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All repeat WCA medicals to be stopped

In an urgent memo obtained by Benefits and Work, the DWP have told staff that due to a growing backlog at Atos all current employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants will be left on the benefit, without further medical checks, until another company can be found to do repeat work capability assessments (WCAs). The memo, dated 20 January, goes on to say that this will reduce the number of claimants moving off ESA, but that there are no plans to inform claimants or MPs about the change.

Benefits and Work obtained the memo from the DWP via a Freedom of Information request. It is headed: ‘FOR URGENT CASCADE. Control of the Referral of Repeat work Capability Assessments’.

The memo explains that back in July a ministerial statement announced that:

“in the drive to continually improve the Work Capability Assessment process and bring down waiting times for claimants, DWP had decided to seek additional capacity to deliver Work Capability Assessments.

“We are working towards having new provision in place – it will of course take some time for that to become fully operational.”

However, the memo goes on to explain that:

“The number of cases currently with Atos Healthcare has grown. A decision has therefore been taken to control the referral of repeat work capability assessments. Therefore, with effect from 20 January 2014, further routine repeat assessments referrals to Atos will be deferred until further notice.

“Controlling the volume of repeat Work Capability Assessments should help us to reduce delays for new claimants and those that have already been referred.”

The memo goes on to say that staff must still refer claimants for reassessment where there has been a reported change in condition, giving the example of a claimant placed in the Work Related Activity Group whose condition worsens and who might be expected to move into the Support Group.

Aside from this, however, reassessment of existing claimants is to end until further notice, with no new cases being referred to Atos from 20th January.

The memo is keen to point out that the decision to stop repeat assessments by Atos is not ‘linked to the quality issues outlined in July 2013’ which the DWP ‘has been working closely with Atos to resolve’. It also reassures readers that the change will have no impact on Atos’ ability to carry out personal independence payment assessments.

It does, however, admit that the result of the change is that the number of people coming off ESA each month will reduce because:

“the Work Capability Assessment is the main trigger for off-flows from the Employment and Support Allowance load. We will continue to assess the potential for alternative interventions on those whose repeat Work Capability Assessments are deferred to seek to manage this consequence.”

No details of what those ‘alternative interventions’ might be is given.

It is clear, however, that the DWP is not keen for people to be aware of the ever more disastrous state of medical assessments for benefits by Atos. The memo explains that claimants who enquire about when their next WCA will be, should only be told that:

“Although the Department will periodically review a person’s Limited Capability for Work, there is no set date for this to happen.

“The timing of this review is at the discretion of the Decision Maker acting on behalf of the Secretary of State and is influenced by the evidence available to them, which can mean on occasion longer periods between face to face assessments. “

In addition, the memo explains that as this is simply an ‘operational decision’ and not a ‘policy change’ there are no plans to notify ‘external stakeholders such as claimants, claimant representative groups, Members of Parliament, etc.’

It is hard to imagine that IDS and his fellow DWP ministers believed that they could keep this further Atos-related failure secret for long: you can’t stop reassessing thousands of claimants a week without anyone noticing. If, however, they could have kept it secret at least until they found a new company to take on the repeat assessments, it would have been easier to explain away and not added to the ever mounting pressure for a complete overhaul of the WCA.

“Yes, there was briefly a problem” IDS could have said “But we now have a new provider and it is no longer an issue.”

As it is, this news is simply further proof that the WCA is not fit for purpose, because as soon as the DWP attempts to impose proper quality controls a massive backlog results. It is, we hope, another nail in the coffin of a completely discredited system.

And, for all those claimants with static or degenerative conditions who continue to be forced to undergo repeat assessments, often followed by repeat appeals, on an annual basis, the news will come as a welcome respite.

Comments  

#56 layla 2014-06-05 00:00
Quoting Graham Ross:
Hi everyone,yeah Had the dreaded ATOS medical approx 18 months ago ,was passed as fit to work despite several chronic medical conditions,appealed ,now in work related activity group,i have been appealing to go in to support group,which i should have heard back from by now surely,now I have just received an ATOS reassessment for 13th May 2014,but i was told that only new claimants would be assessed,do i need to challenge this,the whole thing is a sick joke


does any one know if the repeat referrals have started
and
can anyone clarify routine does this mean 6 - 12- 18 months will 18 months count as routine
#55 Rachel Shaw 2014-05-28 16:07
i have received today, wed 28th may 2014, a summons to an atos,dwp assessment in early june, but as i am seeing assessments have been cancelled by order of a secret dwp memo, i do not know what to do and i am extremely concerned and worried,,
Rachel.
+1 #54 Graham Ross 2014-04-26 10:40
Hi everyone,yeah Had the dreaded ATOS medical approx 18 months ago ,was passed as fit to work despite several chronic medical conditions,appe aled ,now in work related activity group,i have been appealing to go in to support group,which i should have heard back from by now surely,now I have just received an ATOS reassessment for 13th May 2014,but i was told that only new claimants would be assessed,do i need to challenge this,the whole thing is a sick joke
#53 Mattchew 2014-04-17 20:31
Hi - no just a letter saying i need to go for the 6 month regular assessment - I only had the ES50 on my first one, they just want to go and assess me. But I thought this was what had stopped.
#52 Stuart Norfolk 2014-04-17 18:55
Quoting Matthew Nobbs:
Hi guys, I have been on ESA since December 2013 for various conditions, I have recently received a letter from ATOS saying I have have an assessment on 1st of May 2014 - Would this not count as a re WCA reassessment as I have been twice before? Or am I wrong - I'm quite confused here, any help would be great. :)


