Responding to the Citizens Advice’s ‘Right First Time?’ Report

Today, Citizens Advice published a study on the accuracy of Work Capability Assessments (WCA) based on a sample study of 37 case reports collected from people who had applied for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

As Atos Healthcare carries out over 10,000 Work Capability Assessments each week on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions – and supplies DWP decision makers with a report that is used, along with other information, to determine an ESA claim – we thought it would be helpful to provide some additional information. Please read on for more.

Work Capability Assessments and the ‘Right First Time?’ report

In their study, Citizens Advice analysed 37 reports collected from people who had applied for Employment and Support Allowance.

The report has recommended some changes to the Work Capability Assessment process, with the aim of improving accuracy and assuring quality.

We plan to work with the DWP and Citizens Advice to further improve Work Capability Assessment. In the meantime, we have provided some additional information, which we hope will help and interest readers of the report:

• Only 9% of assessment decisions have been overturned at appeal – as recently verified by the independent fact-checker Fullfact.org.

• Atos Healthcare is committed to quality and conducts assessments according to guidelines from the DWP. We continually focus on the quality of our assessments, something which is also measured against criteria set by the DWP.

• Our performance consistently meets with the DWP’s set criteria and their assessment procedures, which includes an external audit.

• As with all contracts, there are service level agreements in place between Atos Healthcare and the DWP, and penalties are applied if the agreed service levels are not met.

• We expect the highest quality standards from our health care practitioners. All Atos Healthcare professionals receive comprehensive training in disability assessment and undergo a continual audit; are registered with a relevant professional body; have a minimum of three years broad-based clinical post-registration experience; and have achieved approval (post-training) from the DWP’s Chief Medical Adviser.

• Even after training, our health care practitioners are regularly audited.

• We have worked to improve our service following recommendations made by the Harrington Report in 2010 by introducing a new customer charter, formalising the role of Mental Function Champions, piloting the audio recording of assessments and by introducing the personalised summary statement.

Please check our blog regularly for more information on how we are working to improve the assessment process. Please also view our blog for more information on how we have worked to improve our service following the publication of the first Harrington Report by introducing our new Atos Healthcare customer charter and formalising the role of Mental Function Champions, and by introducing the personalised summary statement and piloting audio recordings

See also:

Small percentage of benefits decisions overturned on appeal

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