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BBC: Leak - ATOS Seeks Early Exit from Work Capability Reviews

Firestormm

Senior Member
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Cornwall England
21 February 2014
Atos seeks early exit from fit-to-work tests contract

[See Video Report]

IT company Atos has confirmed it is seeking to end its government contract to assess whether benefits claimants are fit to work.

Staff carrying out work capability assessments for Atos have received death threats online and in person, according to the Financial Times.

In a statement, Atos pledged to carry on undertaking the tests until a new company was in a position to take over.

But the government said that standards at Atos had declined unacceptably.

Disability campaigners have described the work tests as "ridiculously harsh and extremely unfair".

'Compassionate'

The Financial Times reported that Atos recorded about 163 incidents of abuse or assault on staff each month last year.

It said it had found comments on social media accusing staff of being "murdering scumbags" who "won't be smiling when we come to hang you".

Atos said: "For several months now, we have been endeavouring to agree an early exit from the work capability assessment contract, which is due to expire in August 2015.

"Despite these ongoing discussions, we will not walk away from a front-line service. Our total focus remains on delivering the services we are contracted to provide in a professional and compassionate way until a new service begins."

BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said the government was furious with Atos for leaking information it believes to be commercially confidential.


"In other words, if Atos wants to pull out early some other companies may pay less to take those contracts on than they otherwise would," he said.


The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said: "Atos were appointed the sole provider for delivering work capability assessments by the previous government.

Government spokesman

"In July we announced Atos had been instructed to enact a quality improvement plan to remedy the unacceptable reduction in quality identified in the written reports provided to the department.

"We also announced in the summer we will be bringing in additional provision to deliver work capability assessments with the aim of increasing delivery capacity and reducing waiting times.

"The invitation to tender will set out that the quality of assessments and service delivery is central to how work capability assessments are delivered."

read more...

Analysis

When a company's offices around the country are besieged by demonstrators - as Atos's were this week - it's understandable that it's worried about its reputation.

But the government is furious that the French company which assesses the fitness, or otherwise, of benefit claimants for work has gone public about wanting to get out of its contract.


Whitehall sources are denouncing Atos as "unprofessional" for revealing commercially confidential information.


If it is flagged up that a contract is going begging, its value might fall.


Although Atos says it wouldn't walk away from its "frontline" responsibilities without agreement, an early exit does look likely - with invitations to other companies to tender going out shortly.

In the meantime, the blame game has begun in earnest.


Four out of ten cases which go to appeal are upheld, and Atos claim it is the nature of the tests they have to conduct on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions which are at fault.


The government don't want the tests themselves - described by opponents as harsh and unfair - questioned. The tests have been and will continue to be reviewed.


Politically ministers want the focus to remain on the private company's performance - and not on their policy.
 
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15,786
Cute ... Atos is putting down the same "but WE are the victims!11!!!!!1!!" card which the BPS turds so love to play when anyone disagrees with them.

It's also interesting that the government is desperate to keep Atos on, despite publicly trying to pin the blame on them for what's been going on. It's looking like the government has no objections at all to Atos' performance, when push comes to shove.
 

Firestormm

Senior Member
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Cornwall England
Part of the problem is of course that the written content, and assessment of 'evidence', is done by the Department of Work and Pensions. They set the standard. It is they who turn things down etc.

ATOS did not help, but they can share only part of any blame. The WCA was not fit for purpose and still isn't - though efforts via the 'fluctuating conditions group' including ME, HIV, Chrons, and other I forget, led to pilot schemes to try and assess how more reasonable changes to the paperwork at least might improve the situation.

It's efforts like that - from charities and DWP working together - that will stand the best chance (short of a revolution) of making any difference. But how to judge if changes make a difference? By the reduction in the number of successful appeals? By a reduction in the number of complaints?

ATOS will be replaced and if I remember correctly it was likely to be by that company that screwed up the running of prisons and the Olympics. But my head is full of wool today so I'm probably wrong.

Of course the Tories point to Labour and say 'well, you gave ATOS the contract!' and Labour point to the tories and say, 'But you are in Govt. now and failed to do anything about it!'
 
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Bob

Senior Member
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England (south coast)
BBCNews said:
Politically ministers want the focus to remain on the private company's performance - and not on their policy.

