This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Descriptor Handbook'.


To B Adams 
C/o xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx 
 
DWP Central Freedom of Information Team 
 
e-mail: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@xxx.xxx.xxx.xx 
 
Our Ref: 3585-2832 
 
DATE 17 August 2012 
 
Dear B Adams 
 
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request that was received by Department for Work 
and Pensions (DWP) Freedom of Information Requests on 22 July 2012 and forwarded on 23 
July for response by the DWP Medical Services Contracts Correspondence Team (MSCCT) 
Freedom of Information Officer.  
 
In your email you asked to be provided with information answering the following questions:- 
 
Please could you provide me with a copy of the Descriptor Handbook as used by DMs and 
HCPs and which are used to provide consistency in the way that ESA descriptors are 
interpreted both at the assessment and decision making stages 
 
In reply to your request please find attached a copy of the Employment and Support Allowance 
(ESA) Filework Guidelines (For HCPs) which is information relating to the pre-board check of 
the Limited Capability for Work questionnaire (ESA 50) and weblinks to a copy of the Revised 
Work Capability Assessment (WCA) ESA (LCW/LCWRA) Amendment Regulations 2011 
Handbook http://www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/specialist-guides/#other that is issued to 
approved HCPs employed by Atos Healthcare, and the Decision Makers (DM) Guide (DMG) 
http://www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/specialist-guides/decisio-makers-guide/ which is used by 
DMs as guidance when deciding on benefit entitlement. 
 
The first 2 documents have been produced as part of a programme for approved Healthcare 
Professionals (HCPs) to carry out medical assessments. All HCPs undertaking these medical 
assessments must be registered medical or nursing practitioners who in addition, have 
undergone training in disability assessment medicine and more specific training. The training 
includes theory training in a classroom setting, supervised practical training, and a 
demonstration of understanding as assessed by quality audit. These documents must be read 
with the understanding that, as experienced medical or nursing practitioners, the HCPs will 
have detailed knowledge of the principles and practice of diagnostic techniques and therefore 
such information is not contained in these documents. In addition, these are not stand-alone 
documents, and form only a part of the training and written documentation that a HCP 
receives. As disability assessment is a practical occupation, much of the guidance also 
involves verbal information and coaching. Thus, although the documents may be of interest to 
non-medical readers, some of the information may not be readily understood without 
background medical knowledge and an awareness of the other training and guidance given to 
HCPs.  
 


All the information supplied to you continues to be protected by copyright. You are free to use 
it for your own purposes, including for private study and non-commercial research, and for any 
other purpose authorised by an exception in current copyright law. Documents (except 
photographs) can be also used in the UK without requiring permission for the purposes of 
news reporting. Any other re-use, for example commercial publication, would require the 
permission of the copyright holder.  
 
Most documents produced by the DWP and/or Atos Healthcare will be protected by Crown 
Copyright. Most Crown copyright information can be re-used under the Open Government 
Licence (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/). For information 
about the OGL and about re-using Crown Copyright information please see The National 
Archives website -http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/information-management/uk-gov-
licensing-framework.htm
 .  
 
Copyright in other documents may rest with a third party. For information about obtaining 
permission from a third party see the Intellectual Property Office’s website at www.ipo.gov.uk
If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the reference number 
above.   
Yours sincerely,  
 
 
DWP Central FoI Team 
 
 
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Your right to complain under the Freedom of Information Act 
 
If you are not happy with this response you may request an internal review by e-mailing freedom-of-information-
xxxxxxx@xxx.xxx.xxx.xx 
or by writing to DWP, Central FoI Team, Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW1H 9NA. Any 
review request should be submitted within two months of the date of this letter.  
 
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review you may apply directly to the Information 
Commissioner’s Office for a decision. Generally the Commissioner cannot make a decision unless you have 
exhausted our own complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information 
Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF www.ico.gov.uk