New information reveals huge number of complaints against fit-for-work assessors

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Complaints were made against nurses carrying out assessments on behalf of the DWP 

31st January 2017 by Robert Armour 9 Comments

More than 1,600 complaints have been made against nurses carrying out fit-for-work assessments in the last five years.

A freedom of information request to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) by disability rights campaigner John Pring revealed around 7% of an estimated 4,800 complaints a year received by the NMC over the last five years have been linked to nurses working for a benefits assessment contractor.

Pring said it points to “a far-reaching, institutional problem that stretches across DWP and the two private sector contractors” namely Atos Healthcare and Capita that carry out the personal independence payment (PIP) assessments on its behalf.

Atos carries out face-to-face assessments for PIP in Scotland, the north of England, London and southern England, and until 2015 also carried out work capability assessments (WCAs), which test eligibility for out-of-work disability benefits.

WCAs are now carried out by the US outsourcing giant Maximus – which took over the contract from Atos following years of complaints while Capita carries out PIP assessments in Wales and central England.

According to information contained in the FOI request, alleged dishonesty includes assessors refusing to accept further written evidence from medical experts; wrongly claiming detailed physical examinations had been carried out during the assessment; refusing to list all of a claimant’s medications; ignoring or misreporting key information told to them during the assessment; and reporting that a claimant had refused to co-operate with a physical examination, when they were unable to complete it because of their impairment.

Pring says in an article that the NMC has warned that an accurate figure for the number of complaints against assessment nurses could be over 1,600.

Our providers are committed to providing a high-quality, sensitive and respectful service - DWP

The disability campaigner has now submitted a fresh freedom of information request for more detailed information for 2016 only, which NMC has agreed to provide.

However the DWP dismissed the importance of the findings.

A spokeswoman said: “The department cleared 1.9 million  PIP claims between 1 December 2013 and 30 September 2016, and in that time only a very tiny proportion of complaints regarding Atos and Capita’s delivery of PIP were accepted for investigation from the Independent Case Examiner [which deals with appeals that follow complaints rejected by the assessment companies, rather than those submitted through the NMC].

“Our providers are committed to providing a high-quality, sensitive and respectful service by conducting fair, accurate and objective assessments.

“We have independent audit in place to ensure advice provided to DWP decision makers is of suitable quality, fully explained and justified.”

31st January 2017 by Caroline Sylvester

For over two years the tumor in my head has been regrowing, making me crazy and confused, my senses are fading and it will only get worse, yet I'm facing my 3rd PIP assessment, face to face with an unqualified stranger for 10 minutes to be judged.

31st January 2017 by Julie stevenson

My husband is waiting to go to tribunal next month for esa has illnesses for years then all of a sudden hes found fot for work the assesment wad made with wrong medical evidence which was my sons sent by mistake by my gp but they still carried on with medical my gp has said I shouldnt be found fit for work but dwp do not listen these assesments are all wrong when you read they get bonuses for getting sick people off esa its a disgusting system putting people though this its awful we have had this worry for last three months dont know what will happen if appeal dosnt work its all so cruel

1st February 2017 by Jenny ward

Atos and Capita, They are a bunch of Liars, How can a 30-40 min interview by a person who has no In depth knowledge of a lot of people's illnesses have president over a consultant or a Gp , They ask you a load of questions that have nothing to do with your illness and base their PROFESSIONAL opinion based on what you can do and not what you can't. In the case of ESA. Do these people realise they are assessing your illness on what is going to be for sone people a 8 hour day ...5 days a week . I for one will fight these people all the way....as that's what they Hope you will do give up. Ok I will try to find work, nothing I want better, but what happens if due to my disability I cause an accident , who will take the blame then for their assessment that I am fit for work . Absolute disgrace talk about discrimination against disabled people , these people are the biggest culprits .

1st February 2017 by Maldwyn Evans

When i went to my assessment it was 5pm and the assessor had been drinking i made a complaint to the firm and to the DWP to no avail the illness i have is degenerative so it worse as time but I was signed off and not a word was said about the assessor drinking habits

1st February 2017 by Tristen Saarikoski

I recently had a kidney removed due to cancer. I already have ptsd,depression,anxiety issues that I have been trying to deal with but getting the mental health issues is almost impossible. I have a condition known as endometriosis a common condition for women but often misdiagnosed. I suffer with contraction pains as if giving birth and on Heavy painkillers that are 2nd thing from morphine and often make me tired and very disorientated. I have osteoarthritis in a foot that gives out when trying to walk and had many falls. I'm also pre cancerous in womb that causes pain too yet the cow that came to see me Kirsty Kirk that looked nothing like a medical professional. My partner let her in as I live in an upstairs flat and stairs are a real struggle for me. We are on waiting list for ground floor flat to help me get out easier. She didn't look at any of the supporting evidence nor take it with her. She totally lied about what was said and was pretty rude. I'm fit for work apparently even though I have surgery every 6 months.

2nd February 2017 by mark brewer

I though nursing was meant to be a caring profession. Obviously not

2nd February 2017 by roscoe outterside

The female doctor in my assesment lied in the first sentance on my dwp letter turning down any further assistance.I have and have had crippling and painful rhumatoid arthiritus for over 15 years at least,now im losing my income my home and my mind which will leave me nothing but to end my life as i cannot go through all this for a second time!!taken 15 years to be homed,get carpets etc and make that home/refuge! get dla, rhamatoid specialist and treatment,now losing disability car and all benefits,on £55 ppw.I wont be able to go to doctors get pain medications i rely on,get to hospital for chemtherapy etc.I am preparing to end my life when the reality of it kicks in.SAD world and SAD society that allows this to keep happening to us in the bottom of society!

3rd February 2017 by Jane Harris

I recently had another f2f with Atos and yet again they did not listen to what I said or write down what I said, because of Atos I lost my motability car which I had had for 5 years which virtually made me housebound. These people just don't listen. I went to tribunal last year and won enhanced care only for Atos to take it away in November the same year because they don't believe my illnesses or disability or even that my depression is made worse by the way my life is mapped out now. So now I am waiting for yet another tribunal date to go and try and get their decision over turned for care and mobility even though I had letters from my 3 carer's and doctor it didn't make a scrap of difference. Something needs to be done about these unqualified people no wonder people ar dying because of these stupid organisations.

16th February 2017 by John Evans

One of the problems with the system is that firms like Atos and Capita are effectively exempt from doing any quality checks on their assessors and the rubbish they write. I'm currently challenging a report that contains 19 spelling mistakes (knees is repeatedly spelled 'needs'), three comments that are complete gibberish (can anyone explain what 'didn't visible seeing' or 'seeked advise' mean?) and three statements that are contradictory. The Capita assessor, Sarah Elizabeth Fisher, also claimed at the beginning of the assessment to be a specialist orthopaedic nurse, something Capita say is untrue and which she now denies. The problem is that Capita's 'defence' to this foul up is that, as DWP didn't see any need to query the report, there was nothing wrong with it. The situation isn't helped by the fact that the DWP staff who dealt with the initial decision making and the mandatory reconsideration are about as literate (strictly speaking semi-literate) as the assessor.A neighbour has just learned that his PIP report states he walked 25 metres from his car to the front door of the assessment centre. Taking aside the fact that he didn't walk it in the accepted sense of the word using a handheld lasar measure the true distance turned out to be just 12 metres.Around April the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) are re-reviewing the whole of private sector assessments for DWP. If you have any badly written reports like this please forward them to the PAC - their contact details are online and they will accept evidence by email or post.