Following on from previous blog posts referring to the quality standards and training initiatives of Atos Healthcare Professionals in the delivery of Work Capability Assessments for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), this post provides further analysis of these areas by drawing on the findings of Professor Malcolm Harrington’s year two Independent Report.
Delivery of Atos Healthcare training
There is a clear need for appropriate levels of training (technical, non-technical) when undertaking face-to-face assessments with customers. Atos Healthcare Professionals (doctors, nurses and physiotherapists), all of whom are involved in the delivery of Work Capability Assessments (WCAs) for the DWP, are required to undergo a range of mandatory training initiatives, both on entry to and during their time with Atos Healthcare, which aims to uphold the highest standards of service delivery.
The training is based on rigorous, up-to-date medical research, and evidence produced in the recent Harrington Report shows that the training is of a high standard.
“Time was spent at an Atos Training Centre in Stoke-on-Trent and Atos training materials were scrutinised. The new recruits were eager to learn and were engaged in the training programme. The trainers also displayed good knowledge about the WCA, and were able to stimulate constructive and challenging discussions with the recruits. The scope and depth of the training materials supplied was impressive.” – Malcolm Harrington (Nov 2011)
A further area of scrutiny is the use of accredited auditors by Atos Healthcare who look to monitor the performance of Atos Healthcare Professionals, in accordance with the IQAS system, with the aim of promoting a culture of continual professional development and to make key management recommendations to the DWP when required. All Atos Healthcare Professionals Work Capability Assessment reports are audited by the same group of auditors and to the same criteria and are subsequently rated on an A, B, C scale according to performance.
Professor Harrington made some positive remarks about how Atos Healthcare uses the outcome of the audit reports in their continuous improvement process:
“The proportion of B-grade reports should not be seen as negative, or be used to suggest that HCPs are below the expected quality standards. Rather this reflects a conscious effort by Atos to constantly monitor and improve HCP performance, and B-grade reports are contractually fit for purpose. This is to be commended.”
A final area of interest for Professor Harrington was whether there was a difference in the consistency of reports which doctors, nurses and physiotherapists produce. He concluded that:
“There is not a significant consistency issue between the three types of HCPs who carry out face-to-face assessments either in terms of recommendations for claimants scoring 15 or more points or recommendations for where points are scored”.
Please continue to check out blog for more Information on Work Capability Assessments in future.