In written evidence to the work and pensions committee, Atos have said that they ‘would fully support’ the recording of personal independence payment (PIP) assessments. They also revealed that an average of one third of their health professionals leaves every year and that 40% of requests for medical evidence from GPs and consultants are ignored.
Capita failed to return any evidence to the committee within the deadline.
In a written reply to the work and pensions committee last month, Atos - now known as Independent Assessment Services – explained to the committee the current regime for recording medicals. This includes:
- Giving three working days’ notice that you intend to record the assessment;
- Signing a ‘recording agreement’ which seeks to limit how you can use the recording;
- Providing your own simultaneous recording equipment which can produce two copies and which must not include laptops, tablets, smartphones or MP3 players.
However Atos went on to say that they “would fully support introducing a simple, straightforward process for the recording of assessments if the DWP select to introduce this facility”.
The chances of the DWP agreeing to this seem exceedingly small, however.
Atos lose a lot of health professionals every year
In January to December 2015, out of 803 staff a total of 298 (37%) left.
In both 2016 and 2017 a total of 33% left.
This means that, on average, the entire health professional team has to be recruited and trained all over again every three years. It’s not surprising that the quality of assessments is as low as it is.
Further medical evidence
Atos do sometimes request further medical evidence from GPs and consultants in the form of ‘factual report forms’ as well as sending out DS1500 (terminal illness) forms.
However, in 2015 just 59% of these were actually returned.
In 2016 62% were returned.
In 2017 the figure had dropped to just 57%.
Given that DS1500 forms are always likely to be returned, the failure rate for other requests is probably much higher than 40%
Home visits and paper based reviews
The percentage of PIP assessments done just on the paper evidence is falling year on year, but home visits are rising.
In 2015 19% of assessments were done on the papers alone. This fell to 17% in 2016 and 14% in 2017.
In 2015 13.5% of claimants had a home assessment. In 2016 this had risen to 14.5% and in 2017 it was 16%.