The perfect entitlement of claimants to audio-record WCAs

Jim Otram made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

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The request was refused by Department for Work and Pensions.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

The perfect entitlement of claimants to audio-record WCAs

As the DWP has already confirmed, it is perfectly legal for an ESA claimant to take an audio recording of a WCA without telling the DWP or Atos that is what they are doing.

However, I enquire with regard to minister Grayling's statement to parliament today, with regard to ESA claimants and audio recording:-

"They are perfectly entitled to bring their own recording equipment to an assessment as long as it can record two copies of an assessment, because they need to be able to take one copy with them and leave the other behind."

I have a Dell laptop (and microphone) and standard off-the-shelf software which enables recording to hard disk and thence the production of two identical CDs (or DVDs) in an instant.

Under CURRENTLY RECORDED arrangements made by the DWP as regards WCAs, should a claimant wish to take an audio recording overtly:-

Q1 Is there any restriction on or impediment to the use of equipment such as I have specified above?

Q2 Does the DWP request any particular format for the copy audio recording a claimant should provide?

Q3 In the light of the fact that there remains no written advice to claimants as to the taking of an audio recording, are DWP and Atos employees clearly informed that recording by a claimant is a perfect entitlement? If so, please supply documentary evidence of this.

I look forward to hearing from you by email within the statutory period for compliance.

Yours faithfully,

Jim Otram

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J Newman left an annotation ()

Jim, I have a similar question regarding my digital audio recorder - it has a USB socket so could download to an Atos PC immediately after my WCA - I'd even provide the cable.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'The perfect entitlement of claimants to audio-record WCAs'.

You have not responded to my request of 05 09 12 within the period prescribed by statute.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/th...

Yours faithfully,

Jim Otram

J Newman left an annotation ()

No surprise they are finding this tricky to address with any honesty and as they cannot, the cut & paste response seen elsewhere in this area is inevitable - oh, and the old public interest red herring perhaps.

P V Sutton left an annotation ()

Unfortunately, the DWP does have a get-out clause on this one - in fact they have 2 or 3 clauses.

There's the technical one, which they're going to wheel out - that Atos and its minions can't be sure that your software is doing exactly what you say it's doing.

It might, amongst other things be churning out blank, partial or garbled CDs, which the HCP will not have the time to check. And that's before you run into issues like handing Atos CDs with malware on it (quite a temptation that!) to get into the Atos/DWP system. The very precise engineering of the dual-CD systems designed for police and other agencies is carefully set up to cope with such issues.

The second problem is that something can be legal, but not permitted. It is not against the law of the land to smoke in my house, but everyone who enters it knows that I do not permit smoking in my house.

It is not illegal to make a covert recording, but Atos can, none the less, deny you any right to make such a recording overtly and refuse to continue with the WCA if they find you recording covertly.

There is an important point which is not going to make me popular here - or on any forum.

Chris Grayling has, in all the public statements he has made about recording added a caveat. He says that recording facilities will be provided "whenever possible" or he says that Atos will "make every effort" to make it possible.

It is only continued public pressure that stops Atos saying, "Well, is ISN'T convenient, so there," (which is what they did in the Nottingham area IIRC) This would, I think, not contradict the exact letter of what Grayling said. Remember he plays dirty and is backed by DWP senior civil servants there to make sure that all the weasel words are there.

Lastly, what Grayling, or any other minister, says in the Commons can be regarded as Government Policy. It can be quoted as a lever to civil servants and external contractors. But government policy is not the same a law.(Look at the difference when it comes to a proposed badger cull to see the difference!)

Sometimes HoC pronouncements can be put into law via "enabling legislation" - powers that the Act of Parliament gave to the minister, who can put changes through on the nod. This is how changes to the WCA descriptors are made without any problems arising for new legislation. But the announcement on audio recordings does not come under that heading.

The original announcement in the early months of this year put aside what had been government policy and said that Atos were to set up recordings for whoever wanted it - if it's convenient for them.

It does not, alas, establish a legal right to recording whatever the conditions at the time. Lack of machines, or home visits are both valid reasons for denying audio recording. It's not a legal right.

We do ourselves no service if we give the DWP lots of opportunity to point this out. We need to keep government policy biased towards recording, not give them opportunities to deny it.

