We are often asked about the training that our doctors, nurses and physiotherapists receive in order to carry out disability assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). There are different stages of training and it’s not a single course, but is instead an on-going process that starts with new joiners and is continued throughout a person’s employment at Atos Healthcare.
Experience Required for Disability Assessments
All of our practitioners are fully trained in their own particular field before they are even considered for interview. We ask for three years minimum post-registration experience and we vet applications to see if candidates have the right skills to carry out disability assessments as well as the required clinical experience.
Our healthcare professionals come from a range of backgrounds. Some were GPs, many worked in hospitals, or community nursing or NHS direct or mental health. All are qualified clinicians who have worked directly with patients in their previous jobs and are taking on a new role specialising in disability assessment.
Formal training process to carry out Disability Assessments
When new starters join our company to carry out ESA assessments, they have to complete a comprehensive training course. For nurses and physiotherapists, initial training is around 20 days and for doctors it’s 8 days. In 2011, the University of Derby carried out an independent evaluation of the nurse new entrant training academy against recognised academic levels and gave the course their formal accreditation.
Following the initial training course, all practitioners are closely audited and monitored through a practical evaluation stage. Once they have successfully completed this stage, the initial stages of formal training end, but all recent joiners continue to be closely monitored.
Every year, Atos Healthcare agrees with DWP the topics for a programme of continuing medical education for all doctors, nurses and physiotherapists. These additional training courses are obligatory and usually cover specific topics such as variability of certain conditions.
In addition, all healthcare professionals can access the advice of a mental function champion. These specialist roles also provide targeted training or coaching to individuals or groups of practitioners on all aspects of mental, intellectual or cognitive impairment.
And finally, as well as formal training, all managers work closely with healthcare professionals in their teams and they can quickly identify and discuss an individual’s training needs where appropriate.
DWP training materials
We employ a dedicated training team who are responsible for agreeing all training requirements and approving course content with DWP. The training material is owned by DWP, and delivered by experienced Atos Healthcare clinical trainers. And of course the training material itself is updated whenever there are new developments in the criteria set by DWP.
So training is much more than a one-off exercise, we are continually updating our practitioners’ skills to reflect both their individual needs and the latest developments in disability assessments.