Verbal 'Feedback' to HCP

John Slater made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

I understand from someone who worked as an Atos HCP that a lot of information is imparted verbally as part of feedback from Atos Doctors during so-called reviews.

One example covers mental health. The Doctor stated categorically that “HCP must not accept panic attacks as a diagnosis, unless the patient uses the words ‘I feel like I am about to die’ when describing their attack to the HCP.

Obviously if an HCP has been instructed by an Atos Doctor not to accept a diagnosis they will not include it in their medical report and it will not form part of the evidence seen by the DWP Decision Maker and will no doubt be grounds for appeal (it is a very common complaint that the HCP did not document what the person being examined told them).

Given the frequent statements by the DWP that HCP are not concerned with diagnosis this is worrying as it is not the first time this behaviour has been reported. Could it be that the poor management of the Atos Contract highlighted by the NAO extends to not knowing the reality of the service being provided by Atos.

My request is as follows:

Are the HCP that carry out the so-called reviews of other HCP and provide ‘feedback’ to them privy to documents (guidance, instructions, etc) that other HCP do not have access to? If so please provide me with copies.

Is the process for providing verbal feedback to HCP documented or is it left to the opinion of the HCP providing the feedback to decide what is or is not appropriate? If it is documented please provide me with a copy.

If there is no formalised process for providing feedback to HCP during reviews how does the DWP ensure quality, consistency and accuracy across all of the HCP that carry out medical assessments? (for example one Atos Doctor might feedback completely different guidance about panic attacks based upon their personal opinion or bias and this means that claimant’s are not receiving the same WCA).

Is it accepted standard practice to impart information verbally to HCP that it not formally recorded within the training and guidance documentation accessible by HCP?
Are HCP that carry out reviews of HCP and provide ‘feedback’ expected to document what was said and agreed during the feedback sessions?

Yours faithfully,

John Slater

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

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J Newman left an annotation ()

I wager that there will be some reference to the privacy surrounding employment contracts, appraisal methods etc.

If DWP truly has the well-being of the patient as its top priority, it will have everything requested here readily available.

John Slater left an annotation ()

Given there is very compelling evidence from a number of people that used to work as HCP for Atos that this sort of thing goes on regularly during ‘reviews’ and ‘feedback’ the DWP answer could be telling. If it denies it happens it proves it hasn’t got a clue what its contractor is doing. If it accepts it goes on but doesn’t do anything to control it then it admits that it is happy for uncontrolled variability to be part of its WCA process (grounds for appeal?). If it does have control measures in place then it needs to release the information.

The only thing the DWP cares about is getting people off benefits and not getting the blame.

I’m sure the DWP will come up with some excuse. I suspect the answer will be along the lines of ‘we don’t hold the information requested’.

J Newman left an annotation ()

Absolutely!!!

DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Slater

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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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 'Verbal 'Feedback' to HCP'.

Thank you for providing the IQA Desk Aid. Unfortunately the document does not fully address my request. The 3 questions below remain unanswered and I would be grateful if the DWP complied with its statutory obligation and supplied the requested information.

Unanswered Q1
Are the HCP that carry out the so-called reviews of other HCP and provide ‘feedback’ to them
privy to documents (guidance, instructions, etc) that other HCP do not have access to? If so
please provide me with copies

Unanswered Q2
Is it accepted standard practice to impart information verbally to HCP that it not formally
recorded within the training and guidance documentation accessible by HCP?

The IQA Desk Aid is not clear regarding how comprehensively any feedback is documented. It states in sections 19.4 and 19.5 After Feedback:
“If feedback is given, (and the mentor will scale this according to the nature of the case,) the proceedings are entered on the Feedback Record (at Part 5).

The sections are self-explanatory. At the discretion of the mentor, the HCP may be asked to sign the record of the proceedings. It is certainly important to log the time taken for each action”

“Concluding summary: Once all feedback action is concluded, the summary is completed and AST enter all relevant data on the system. The paper copies are kept for the relevant period of time as a record of the overall transaction, and the resources expended.”

Unanswered Q3
Are HCP that carry out reviews of HCP and provide ‘feedback’ expected to document what was said and agreed during the feedback sessions? To clarify my request are people that provide feedback expected to comprehensively document the feedback given or are they allowed to just produce a summary that may not include all advice and instructions provided to the HCP?

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

Yours faithfully,

John Slater

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...

show quoted sections

References

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

DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Slater

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

J Newman left an annotation ()

In my experience, personal "reviews" of ANY kind are comprehensively documented and signed by both parties as a full and accurate record is important. This therefore looks very much like "don't record so you don't have to disclose".

John Slater left an annotation ()

My experience matches yours. It certainly appears that the process allows the personal bias of Doctors to be imposed on junior HCP without it being recorded. The stories of HCP that have left Atos appear to support this. I think that this is all good fodder for appealing decisions as the DWP has absolutely no knowledge or control over what HCP are told to do. It is therefore unable to prove that every WCA is carried out consistently and using the same rules/tests.

I have to re-read the information provided to see if this answer is compatible with it.

The more detail that comes out the more obvious it becomes that this test is so fatally flawed that it must surely be regarded as being in intensive care on life support. If only the politicians had the b*lls to turn it off and put it out of its misery.

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.