Those of us in Atos areas are going to have to fight this battle all over again, since neither Atos nor the DWP have the slightest intention of allowing recording of the PIP assessments (the other lot - Capita?? - will). Another fight approaches.

John Slater left an annotation ()

I believe that PV Sutton has some valid points. The law hasn't caught up with IT and shows little sign of doing so in the near future.

The issues for me (based upon my limited knowledge) are:

The HCP, Atos and DWP have no legal or other rights to a copy of my recording of my WCA. I believe that it is accepted that as the WCA is solely about the claimant the data belongs to them. The issue of the name of the Doctor or Nurse being part of the recording is covered by the legal requirement for their details to appear online as part of their registration with the GMC or NMC.

The Secretary of State (this includes Civil Servants and contractors via the Carltona principle and delegated authority) has a number of constitutional and legal duties.

Cabinet office Manual (section 3.46) states:
“The Ministerial Code issued by the Prime Minister of the day, sets out the principles underpinning the standards of conduct expected of ministers. Ministers of the Crown are expected to behave in a way that upholds the highest standards of propriety, including ensuring that no conflict arises or appears to arise, between their public duties and their private interests.

Ministers are under an overarching duty to comply with the law, including international law and treaty obligations, uphold the administration of justice and protect the integrity of public life. They are expected to observe the Seven Principles of Public Life: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

As part of a judicial review the Court will consider a minister’s exercise of public powers by reference to:
• legality (acting within the scope of any powers and for a proper purpose);
• procedural fairness (for example, giving an individual affected by the decision the opportunity to be heard);
• reasonableness or rationality (following a proper reasoning process to reach a reasonable conclusion);
• compatibility (with the ECHR21 and EU law).”

Atos Healthcare is a trading name of Atos Origin IT Services UK Limited. It is not a legal entity/personality and cannot enter into agreements/contracts. The DWP is not a legal entity, hence the medical services contract is between the Secretary of State and Atos Origin IT Services UK Limited. The Business Names Act 1985 and Companies Acts 2006 mean that all official paperwork should state that Atos Healthcare is a trading name of Atos Origin IT Services UK Limited. I can’t find a single document that states this! The so-called recording consent form only refers to DWP and Atos Healthcare. So, we have the largest government department openly flouting the law of the land (including the FOIA).

The DWP has demonstrated a long standing bias against recording assessments (remember the calibration by a qualified engineer charade) and is doing everything it can to kill the Harrington imposed recording trial entering day-to-day operation. The recent NAO report shows it is commercially incompetent, doesn’t know why 38% of appeals succeed, Atos Origin is one of nine contractors critical to its business delivery and is its UK sole supplier for HCP. The RFP for the Harrington Recording trial stated that there is a real risk that recording assessments will negatively impact recruitment and retention of HCP.

So, can we really trust the Minister of State (DWP) to comply with their constitutionally and legal duties in relation to WCA? Do the actions we see every day reflect:
• Selflessness
• Integrity
• Objectivity
• Accountability
• Openness
• Honesty
• Leadership
• Legality
• procedural fairness
• Reasonableness or rationality
• Compatibility (with the ECHR21 and EU law).

My view is that they are not even close and I wonder if we are arguing about minutiae when fundamentally it is legal, reasonable, rational and procedurally fair for us to record our WCA and use the data to hold the DWP accountable. It is patently selfish, dishonest, procedurally unfair, biased and legally questionable for the DWP to impose any conditions, especially if they force claimants to hand over data against their statutory rights.

J Newman left an annotation ()

Firstly regarding software ‘reliability’, we can level the same argument at Atos software. The prospect of me editing my recording in real time during the course of the WCA so that the copy I offer at the end (and my retained version) is false is surely impossible. My paranoia makes me worry more about them changing their copy afterwards, but insisting it is me who has changed mine. However I believe mp3 file alterations can be forensically detected and as start and finish times are logged, there is at least some form of cross-check.

A pause for thought . . . . . . if we (& they) really think that the precision needs to be at the level demanded for a criminal investigation by the police, what does it say about the WCA process????

Moving on . . . . . In the early days, Grayling did not include any provisos, all we had to do was ask – the provisos came later. I could dig out the text if need be. This has actually cropped up in a FoI response where DWP has stated their policy has always been consistent when it most certainly has not.

