So Atos are happy to test disabled people, but not so willing to evacuate them during a fire alarm

As the Atos boss is rewarded a £1million bonus, a man Parkinson’s disease was left behind during a fire alarm.

Share
Related Topics

Recently, there have been several  reports of Atos carrying out their fitness to work assessments in buildings which are not wheelchair accessible.

Considering the number of wheelchair users who undergo fitness-to-work assessments, this is only seen as yet another thing to add to the long list of serious problems that disabled people and carers  have with the way the company operates.

The latest story of an inaccessible assessment centre appears to be the worst one yet, with the most serious potential consequences for a severely disabled person. It also illustrates clearly exactly why it is so important that all centres and offices used by Atos should be completely wheelchair accessible.

Geoff Meeghan, 32, has early-onset Parkinson’s disease and cannot walk more than three metres unsupported. He was being assessed by Atos on the second floor of a building in Neasden, North West London. A few minutes into his assessment, the fire alarm went off.

Staff evacuated the building, but left him behind in his wheelchair.

Disabled people are supposed to be asked whether they can exit the building unassisted. Mr Meeghan, for some unknown reason, was apparently not asked this question.

He also said that they were not allowed to use the lift and when they asked a security guard for help, he said he would send some, but no one came. Eventually, another security guard arrived at the scene and stayed with Mr Meeghan and his carers, even though he had been told to evacuate.

Mr Meeghan can tackle stairs supported, he said, but in the “highly stressful situation” he felt it was “far too risky.”

Most shocking of all, it was a real fire. Mr Meeghan said “It wasn’t a drill. We could see the fire engine arriving outside.”

He went on to strongly criticise the company, saying: “I feel like there was a general lack of respect for disabled people at Atos – they make you feel as though you’ve done something wrong by being disabled – like you’re being persecuted.”

An Atos spokesperson said: “This should never have happened and we apologise unreservedly. We will be getting in contact with Mr Meeghan directly. We have since reviewed this case internally with the building security and management team to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

“This is a DWP building and the fire warden in charge on the day followed the appropriate evacuation procedures and advised that everyone had to leave the building except for a security guard who was asked to stay with Mr Meeghan.”

Mr Meeghan is extremely lucky to be alive after this incident. And this story transpires after we hear of the Atos boss getting a £1million bonus.

It is now hoped that all Atos workers and assessment centres are made aware of this incident at the very earliest opportunity. It is also hoped that all assessment centres used by Atos will, in light of this case, now make every possible effort to provide ground floor rooms to wheelchair users for assessments at all times. At the very least offering respect and safety to the disabled people they are testing.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The rules were simple: before the results are announced, don’t mention the S-word

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Howard Jacobson has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for the second time  

In praise of Howard Jacobson

Simon Kelner
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week