Posts Tagged ‘DWP’

Documents sent as part of the Work Capability Assessment Process – The Questionnaire pack

If you are going through the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) process there are various letters, forms and leaflets that you might receive, depending on how your case progresses through the process.  This series of blogs explains what these are, and why you would receive them.

The Questionnaire PackAtos-Healthcare-ESA50-front-page

The first things that most people will receive when the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) start the WCA process is the questionnaire pack.  This is sent out when the DWP send a referral to Atos after you have made a new Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claim, the DWP set claim review date is approaching, or if you are currently receiving Incapacity Benefit (IB) and are due to be reassessed for ESA.

Atos-Healthcare-posting-a-letter-into-post-boxThe pack will contain 3 things, the Limited capability for work questionnaire (the ESA50), a covering letter (also known as the ESA51) explaining what to do and when the questionnaire needs to be returned by and a prepaid envelope to return the questionnaire in.

You can find more information about completing the questionnaire here on our blog.  The DWP have also made a version available on their website that you can complete electronically and print off to send in if it is better for you.

The Reminder Letter

If after about 3 weeks you haven’t returned the questionnaire you will receive a letter (the ESA53) reminding you that you need to complete and return the questionnaire.  Don’t worry if you sent the questionnaire back in the previous 2 or 3 days, they will have just crossed in the post.

See also:

The importance of additional medical information to the WCA process

Documents sent as part of the Work Capability Assessment Process – the Appointment Letter

The ESA questionnaire, or ESA50, process explained

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Online Engagement: Why Atos Healthcare is beginning to work with forums and online communities

On our blog earlier this year, we talked about our commitment to improvement, to ensure the part of the ESA process that we deliver is as straightforward as possible for all our customers, especially those who need the most support.

With the majority of the population now online and regularly using the internet as a primary source of information, we are looking to see how we can offer more advice where it is being sought.

Atos-Healthcare-woman-working-with-computer-at-homeWhy is Atos Healthcare going online?

We know people often go online to seek advice and answers to any questions they may have about the ESA process. We’ve worked hard to make sure that the Atos Healthcare blog and FAQ are as comprehensive and useful as possible for people at any stage of their claim. However, we’re aware that many people also use online communities, such as, to seek information and answers about the process.

We therefore feel that there’s an opportunity for us to be more helpful to customers by making ourselves available on select forums and online communities to answer queries about our process.  We’ll be piloting this over the next few weeks to see if we can make a positive difference.

What do we hope to achieve?

A lot of myths and confusion exist around the WCA process, which can often heighten people’s level of concern.  By directly publishing responses to queries raised on forums and online communities, we can help to ensure accurate information reaches people.

Naturally, we’ll be transparent about how we go about this.  We’ll seek permission to post from site administrators or forum moderators and we’ll clearly signpost who we are  when we respond.  We can only answer questions about our process, but if there’s a query about a part of the process that we don’t manage, we’ll try to tell you where you can go for help.

Atos-Healthcare-woman-using-computer-at-homeWhat about privacy?

In line with our customer charter, we are committed to treating all customers with respect and that means we protect personal information.

If we engage with you online, you needn’t worry about us disclosing any of your personal data; if we can’t answer your question there and then, we’ll ask you to contact us direct so that we to discuss the matter with you confidentially.

See also:

The role of claimant feedback in the WCA process

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Third Harrington Review of the WCA: the next stage of the journey

This week Professor Malcolm Harrington published his third Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA). We welcome the report which acknowledges that improvements from the previous reviews are starting to have a positive impact.  While he proposed no further fundamental changes to the assessment, we are committed to working closely with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to further improve our service and the claimant experience, taking account of the new recommendations.