My understanding is (and I too am not a lawyer) is that:
• It is my legal right to have my WCA recorded.

• If DWP will not provide the facility, I will. In fact even if they will, I can record too.

• If they chose to abandon the session, that is their prerogative as long as I do not in any way at all suffer as a consequence.

Sadly, DWP can do pretty much what it likes as a matter of ‘policy’, but it cannot then hold us accountable for the consequences if we have acted within the law. It will nevertheless try and allow the TS to sort out the melee as necessary – somebody else’s problem!!!

Dear DWP freedom-of-information-requests,

The perfect entitlement of claimants to audio-record WCAs.

So. 3 calendar months, and over 60 working days, later, you haven't given so much as a tinker's cuss.

Your contempt for the law must clearly be taken to law.

Yours sincerely,

Jim Otram

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B. Adams left an annotation ()

The DWP are again trying to impose their own conditions on recording medicals, (requiring two recordings), but there is no lawful requirement for this, just their own ad hock guidance. In CIB/3117/2008 where the claimant openly tried himself to record, the DWP refused to continue with his claim, but the Upper Tribunal found in his favour. If the recording is to be used at the tribunal then obviously a second copy would need to be given to the DWP to authenticate etc.. and one for the tribunal.

On a similar matter, the DWP make it clear in their own guidelines, that when they know or should know of a claimant who would have difficulties in interviews as a result of certain disabilities that the interviews can be recorded where it is a “reasonable adjustment” as a requirement under the Equality Act 2010.
As the problems would be made known in the ESA50 etc..and any disability or medication causing poor memory, concentration etc. would apply, I wonder why this isn't carried out routinely for such people. The guidance relates to allowing a claimant to record it themselves, but in reality it is actually the DWP who would need to make the reasonable adjustments by providing such adaptations/equipment necessary.

Dear DWP freedom-of-information-requests,

Re: "The perfect entitlement of claimants to audio-record WCAs."

This midnight marks working day number 45 of your failure to comply with statute in response to my request for information, entitled as above.

Perhaps the DWP thinks it is clever and funny to parade such ignorance and obstruction.

I don't. And I have yet to meet the severely ill, or bereaved family, friends and carers, who do.

Yours sincerely,

Jim Otram

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P V Sutton left an annotation ()

One point which is not much addressed here or elsewhere.

I'm sure, reading between the lines of the Atos forms etc, that they are terrified that recordings will end up on YouTube. I wouldn't want my medical being made public property - but then I wouldn't want to be filmed pissing all over a dying woman either, and clearly someone thought that was "funny."

Atos are worried that the WCA practices which so offend victims might be undermined if they were publicly available. That seems to me to be reasonable - it's just what I would hope for if I wanted to make my WCA public. I'd want everyone to be able to see what goes on.

OTOH I can understand that Atos staff might be frightened of making unexpected public appearances on YouTube. Even the sadistic ones (and there clearly are some) don't want "trial by YouTube" and I do have some sympathies with that. In fact it's the ones who think they are following the Atos rules but know those rules are unfair who would be the most worried about those "private" recordings going public.

In the end I think the rights of the claimants outweigh the worries of the staff or Atos' fears for its business model ("Shove through as fast as possible and find any excuse to fail them - "Next!") But we'll get further if we are more reasonable than they are.

J Newman left an annotation ()

I do agree with PV in that we should endeavour to retain the moral high ground for as long as possible, but DWP is so thick skinned that I suspect in the end otherwise perfectly reasonable people will be drawn into doing pretty much whatever it takes.

I am sure all HCPs regard themselves as consummate professionals in which case if they doubt the efficacy of the WCA there is only one course of action open to them – walk away and blow the whistle. Atos would soon grind to a halt if it could not recruit.

I cannot understand the reticence of organisations like the GMC to step in – if a GP’s diagnostic error rate was the same as an Atos HCP’s assessment error rate, they most certainly would. Remember any sub-standard Atos HCPs are quite possibly working in the NHS too, so the sooner they are ousted the better.

One has to be careful using the “nothing-to-hide- nothing-to-fear” argument, but I think it does apply here.

