Tuesday 23 July 2013

ATOS convenient Fall guys for the DWP

For those who read my blog but don't know what a WCA is - its a work capability asessment, something carried out to assess a sick and disabled persons ability to function in a "work situation" it is a flawed test that has no resemblance to a real world situation at all.

The WCA is carried out by a private contractor called ATOS that in many ways quite rightly has come in for stick - as many of the reports they produce are badly written, flawed and are produced for the DWP decisions makers ( the people making the decision as your suitability for work or not)

Yesterday it was announced that ATOS were producing poor quality reports and the government had decided to bring in new providers. Twitter and other social media erupted with yay we have won, ATOS are terrible they are to blame for all the appeals, deaths etc
Guardian Article

Really are they?

ATOS have stuff to answer for BUT its the test that is flawed not the company carrying it out. we could have 20 new assessors but the test remains the same, the way the training is done remains the same the norms (or rules of thumb) remain the same. this is a classic DWP trick - ATOS are now the fall guys, so DWP say oh we will bring in new providers - MPS and the press say oh look government forced to listen - go away and i really hope im wrong - with the no money while you appeal clause & new providers - appeals go down gov says see it was all atos's fault meanwhile we are still screwed over with a flawed test. the real culprit here is DWP not atos

" ATOS practices are awful, but it is the DWP who devised WCA, its them who approve the LIMA system in which Atos HCP use to assess us with, and it is the product of the HCP and LIMA system that make the report grossly inaccurate. More so, the report only gives a snapshot of a person's condition, and I've seen a fair few to know how appalling they are, especially for people with fluctuating and complex conditions.. Atos, in theory don't make the final decision that is DWP Decision makers, it is the DWP who allows the DM to give credence to the HCP report above all other medical evidence.

It is interesting that Mark Hoban is announcing this a week after the debate of impact assessment in the commons, where he was blasted for not meeting with Labour MPs and not taking the damning reports of Atos practices seriously

The WCA is unfit for purpose, that's what needs to be changed/scrapped not to bring in other providers or make it more different more people to appeal"

S.Rogers - Volunteer Benefits Advisor (very knowledegle woman)

 you can read many blogs about this and to my mind the process needs to be sorted, it doesn't matter who carries out the assessment if the policy is badly designed it will still produce bad results.

we have a long way to go to get a fit for purpose Sickness/Disability Benefit(ESA)

1. The god awful idea of no money while you ask for a mandatory reconsideration of the decision will cause no end of problems and leave many destitute - the government have purposely set out to entrap people with the "oh you can claim JSA" while you are waiting- to claim JSA you have to sign a job seekers agreement that you are fit for work and seeking full time employment 
mandatory reconsideration factsheet: disability rights UK 

The government has refused to set a time period for the mandatory reconsideration - meaning it could take months - we are after all seeing appeals taking up to 12 months to be heard.

By pulling this stunt even with special conditions attached to a job seekers agreement it means people too sick to work will be forced to seek work, or face sanctions - if we think its a mess now wait for that one to kick in. Only when the decision has been reconsidered can someone be placed on the ESA basic rate of they decide to appeal after that.

2. The Harrington review recommendations need to be implemented in full

3. A real world test needs to be put in place not the nonsense of can you lift an empty cardboard box
go back to the drawing board - extend the length of time to get evidence from 4 weeks to 12. Place as much importance on medical, social care and other sources of info as a 20 minute asessment with a complete strangers who might know nothing about your condition.

4. Continue the pressure and dont think oh well ATOs are toast so we can all relax- The options for other providers are few and far between I can only think of 4

Health service*8

** As someone with a invisible illness derided, ignored, unsupported in the main by healthcare professionals who often think its all in my head -  this idea fills me with dread. I will come back to why another time. 

so its comes back to its not about who delivers the assessments - to be honest we could have a service run by disabled people and we would still have a flawed test - there is a saying follow the ball not the plyer. in this case the Ball is the test the player is ATOS. we are so focused on the player..we cant see that the ball will remain the same.

The DWP are banking on a reduction in appeals from October not because the test has improved but because only the most determind or people with partners or a little bit in savings will persisit with reconsiderations and appeals. The rest will have no option but to allow themselves to be entrapped** and claim JSA and face the music or be destitute - its not a choice id like to make.

**Im no legal eagle but is this even legal to sign something knowing it to be false???


  1. Also there's the " little matter " of the big elephant in the room - UNUM formerly the outlawed UNUM Provident for running disability denial factories ...the red in tooth and claw beast has to be fed , their job is to lobby for stricter benefit regulations so they can sell more private Employment Protection Policies - trebles all round as they say in " Private Eye " magazine .

    There's the interchangeable CEOs with ATOS , UNUM and the DWP - a political arm of the Conservative Party ...the unholy trinity ...ideology not evidence .

    UNUM supplied the LIMA tick box - Computer says no software for ATOS
    ....also there's the Bio - Psychosocial model , dated 90's pseudo science quackery that underpins everything .

    The UNUM DMA ( Disability Medical Assessment ) ...the insurance industry non medical " medical is " remarkably similar " to the PCA ( Personal Capacity Assessment ) and it's successor ...the WCA ( Work Capability Assessment ) .

    Follow the money ...the bigger picture ...ATOS take the flack for UNUM ....the real parasites - Corporate Welfare - Pretend Capitalism .

