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???