John Slater left an annotation ()

I believe that nurses have been responsible for certifying their own competence (i.e. they are fit to carry out an activity) for some considerable time. With this comes professional responsibility and this is where I believe it all comes crumbling down. I know I will not popular saying this but I do not believe that nursing is a profession or ever has been. Just saying that you have to be registered with the NMC doesn’t make it so. Being professional covers so much more than qualifications and membership or an organisation.

I have been present at assessments carried out by a Doctor and a Nurse. The Doctor started down the DWP/Atos line but as soon as I politely asked him “what happened to first do no harm?” he changed immediately and acted as you would expect a professional Doctor to do. He certainly didn’t follow the DWP/Atos line and found the person unfit for work and stopped the assessment straight away.
The nurse on the other hand was purely focused on getting through and delivering the ‘right result’ for the DWP/Atos regardless of the facts facing her. Where in the history of nursing and their current training is the individual and ‘corporate’ responsibility for doing what you know to be right rather than what your employer is trying to force you to do? This doesn’t exist and therefore the culture required (i.e. this is what we do as a professional nurse) can’t exist either (recent press coverage tells us that that nursing is already in crisis within the NHS).

I personally believe that apart from cost nurses were brought in to do WCA as they are easier to intimidate. I understand that Atos adverts promote “not having to deal with patients anymore”, “good rates of pay” and “office hours”. Does that sound like you are recruiting professionals?

We all know that the DWP, Atos and the HCP have a huge problem that they are desperate to hide.

Dear DWP freedom-of-information-requests,

The perfect entitlement of claimants to audio-record WCAs

On the 46th day of your flagrant and continuing breach of statue, I think it is pertinent to reflect upon the rule of law.

I am a committed believer in that principle, in a fashion you clearly are not.

Yet your inadequacy in this respect makes one speculate about the things you perhaps most fear.

Could it be, particularly in the light of e.g. the unscrupulous and illegal behaviour revealed by Leveson enquiry, you fear that your own unscrupulous and illegal behaviour is on the brink of receiving a very wide audience indeed, leaving you like headlight-skewered rabbits heading for road-kill stew? From bumbling clerk to Minister?

As regards futile attempts to consider introducing surreptitious subordinate legislation, say? Or trying to delay any announcement until after the January 2012 revision to the WCA Handbook? Or as regards suppression of legal advice the production of which the FoI Act and its interpretations would most certainly warrant?

Heaven forefend that any email boxes of yours could have been hacked to death long ago. I merely speculate.

Yours sincerely,

Jim Otram

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Jim Otram left an annotation ()

I meant January 2013 revison to the WCA handbook - but the little bless 'ems will know what I mean.

J Newman left an annotation ()

I certainly do not accept "Occupational Health” as some radically new and enlightened branch of medicine that GPs are not trained to cover. But this is just part of the false construct that is needed to wrestle the job away from the NHS so that the priority of patient well-being can be waived.

Jim Otram left an annotation ()

Quite so, A construct which means having to back-pedal on their own terminology amongst other points. E.g from the (statutory term) 'medical 'examination' to 'medical assessment'.

The DWP most certainly wants to keep as far as possible from the notion that any of their purported 'healthCARE professionals' actually owe claimants any common law PROFESSIONAL 'duty of care' i.e. under the law of negligence.

But life just ain't that simple. The obligations and standards of professional behaviour laid down by e.g the GMC and the NMC (or the solicitors regulatory authority, come to that), bind registered members whether or not there is a 'negligence-type' duty of care being owed.

For instance, doctors can be, and not infrequently are, struck off for behaviour (e.g. dishonesty or violence) where there is no 'patient care' directly involved in the proceedings at all. A blatantly dishonest or otherwise manifestly unprofessional WCA report could still lead to quack-sack, as bringing the profession into disrepute, for instance.

The problem has always been primarily evidential. How did the 'claimant' actually 'present' behind closed doors that day?

Because of the utter fiasco the DWP has made of the situation, many people are now recording covertly; and such evidence CAN be declared admissible by the court, tribunal, panel etc concerned, in appropriate circumstances.

Sooner or later an HCP is going to be exposed by such a route, in my view - and that part-time 'little earner' of a job will suddenly seem a lot less cushy.

I forget the precise figure I last saw, but it was around 3% of doctors registered with the GP come under some form scrutiny by the GMC, each year. But as the DWP has acknowledged in a separate FoI, since the inception of the WCA system, the DWP has referred NOT ONE 'hcp' to a professional regulatory body.

