As you hopefully already know, we currently have a website (www.atoshealthcare.com) that we use along with this blog and our YouTube channel. We use these to provide information to you about the assessment process part of Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
The website has been broadly the same since PIP started, which is over 2 years ago now. We have added in new information over this time, and updated anything that has changed, but we think it might be time for a bigger refresh.
How can you help?
We would like your help with this. Is there any information about the PIP assessment process that isn’t on the website now that you would like to be? Are there any features that you think the website should have?
Let us know through the comments box below or the website feedback mailbox.
What will happen next?
It might end up that we can’t implement everything that is asked for or give personal responses to each suggestion, but we will do another blog at a later date explaining what we have and haven’t done.
Most people who claim Personal Independence Payment (PIP) need to have a face-to-face consultation as part of their assessment. Consultations can take place in lots of places around the country. Some of the places are dedicated centres for PIP consultations. Others are also used for other things as well, such as physiotherapy sessions. All of the centres that we use for PIP consultations are listed on our website. The list is split into regions to help you find ones near to where you live. We update the list as new centres open.
How is your consultation centre chosen?
If you need to have a face-to-face consultation we will send you an appointment letter. See our post ‘Will a face-to-face consultation always be required if I claim PIP’ for an explanation of when you would need to be seen. The appointment will be at one of the centres near to where you live. It won’t necessarily be the nearest centre. This is because there might not have been any appointments available there at the time the appointment was booked.
Can you change your PIP consultation appointment?
Yes, you can change your appointment. You can change it to another day or time. You can also change the centre that the appointment is at. You can only change your appointment once though. The appointment letter that you have been sent tells you how to contact us to change your appointment or ask any other questions that you might have.
What if you can’t get to any of the centres?
If you are unable to leave your house to get to a consultation centre because of your health condition or impairment we might be able to do the consultation in your home. See our post ‘When would you have a consultation at home for PIP’ for more information about having a consultation at home.
Following on from our last post about testing improvements to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Assessment process, there is another change we can tell you that Atos Healthcare is testing. We are testing gathering some information from you during a telephone call before the face-to-face consultation, rather than gathering it during it.
In this scenario, a qualified Health Professional (HP) will call you about 2 to 3 weeks before your appointment. They will explain who they are and the purpose of the call. They will then ask if you have any questions and if you are willing to provide some of the factual information that would normally be written down at the consultation. For example, this might be your medical history and the list of medications you use. This does not replace the need for a face-to-face consultation, which is where you can describe the challenges you face with daily living tasks. There is no obligation on your part to spend time on the call and there is no pressure to do so.
What is the reason for the call?
The reason for the call is to enable the HP to complete the first part of the report. It also gives the HP the opportunity to explain to you what you should expect when you attend your consultation. This means that when you attend your face-to-face consultation it can be more focused on you discussing the challenges you face with daily living tasks. We hope that such calls will lead to more claimants attending their consultations and reduced anxiety levels for claimants who might have been nervous. The face-to-face meeting might then be slightly shorter, but importantly, able to focus on the daily living areas that you find difficult.
Why does this need to be tested?
The reason we are testing this approach is that we need to be certain that you don’t misunderstand the purpose of the call and believe it is in some way underhand. This is not the case. The calls are purely for the purpose of improving the experience and providing accurate reports to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
There are also a few reasons why you might be unwilling to have a telephone call, including if you intend to have a companion at the consultation to help you or if you find it difficult to talk on the phone. The HP will understand if you simply wish to attend the consultation in the normal way.
If you have any comments or questions about this, let us know in the comments section below. See our ‘contact us’ page for info about how to get in touch if you have a question about your particular PIP assessment.
Atos Healthcare has been assessing people as part of their claims for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for two years now. Over that time we have learned a lot about what works well, and we have identified some areas where improvements might be possible. Whilst we don’t have any control over the design of the assessment itself (that is the DWP), as one of the assessment providers we are responsible for other parts of the assessment process, such as the places that consultations take place in and the ways we communicate about the assessment process with claimants.
Doing things better
We have implemented a number of changes already; including, text message reminders about appointments and developed our YouTube channel as another way for people to find out about the PIP assessment process. We are always considering how we can do things better. This is often a balance that needs to be struck between different options.
Any change we trial is aimed at improving the service we offer for claimants and for DWP. It is important that we carefully consider the balance between the claimant experience in terms of attending a consultation and the overall waiting time. One trial that we are able to tell you about now is how we are looking to change the way we arrange taxis.
A claimant can request a taxi to their face to face consultation if they are unable to take public transport, but are still able to leave their house. At the moment, if a taxi is approved it is paid for by the claimant and the money claimed back from us through expenses. We are trialling the use of a national taxi account that will charge us directly for the journey, rather than ask the claimant to pay and give them a receipt to claim back.
Currently we are testing this for appointments booked at 5 of our centres; Deptford, Chelmsford, Manchester, Plymouth and Norwich. We need to make sure the process works properly in practice and that there are no unexpected problems. We are likely to extend the number of sites that will have this facility later this year.
The Atos Healthcare website has all of the information you need about the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment process. That is the part of PIP that we manage in most parts of the Britain. As well as describing the process step-by-step in writing, with video and images, we have a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) section. This section lists questions that you might have, organised by the stage in the assessment process that you might have them. The four sections are
What are FAQs?
The idea behind FAQs is that the information is very specific to the question being asked. This means that it can be easier to read and understand than if the information is part of a wider explanation. The questions that we currently have listed are ones that we know people have about the assessment process.
Is there a question missing? Suggest we include it
If there is a question that you think should be in there, let us know in the comment section below or through the website feedback section of the website. We will then consider it when we next update the website. If it is a question that you need to know the answer to now you are best to contact the customer service team directly. You can find out how to do this in the ‘Contact us’ section of the website.