Benefits and Work has been studying the bid documents submitted by Atos and Capita in relation to carrying out personal independence payment medical assessments. Atos will be carrying out medicals in London and Southern England, Northern England and Scotland. Capita will be doing the assessments in Wales and Central England.
Here we examine some of the differences in the proposed approaches of the two companies.
The DWP estimate that around 8% of claimants will medically require a home visit. Atos appear to be intending to meet this requirement but not go any further.
Capita, on the other hand, say that they think that the majority of claimants will prefer to have a home visit, so are aiming to allow anyone who prefers a home medical to have one. They estimate around 60% of claimants will take them up on the offer.
Atos will be using NHS hospitals, doctors surgeries and private hospital and physiotherapy premises to carry out medical assessments. They claim that over 90% of claimants will have to travel for no longer than 30 minutes to get to an assessment centre.
Capita will be using their own premises, plus Remploy offices and Assist UK independent living centres. They claim that 91% of claimants will be within 90 minutes travel time of a centre and 78% within 60 minutes.
Both will also use mobile assessment centres in vans to visit more remote areas.
Atos make no mention of the option to have your PIP medical audio recorded and, judging by the obstacles they have placed in the way of recording work capability assessments over the years, they will not be keen to permit it. However, they do say that claimants will be seated alongside the examining health professional, so that they can see what information is being noted down about them.
Capita, on the other hand, say that all medicals will be audio recorded if the claimant consents and everyone will have the right to a copy of their recording.
Perhaps slightly alarmingly, however, they have suggested that a copy of the audio recording and the medical report could be stored on a website which a claimant could then access with a username and password. Whilst this would be very helpful in terms of obtaining advice, many claimants may be appalled by the possibility of such a site being hacked, especially given the current climate of hatred towards claimants fuelled by politicians and the media.
TYPES OF HEALTH PROFESSIONALS
Atos will be relying extremely heavily on physiotherapists to carry out medical assessments. They will be using 933 physiotherapists, 373 nurses, 75 occupational therapists and 19 doctors. There will also be 35 ‘condition champions’ to give support in specialist areas such as mental health assessments. Atos will decide what type of health professional conducts each claimant’s medical.
Capita will be using 80% general nurses and 20% mental health nurses for assessment centre medicals. The nurses will be permanent staff. For home-based medicals they will use 20% permanent staff and 80% contracted staff. 65% will be general nurses, 25% mental health nurses and 10% will be GPs. Capita say that they will allow claimants to have some input into what type of health professional visits them.
On paper, at least, it looks like Capita are trying harder to be claimant friendly and will possibly provide a more claimant-centred service. But in the end, whoever assesses you the criteria will still be the same and the aim of the DWP will still be to impose 20% cuts in payments.