Dear Department for Work and Pensions,
Lord Woolf expressed concerns about the lack of impartiality of experts, or what has been called ‘hired gun syndrome. An expert whose opinions are not independent and impartial but are easily adapted to the requirements of the party that employs them.
You state in various FOI's that Atos carry out independent assessments. As Atos are not independent, having commercial interests with the DWP, advising on the legislation, providing training for DM's, having no security of tenure and so a desire to please their masters etc. there is a distinct appearance of bias in the decision making process.
With regard to procedures or guidance
1) What measures are taken by the DWP to ensure that there is no undue influence by your contractor which could infect the decision making, and what measures are taken to avoid this appearance of bias.
2) Whilst the DM has a duty to ensure that the evidence being taken into account is correct, what measures are taken to ensure that the evidence being presented by their contractor including that used to complete the medical report, is accurate, up to date and relevant, taking into account the possibility of bias.
3) What measures are taken to ensure that the procedures being carried out are used to meet the requirements of legislation as opposed to the commercial interests of their contractor.
e.g. the use of unrecognised and unregulated disability analyst procedures, or the use of LIMA whereby the evidence is not known on which the facts and opinions are based, or the use of a Prognosis which could increase financial turnover, (again taking into account the possibility of bias).
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Dear Mr Adams
Please see your FOI response attached
Health & Disability Assessments (Operations)/Department for Work and Pensions/Room 306/Block 31/Norcross/Norcross Lane/Blackpool/FY5 3TA
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