Jul 222013
 

But will any ‘improvement’ plan be
just another whitewash?

Of course it will.

Government is just oh so predictable.  People will no doubt be jumping with joy over today’s ministerial statement that Atos is at long last going to be subjected to having to put in place an improvement plan.  You’ve only got to read the small print before you see how yet another corporate global giant will be offering Atos some ‘independent advice’ as to how to go about making the much needed improvements.

The DWP has engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers “to provide independent advice in relation to strengthening quality assurance processes across all its health and disability assessments. In addition, and in the longer-term, increased provider capacity will ensure that a greater focus on quality can be achieved alongside enabling the number of assessments the Department requires to be delivered.”

Independent?

PricewaterhouseCoopers are no strangers to Atos as clarified by an excerpt from yet another Atos glossy leaflet entitled “e-invoicing – speed-up your process – take cost-cutting initiatives”; it’s hardly encouraging that the accent is on even more cost cutting.  The glossy goes on to highlight the close working relationship with Atos Worldline (another Atos derivative) and PWC:

“Atos Worldline studies European and worldwide constraints from a legal and fiscal point of view in collaboration with Price-waterhouse-Coopers Tax Consultants SCCRL office who is the leader studying rules to be applied to e-invoicing and e-archiving at international level. e-invoicing covers fiscal and legal prerequisites in more than 30 countries over the world” 

And as if you couldn’t guess there’s more controversy involving the question of donations to the Tory Party

“The Electoral Commission confirmed that, since Cameron
became Tory leader, PwC has made non-cash
donations worth £545,000 to the
Conservative party in

“staff” and “consultancy services”.

It seems PWC was also called in to sort out a probe in to the death of NHS patients at a cost of £2.7 million pounds according to an article in the Daily Mirror

No doubt PWC will leave aside the need for probing questions in to the deaths of benefit claimants following Atos’s infamous health assessments.

Await the whitewash and clean bill of health to appease the select committee; after which it’ll be business as usual.  Here’s Lord Freud’s ministerial statement:


Written Ministerial Statement

 

Monday 22 July 2013

 

THE DEPARTMENT FOR WORK AND PENSIONS

 

New providers to deliver Work Capability Assessments

The Minister for Welfare Reform (Lords) (Lord Freud): The Department for Work and Pensions is committed to continually reviewing and improving the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) process, to ensure that it is as responsive to the needs of claimants as possible. As part of this and to bring down waiting times for claimants, DWP has decided to change its approach to contracting for the WCA, by procuring additional providers on a regional basis. This is in keeping with the Department’s current commercial strategy and will provide increased capacity. These arrangements are likely to be operational from summer 2014.

The WCA process is currently subject to a system of quality assurance and audits by both Atos Healthcare and DWP. A recent DWP audit identified a reduction in the quality of written reports which are produced by Atos following assessments and are then used by the Department to form part of the decision making process on benefit entitlement. This is contractually unacceptable. The Department is considering all its options under the contract and will apply all appropriate contractual remedies to ensure quality and value.

Atos has been instructed by the Department to immediately enact a quality improvement plan. Measures include retraining and re-evaluating all Atos healthcare professionals, with those not meeting the required standard of written reporting either remaining subject to 100% audit until compliant or having their approval to carry out assessments revoked by the Department.

The Department has also engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers to provide independent advice in relation to strengthening quality assurance processes across all its health and disability assessments. In addition, and in the longer-term, increased provider capacity will ensure that a greater focus on quality can be achieved alongside enabling the number of assessments the Department requires to be delivered.

Assessment reports, such as those provided by Atos, form only one part of the WCA process, which has a number of checks and balances built in to ensure the right decision is reached for claimants. After the Atos assessment DWP Decision Makers make the final decision on claimants’ benefit entitlement based on all evidence provided during the claim. If the claimant disputes the decision or appeals there is then a reconsideration process where another DWP Decision Maker will reconsider the decision. If the claimant is still unhappy about the decision made, they can appeal. It is important to stress that DWP’s audit activity showed that claimants whose reports did not meet our rigorous quality standard were no more or less likely to have been found fit for work or appeal against the Department’s decision than other claimants.

The Department also remains committed to the ongoing process of annual independent reviews of the WCA. From the three reviews already carried out by Professor Malcolm Harrington, over 50 recommendations have been, or are being, implemented to ensure the WCA is as fair and as accurate as possible. For example, we are currently carrying out an evidence-based review of the WCA descriptors with a number of major charities and we are working closely with the First-tier Tribunal to better understand the reasons for upheld appeals.

A further independent review of the WCA is currently being undertaken by Dr Paul Litchfield, a respected Senior Occupational Physician, and we expect Dr Litchfield to make recommendations before the end of the year to further strengthen the WCA.

The above measures show our commitment to continually improve the assessment, and to take decisive action when it becomes clear that there are issues which need addressing. We will come back to Parliament in the autumn with a further update.

A million thanks to the fantastic Nick at My legal Forum

Follow Nick on twitter: @Mylegalforum

See more here: http://ilegal.org.uk/thread/7790/atos-job?page=1&scrollTo=20067

 

 

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  7 Responses to “Government issues ministerial statement over Atos”

  1. “Paul Foot on the Insurance Company Unum and Cuts to Disability Benefit in Private Eye from 1995”

    http://beastrabban.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/paul-foot-on-the-insurance-company-unum-and-cuts-to-disability-benefit-in-private-eye-from-1995/

    “Also from 1995: Tories Reject Report on Poverty in Wales as ‘Communist Propaganda’”

    http://beastrabban.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/also-from-1995-tories-reject-report-on-poverty-in-wales-as-communist-propaganda/

  2. 9.1.1 the Services shall be performed by appropriately experienced, qualified and
    trained personnel with all reasonable skill, care and diligence;

    9.1.2 the CONTRACTOR shall discharge its obligations under this Agreement with all
    reasonable skill, care and diligence including but not limited to good industry
    practice and (without limiting the generality of this Clause) in accordance with
    its own established internal procedures:
    Just a shortextract from the Contract. The full contract can be seen at Why Wait Forever.

