Many thanks to George Berger for this article:
A DWP reply to a Freedom of Information request implies that MAXIMUS will employ the same automated assessment aid as did Atos. It requires the claimant to answer questions about personal psychological states and behavioural capacities (say, about movement). Each question is called a descriptor, points are given to each answer, and these help a DWP decision maker (DM) to select the outcome of the entire Work Capability Assessment (WCA). The software, called Logic Integrated Medical Assessment (LIMA), is run on a computer that registers the answers and calculates a numerical score.
The WCA is controversial. For example, since the descriptors do not address any medical issue, claimants are often forced by the DM to work or seek work while ill; the illness and stress can become increasingly serious. This has resulted in many deaths, some by suicide. Mounting pressure on DWP has compelled them to investigate 60 deaths. The actual number must be larger. The dangerous, irresponsible, WCA should be replaced by a humane procedure. Since LIMA is essential to the WCA, it must go.
But will it? The request might well have been designed to get an answer, so the next paragraph summarises the request and DWP’s reply. This will show that MAXIMUS intends to use LIMA when it takes over, in March 2015.
On 4 February 2005, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (SoS) granted Atos—then Atos Origin—a perpetual licence to ‘exploit’ LIMA. It has not been cancelled, but the SoS now owns the intellectual property rights to LIMA. The SoS now licenses MAXIMUS to use LIMA, while Atos will support the information technology (IT) infrastructure needed to run it for assessments. DWP will fund this IT and its required developments, e.g. bug fixing. If MAXIMUS requests any development, the company will negotiate terms with DWP.
Hence, MAXIMUS will use LIMA’s descriptors. Whilst the licence probably does not specify exactly what descriptors it must use, descriptors are essential parts of the software (which is why LIMA is claimed to embody ‘evidence based medicine’). By the second paragraph, they are medically dangerous, so I conclude that its last sentence is morally correct.