So claimants will do it for them

Jim Otram left an annotation ()

I meant to acknowledge that point of PVS' earlier.

I agree Exposure on the internet in one shape or another is what they most fear. And I also agree that it is likely to be more potent in the vast majority of cases, as a 'possibility', or 'locker-room' threat, than in actual deployment.

What the DWP shouldn't do, is exactly what it has already done: try to mislead the public about legality of such publication by reference to the Data Protection Act.

DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Otram

Please find enclosed a response to your request for information
under the Freedom of Information Act by the Health and
Disability Assessments (Operations) Correspondence Team Freedom
of Information Officer, who apologises for the grave delay in
providing you with a response.

<<3818-3794 Mr Otram response.pdf>>
Kind regards

Health & Disability Assessment (Operations) Team, Department
for Work and Pensions, Room 306, Block 3, Norcross, Norcross
Lane, Blackpool, FY5 3TA

Please consider the environment before printing

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J Newman left an annotation ()

Still attempting to hang on by its fingertips.

Continually referring to the WCA handbook is all very well, but there is still nothing in the literature routinely despatched from DWP/Atos. DWP has still not explained WHY it is placing so many conditions upon an activity that is perfectly legal. We all know, but I’d still like to hear the admission.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'The perfect entitlement of claimants to audio-record WCAs'. (Your reference = FOI 3818-3794).

You have answered Q2 but not Qs 1 & 3.

The WCA Hand book July 2012 edition to which you refer does NOT contain any specification for personal equipment to be used for overt AUDIO-recording a WCA BY a CLAIMANT (Q1). There is thus no specification in that edition for DWP\Atos staff to refer to either (Q3).

Further, it is childish and insulting to say I should specify the equipment concerned and seek information from the DWP (or Atos). I precisely specified that equipment to YOU, the DWP, in my original enquiry, now nearly 4 months old.

If, through sheer incompetence, you genuinely did not understand the specification I gave, you were obliged to ask for clarification from me, at WDTK for everyone to see. You did not.

Now, ANSWER the outstanding questions raised on 05 09 2012, and AS AT THAT date (just after Grayling's announcement to which my enquiry referred).

It grossly disingenuous and obstructive of the DWP to behave in this fashion. I have already drawn the ICO's attention to this query, which is clearly going to span the entire period the DWP is being monitored by the ICO for the DWP's flagrant and extensive breaches of the Freedom of Information Act.

I also note that your prolonged deceit and illegality is being severely probed by enquirers at WDTK, with a view to compelling you to produce the legal advice about recording, which you have blatantly and unlawfully ignored for over two years; and that such enquiry will seek to rely on, amongst other matters, the DWP's gross and crucial lack of transparency over an extended period. I intend to make very sure that the contemptible behaviour of the DWP in refusing to deal with this request properly forms part of the armoury of those so probing.

Finally, it is highly impertinent of you to make assumptions about the personal circumstances of people raising FoI enquiries. They are none of your business. The equipment I own was for lending to some people I have been trying to help with claims; and which I propose to lend in the future – not for me. And as regards the particular claimants whom I hoped to help when I raised this enquiry back in September – it is TOO LATE. Their WCAs have come and gone. And they recorded COVERTLY, precisely because of the DWP's wilful refusal to produce any answers to the questions I had raised.

Now, get on with it please, and answer the outstanding questions I perfectly properly asked you on 5th September 2012, in accordance with the law.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/th...

Yours faithfully,

Jim Otram

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Jim Otram left an annotation ()

Draft no.4, Final.

I had to discard the first three: too contemptuous and withering.

Jim Otram left an annotation ()

Now that my blood pressure has got down to about 'simmer', it is time to say thank you, John, for you annotation.

One way or another, the DWP has a load of admissions to make during 2013.

P V Sutton left an annotation ()

By 2013, the DWP will have a whole load of other issues.

Firstly, they might decide that the national "trial" will be declared over until they have "evaluated" take-up etc during 2012. And then deal with the fallout from that decision.

Secondly they may have to start answering questions about recording DLA now and PIP in the near future - especially since Capita say they will and Atos say that they won't.