  3. I wonder what has happened to the sanctions Atos should have been subject to because of breach of contract? No doubt, and yet again, the hand of the State will be “light” in its punishment of Atos. The role of the State should also be scrutinised, particularly in the level of audit and scrutiny regarding the contract between DWP and Atos.

  4. The DWP will never get rid of Atos.
    They started COHPA – the Commercial Occupational Health Providers’ Association that includes Dame Carol Black – whose disintegrating the NHS – Professor Sir Mansel Aylward whose totally bogus BPS model of assessment is terrorising chronically sick & disabled people, Dr Bill Gunnyeon – the DWP Chief Medical Officer who is a past President of CAPITA who were just engaged to carry out PIP assessments etc, etc…..
    This is where all the ‘welfare’ decisions are made away from all the press and interference from MPs….. then they report back to Gvt who adopt anything they say.

    See: From the British Welfare State to another American State:
    http://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/FROM-BRITISH-WELFARE-STATE-TO-ANOTHER-AMERICAN-STATE-2013-3rd-edit-FINAL.pdf

  5. The DWP has engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to look into improving the performance and, no doubt, image of Atos. They are asked

    “…to provide independent advice in relation to strengthening quality assurance processes across all its health and disability assessments*. In addition, and in the longer-term, increased provider capacity will ensure that a greater focus on quality can be achieved alongside enabling the number of assessments the Department requires to be delivered.”

    Back in 2006 Remploy engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers ostensibly to look at ways of improving their business, but in reality to sign a protracted death warrant of the Remploy factory system.

    For years the consortium of trade unions at Remploy had been petitioning both the company and governments to review the whole of Remploy to bring its business structures and methods up to date. Trade unionists knew that Remploy needed a branch and root reassessment of the industrial sectors within which it conducted its business.

    When they engaged PwC the unions approached the accountants offering to put forward the trade union side; the unions also offered a well thought out and costed alternative business plan.

    When it presented its findings it was evident they had ignored the input from trade union Remploy members; and had targeted the views of a minority of workers who, for whatever reasons, were not happy at Remploy. Both the company and government chose to use these skewed testimonies as proof that all Remploy factory employees were crying out to be mainstreamed.

    As for the business plan, this was totally disregarded.
    PwC had a wrecking brief from the company (with government complicity); and instead of providing independent advice in relation to improving Remploy’s factory business opportunities, thus securing the future employment of thousands of disabled workers, they recommended closure.

    Seven years on I read that PwC is being called upon “…to provide independent advice in relation to strengthening quality assurance processes across all its health and disability assessments.” Assessments carried out by no less than the government’s favoured hatchet company, Atos.

    It is then hardly surprising that I fully support DPAC and ilegal’s exposé of PwC; and the condemnation and cries of ‘Whitewash!’ made by people whose experience of Atos eminently qualifies them to exercise such a view.

    PcW and their ilk are masters of spin; they lie to live. They have transformed the discipline of professional services into a dark art. Pay them enough and they’ll get HMRC off your back; they’ll turn water into water and charge you for wine; they’ll get rid of thousands of bothersome disabled employees by expedient misrepresentation.

    *This is all about the rehabilitation of Atos; the most basic of cosmetic surgery.

    PwC will not be interested in seeking out Atos’ bad practices; nor its unethical treatment of sick and disabled people. Come on, be serious. That’d cost a fortune and involve a seismic shift in the ethos and ethical standing of Atos. No, this’ll be a PR exercise par excellence.

  6. This is another load of bullshit, I have been awarded the full 15 points BUT they say I am capable of some work, what the hell do I do now? I went to my GPs and they refused to write me a letter for my appeal, they say Sefton health authority have told them not to write any letters in support of claimants .
    Help.

  7. Re: Lord Freud’s statement:

    “The Department has also engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers to provide independent advice in relation to strengthening quality assurance processes across all its health and disability assessments.”

    Here is a further illustration of the utterly decimating influence and impact of Price-Waterhouse Cooper through PPP (Private Public Partnership) and PFI (Privately Funded Initiative) which is sickeningly cynical. They were the company responsible for the building of Hairmyres Hospital and possibly the other projects listed below.

    http://www.robedwards.com/2008/05/pfi-the-50-bill.html

    Quotes from the article:
    “What’s more, the Cuthberts’ calculations suggest that the projects represent very poor value for money. The Edinburgh Infirmary, Hairmyres Hospital and James Watt College could all have been built for half the cost if the money had been borrowed in the normal way from the government’s national loan fund, they say.

    THE MONEY MADE FROM PFI SCHEMES
    Scheme / capital invested by companies / projected cash return
    New Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh / £20m / £228m
    County Hospital, Hereford / £9m / £92m
    Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride / £8m / £145m
    Council offices and car park, Perth / £2m / £31m
    Eleven schools, Highland / £2m / £12m
    James Watt College, Kilwinning / 0.7m / £9m
    TOTAL / £42m / £517m
    Scheme / equity invested by shareholders / projected dividend
    New Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh / £500,000 / £168m
    County Hospital, Hereford / £1,000 / £56m
    Hairmyres Hospital, East Kilbride / £100 / £89m
    Council offices and car park, Perth / £136,000 / £24m
    Eleven schools, Highland / £197 / £6m
    James Watt College, Kilwinning / £80,000 / £7m
    TOTAL / £717,297 / £350m “

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