A COMPANY carrying out fitness for work tests on disabled benefit claims says it wants to leave a Government contract early after staff were made the subject of death threats.

Atos Healthcare says it has been in discussions with officials for several months about ending its £500m work capability assessment contract, which is due to run until August 2015.

A spokesman for Atos said it would not walk away from the contract and would continue to provide a service until new contractors had been appointed.

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He said: “We have been endeavouring to agree an early exit from the work capability assessment contract.

“Despite the ongoing discussions, our total focus remains on delivering the services we are contracted to provide in a professional and compassionate way until a new service begins.”

Last year, Atos revealed plans to take on 145 workers at its Stockton office, including doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, managers and administrators, to take calls from claimants, arrange appointments and gather medical evidence for benefit applications.