Audio Recording Devices

Paul Smith made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

I require a number of questions answered.

1) Could you let me know how many Audio Recording Devices Atos have available to them throughout their entire 141 Assessment centres in the UK?

2)Could you please let me know the make and model of the Audio Recording devices used?

3)How many people employed by Atos are qualified to operate the Audio Recording devices?

4)What happens when a claimant request's their assessment be recorded but the Atos HCP refuses to be recorded?

5)Can you confirm or deny that claimants who have requested a home assessment have also been granted the request to have their home assessment audio recorded?

Yours faithfully,

Paul Smith

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Dear DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request,

You have failed to reply promptly as set out by law to my FOI Request, I ask for clarification as to why my request has been delayed?

I am requesting an internal review into why this has occured.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Smith

DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

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been received at the DWP Central FoI Team.

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Department who will respond to you direct. 

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For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
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DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

Our Ref: VTR 3115-1502

Dear Mr Smith,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request that was received by
the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Adelphi on 02 April 2012 and
forwarded that day for response by 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:-

1) Could you let me know how many Audio Recording Devices Atos have
available to them throughout their entire 141 Assessment centres in the
UK?

2)Could you please let me know the make and model of the Audio Recording
devices used?

3)How many people employed by Atos are qualified to operate the Audio
Recording devices?

4)What happens when a claimant request's their assessment be recorded
but the Atos HCP refuses to be recorded?

5)Can you confirm or deny that claimants who have requested a home
assessment have also been granted the request to have their home
assessment audio recorded?

In reply to Q1 & Q2, Atos Healthcare currently deploys 11 dual CD
recording devices across the country. The model used is Neal 9102 dual
CD interview recorder.
In response to Q3, guidance on how to use the equipment is available to
all Healthcare Professionals (HCP).

In answer to Q4, a request for the recording of a Work Capability
Assessment must be made in advance by contacting the Atos Healthcare
Contact Centre. This is so that Atos Healthcare can make an appointment
when the necessary equipment and consenting HCP is available.

Requests for recording of assessments can only be agreed with the
* prior consent of the Healthcare Professional (HCP),
* use of approved recording equipment.

These criteria must be in place so as to ensure that stringent
safeguards are in place to produce recordings that are complete,
accurate and that the facility provides for simultaneous duplicate
copies to be made available to both the claimant and the HCP.

In reply to Q5, I can confirm that a Work Capability Assessment has
never been recorded by Atos Healthcare during a home assessment.

If you have any queries about this letter please contact me quoting the
reference number above.

Yours sincerely,

DWP Central FoI Team

------------------------------------------------------------------------
------------------------------
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 [DWP request email]. or by
writing to DWP, Central FoI Team, 5th Floor The Adelphi, 1-11, John Adam
Street, London WC2N 6HT. 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

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Jim Otram left an annotation ()

What an absolutely staggering response. The new 'rules' have supposedly been in operation for over 4 months and Atos still have only 11 approved recording devices for the whole country. Beggars belief.

Paul Smith left an annotation ()

I quite agree Jim, it's bloody astonishing and also outragous to say the least.

I've emailed Caroline Crouch Atos PR for a clarification of this info?

The FOI Reply also states that Atos have NEVER conducted a home assessment that was Audio Recorded, I know for a FACT that is a complete LIE...

J Newman left an annotation ()

The Atos report on the trial was marked as the final version and dated June 2011. Although a poorly constructed project and an equally poor report, it did identify at least some of the issues that would have to be resolved by DWP prior to a national roll out. As far as we know none have over the past 11 months.

I would imagine these machines are quite expensive a) to buy & b) to maintain. I don’t know what the optimal number is - 11 is obviously too few, 150+ (allowing for spares) is probably too many. Like so many other DWP ventures, it blames inaction on uncertainty when the uncertainty is of its own making, which allows it to pretend it is not its fault.

The issue of suppressing demand by not proactively marketing the facility aside, as long everyone who wants a recording gets one and the cost of providing them is not excessive there is probably not an immediate issue. If a supply shortfall delays WCAs, so be it although there is potentially a large cost to the taxpayer.

