Tribunal Bias

GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

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GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended)

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,
With regard to HMCTs Tribunals, namely claimant versus DWP (arising from scoring of ATOS MEDICAL EXAMINATION)and subsequent sanction of benefits.

The DWP have quoted that the Medical Services Contract specifies that all medical advice should be fair and impartial. HCPs are required to produce a report, which states their own clinical opinion of the effects of a claimants illness.

1/ Will the aforementioned report be the personal opinion of the HCP,or a BIOPSYCHOSOCIAL LIMA software printout in tandem with the HCPs opinion?

2/ Will the report be an identical copy of the original report submitted by ATOS to the DWP or will it be an extension to the original using hindsight to formulate it?

3/ Given that the HCP has not seen the claimant for up to a year, whilst awaiting the tribunal, will the memory of the HCP suffice to formulate an additional medical report, should it be requested by the panel?

4/ Will the extreme knowledge of the HCP be able to predict any changes to the claimant, be it physical or mental, that have manifested themselves since the original examination took place?

5/ Can the HCP be expected to factor in any changes to the claimant due to the ingestion of drugs, use of creams or topical steroids or the inclusion of medical aids or apparatus?

6/ Given that the tribunal is already using the services of an ATOS HCP, funded by the DWP, how can the tribunal be seen to be fair or impartial?

7/ Is there a provision in place where the claimant can sack the tribunal because either, he/she and their representative, declare the construction to be biased and unfair?

8/ In the event of a panel being found to be biased, prior to the commencement of the hearing, can the claimant demand a fair hearing or would they be compelled to go ahead, knowing the outcome would almost certainly be tainted to the advantage of the panel?

9/ May the claimant request that the hearing be recorded, either visually, audibly or both?

10/ If recording is allowed, would the courts give sufficient time for the claimant to request it.

11/ Should the request not be met, can the claimant claim their request has not been catered for, and void the hearing?

Yours faithfully,
GEOFFREY REYNOLDS

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GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

fair
/fe(ə)r/
Adjective
In accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate.
Adverb
Without cheating or trying to achieve unjust advantage: "he played fair".
Noun
A gathering of stalls and amusements for public entertainment.
Verb
Streamline (a vehicle, boat, or aircraft) by adding fairings.
Synonyms
adjective. just - equitable - honest - fine - beautiful - clear
adverb. square - fairly - straight - honestly
noun. market - exposition

GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

im·par·tial
/imˈpärSHəl/
Adjective
Treating all rivals or disputants equally; fair and just.
Synonyms
unbiased - even-handed - equitable - fair - dispassionate

GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

in·de·pend·ent
/ˌindəˈpendənt/
Adjective
Free from outside control; not depending on another's authority.
Noun
An independent person or body.
Synonyms
free - substantive - self-contained - self-sufficient

B. Adams left an annotation ()

I would agree with you on this one Goeffrey.. Even if the tribunal members are recussed re bias, there is also no chance of getting a fair hearing when DWP legislation is allowed to interfere with the tribunals independence.. Not only is the DWP Decision Maker not independent or impartial by the fact that they make the policy and then make the decisions and are not to be seen as impartial for the purposes of article 6 (see Alconbury etc..) This can be rectified by subsequent control by a judicial body which has full jurisdiction and does provide the guarantees of article 6(1). however"this doesn't happen and is compounded by the DWP legislative interference in the judiciary (tribunals).. Re Institutional Bias

"Central to the rule of law in a modern democratic society is the principle that the judiciary must be, and must be seen to be, independent of the executive." The principle of the separation of powers is the cornerstone of an independent and impartial justice system. Structural independence of the tribunals include legal guarantees that allows the tribunal to operate at arms length from the executive, the terms of appointments of members and administrative independence from the primary decision making agency.

The Social Security Act 1998, Schedule 6, Transitory provisions does the opposite, it dictates upon the constitution of appeal tribunals, how the appeals to tribunals are to be carried out and how the President of appeal tribunals is appointed under section 5 of that Act”. Sections12 to 20 of the Social Security Act gives statutory obligations, i.e. procedural instructions and directions on how the tribunals must carry out their functions, the procedures when there is an appeal and also as to their obligations regarding who they must use for medical examinations (if the tribunals wish to use them in the appeal) and consequently the type of medical evidence to use. The DWP even pays for it...

J Newman left an annotation ()

Many definitions of “independent” specifically rule out any financial connection for obvious reasons. This is particularly relevant to the Atos Independent Tier and even the illustrious Professor Harrington et al.

Also, I think it safe to assume that Chris Grayling's move to the Justice Dept was so that he could nobble its procedures as he did in DWP.

DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Reynolds

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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GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

22 March 2013

Dear Mr Reynolds
Freedom of Information Act – Request for Information
Our Reference: FOI 0931

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request which we received on 26 February 2013.

You asked:
With regard to HMCTs Tribunals, namely claimant versus DWP (arising from scoring of ATOS
MEDICAL EXAMINATION) and subsequent sanction of benefits.

