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95% of Atos and Capita PIP medical assessment reports unquestioned by DWP

10 August 2018

New figures show that DWP Decision Makers are questioning only a tiny proportion of the Atos and Capita PIP medical assessment reports.

The statistics were obtained by Disability News Service (DNS) through a freedom of information request and says they may help to explain why so many PIP appeals are successful.

Figures from social security tribunals show the proportion of claimants who won their PIP appeals rose by seven percentage points in a year, from 64% in the fourth quarter of 2016-17 to 71% in the same period of 2017-18.

DNS had asked DWP how many of its PIP decisions were made without any attempt to seek further advice or clarification from Atos and Capita, discuss or resolve problems with them, or even return the report to be completely rewritten.

As the DWP said it would be too expensive to produce such figures, DNS asked it to test a random sample of 100 assessment reports from Capita and 100 from Atos.

DWP has provided these figures, which show that of a random sample of 100 Capita reports, 94 PIP decisions were made without any further contact at all with the company.

And of 100 Atos reports, 97 decisions were made without any further contact with the company once DWP had received the assessment report.

Complaints as to inaccuracy and omissions by Atos and Capita Health Care assessors have continually been made since PIP was introduced in April 2013.

In February 2018, a Work and Pensions Committee report set out the “overwhelming” amount of claimant testimony evidence had it received to its investigation of PIP (and ESA) medical assessments.

Common themes were:

  • errors in reports: the inclusion of basic factual errors, omission of relevant details that were shared either during the assessment or in supporting evidence, or misrepresentation of the assessment; and
  • problems arising from lack of assessor knowledge about the functional implications of different conditions, and inappropriate use of observations of claimants to judge functional impact.

Inevitably, PIP appeals are upheld due to the tribunal’s rejection of the evidence of the Atos or Capita Health Care Professional’s report.

In May 2016, the then Minister for Disabled People admitted that 75% of PIP appeals were upheld due to either new oral or documentary evidence supplied at the hearing. Of these, 66% were successful due to the “cogent oral evidence” of the claimant.

DR UK says that such “cogent oral evidence” should properly be obtained during the PIP assessment process itself, most logically at the face-to-face assessment.

 If it were, then it is more likely that decisions would properly be made right first time.

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