Fact-finding visit to Atos assessment centre
Three members of the Welfare Reform Committee visited the Atos assessment centre in Edinburgh on 27 November 2012.
Following the visit, the members reported back to the Committee at its meeting on 11 December 2012. You can read the Committee’s discussion of this in the Official Report of that meeting.
Additionally, the Committee requested further information from Atos on certain points. The questions asked by the Committee and the responses from Atos are reproduced below.
Could you provide us with statistics for the ‘throughput’ of claimants through the Edinburgh centre?
The analysis below is based on approximate figures for the month of September 2012 to give an indication of throughput in the Edinburgh area – that is all the centres that are connected to Edinburgh. Edinburgh Assessment Centre itself would handle about a third of this work. Numbers rounded to the nearest 100; percentages rounded to nearest whole number. These numbers will vary month on month so should be viewed as a snapshot only.
Referrals made for a WCA (both ESA and IBR cases) – 6400
Advice given to DWP to support a Support Group decision (without calling for face to face assessment) – 1300 (20%)
Advice given to DWP to support a Work Related Activity Group decision (without calling for face to face assessment) – 1100 (17%)
Number of people called for a face to face assessment – 4000 (63%)
Number of people who attended face to face assessment and report sent to DWP – 2600 (41%)
Number of people who did not attend and case returned to DWP – 1400 (22%)
Note that the ‘Did not attend’ rate, as a percentage of those who have been invited to a face to face assessment is approximately 35%
What specific changes have been made to the assessment process as a result of the first 2 Harrington reviews?
- In each assessment centre there is now displayed a Customer Charter which articulates what people can expect of us – introduced approximately May 201
- Every report that is sent to the DWP now has a Personalised Summary Statement – this was introduced from 6 June 2011
- Everyone now has the option to request that their face to face assessment is audio recorded – this was introduced on a trial basis by DWP across the UK from March 2012 following a pilot we carried out for DWP in 2011
- Mental Function Champions have been introduced across the UK to support all HCPs on more complex cases which involve mental health. There are 8 based in Scotland and they are available by phone every day and regularly travel to the larger centres across Scotland as recommended by Professor Harrington.
- All HCPs can enhance their typing skills to help them contemporaneously conduct the assessment while recording information on the computer – introduced in 2012 following Professor Harrington’s second review
What percentage of assessments is undertaken by a) doctors, b) nurses, c) other health professionals?
In Scotland I have this broken down into new ESA cases and IB Reassessment cases as this is how we record this information. I couldn’t get a breakdown for Edinburgh specifically.
For ESA (in Nov 2012 which are the latest available figures):
- Doctor: 28.7%
- Nurse: 66.1%
- Physiotherapist: 5.2%
For IB Reassessment cases (for Nov 2012):
- Doctor: 32.2%
- Nurse: 62.0%
- Physiotherapist: 5.8%
What are the figures for violence against staff?
We capture incidents which occur at all of our centres in Scotland so we don’t have a break down specifically for Edinburgh. During and since the Paralympics, when negative media attention around the work that we deliver has been at its highest, we have seen an increase in incidents and threats against our staff. In the last quarter we recorded 51 such incidents in Scotland. These figures do not include periodic organised demonstrations outside our centres.
What is the average time that GPs have to respond to requests for information on those being assessed?
Regarding the average time GPs have to respond to requests for information, they have 15 days (this is actual days, not working days). After that time, where information has been requested but not received, we start the appointment booking process. If the information is received after the 15 days but before the appointment date and contains the information we need to advise the decision maker without the need for a face to face assessment, we will then cancel the appointment.
Atos have also provided the Committee with copies of the medical report form (ESA85) and the personalised summary statement (PSS)
The current version of the limited capability for work questionnaire (ESA50) is available online.
Atos have also advised that the DWP are currently working to update the ESA50 to ensure it better captures fluctuating conditions and Atos understand this form will be used from the end of January 2013.