ATOS have become a scapegoat, which is convenient for the UK government, as it distracts people from focusing on government policy and incompetence. But ATOS are simply carrying out the UK government's welfare policy, with a contract specified, issued and endorsed by the government, albeit perhaps implemented slightly less efficiently than promised. (But what does 'efficient' denial of disability benefits look like?)
 
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Tito

Senior Member
Messages
300
IT company Atos has confirmed it is seeking to end its government contract to assess whether benefits claimants are fit to work.

Staff carrying out work capability assessments for Atos have received death threats online and in person, according to the Financial Times.
Is Atos trying to make us believe that it is pulling out due to concerns about the well-being of their staff?
:vomit: Hahahahaha! :D
 
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15,786
Is Atos trying to make us believe that it is pulling out due to concerns about the well-being of their staff?
:vomit: Hahahahaha! :D
I think Atos has known all along what they'd be getting into, and they have no moral objections to doing the nasty things that the government wants them to do. What Atos is probably pissed off about is the government pinning all of the blame on Atos, when Atos is simply (albeit willingly) doing exactly what they were paid to do.

The government wants Atos to be their scapegoat, but Atos doesn't want the bad press which is coming from being accused of doing their job improperly in the process of the scapegoating. Being paid to be the public face of an evil process is one thing, but they can hardly tolerate being publicly accused of incompetence and such by their client in the process - that's just bad for business.
 

Tito

Senior Member
Messages
300
The government wants Atos to be their scapegoat, but Atos doesn't want the bad press which is coming from being accused of doing their job improperly in the process of the scapegoating. Being paid to be the public face of an evil process is one thing, but they can hardly tolerate being publicly accused of incompetence and such by their client in the process - that's just bad for business.
You are probably right, but Atos could have said "that's what the government paid us for". Instead they say, "see what these scumbags of lower lives disabled applicants did to us!". Very revealing, isn't it?
 

Firestormm

Senior Member
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Cornwall England
I did hear that ATOS will get the contract to move all NHS patient records around and share them... you know that latest thing they are doing. Think it was in the telegraph the other day :rolleyes:
 

Bob

Senior Member
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16,455
Location
England (south coast)
I did hear that ATOS will get the contract to move all NHS patient records around and share them... you know that latest thing they are doing. Think it was in the telegraph the other day :rolleyes:
Yes, I heard that as well. I think their job will be to take charge of anonymising and distributing the entire nation's medical records.
They fail at one contract, so the government gives them another, taking charge of sensitive and confidential patient records :rolleyes:

I don't think i'm comfortable with my medical records being shared with random organisations and researchers, whom I know nothing about, so I'll probably choose not to allow access. Haven't decided yet though.
 

Firestormm

Senior Member
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5,055
Location
Cornwall England
Makes me laugh. The state of most peoples medical records - what on earth is any researcher going to learn from them: other than that the NHS records are in a right state :lol::aghhh:
 

MeSci

ME/CFS since 1995; activity level 6?
Messages
8,231
Location
Cornwall, UK
Makes me laugh. The state of most peoples medical records - what on earth is any researcher going to learn from them: other than that the NHS records are in a right state :lol::aghhh:

A worrying thing is that many people's records have incorrect diagnoses in them, and even though patients' corrections may be appended to the records, these may not be included when records are transcribed, just as many/most doctors probably don't look at the corrections or take them seriously. Thus for example people with ME may be falsely shown to have a high incidence of psychiatric disorders that they don't actually have. Even if the data are anonymised, it will still give an incorrect and damaging picture of ME. I probably still have info on my record to the effect that I am a pathetic, out-of-control drunk who has panic attacks, none of which is true! It's bad enough this frankly-libellous misinformation being in the hands of the health service - I certainly don't want it to be in the hands of private, for-profit companies.
 
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Bob

Senior Member
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Location
England (south coast)
I can't remember if this has been highlighted anywhere. It's an analysis of the 'threats' and 'abuse' that ATOS staff received:
http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/2739-the-facts-behind-atos-death-threat-claims

Benefits and Work said:
Atos claimed that they were experiencing about 163 incidents of the public assaulting or abusing staff each month, which would add up to around 1,956 incidents throughout the year.
Extract from their analysis:
Benefits and Work said:
In view of this, an average of one alleged assault every two and a half months, does not seem shockingly high. It does, however, seem shockingly different from the impression given by Atos of a constant barrage of 163 assaults, death threats and episodes of abuse a month.