Atos move leaves DLA decision-makers guessing (members only)

Created on Monday, 18 November 2013 08:26

Category: Latest news

Disability benefit decision-makers have been left without expert medical advice to call on for most of their cases, after the outsourcing giant Atos Healthcare withdrew from large parts of a key contract.

Doctors employed by Atos used to advise Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decision-makers on the more difficult claims for disability living allowance (DLA) and attendance allowance (AA).

Atos has also been providing doctors to visit claimants in their own homes to carry out full medical reports, again under a medical services contract.

But Disability News Service (DNS) has learned that the long-term contract to carry out this work ran out three months ago, and since then Atos has been providing the service on a month-by-month basis.

Now the company has pulled out altogether from most of the work, leaving decision-makers - the civil servants who decide whether or not a disabled person will receive the benefit - without any expert medical advice to call on.

An internal bulletin to staff says that Atos Healthcare has been providing medical services for DLA and AA claims for "many years" but that this support would now be on "a revised basis".

The move is thought certain to lead to an increase in appeals from people whose DLA and AA claims have been turned down, with decision-makers forced to rely more on guesswork as they make decisions "on the balance of probability based on available evidence at the time".

DWP guidance is being rewritten, with Atos doctors only available for claims from people with terminal illness, and for those claims from disabled children being dealt with at just one regional benefits centre.

Although personal independence payment (PIP) has now replaced DLA for new working-age claims, under-16s still have to claim DLA, and over-65s must claim AA to cover their care needs.

And due to delays in the PIP rollout process, existing DLA claimants across London and the south of England, the north of England, and Scotland, are still being assessed for DLA rather than PIP if they report a change in their care or mobility needs, if their fixed-term award is about to expire, or if they reach the age of 16.

A DWP spokesman said: "It's a revised service. Guidance has been provided to decision makers and decisions made will be informed decisions based on information provided."

He said that the withdrawal of the Atos doctors would not damage the quality of decisions because decision-makers could use information "from a variety of sources", including the claim form, care plans, and reports from GPs and consultants.

The internal memo is just the latest evidence that problems for Atos - which has numerous government contracts - are continuing to mount.

Despite DNS having seen the bulletin, and DWP admitting that it was genuine, Atos has so far refused to confirm that there have been any changes to its medical services contract.

Campaigners already believe that Atos has contributed to or even caused the deaths of thousands of disabled people, because of the way its assessors have carried out the much-criticised work capability assessment (WCA) on behalf of the government.

But last month, DNS learned that meetings between Atos and DWP civil servants were taking place across the country because a recruitment crisis had left the company with a severe shortage of doctors.

The public spending watchdog is also investigating concerns about the award to Atos of at least one of the contracts to assess those claiming PIP – following a DNS investigation – as part of a major “value for money” study into the new benefit and its implementation.

And in July, the government announced that it was bringing in new companies to join Atos in carrying out WCAs.

News provided by John Pring at

6 Replies

  • That is a very interesting update news on the benefits assessment of claims Stone. Think it just makes things sound even more confusing, but nothing new I guess(smiles)Thanks for taking the time to post it for us all to read.

  • I'm very new to the forum, but i have followed the antics of Atos a little, i read Atos miracles on Facebook, quite clearly someone is passing the legal buck somewhere, they have washed there hands of evryone who is disabled in this Country and passed the blame to Atos, like you say most are not qualified, if my GP could not answer some questions on lung function problems, that's why we have very specialised people who manage this problem, and it's quite clear that Atos are not, so who is at blame, is it Ian Duncan smith? or is it Atos for not using the qualified people that is quite clearly needed, now they got caught red handed breaking the law when, Panorama got them on camera telling a doctor who had gone along on a training module, so if this is the case why as no one been put in prision for illegaly taking the benfit from some people who are quite clearly in there right. I never thought i'd see the day when people could just do what they want and be imune from being prosecuted, but that day as arrived, what can we the people do about it, because we can write for as long as we want, but it's clearly going in the bin, i myself recently have been sat on a middle rate disability benefit for years because iwas literally scared that if they took my benefit i would not have anything, and no where to go, and turn to, now when people who get scared of applying for a benfit adjustment because there condition got worse, that to me is disgusting, i have chronic pain condition also, neuropathic pain syndrome, basicly pain 24hrs a day, because my nerous system just decided to screw up and deliver pain from old traumas ive had throughout my life, i also have epilepsy, copd,asthma, so i armed myself first with an overload of detailed information, i started with the doctors surgery who are always busy, so i did'nt want to bother the doctor with this so i went to the receptionist, i asked her can i have a printout of every appointment to any consultant, and any replys they have made, or prognosis on me, and also a full rundown of any medication i have ever had, so at first she said" very sorry we don't have time for that sort of thing here" with a little chuckle to her associates close by, is there anything else i can do for you sir, that was nice " Sir"... Yes there is you can go and get the surgerys manager and we will sit down together and i will inform you of my rights under the data protection laws within this Country, and how you have to abide by those laws, and if missused how you can be fined last time i looked that was £50,000 it covers ow you should not discuss another persons files held on your system, just like the conversation you were talking about that i could quite clearly hear, the name of the patient and his phone number? so the smirks and the laughs suddenly changed and her face went beetroot, so the pratice manager came, we went into a private room with the receptionist and i told them that any data they old on me i can ask for a free printout of that data, you can only charge if a doctor as to get involved , a bit like passports, so i quickly advised her in front of her manager to refrain from throwing peoples details around in public as she was doing, and if that had have been my details i would be taking the pratice to court...anyway the manager appolagised and said he would get all is staff up to date on the data prtection act, and if i would like to call back the next day he will have the paperwork i requested, so i recieved all the paper work, i went through it, and ended up with an half inch of data to send to the DLA in blackpool, asking for a review, along with that i also sent a 5 page document with all my information and my illneses and how they effect me, along with that also, my carer my wife a similiar 5 page document, sent off to blackpool asking for them to re-consider my case, i was a little worried about which way things could go, but i'd face this if it happened, i'm not the kind of person to let people who know nothing about me or my condition to jump all over my grave, i now there are similiar cases who have been denied by Atos and left homeless no money and been told to go and find a job, which sickens me to the core, yes there are people and always will be , lets say sherkers who get benefits but in the same way there will always be bent polaticians who also break the law, claiming for times a year for new carpets and such, what is not widely known in the press is over a thousand people have taken there lifes because of Atos, ibelieve the court of human rights maybe looking at those cases, it could be maybe a corporate manslaughter, who knows!

    i don't half go on when i start, sorry, lol i recieved a descision i won my case high rate

  • Things are catching up with Atos. If you were a medical professional, would you work for them? I think it would be a serious risk to your reputation. I wouldn't want it on my CV.

  • Too true, johnwr. I have heard of some doctors refusing to work for them because of the way ill people are treated by the box-ticking, money saving ethos there. It made me smile to read "...withdrawal of the Atos doctors would not damage the quality of decisions because decision-makers could use information "from a variety of sources", including the claim form, care plans, and reports from GPs and consultants." They will probably get it right more often than ATOS did! x

  • Lets hope so. I had to go to appeal for my ESA as they had put non of my ailments down. But felt the empty box I could move was enough of a reason to fail?

  • Hi Offcut we must read the same benefits and work I found this about Atos it is beyond belief.

    In this newsletter we reveal that although many thousands of adults will make a renewal claim for DLA over the coming months, not one of them will have to fear a visit from an Atos health professional – nor will most children. We also learn that the much despised multinational managed to avoid paying a single penny in UK corporation tax last year, in spite of taking billions of pounds of taxpayers money

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