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134 calls .. but no answer.


A PRIVATE firm paid to root out benefit cheats failed to answer 134 phone calls from a cancer sufferer's MP.

Labour's Tom Greatrex has branded French company Atos's phone service "pathetically inadequate".

The cancer patient, who had been on incapacity benefit, asked Greatrex for help after she was kept on hold for 40 minutes as she tried to talk to Atos about her "work capability assessment".

But when the Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP's staff rang the Atos helpline, they got the engaged tone 134 times before getting through.

Greatrex said: "The level of service from the Atos phone line has been pathetically inadequate, especially when many of those trying to contact them are in a state of anxiety.

"Now the Government have finally acknowledged the scale of the problem, it is incumbent on them to make improvements as soon as possible. "The situation is only going to get worse in May, when an estimated 11,000 people a week will undergo the work capability assessment."

Atos are paid pounds 100million a year by the Con-Dems but have just 57 staff trying to answer 2000 calls a day about work assessments.

Employment minister Chris Grayling apologised to Greatrex and the patient and said Atos were working to improve their phone service.


Anger: MP Greatrex

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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 27, 2011
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