The DWP have quoted that the Medical Services Contract specifies that all medical advice
should be fair and impartial. HCPs are required to produce a report, which states their own
clinical opinion of the effects of a claimants illness.

1. Will the aforementioned report be the personal opinion of the HCP,or a
BIOPSYCHOSOCIAL LIMA software printout in tandem with the HCPs opinion?
2. Will the report be an identical copy of the original report submitted by ATOS to the DWP
or will it be an extension to the original using hindsight to formulate it?
3. Given that the HCP has not seen the claimant for up to a year, whilst awaiting the
tribunal, will the memory of the HCP suffice to formulate an additional medical report,
should it be requested by the panel?
4. Will the extreme knowledge of the HCP be able to predict any changes to the claimant, be
it physical or mental, that have manifested themselves since the original examination took
place?
5. Can the HCP be expected to factor in any changes to the claimant due to the ingestion of
drugs, use of creams or topical steroids or the inclusion of medical aids or apparatus?
6. Given that the tribunal is already using the services of an ATOS HCP, funded by the
DWP, how can the tribunal be seen to be fair or impartial?
7. Is there a provision in place where the claimant can sack the tribunal because either,
he/she and their representative, declare the construction to be biased and unfair?
8. In the event of a panel being found to be biased, prior to the commencement of the
hearing, can the claimant demand a fair hearing or would they be compelled to go ahead,
knowing the outcome would almost certainly be tainted to the advantage of the panel?
9. May the claimant request that the hearing be recorded, either visually, audibly or both?
10. If recording is allowed, would the courts give sufficient time for the claimant to request it.
11. Should the request not be met, can the claimant claim their request has not been catered
for, and void the hearing?

In reply to Q 1 & 2 the Logic Integrated Medical Assessment (LiMA) system provides Healthcare
Professionals (HCP) with a system of data entry that minimises typing. This is known as
‘assisted text control’ and allows information to be quickly and easily added to a report.
‘Standard phrases’ consist of sentences that users can customise by altering variables. Their
use is never mandated and the option of ‘free text’ (where the user types into the report) is
always available. Therefore, the report that is produced should always be an accurate reflection
of the assessment. LiMA only provides the medical assessment report.

Emphasis is always placed on the differing circumstances of each individual claimant and HCPs
are required to justify their medical opinion contained on the medical report. This has
contributed to an improvement in the quality and consistency of medical advice provided by
Medical Services HCPs.

There is a wide range of customisable phrases in LiMA which are regularly updated and no
external list is available. However, as outlined above, there are no constraints placed on the
HCP as to what information is recorded or how.

To provide an example the phrase ‘The condition started several months ago’ is constructed by
the LiMA system as follows:
 The user is presented with the Standard phrase - The condition started
 The system will them prompt the user to select the appropriate option i.e. a few,
several, many or Since age (x) or from birth.
 If the user has selected few, several, many the system will then prompt the user to
select the appropriate option i.e. days, weeks, months, years.

The medical assessment report (ESA 85) is completed at the time of the Work Capability
Assessment (WCA); this form is then used by the DW Decision Maker (DM) to make a decision
on benefit entitlement, and would be referred as part of the Appeals process to the Tribunal
Service.

The information obtained by the assessing HCP during the WCA regarding a claimant’s typical
day is automatically transferred to the appropriate areas of the report.

In response to Qs 3, 4 & 5 when a claimant makes an appeal against the decision made by the
DWP DM, DWP will always fully reconsiders its original decision before responding to the
appeal. However it is not an automatic requirement that the HCP will be contacted by either
DWP or the Tribunal Service prior to the Appeal being heard.

If discrepancies exist between the original medical assessment report, and the other available
medical evidence then it is possible the matter will referred back to HCP, this would occur after
consideration of the HCP’s justification statement – form ESA 85S.

The WCA is a functional assessment - it is not based on someone's diagnosis or health
condition but on their functional capability. It is based on the principle that a health condition or
disability should not automatically be regarded as a barrier to work and aims to identify whether
and individual, with the right support, could prepare for a return to suitable work.
The WCA is designed to recognise fluctuating conditions - rather than being a 'snap shot,' it
looks at capability most of the time: if someone is unable to do something reliably, repeatedly
and safely they are considered unable to do it at all.

In answer to Q 6 since April 2006, responsibility for administering appeals against decisions on
benefit entitlement lies with Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service, which is an Executive
Agency of the Ministry of Justice. There are no incentives for HCPs, DMs, nor the Appeal
Tribunal to discriminate against individuals, they are all required to make decisions fairly and
impartially based on the application of the law to the facts of the individual case.

In reply to Qs 7, 8, 9, 10 & 11 is not held by DWP, information regarding appeals is the
responsibility of the Tribunal Service, part of the Ministry of Justice. You should contact them
directly at: Data Access and Compliance Unit, Information Directorate, Ministry of Justice, 1st
Floor, Zone C, 102 Petty France, London SW1H 9AJ

Yours sincerely

Business Management Team
Health & Disability Assessments (Operations)

[email address]

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GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended)

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 'Tribunal Bias'.

