Author Topic: All repeat WCA medicals to be stopped  (Read 16429 times)

WeDesign

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All repeat WCA medicals to be stopped
« on: 24 Feb 2014 04:15PM »
In an urgent memo obtained by Benefits and Work, the DWP have told staff that due to a growing backlog at Atos all current employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants will be left on the benefit, without further medical checks, until another company can be found to do repeat work capability assessments (WCAs). The memo, dated 20 January, goes on to say that this will reduce the number of claimants moving off ESA, but that there are no plans to inform claimants or MPs about the change.

Benefits and Work obtained the memo from the DWP via a Freedom of Information request. It is headed: ‘FOR URGENT CASCADE. Control of the Referral of Repeat work Capability Assessments’.

The memo explains that back in July a ministerial statement announced that:

“in the drive to continually improve the Work Capability Assessment process and bring down waiting times for claimants, DWP had decided to seek additional capacity to deliver Work Capability Assessments.

“We are working towards having new provision in place – it will of course take some time for that to become fully operational.”

However, the memo goes on to explain that:

“The number of cases currently with Atos Healthcare has grown. A decision has therefore been taken to control the referral of repeat work capability assessments. Therefore, with effect from 20 January 2014, further routine repeat assessments referrals to Atos will be deferred until further notice.

“Controlling the volume of repeat Work Capability Assessments should help us to reduce delays for new claimants and those that have already been referred.”

The memo goes on to say that staff must still refer claimants for reassessment where there has been a reported change in condition, giving the example of a claimant placed in the Work Related Activity Group whose condition worsens and who might be expected to move into the Support Group.

Aside from this, however, reassessment of existing claimants is to end until further notice, with no new cases being referred to Atos from 20th January.

The memo is keen to point out that the decision to stop repeat assessments by Atos is not ‘linked to the quality issues outlined in July 2013’ which the DWP ‘has been working closely with Atos to resolve’. It also reassures readers that the change will have no impact on Atos’ ability to carry out personal independence payment assessments.

It does, however, admit that the result of the change is that the number of people coming off ESA each month will reduce because:

“the Work Capability Assessment is the main trigger for off-flows from the Employment and Support Allowance load. We will continue to assess the potential for alternative interventions on those whose repeat Work Capability Assessments are deferred to seek to manage this consequence.”

No details of what those ‘alternative interventions’ might be is given.

It is clear, however, that the DWP is not keen for people to be aware of the ever more disastrous state of medical assessments for benefits by Atos. The memo explains that claimants who enquire about when their next WCA will be, should only be told that:

“Although the Department will periodically review a person’s Limited Capability for Work, there is no set date for this to happen.

“The timing of this review is at the discretion of the Decision Maker acting on behalf of the Secretary of State and is influenced by the evidence available to them, which can mean on occasion longer periods between face to face assessments. “

In addition, the memo explains that as this is simply an ‘operational decision’ and not a ‘policy change’ there are no plans to notify ‘external stakeholders such as claimants, claimant representative groups, Members of Parliament, etc.’

It is hard to imagine that IDS and his fellow DWP ministers believed that they could keep this further Atos-related failure secret for long: you can’t stop reassessing thousands of claimants a week without anyone noticing. If, however, they could have kept it secret at least until they found a new company to take on the repeat assessments, it would have been easier to explain away and not added to the ever mounting pressure for a complete overhaul of the WCA.

“Yes, there was briefly a problem” IDS could have said “But we now have a new provider and it is no longer an issue.”

As it is, this news is simply further proof that the WCA is not fit for purpose, because as soon as the DWP attempts to impose proper quality controls a massive backlog results. It is, we hope, another nail in the coffin of a completely discredited system.

And, for all those claimants with static or degenerative conditions who continue to be forced to undergo repeat assessments, often followed by repeat appeals, on an annual basis, the news will come as a welcome respite.
« Last Edit: 01 Mar 2014 07:20PM by SunshineMeadows »

JLR2

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Re: All repeat WCA medicals to be stopped
« Reply #1 on: 24 Feb 2014 04:42PM »
Wedesign, your OP there has just scared the living daylights oot o'me. So much so that I've just came off the phone to my MP's office who are going to find out for me what exactly the position is in relation to my claim as I'm due to be reassessed around the 24th of May. As it is I was waiting for my next ESA50 to arrive on my door mat before working out when or even if I could arrange another flight over to Berlin anytime soon.