Hi Matthew, I'm a little unclear exactly what you mean. Did you receive the ESA50 questionnaire along with the letter?
#51 Mattcheww 2014-04-17 18:32
Hi guys, I have been on ESA since December 2013 for various conditions, I have recently received a letter from ATOS saying I have have an assessment on 1st of May 2014 - Would this not count as a re WCA reassessment as I have been twice before? Or am I wrong - I'm quite confused here, any help would be great. :)
#50 katherine 2014-03-19 08:35
my esa50 form was recieved by atos on 10th january, still waiting to hear about reassment. i am in support group contribution based. does this news mean i wont hear anymore for a while. my form is with the doctors at atos at moment. i rang atos yesterday but they couldnt give me any info about how long it will be with doctors waiting to be looked at.
#49 Stuart Norfolk 2014-03-18 22:30
Hi Jenny,

Thanks for the update. Although I think I'm still due for re-assessment unless anybody can tell me otherwise.

Received letter and ESA50 on 14th January 2014. letter dated 12th January2014.
Memo (above) was issued on 20th January 2014. Am I right in thinking that I'm already in the 'review' process even though the DWP has now suspended repeat assessments?
#48 carruthers 2014-03-02 02:03
Listen people, this bit of the forum is for commenting on the news - think of it as our version of "Question Time"!

But that's not the place to get help your particular problem.

If you look down the left-hand side of this page you'll see a list of links. Just above the word, "Campaigns", you'll see a link marked "Forum".

If you click on that, you can start a whole new thread about your problem and most likely the Benefits & Work moderators, who know a LOT about these matters, will be able to help you. And other members can still chip in with their advice or experience.

And those who want to talk about DWP policy will have a space where we can do it without interrupting a private advice session.
#47 chrisxxt 2014-03-01 12:20
Thanks for the info Jenny very helpful.. I did fill a esa50 form out months ago which i forgot all about, they sent it saying it was a questionnaire but it would affect my benefits if i didn't return it.. Anyway no worries I'll just go to the medical as normal fail as normal then appeal as normal, just gets you mad knowing they have failed you before you have even walked in.. Once again thank you
#46 julie17180 2014-03-01 12:16
by the wau he has had all assessmets and appeals and won them then they do this why have him go through all that he also has mental health problems since his accident it has put us through so much pain
#45 julie17180 2014-03-01 12:14
can someone please advice my husband has had all his ESA STOPPED AFTER BEING ON SICKNESS BENEFIT FOR 30 RS HE IS DISABLED he had an accident in the pit now they have stopped all his money 400 per month just like that saying we have enough to live on i get a small pension from work and my husband gets his pit pension i also get my retirement pension how can they just do this there must be some kind of law against this we had no warning
#44 JennyT 2014-02-28 20:52
Quoting chrisxxt:
[quote name="JennyT
"]Quoting chrisxxt:
So after just reading this yesterday how ironic that i receive the dreaded letter saying atos want to reassess me.. I've been on esa for 2 years including 2 failed medicals which both were overturned at court.. I know they are going to fail me before I've even walked into the examination.. I've had 2 brain operations and lost my hearing in the left ear and they believe nothing is wrong with me.. I am 36 and live in the UK so no changes from what i am aware off

It would be worth finding out how this happened. ARE YOU ON ASSESSMENT RATE? WHAT GROUP ARE YOU IN? When were you due to be reassessed?

[quote name="JennyT

my 2
"]Quoting chrisxxt:
So after just reading this yesterday how ironic that i receive the dreaded letter saying atos want to reassess me.. I've been on esa for 2 years including 2 failed medicals which both were overturned at court.. I know they are going to fail me before I've even walked into the examination.. I've had 2 brain operations and lost my hearing in the left ear and they believe nothing is wrong with me.. I am 36 and live in the UK so no changes from what i am aware off

It would be worth finding out how this happened. ARE YOU ON ASSESSMENT RATE? WHAT GROUP ARE YOU IN? When were you due to be reassessed?[/

my 2nd medical was 2 year ago now.. I appealed which went to court a year later and they overturned atos decision and put me in a work support group and said atos wasny allowed touch me for another year which will be this march hence the letter i have just gotquote]
It could take them up to six months to see you for a face to face and it would likely be delayed further if you requested a recorded face to face. So sorry, I am a victim too and no expert, just trying to offer you the advise I would give myself.
#43 JennyT 2014-02-28 20:16
Quoting chrisxxt:
[quote name="JennyT
"]Quoting chrisxxt:
So after just reading this yesterday how ironic that i receive the dreaded letter saying atos want to reassess me.. I've been on esa for 2 years including 2 failed medicals which both were overturned at court.. I know they are going to fail me before I've even walked into the examination.. I've had 2 brain operations and lost my hearing in the left ear and they believe nothing is wrong with me.. I am 36 and live in the UK so no changes from what i am aware off

It would be worth finding out how this happened. ARE YOU ON ASSESSMENT RATE? WHAT GROUP ARE YOU IN? When were you due to be reassessed?

