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12 April 2011

Following a  recommendation in the Harrington report, Atos has begun a pilot programme of audio recording work capability assessments, the medical test for employment and support allowance.

The pilot began in the Newcastle Medical Examination Centre on 21 March 2011 and is expected to run for 4-6 weeks.  Just 500 claimants will be offered the opportunity to have their medical recorded and Atos doctors and nurses will still be free to refuse to be recorded.

Rather than the twin tape recorder and sound engineer that current claimants are required to provide if they wish to record a medical, Atos are content to use an ordinary handheld digital recorder.

A decision about whether to extend the pilot further will be based on issues including:

  • number of customers participating;
  • customer feedback on benefits of recordings;
  • number of recordings used as further evidence;
  • number of HCPs [Atos doctors and nurses] participating;
  • impact on quality of assessments; and
  • technical feasibility.

Given that Atos have control of all aspects of the pilot – including whether claimants are encouraged or discouraged from taking up the offer of a recording – many people may be sceptical about the likely outcome of the process and continue to choose to rely on a discretely placed recording device of their own.

You can download more details about the pilot from this link.