The need for this at all is a direct result of justifiable mistrust and being at the very heart of the process, something with which the venerable Professor should be intimately involved. He has supported the idea of recording I know, but not overtly acknowledged why it is necessary other than to rather vaguely improve the quality of assessments (whatever he means by that), nor actively shown interest its development. He is in his final year of tenure so there is not much time to get him to say the things he should be saying to leave some sort of worthwhile legacy.

If you have concrete evidence of a lie, I would most certainly take them on over it. It is far too serious a matter to just let pass.

Majella left an annotation ()

I have a date for my 2nd Atos medical, and had a support worker with me for the first one. Awarded nil points, and eventually won my appeal.
When I received the 80+ page document of my medical, I showed it to my support worker. One of the first things she said to me was "but you didn't do that!"
As I said "I know that, you know that, but it is printed there in black and white that I did!"
Hence even more reason to have this one recorded.

DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Paul Smith

Please see attached response to your FoI request.

Kind regards

DWP Central FoI Team

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Jim Otram left an annotation ()

This response is wrong in law, Paul, as you may well already know.

As we can all see from the emails here, the 'date of receipt' of your original request by the DWP was 31 03 12. The twentieth working day following that, by close of which they should have responded, was 01 05 12, and your complaint of 02 05 12 was therefore accurate and justified. The deadline had expired the day before.

'Working days' do indeed exclude weekends, Good Friday, and bank holidays, but the 'date of receipt' need not be a working day. It's the actual date of receipt which counts as 'day nought', and you count the 20 working days following that. (All in Section 10 FoI Act).

The DWP awards itself an 'extra day' every time it receives a request on a non-working day, and in view of their disgraceful, obstructive and dilatory behaviour overall, we should not take this lying down, I feel. The Act also says that a public authority should reply 'promptly' – an obligation which the DWP treats with contempt by taking most enquiries 'to the wire'. Hoist them with their own petard?

I have an outstanding IR on this issue – which I will refer to the ICO unless the DWP backs down – but the more the merrier in terms of complaints to the ICO on this (or any other) issue with the DWP, in my view; and the ICO have already agreed with me concerning my analysis of the statutory time period, on the telephone.

J Newman left an annotation ()

I have one o/s request that has just hit 60 days with the first IRR now on 40 days. A record???

I have half a dozen with ICO currently. Their process is thorough, but painfully slow, so I am am holding back on more referals until I have seen some results.

ICO is at slight risk of becoming pre-occupied with the minutiae of the legislation (which suits DWP) rather than the guiding principles behind the public's right to know.

They do seem willing however to support logical arguments that information we are told does not exist MUST somewhere and on the balance of probabilities be more accessible that we are lead to believe too.

JayneL left an annotation ()

And now every single of the original 11 pieces of equipment is broken according to Nottingham ATOS!!!

This was stated on 27/6/2012.

Currently waiting for the internal 'investigation' findings to my complaint re above

P V Sutton left an annotation ()

On 6 August another FoI from Debbie Sayer yielded, amongst other information, the following - edited for relevance:

"Medical Services

There are currently 11 recording devices used on the DWP Medical Services Contract. The recording device currently used by the Contractor is the Neal 9102 Dual CD Audio Interview Recorder, and purchased for use by Atos Healthcare in conducting the Audio Recording of Work Capability Assessments (WCA) Pilot scheme at Newcastle Medical Assessment Centre.

The cost per device of the 11 Neal 9102 devices was £1400 + VAT

The recording devices are covered by a warranty relating to machine failure during the first year. [Note by me: this will now have expired as the Newcastle trial started more than a year ago.]

Currently 6 of the 11 recording devices operated on the Medical Services Contract are not in use as they require repair."

[To repeat - this is dated 6 August 2012]

Contrast this with another part of the DWP empire:

"The FIS [Fraud Investigation Service] currently has 1284 recording devices that are used for recording IUCs [Interviews Under Caution]."

There are currently 263 devices currently not in use because they are broken. Some of these devices are unrepairable, obsolete and will cost too much to repair. The devices that have broken in the last twelve to eighteen months have not been repaired because they are about to be replaced by digital recorders."

Which is rather odd, because I thought all these new WCAs were necessary because most people claiming sickness benefits were frauds. Doesn't that mean that we should have the benefit of the the FIS's machines?