majority of workers who don’t have accessto occupational health services through their employer.” (19)
Well, Dr Carlton, let’s hope “this new assessment service” to eventually provide OT services, to those off sick from work for more than four weeks, isn’t using yet another entirely bogus assessment as I doubt we have that many occupational health doctors in the country at the moment.

The WCA was co-designed with the input from one of the most discredited corporate insurance giants in the world, who had planned to flood the UK market with their highly discredited income protection insurance policies.

That didn’t work BUT the most vulnerable of all British people are now suffering and dying(12) and it’s time that someone in authority found the courage to expose this for what it is, long before any planned “new” system is designed.

As a former healthcare professional I totally agree that ‘work is good for you’. However, what academics and professionals need to remember is that the UK floats on an army of high calibre volunteers, who use their undoubted skills to work when physically able. As volunteers, we can take time away from our voluntary work without reprimand when not too well, when in hospital or when having a flare up of a frequently fluctuating condition. This flexibility simply isn’t possible when in paid employment.

The work undertaken by disabled volunteers I have no doubt saves many millions for the nation’s registered charities, so any ‘cost’ to the State is repaid in voluntary work many times over.

I trust I may have attracted your attention. Indeed, once you have accessed this disturbing research portfolio, you may be much better informed and demonstrate at least a little concern for the chronically sick and disabled people of the UK. They are totally dependent upon sickness/disability benefit for their very survival.

Brown Envelope
“Jimmy” © David Bissett

No enforced government tyranny, using a bogus “occupational assessment,” and administrative staff who are totally incapable of comprehending detailed medical reports, can ever possibly give an accurate assessment which is, even at best, nothing more than one day in the life of the chronically sick and/or disabled person.

Sir Mansel’s successor as the CMO at the DWP is Dr Bill Gunnyeon, who’s another member of the FOM, but he has yet to learn that it is very unwise to send letters written in temper. Given that Dr Gunnyeon does appear to be offended if a member of the public deems to make personal contact with him, he should learn that it’s never wise to act in haste as he will repent at leisure ………

DWP Chief Medical Officer Dr Bill Gunnyeon
DWP Chief Medical Officer Dr Bill Gunnyeon

Given the enclosed very detailed and disturbing evidence, I now invite you to make a public statement, as the President of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine. Members of the FOM are in positions of authority and influence and not only actively support the entirely bogus WCA but also claim that is it an “occupational assessment”.

Indeed, Dr Bill Gunnyeon becomes very angry and highly defensive when provided with disturbing evidence to the contrary.

I should advise that I am a disability researcher, a former healthcare professional and a disabled female veteran. This research has been conducted in a voluntary capacity, over the past three and a half years, and all referenced reports written by myself are already widely available online. Two have been published and the research is welcomed by academics and medical professionals.


Please do not make the mistake of dismissing my concerns and detailed evidence by claiming that the FOM cannot interfere with government policy. The FOM is an Academy of the Medical Royal Colleges and, as such, there is a duty of care to ensure that all members act ethically and do not breach the Hippocratic Oath, whose first rule is First Do No Harm.

It is my understanding that Professor Sir Mansel Aylward used his undoubted influence with successive Governments, and his long relationship with a notorious American insurance giant, to introduce a totally compromised public “occupational assessment”. It was designed in consultation with Unum Insurance to guarantee that the majority of chronically sick claimants would lose Incapacity Benefit(2), regardless of diagnosis or prognosis, and that their very well publicised plight would encourage a dramatic take-up of private healthcare insurance. Unum Insurance fully expected to gain the largest share of the new insurance market but, happily, they were defeated.

This Government funded medical tyranny, impacting on the welfare of the most vulnerable of all, was planned by one of your members who is so confident that he’s now a Director of a Unum Company: The Health Claims Bureau. This company is ready and waiting to provide ‘assessments’ for private employers: (20)(21)
“We have an extensive range of services to meet the needs and fit the budgets of most risk management professionals. Across the group, our core function is to gather information to help the industry make fast and informed claims decisions to contain their risk, improve customer experience and to accentuate their profitability.” (21)
All this evidence refers to the transfer from Incapacity Benefit to the new Employment and Support Allowance. There is a new nightmare planned for all those in receipt of the Disability Living Allowance, to be changed to the new Personal Independence Payment, using yet another corporate designed “assessment.” I have no doubt that the horrors will continue.

May I respectfully suggest that failure to respond, or the suggestion that this matter is not of your concern, would be totally unacceptable given that you are the President of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine.

Yours, most sincerely

Disability researcher
Disabled veteran (WRAF)
Former healthcare professional

This is the missing legal review by 49 US States re Unum:
Initial Review: 31st Dec 2002 Follow-up Review: 29th Feb 2004.


” Unfair construction of attending physician or IME reports: The Companies’ excessive reliance upon in-house medical professionals also suggests the Companies’ employment of such professionals often resulted in a Company bias and the inappropriate interpretation or construction of medical reports, to the detriment of claimants. In certain instances, this bias was reflected in the interpretation of attending physicians’ statements or medical records supplied by attending physicians. In other instances in which the Companies had obtained an IME, the reports supplied by the IME providers were narrowly or even incorrectly construed. The bias of the in-house medical professionals was also reflected in attempts to focus upon any apparent inconsistencies in the medical records or other information supplied by claimants, rather than attempt to derive a thorough understanding of the claimant’s medical condition.”

