In this second post in our FAQ Series, which covers off the most commonly asked questions regarding our work with the DWP, we are looking at the topic of healthcare professionals. Atos Healthcare is Britain’s leading provider of disability assessment and occupational healthcare services. Together with our 3,000 staff, two-thirds of whom are doctors and nurses, we are committed to the highest professional and ethical standards.
Q. What qualifications and experience do Atos Healthcare professionals have?
A. We work with Doctors, Nurses and Physiotherapists. Doctors are all registered with the General Medical Council and have a current licence to practice, nurses with the Nursing and Midwifery Council and physiotherapists with the Health Professions Council.
All our healthcare professionals (HCPs) must have 3 years post-registration clinical experience and must successfully complete a rigorous, comprehensive training process before they can be approved to work in this area. This is reflected in the fact that only a small percentage of applicants are successful. Our HCPs are specialists in disability analysis, focussing on the effects of a condition, not on the condition itself.
Q. What specific disability analysis training do doctors, nurses and physiotherapists receive over and above their general medical training?
A. Before working for Atos Healthcare, healthcare professionals must have at least 3 years’ post-registration experience across a wide range of specialities, and this must include some generalist training. All employees are provided with additional, comprehensive training specific to disability analysis. For the Work Capability Assessment, this includes an 8 day course for all doctors and a 17 day course for nurses and physiotherapists.
Training of healthcare professionals can be considered in three distinct areas:
Training to undertake benefit-specific assessments
Scrutiny and file work training
Following the Work Capability Assessment training course, healthcare professionals will, for a variable period, complete assessments under the continual supervision of an experienced trainer.
Only when they are deemed to have achieved competency will they progress to unsupervised assessments. At this stage, every assessment is audited until they produce four consecutive A grade reports, meaning that their reports have reached a high standard. They are then referred to the Department for Work and Pensions Chief Medical Adviser for approval on behalf of the Secretary of State. Following approval, audit is ongoing but at a reduced frequency.
Q. How do you guarantee high standard assessments?
A. Delivery of assessments to a high standard is important to us and we work hard to ensure our HCPs provide consistent, quality, independent assessments.
Conduct a rigorous and comprehensive recruitment and training process to select candidates who are confident and capable for the role
Regularly review and update training based on feedback from trainees and trainers, quality results and feedback from complaints
Ensure medical managers deploy the most appropriate skilled clinical resource to each assessment
Q. How do you check that healthcare professionals (HCPs) provide consistent, high standard assessments?
A. We continuously monitor and review quality against the standards agreed with the Department for Work and Pensions.
Quality assurance is built in to our processes using medical audits. Healthcare professionals must complete an approval process on new benefits and are then randomly audited. Audits are carried out by experienced healthcare professionals with specialist training. There is also an annual validation of each auditor’s appointment.
Assessment reports that are audited are rated with an A, B or C grade to enable appropriate feedback, mentoring and retraining as necessary.
Our target is to achieve 95% reports that are rated A or B and up to 20,000 national audits were randomly undertaken in the last 12 month period, with achievement consistently above 95%.
If you are looking for further information on our work with the DWP, we are regularly posting FAQs and our next one will be about assessing customers with mental health conditions and the role of the Mental Function Champion.