Atos Healthcare response to the NAO Review 17-8-2012Aug 17, 2012 12:24 BST
It was reported today that the National Audit Office (NAO) has conducted a review into the contract between the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Atos Healthcare. The NAO has not been in touch with Atos Healthcare or shared any of its findings with us. As a company, we are committed to continual improvement and will carefully review the recommendations made by the NAO with the DWP.
Atos Healthcare is unable to publish details of its contract with the DWP. But we can state categorically that we work very closely with the DWP to fulfill our obligations in delivering a complex and challenging contract. We have also been flexible within the contract, for example implementing changes and recommendations from the Harrington reports, as well as making a number of improvements of our own.
Any serious suggestion that our work has fallen short of the high standards we set ourselves as a company is investigated as a matter of course. Where changes to the contract have resulted in slower processing times we have worked alongside the department to address this.
Our trained doctors, nurses and physiotherapists carry out thousands of assessments every month in accordance with the detailed guidelines set by the DWP. We are clearly very aware that these assessments can be stressful for those involved. We invest a great deal of time and resources in training and reviewing the work of our medical professionals to ensure that those assessed are treated both professionally and sympathetically.
It is important to underline that the assessments form an integral but single part of the information used by the DWP when it makes its decisions on benefits. There is also a clear process to follow for any person wishing to appeal a DWP decision.
Successful appeals of all DWP decisions are around 9%. The appeals process is managed by the Ministry of Justice and as the NAO acknowledges “the result of each appeal is likely to be due to wider issues than just the quality of the medical assessment.” Often people produce evidence at appeal that wasn’t available to the DWP decision maker.
Independent reviews have confirmed that we are providing a high standard of service in our WCA role and in our monthly survey of over 2,500 customers, 90% of those who respond are positive about their experience with us. We are the first to recognise that in a role as complex and challenging as this, it is also our day-to-day duty to look for ways to improve any aspect of our work.
It would be inappropriate for Atos Healthcare to comment on the government’s procurement process, but the company welcomes competition in the healthcare sector as with all other areas in which we operate.
 The survey is carried out by an external company and adheres to market research criteria