“Failure to evaluate the totality of the claimant’s medical condition: The examination team identified instances in which claimants who suffered from multiple medical conditions were denied benefits as a result of the Companies’ apparent failure to properly evaluate the cumulative effects of such conditions. In some instances, the Companies’ failure to properly evaluate such “co-morbid” conditions appeared to stem from an excessively narrow focus upon the specific medical condition for which benefits had originally been sought by the claimant. By way of example, certain claimants exhibited a psychological “overlay” which was related to or may have resulted from an underlying medical condition. Although the Companies’ claim handling may have included an evaluation of each separate condition, there was an insufficient effort made to assess the disabling effects of the conditions cumulatively.”

“Inappropriate burden placed on claimants to justify eligibility for benefits: The examination team identified a significant number of instances in which benefits were denied by the Companies on the grounds that the claimant had failed to provide “objective evidence” of a disabling condition. The Companies’ policy forms do not require the claimant to provide such evidence. Alternatively, the Companies in certain instances denied eligibility for benefits on the grounds that the claimant had failed to submit particular medical test results which were deemed by the Companies to be critical to an evaluation of the claim. In such instances, the Companies could have obtained such test results by ordering an IME and requesting that such tests be performed by the IME provider. In general, the examination team found evidence of the Companies’ effort to “shift” the burden of responsibility to the claimant to provide medical or other records in support of the claim, rather than obtain such records through the use of authorizations executed by the claimant. These practices are particularly of concern for claimants whose medical conditions may be interfering with their ability to interact with the Companies’ staff in the handling of their claims.” etc, etc

Identical to Atos complaints…

My emphasis. MS

Mo Stewart 11th August 2013

See also:

Private firms’ role in creation of disability assessment regime in The Guardian,
(1) The Scientific & Conceptual Basis of Incapacity Benefits
(2) Green Paper: A New Deal for Welfare: empowering people to work. 2006
– an independent assessment of the arguments for proposed Incapacity Benefit reform
(3) The Hidden Agenda:
(4) Panorama: Disabled or Faking It?
(5) 32 die a week after failing test for new incapacity benefit:
(6) From the British Welfare State to Another American State. 3rd-edit-FINAL.pdf
(7) Unum withdraws from individual income protection.
(8) Former DWP medical boss makes WCA pledge to protestors.
(9) Aylward folds: Press Release – 3rd Oct 2012
(10) The Faculty of Occupational Medicine:
(11) Welfare Reform – Redress for The Disabled:
(12) British people are committing suicide to escape poverty. Is this what the State wants? final-solution.html
(13) WOW to Save a Life – (video)
(14) CBS News: Did Insurer Cheat Disabled Clients: (video)
(15) BBC News Report re Unum 2007: (video)
(16) BBC News: Disability benefit assessments “unfair”
(17) Incapacity Benefit Reform: the local, regional and national impact:
(18) Black Triangle submission to Scottish Parliament – the role of GPs & the DWP WCA health-committee-open-evidence-session-on-the-role-of-gps-and-the-dwp-atos-work-capability-assessment-regime/
(19)The Faculty and Society of Occupational Medicine respond to the Government’s Sickness Absence Review APRIL 1st 2012
(20) The Health Claims Bureau – Board of Directors:
(21) The Health Claims Bureau – services:


(1) From the British Welfare State to Another American State – Published report MS
(2) The Hidden Agenda – research summary – Published report MS
(3) The Truth Behind Welfare Reforms – Links to Unum exposed 2011 – MS
(4) Welfare Reforms – Redress for The Disabled – MS
(5) Aylward Folds – press release – Oct 2012 – totally disregarded by national press and media
(6) Links to Disability News Service articles re Unum Insurance influence
(7) BBC News transcript 2007 – UNUM Insurance links with British welfare
(8) SEE: UNUM Insurance advert for workplace insurance.

Copied to:

(1) The Welfare Reform Committee
(2) The Public Accounts Committee
(3) Prof Alison Ravetz
(4) John Pring – Editor – Disability News Service
(5) Prof Peter Beresford – Professor of Social Policy – Brunel University
(6) Prof Nick Watson – Glasgow University
(7) Prof Mike Pringle – President RCGP
(8) Prof Sir Michael Rawlins – President RSM
(9) Prof Sue Bailey – President RCPsych
(10) Sir Richard Thompson – President RCP
(11) Prof Steve Fothergill – Sheffield Hallam Uni
(12) Professor Christina Beatty – Sheffield Hallam University
(13) Dr Stephen Hall
(14) Dr Stephen Carty
(15) Dr Christopher Johnstone
(16) Dr Margaret McCartney
(17) Dr Simon Duffy – Director, the Centre for Welfare Reform
(18) Dr Greg Wood – former Atos doctor
(19) Steve Griffiths – Senior Research Fellow
(20) Baroness Jane Campbell
(21) Baroness Tanni Gray-Thompson
(22) Professor Graham Watt – Glasgow University
(23) Professor Ruth the Baroness Lister
(24) Professor Sheila the Baroness Hollins
(25) Ravi Low-Beer – solicitor Public Law Project
(26) Sue Livett – Campaign for a Fair Society
(27) Tom Pollard – MIND
(28) Mike Hobday – MACMILLAN
(29) Keith Dryburgh – CAS
(30) Sue Royston – CAB
(31) Sonia Poulton – Freelance journalist
(32) Rev Paul Nicholson – Disability activist
(33) John James McArdle – Black Triangle Org
(34) Debbie Jolly – DPAC
(35) Gill Thorburn – academic
(36) Pat Onions – Disability activist
(37) Jane Young – Disability activist
(38) Online disability support groups – various
(39) Stephen Barclay MP