Given that you have not answered one question that i have asked, i would like an internal review.

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

Yours faithfully,

GEOFFREY REYNOLDS

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

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
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Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
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J Newman left an annotation ()

As I understand it, the ESA85 is the only document sent from Atos to DWP to report the outcome & recommendations from a WCA and it is never formally amended and reproduced, which would of course raise issues over version control etc. If however a DM reverts to a HCP for ‘clarification’, it would be interesting to know how the dialogue is logged for ‘audit purposes’.

On the general point of independence, note too that the Independent Case Examiner's office is actually part of DWP, which is not altogether apparent from its website. Amongst other things, this allows personal information to flow back and forth without DPA limitations.

In my world, the purpose of an audit trail through the decision making process is to ensure there is consistency & no lack of impropriety – two individuals armed with identical data trained to follow the same thought processes would arrive at exactly the same answer. If they do not, the interpretation is that there is something wrong with the process or the training as the resulting variablity is unacceptable.

The ICE has stated however that it believes that DWP decision making is so inevitably reliant on DM opinion and interpretation that this level of consistency should not be expected and there is nothing inherently wrong or suspicious about different DMs (or indeed the TS) arriving at different conclusions from the same information. In essence therefore its decisions are never wrong as they reflect no more than an opinion – so there can be no associated accountability for making errors, because there are no errors. Having cake & eating it too?

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Here is a detailed account of one person's experience of the DWP's complaints process. It includes a report by the Independent Complaint's Commissioner.

http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatoslet...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Oops! I meant Independent Case Examiner.

J Newman left an annotation ()

Thanks J, but I don’t know when I’ll get the time to work through all of the material on your link. Is there a short summary?

Somewhere there is a DWP dictionary containing its own modified definitions of certain words, “independence” being one of them as in both ICE & IT(ier)

J Roberts left an annotation ()

J,

I'll try a short summary. First, I think the word "Independent" is misleading. If a government department wanted to set up a system for dealing with complaints with the appearance of independence this would be a good way of doing it!

Basically, a man with a brain tumour who takes all manner of medication was found by ATOS to have limited capability for work. He spent years complaining only to be told by a DWP hired-gun that the DWP and ATOS were right all along. During the investigation of the complaint the hired gun asked complainant to detail all the harm caused so that he had a bigger target to fire at.

J Newman left an annotation ()

Thanks. I am hoping that the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman better understands what the word means.

GEOFFREY REYNOLDS (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,
My questions relate to the proposed food vouchers that will be
made available instead of cash.

1/ Will the food voucher entitle the holder to a two course or
three course meal?

2/ Should a tuxedo or formal evening attire be used?

3/ Will the soup or gruel be of a consistency to be placed in a
begging bowl?

4/ Will the voucher entitle the bearer to a varied diet, ie;
is the menu changed regularly?

5/ Could a poor family share one voucher and save the remaining
vouchers as a treat for a weekend feast?

6/ Are knives and forks necessary or could the contents be decanted
into one bowl?

7/ Have the food vouchers been trialled at Westminster in any of
the taxpayer subsidised restaurants?

8/ Will the food vouchers be redeemable at participating
restaurants in either the commons or lords?

9/ Have ATOS HCPs tested the food available from the vouchers to
see if it is worthy of sustaining life?

10/ Are the vouchers edible, in the unforseen event food is not
available?

11/ Would sanctions be used against any poor person who turns to
cannibalism in the event the scheme fails?

12/ Does the DWP intend to keep a league table of satisfied
customers or will they just die, as they do at present?

13/ Will the holder of any unredeemed food vouchers be able to
convert them to cash after this policy of demonising the poor
collapses?

Yours faithfully, GEOFFREY REYNOLDS

DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Reynolds

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

show quoted sections

William Hammonds left an annotation ()

Use whatever you like to make a record of your audible presentation.
Atos HCP can misrepresent a client in all wca reports.
The only way to put a stop to this is to have an audio recording made of the wca.
Atos will offer to supply the audio equipment. When you arrive at your wca they will ask you to sign a waiver which states that you will not use the recording for any other purpose than to assist your claim. After all, the recording will belong to them and they can decide what a copy can be used for.
If you have a wca booked you can take your own recording equipment as long as you give formal notice that you intend to record.It could go like this "I hereby give formal notice of intent to make audio recording of my audible presentation during wca on (date) at (address). This recording will include audio recording of any other person attending wca and will be used for any porpose including but not limited to private prosecutions of hcp"
You do not need permission to give notice. Just push it in front of the hcp, and go ahead and record with whatever you feel would be admissible in court.
This will make the recording yours, and you can use it to prosecute the HCP privately. The Hcp can not hide behind the corporation when accused of misrepresentation which has caused loss or harm.
Small claims courts were designed to simplify claims, and I can assure you that you will be surprised at how easy it can be to prosecute. One step above small claims courts are fast track courts. These courts are also a breeze. Try visiting any of these courts and ask an official how to make a claim, they will gladly help you as it is in their interest to have the business.