Unfit to work but too fit for help
Published 16/04/2010 | 14:52
A recovering anorexic who was deemed unfit for a job she applied for was then told she was not eligible for benefits as she was too healthy, it has been revealed.
Nicola Hobbs, 19, from Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex, failed a routine health check needed to work at a council-run children's centre.
Without any source of income, she applied for employment support allowance only to be told she would not be able to get it as she had been assessed as being fit enough to work.
She said she was shocked to then find out the same healthcare company was contracted by the county council and the Department for Work and Pensions to carry out both health assessments.
She told the Daily Mail: "It's ridiculous that the same company can say two completely different things about the same person.
"I really wanted to get back to work - the last thing I wanted was to be sitting around at home claiming benefits, and I thought a job like this would help to build my confidence."
A spokeswoman for Atos Healthcare, which carried out the two assessments, said the two tests had different criteria.
She said: "We have a contract with the Department for Work and Pensions to conduct the medical assessments for people applying for the employment support allowance.
"The assessment was carried out in line with Government policy to assess whether a person is fit for work at all. The other assessment was a completely separate contract with West Sussex County Council for occupational health. It was done in line with protocol laid down by the council for that specific job. The two tests have different criteria."