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The waiting game

Atos quits fit-to-work scheme

Atos has quit its contract for the controversial ‘fit-to-work’ scheme that resulted in a significant increase in paperwork for GPs, the Government has announced.

Under the scheme - which will continue - claimants applying for Employment Support Allowance had to take a work-capability assessment led by Atos on behalf of the Government, to see how their disability or illness affects their ability to work.

As part of the assessments, GPs were often inundated with requests from Atos to complete forms on behalf of patients for the claims, a Pulse investigation revealed last year.

Disabilities minister Mike Penning said the scheme would continue, with a new company set to be appointed in early 2015. Atos will be providing the service until then.

Mr Penning said the Government was looking for a provider to replace Atos ‘with the view to increasing the number of assessments and reducing waiting times’.

Ursula Morgenstern, chief executive of Atos UK & Ireland said: ‘We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the Government to allow us to exit this contract early and we remain committed to delivering essential services to the UK Government as a strategic supplier.’

In response to Pulse’s investigation last year, the Department for Work and Pensions said: ‘It is important that we are able to make decisions on an individual’s benefit entitlements with accurate and up to date information, and sometimes this will require medical evidence from a claimant’s GP or other healthcare professionals.’

‘GPs have been clear that they do not want to be responsible for making decisions on peoples’ benefit entitlement, which is why we have processes in place to request the appropriate information from GPs to enable us to make those decisions.’

Readers' comments (11)

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  • Attos stated that one of the reasons they are drawing out is due the number of threats received to staff - there should never be any scheme citizens are subjected to which results in this kind of action

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  • Expected but quite frankly I will miss them, they may have made many mistakes but by God did they get it right with so many of my chronic malingerers.....

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  • Anonymous | 28 March 2014 3:43pm

    I agree.

    No process is 100% effective and I felt they didn't do a bad job overall.

    However, the contract was a poisoned chalice - it was a political decision to do the assessments but the government wanted a scape goat to do it - ATOS (French) walked into it naively and took the heat. Respect for them in looking after their own staff. The BMA could learn from this. Capita (British) has avoided a lot of the bad press but let's see what happens when ATOS is gone.

    If the politicians had any guts they would arrange the assessments themselves but then they would have no one to blame.

    Ironic how the same bunch that voted for the assessments (dictated by the DWP) then criticize the process and the public laps it up. Somewhat mirrors the problems in the NHS ...

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  • Dr Mustapha Tahir

    Perhaps these assessments being vacated by ATOS will become a DES for interested practices?? I won't be surprised at such a proposal.

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  • Anonymous 6.12pm yes similar to the poisoned chalice of CCGs......

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  • crikey mustapha no sensible practice would touch it with a barge pole......

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  • Dr Mustapha Tahir

    Anonymous 6.18 pm. Totally agree!!

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  • It's one thing to say someone is fit for work, but in the de-industeralised North East, it's another thing to say you're fit for work, but there's no jobs here for you. Which, is where health care and politics collide, and why GPs want nothing to do with work assessments

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  • most GPs are not qwualified to do them and some are politically biased one way or another .no way to tinker with lives

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