They will - I hope - be facing questions about that legal advice that they have no right to prevent recording of the WCA at all. That presumably, irrespective of the permission of the HCP or the nature of the recording. They cannot, of course, prevent you from taking notes (though I gather that some Atos HCPs think that they can) so they should not be able to prevent audio recording. The remarks of violation of human rights being as true of audio recording as it is of taking notes - given equality legislation.

However, Mark Hoban is telling the same old (inaccurate) stories as Chris Grayling and Esther McVey clearly thinks that Maria Miller was too soft on the public and on the Select Committee, both of whom need putting in their place.

I'd like to think that they would also be facing pressure over the new PIP mobility criteria, but since cutting numbers was what the legislation was designed to do, we can hardly be surprised when that's what they did. Still, trying to slip it past Parliament when no one was looking may yet give them more trouble.

J Newman left an annotation ()

Shame, I would have quite liked to see the first draft.

It would of course help if DWP staffed this function with fully trained personnel that fully understands what they are doing, the law generally, FoI legislation in particular and last but not least customer service – with all due respect of course.
DWP also continues to misunderstand the difference between delegation & abdication. It is DWP’s responsibility to ensure its contactors act lawfully and there are clauses in the contract to this effect. If Atos breaks the law it places itself in breach of contact.

I wonder if DWP realises it is being monitored?

John Slater left an annotation ()

The NAO reports tells us that the DWP is not managing the Atos contract and that it is scared of upsetting Atos as it is one of its key strategic suppliers. I can’t help but wonder if Atos would be very happy not to renew the medical services contract!

I have raised two issues with the DWP regarding Atos breaking the law. The first is the lie it told regarding the contract not allowing it to postpone WCA due to recording and the second is that the Audio Recording Consent form breaks the law regarding companies including the registered company details (Atos Healthcare is a trading name of Atos Origin IT Services UK Ltd) on official documents.

The DWP response has been to ignore or claim I am wrong. I wonder what Atos would have to do to get the DWP to go after them? To be fair this is endemic in the public sector and regularly exploited by companies that know they can scare their customer into doing pretty much whatever they want.

DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Otram

Please see your FOI response attached

Kind regards

Health & Disability Assessments (Operations)/Department for Work and Pensions/Room 306/Block 31/Norcross/Norcross Lane/Blackpool/FY5 3TA

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DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Mr Otram

Please see attached reply to your Freedom of Information request

Many Thanks

Business Management Team | Department for Work and Pensions | Contracted Customer Services Directorate | DWP Operations | Room 306, Block 3, Norcross, Norcross Lane, Blackpool FY5 3TA | www.dwp.gov.uk | Please consider the environment before printing

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J Newman left an annotation ()

Given the evidence of DWP's subservience to Atos, I actually cannot imagine a scenario where DWP would 'pursue' them. Part of this is undoubtedly due to what Atos might leak about DWP if they were to break ranks.

John Slater left an annotation ()

It may also be related to the fact that Atos is one of a small number of key strategic contractors for the DWP (the DWP own words). Imagine the fallout if "Atos worked to rule" or decides it doesn't want to renew or bid for other contracts (e.g. PIP) then the DWP would be in big trouble.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'The perfect entitlement of claimants to audio-record WCAs'.

The perfect entitlement of claimants to audio-record WCAs

Your Reference: FOI IR891

Five months (less 5 days) later, you still have not answered my Q1, of, and as at, September 2012. To re-iterate:-
………………..

'…I enquire with regard to minister Grayling's statement to parliament today, with regard to ESA claimants and audio recording:-

" They are perfectly entitled to bring their own recording equipment to an assessment as long as it can record two copies of an assessment, because they need to be able to take one copy with them and leave the other behind."

I have a Dell laptop (and microphone) and standard off-the-shelf software which enables recording to hard disk and thence the production of two identical CDs (or DVDs) in an instant.

Under CURRENTLY RECORDED arrangements made by the DWP as regards WCAs, should a claimant wish to take an audio recording overtly:-

Q1 Is there any restriction on or impediment to the use of
equipment such as I have specified above? '
……………………

My question (Q1) as above was and remains a question regarding specific, and, as at September 2012, RECORDED, DWP policy; not one (as absurdly stated in your last response) regarding opinion.

Now get on and answer the question as orginally asked

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/th...

