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.