    1. You are absolutely right - its all a big putrid mess.

  2. UNUM Provident had problems over the pond with Fibromyalgia , ME & CFS affecting their profitability ...suddenly it wasn't poor old Charlie that lost his fingers in a machine , poor Auntie Dot tripping over a obstruction or slipping on a leak .

    There was a deliberate plan to " low ball " them , the Bio - psychosocial model was basically targeted psychiatric research to fit in with very right wing sociology ...that discipline's equivalent of Mein Kempf in some instances .

    UNUM Provident had these conditions reclassified as mental illness after 24 months so they didn't have to pay out . Over here the likes of ME was derided in the Tory papers as " Yuppie Flu " ...middle class neurotic self obsessed women that were obviously swinging the lead of course !

    The Blogger Humphry Cushion upset Tory MP Nadine " Mad Nads " Dorries with too many ...often critical tweets ...she tweeted that she saw a Daily Mail scandal in the offing ...if someone could do that many ...they should be chased back to work or their benefits should be stopped ...based on her " extensive " medical " knowledge " ......actually Humphry Cushion was off work ..supported by her employer and went back to work when recovered ...but this is " too deep " for the thick and naive , saloon bar Daily Mail , Express , Sun & Telegraph reading bores ; that Mad Nads panders to .

    By " strange coincidence " Humphry Cushion was sent for a ATOS " assessment " ...probably as a " moral lesson " to " button up her mouth " .....the ATOS doctor admitted that the LIMA computer software is deliberately set up to be hostile to these conditions this instance the ATOS doctor was a absolute gentleman .

    The Benefits & Work site states that the DWP is institutionally hostile to these conditions ...that's ATOS and UNUM's influence ...the DWP is institutionally incapable of acting independently ...well at least at the lower levels at best .

    There's also been the mandatory ATOS horror stories about people being told in trial areas that the condition was all in the mind ..." coincidentally " 80% + of people that appealed to a Tribunal won their cases against ATOS / DWP with advocacy .

    ATOS also insisted on the use of the UNUM supplied LIMA computer says no software when tendering for the DWP contract . This is the problem with Welfare Capitalism / Corporate ...these outfits become too big to fail .

  3. Guardian CIF

    @jessthecrip 22 July 2013 12:47pm. Get cifFix for Chrome.

    This "compassion" extends to complaints handling too, Jess.
    The "Independent Tier" for complaints is run by Atos from the Atos head office; the "independent" medical examiners are appointed by Atos; the convenor for the IT is an Atos employee; and the "independent" lawyers who scrutinise the complaints are so independent we are not allowed to know who they are.

    When the IT eventually reports, even when the verdict is damning despite all the ties to the company, Atos does nothing - but they will offer cash if you agree to drop the complaint.
This has happened to me; I have not taken their money (yet) because they have consistently denied any wrongdoing even though the evidence is there and the IT agrees.

    Atos are not caring, they are not compassionate, and they offer no "service" whatsoever to claimants. 
We are not their customers - the DWP is their customer; and a customer that is perfectly satisfied and the only reason they are pretending they care now is because the headlines are yelling about the £66 Million bill for appeals and it looks bad.

    Hoban does not say a word about how useless the WCA/Unum test is; he perpetuates the idea that this test is a "medical" when it is nothing of the kind; he is a bit annoyed that the "quality" of the "reports" isn't any good, but denies that there is any link between the reports and the reporters (ie. Atos staff) being incompetent and the failure of many very sick people to qualify for ESA.

Everybody who has done any research on this, or has been a victim of this system (I am both) will tell Hoban that there IS a causal link between the Atos staff writing incomprehensible and incompetent reports and people losing their benefits. Everybody knows that neither Atos nor DWP staff take any notice of the medical evidence submitted by claimants and invariably the DWP goes along with the Atos recommendation.

    Hoban and his minions insist it's DWP who makes the decision. This is not true - it's just plausible deniability for their contractors.
13 weeks into a claim, and Atos send the ESA50. That is scrutinised by an Atos HCP who decides whether, when, where, and how the claimant is assessed. Atos does the assessment, and Atos writes the report. Atos makes the recommendation in the ESA85 summary as to whether the claimant is capable of work (usually a yes)
Any problems the DWP staff have re. medical terminology, any queries they have about the forms/reports/summaries/whatever - go to the in-house Atos person (every Benefit Delivery Centre has one)

    Atos are involved at every single stage of the process. If Hoban doesn't know this, he's an idiot; if he does, he's a liar.
    I sent off my latest ESA50 (the 4th in 3 years) more than a month ago, complete with many sheets of medical evidence and an index of it all (there's plenty of it) and a request to have the papers returned to me.
I have been informed by DWP that Atos received it on 24th June - but no sign of the paperwork (they lost it last time) and no invitation for yet another assessment.

    Not that I want one.
In the form, I cited the regulations applicable to my case, pointed out that a complaint dating back nearly two years remains unresolved and with the Independent Case Examiner, and explained why the rules applicable to my case should ensure that I get automatic Support Group status and no Work Capability Assessment.
They will, of course, ignore all that. They usually do.
    Hoban says that getting new providers in will make all this much better.
No, it won't.

    The only thing that will make this better is abolition of the WCA.


Happy to have thoughtful, funny or imformative comments..abusive crap will be deleted