Yours faithfully,

Jim Otram

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.

By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 

If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
expect a response within 20 working days.

Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.

For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.

[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

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References

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1. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Mr Otram

Please see attached reply to your Freedom of Information request

Many Thanks

Business Management Team | Department for Work and Pensions | Contracted Customer Services Directorate | DWP Operations | Room 306, Block 3, Norcross, Norcross Lane, Blackpool FY5 3TA | www.dwp.gov.uk | Please consider the environment before printing

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Rick Sykes left an annotation ()

" In respect of your specific proposal of “I have a Dell laptop (and microphone) and standard off-the-shelf software which enables recording to hard disk and thence the production of two identical CDs (or DVDs) in an instant” I can confirm that the Department holds no recorded information on whether you may use this equipment at your assessment..."

Staggering, insulting, deceit.

To the ICO, then.

Jim Otram left an annotation ()

No other option.

John Slater left an annotation ()

The DWP admitted is has no policy that covers what it considers acceptable equipment (this is only opinion and not Law. The fact that it has no real guidance and that Atos makes the decision at its own discretion which we know is very different to what has been placed in the public domain (Ministerial statements etc) means the actions are totally unlawful (the UK Supreme Court found against the Home Secretary in Lumba v Secretary of State for the Home Department in a matter that related to published policy).

J Newman left an annotation ()

I am presumably allowed to take notes during my WCA. Unfortunately, my writing hand is injured so I'll have to use my mobile phone. What's so unreasonable about that?

John Slater left an annotation ()

John
You have hit the issue of complying with the Equality Act on the head. There will be plenty of people whose condition is such that taking notes or trying to remember is not possible.

The HCP remain an problems as the one doing my WCA was very aggressive towards the person with me who was taking notes. The HCP wanted to know what she was doing and why she was doing it. Unfortunately for the HCP she picked on the wrong person and was put in her place very quickly.

Sadly the only way this will get resolved is if someone is prepared to take it to a tribunal and then I suspect will need to take it further due to the Tribunal's inability to implement the law correctly.

David Alfred left an annotation ()

Any manager will know how hard it is to take minutes in a meeting whilst concentrating on procedings and making a worthwhile contribution and there is so much more "at stake" in a WCA.

Jim Otram left an annotation ()

(Absolutely agreed, D.A.) Re: laptops - now see yesterday's response to this query:-

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/d...

B. Adams left an annotation ()

There is no logic to their response.. on one hand they deny you a copy of your medical report at the assessment which you are entitled by law to see before any decision is made and on the other hand they impose unreasonable conditions on the recording of your own data.. Furthermore single recording is allowed for Jobseekers (as per their own guidance) but not for those with disabilities at a WCA..

This also seems to be at odds with guidance to the medical profession, even covertly done....see The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland which states .. “You might think that a patient would require your permission to record a consultation and that any recording made covertly was illegal. But this is not the case. When a patient seeks a consultation, the information being processed is almost exclusively relating to the patient. Under the Data Protection Act, that data is therefore personal to the patient. By recording it, that patient is merely viewed as processing their own data.”

This means the data is confidential to the patient but not to the doctor and there is no law against the patient doing with it as they please – including disclosing it to a third party or even posting it on the internet. Subject to forensic checks by IT experts to ensure no fakery is involved, such recordings could be used as evidence in both regulatory hearings and civil lawsuits”.

http://www.mddus.com/mddus/resource-libr...

jimmy3 left an annotation ()

Equality Act 2010 section 20 "Reasonable Adjustment"

The above law will aid a claimant in getting a recording made. However if you choose to make your own recording there is no law (Atos policy is not law, DWP policy is not law) to state that you cannot make that recording. You can make it without obtaining the consent of the HCP, but it's better to not let them know you are recording them.

In many articles DWP implies it's joined at the hip to the courts - this is NOT true. Record your assessment and if you feel it necessary, use it against Atos in court (although from October 2013 this will have to be after the Mandatory Reconsideration Before Appeal - feel free to provide a copy of it to the DWP too)

A good audio recording device here:
http://alturl.com/bufsx

adrian todd (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The only reason you banned GEOFF REYNOLDS is because he is finding the truth.........

This website is now a toothless poodle, a lapdog of the DWP.........