[quote name="JennyT

my 2
"]Quoting chrisxxt:
So after just reading this yesterday how ironic that i receive the dreaded letter saying atos want to reassess me.. I've been on esa for 2 years including 2 failed medicals which both were overturned at court.. I know they are going to fail me before I've even walked into the examination.. I've had 2 brain operations and lost my hearing in the left ear and they believe nothing is wrong with me.. I am 36 and live in the UK so no changes from what i am aware off

It would be worth finding out how this happened. ARE YOU ON ASSESSMENT RATE? WHAT GROUP ARE YOU IN? When were you due to be reassessed?[/

my 2nd medical was 2 year ago now.. I appealed which went to court a year later and they overturned atos decision and put me in a work support group and said atos wasny allowed touch me for another year which will be this march hence the letter i have just gotquote]
It looks as though as they send out the form (ESA50( a good few weeks, sometimes months early you have been unlucky. I trust you have sent evidence to back up your form? You could have also sent the tribunal decision and explained that you are no better, maybe you are even worse. I do hope it all goes well.
#42 chrisxxt 2014-02-28 20:05
Work related activity and my medical is 18th march 2014
#41 chrisxxt 2014-02-28 19:53
Quote:
Quoting chrisxxt:
So after just reading this yesterday how ironic that i receive the dreaded letter saying atos want to reassess me.. I've been on esa for 2 years including 2 failed medicals which both were overturned at court.. I know they are going to fail me before I've even walked into the examination.. I've had 2 brain operations and lost my hearing in the left ear and they believe nothing is wrong with me.. I am 36 and live in the UK so no changes from what i am aware off

It would be worth finding out how this happened. ARE YOU ON ASSESSMENT RATE? WHAT GROUP ARE YOU IN? When were you due to be reassessed?
[quote name="JennyT

my 2
"]Quoting chrisxxt:
So after just reading this yesterday how ironic that i receive the dreaded letter saying atos want to reassess me.. I've been on esa for 2 years including 2 failed medicals which both were overturned at court.. I know they are going to fail me before I've even walked into the examination.. I've had 2 brain operations and lost my hearing in the left ear and they believe nothing is wrong with me.. I am 36 and live in the UK so no changes from what i am aware off

It would be worth finding out how this happened. ARE YOU ON ASSESSMENT RATE? WHAT GROUP ARE YOU IN? When were you due to be reassessed?[/

my 2nd medical was 2 year ago now.. I appealed which went to court a year later and they overturned atos decision and put me in a work support group and said atos wasny allowed touch me for another year which will be this march hence the letter i have just gotquote]
#40 JennyT 2014-02-28 18:06
Quoting Kerry:
Help, ive been in support group for 2yrs got my esa50 that had to be in for 1st week of jan that was signed for. Before i had heard back within a a month but with atos going does this news mean that i have a chance of not getting a medical and just staying put until dwp find a new examination partner?
Thanks.

As you have returned yor ESA50 form I am afraid that you will be stuck with going through the process. I suppose we could think that as they are so backlogged they may make more decisions on paper rather than face to face, fingers crossed this is the case and you are assessed on paper. Sorry its not better news.
#39 JennyT 2014-02-28 17:58
Quoting chrisxxt:
So after just reading this yesterday how ironic that i receive the dreaded letter saying atos want to reassess me.. I've been on esa for 2 years including 2 failed medicals which both were overturned at court.. I know they are going to fail me before I've even walked into the examination.. I've had 2 brain operations and lost my hearing in the left ear and they believe nothing is wrong with me.. I am 36 and live in the UK so no changes from what i am aware off

It would be worth finding out how this happened. ARE YOU ON ASSESSMENT RATE? WHAT GROUP ARE YOU IN? When were you due to be reassessed?
#38 Kerry 2014-02-28 17:48
Help, ive been in support group for 2yrs got my esa50 that had to be in for 1st week of jan that was signed for. Before i had heard back within a a month but with atos going does this news mean that i have a chance of not getting a medical and just staying put until dwp find a new examination partner?
Thanks.
#37 chrisxxt 2014-02-28 12:13
So after just reading this yesterday how ironic that i receive the dreaded letter saying atos want to reassess me.. I've been on esa for 2 years including 2 failed medicals which both were overturned at court.. I know they are going to fail me before I've even walked into the examination.. I've had 2 brain operations and lost my hearing in the left ear and they believe nothing is wrong with me.. I am 36 and live in the UK so no changes from what i am aware off

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