From what you were saying in your OP it might be the case that I wouldn't actually get another ESA50 for a wee while longer whilst the DWP get in place a new firm to carry out the WCA's, heck alone knows how long that might take. If it turns out I am not to be reassessed due to the ending of the current repeated reassessments, and I can have that confirmed either by the DWP or my MP, I will look to book another flight as soon as I can so as to get as good a price as possible.
« Last Edit: 24 Feb 2014 04:44PM by JLR2 »

lankou

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Re: All repeat WCA medicals to be stopped
« Reply #2 on: 24 Feb 2014 04:52PM »
Can I asked the mods to remove this thread please the news item is members of B&W only until Friday.

WeDesign

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Re: All repeat WCA medicals to be stopped
« Reply #3 on: 24 Feb 2014 04:52PM »
This is a extract that I noted, if you already have been referred it will continue as normal

“Controlling the volume of repeat Work Capability Assessments should help us to reduce delays for new claimants and those that have already been referred.”

WeDesign

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Re: All repeat WCA medicals to be stopped
« Reply #4 on: 24 Feb 2014 04:54PM »
Can I asked the mods to remove this thread please the news item is members of B&W only until Friday.

Please explain what you are requesting?

It is not listed as (Members Only) on B&W

JLR2

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Re: All repeat WCA medicals to be stopped
« Reply #5 on: 24 Feb 2014 05:02PM »
Lankou, for me this news is very important and I'm glad to have caught it as like I said in my earlier posting I have contacted my MP's office to find out how, if it is correct, it will affect my soon to be experienced refilling of an ESA50 and possible face to face reassessment.

lankou

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Re: All repeat WCA medicals to be stopped
« Reply #6 on: 24 Feb 2014 05:03PM »
Can I asked the mods to remove this thread please the news item is members of B&W only until Friday.

Please explain what you are requesting?

It is not listed as (Members Only) on B&W

It IS members only on B&W and Steve wants it kept that way until Friday.
I had a email about it earlier from Steve because I requested a copy of the FOI.

lankou

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Re: All repeat WCA medicals to be stopped
« Reply #7 on: 24 Feb 2014 05:05PM »
Lankou, for me this news is very important and I'm glad to have caught it as like I said in my earlier posting I have contacted my MP's office to find out how, if it is correct, it will affect my soon to be experienced refilling of an ESA50 and possible face to face reassessment.

I am VERY aware it is very important to a large number of people but B&W want it kept "in house" on their "members only" news area until Friday.

WeDesign

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Re: All repeat WCA medicals to be stopped
« Reply #8 on: 24 Feb 2014 05:05PM »
If it was to be kept away it should have been marked up as Members Only.

I logged out of B&W and was still able to view it, the members only articles I was not able to.

The article was posted on other sites, that's where I got it from.

lankou

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Re: All repeat WCA medicals to be stopped
« Reply #9 on: 24 Feb 2014 05:08PM »
If it was to be kept away it should have been marked up as Members Only.



It IS in the members only news section.


WeDesign

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Re: All repeat WCA medicals to be stopped
« Reply #11 on: 24 Feb 2014 05:09PM »
If it was to be kept away it should have been marked up as Members Only.



It IS in the members only news section.

It is in the news section BUT NOT members only, it can be accessed by anybody, log out of B&W and see if you can view it

meandmurphy

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Good news? WCA's suspended
« Reply #12 on: 24 Feb 2014 05:19PM »
« Last Edit: 24 Feb 2014 05:25PM by meandmurphy »

lankou

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Re: All repeat WCA medicals to be stopped
« Reply #13 on: 24 Feb 2014 05:20PM »
I am only doing as Steve asked me to do. He wanted it embargoed from going outside of B&W until Friday.

Mabelcat

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Re: All repeat WCA medicals to be stopped
« Reply #14 on: 24 Feb 2014 05:22PM »
I can see it on B & W and I'm not a member.