Improvements made to the WCA

Based on recommendations made in the first two reports, we have already implemented a number of changes to help improve the experience for those claiming benefit:

  • Personalised summary statements in assessment reports to inform DWP Decision Makers
  • Built a team of 60 Mental Function Champions
  • Piloted audio recordings, which are now available on request
  • Created our Customer Charter, which outlines our service commitment
  • Updated elements of the IT system used by healthcare professional during the assessment

Evidence on the effectiveness of our part in ESA


Professor Harrington’s review looks at the whole WCA process, not just the part we carry out. Professor Harrington visited one of 123 permanent assessment centres where our staff carry out the assessments on behalf of the DWP.   We accept the improvement points he raises regarding our role and will work closely with the DWP to review these changes. It is important to note, the following points heard by the Public Accounts Committee on the 19th November:

  • DWP Decision Makers have the right to send back a WCA report if they feel it doesn’t contain adequate information to make the right decision – they send back less than 0.1%.
  • Claimants can ask for a copy of the report from the DWP and a complaints process is in place for individuals not happy with it or any other part of the process – less than 0.6% complain.
  • Appeals tribunals are also invited to send back WCA reports to the DWP if they think they are below standard – only 23 have been sent back in 2012.
  • The MoJ recently published statistics showing that just 0.3% of initial DWP decisions were overturned as a result of an error in the Atos assessment reports relied upon by DWP decision makers.

Continuing our path to a better WCA experience

Over the coming months, we will work with the DWP to review all of Professor Harrington’s latest recommendations.  While the assessment forms only one part of the information used by the DWP when it makes its decisions on benefits, it is clearly a significant part and we are the first to recognise that, in a role as complex and challenging as this, it’s our duty to continue to improve all aspects of our work.

In the meantime, whether based on feedback from individuals, disability organisations or other relevant stakeholder groups, we are always looking for ways to help claimants better understand the assessment process. As just one example of an outcome from this kind of engagement, in early 2013 we will be introducing a series of videos designed to provide an easily accessible, step-by-step guide to each stage of the assessment process.

For more information about Atos Healthcare’s role in ESA, please see the guidance we have provided on our partnership with the DWP.

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What to expect from your work capability assessment: a step by step guide

As a follow-up to our post of the 8th October about what to expect from your work capability assessment here is a graphical illustration of the stages that take place.

The infographic covers the general structure of the assessment, as well as what will take place just before and afterwards.  Most people going through the WCA process will need to have a face to face assessment, which gives you an opportunity to explain how your illness or disability affects you in daily life.  The different stages of the assessment allow the health care professional (HCP) to gather and report the information needed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).  You can find out more about the report that is produced during and after the assessment here.

For more information on this or any other part of the WCA process visit our FAQ section.

See also:

How new additional medical information is used during a Work Capability Assessment 

Why your Work Capability Assessment might start later then planned

Atos Healthcare: What to expect from your Work Capability Assessment

A Guide to the Work Capability Assessment

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How the Atos Healthcare health care professional assesses capability

Atos-Healthcare-trainingThe aim of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is to assess the effects of an individual’s health condition or disability on their ability to carry out a range of everyday activities. This includes areas of functional capacity such as mobilising, standing and sitting, learning tasks and awareness of hazards which are relevant to work. Illnesses and disabilities affect people in different ways, and to different degrees, which is why the focus of the assessment is on capability, rather than diagnosis. Our health care professionals do not diagnose conditions or offer advice on their treatment, but review the information available about what each person is able to do.  This information may come from the claimant, as part of the questionnaire that is completed, or through discussion at a face to face assessment.  It may also come from the claimant’s treating health care professional.

Atos-Healthcare-Review-informationAll of the people we employ to carry out WCA assessments are trained, fully registered doctors, nurses or physiotherapists. In addition to their existing clinical expertise, they have all received specific training to become disability analysts, to provide WCAs in accordance with Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) legislation. Following training, each healthcare professional must demonstrate their competency to the Department for Work and Pensions before gaining their approval to produce WCA reports.

See also:

Will you need to have a physical or mental health examination during your Work Capability Assessment (WCA)?

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