WCA Audio recordings (2)

J Newman made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

As I am sure you are aware, the interest in this facility was borne out the fact that many claimants felt that Atos HCPs do not always accurately record the content of a WCA. The ultimate aim is simply to improve right-first-time decision making. Chris Grayling has stated that this facility is now available.

Although, I have two outstanding requests relating the this project, they do not include the questions below which have arisen from information that has only recently become available.

1) At TODAY’S date:

a. How many assessment centres are in operation?

b. How many assessment centres are fully equipped to undertake these recordings, i.e. have the requisite equipment permanently on site and the enough staff fully trained to ensure that all WCAs could be recorded if required?

c. If your plan is not to provide 100% cover in case it is required, what proportion have you decide upon and on what basis? How will you deal with the "excess" as and when it arises?

d. How many recording machines are in use across the network?

2) If Atos cannot comply with a recording request from a claimant and the date has to be rearranged, to whom will the postponement be attributed – Atos or claimant?

3) It is obviously important to track progress and value for money with this exercise. What measurement parameters have you established to ensure an accurate and objective evaluation can be performed and when is the first review scheduled? - clearly no point in continuing if it is not delivering objectives.

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

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

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been received at the DWP Central FoI Team.

We will forward your request to the relevant information owner within the
Department who will respond to you direct. 

Should you also 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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Jim Otram left an annotation ()

I see where you coming from with this one, John, and I like the 'today's date' touch.

One almost dares hope the DWP could, just possibly, find itself obliged to provide some straightforward factual answers ( - or is it going, outrageously, to pretend it doesn't know?)

J Newman left an annotation ()

It is so annoying knowing that even if you are absolutely specific about what you'd like to know you still only have a 50/50 chance of success. I think with this one they have passed the point of no return and any admission at this relatively late stage would expose the lies/ineptitude of the past, so they will brazen it out to the bitter end, whatever that might be - unseated at the next election, the UK's first tsunami or my ultimate demise, which ever comes first.

I would dearly love to get through to Prof Harrington himself, but he is quite well protected. He has a lot to answer for.

If you have the time, good report at http://www.oxfamblogs.org/ukpovertypost/...
with some additional thoughts at http://tia-junior.blogspot.com/2012/03/i...

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 'WCA Audio recordings (2)'.

It is now 20 days old and you have not explained why there is a delay given the information requested is very straightforward.

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

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

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

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been received at the DWP Central FoI Team.

We will forward your request to the relevant information owner within the
Department who will respond to you direct. 

Should you also 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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Jim Otram left an annotation ()

Yet another entirely valid request thas that has gone into the 'too difficult pile', John.

It looks like ALL requests on this subject will have to be referred to the ICO, at the earliest opportunity

Only when the political emabarrssment of the (nicely- publishable) collected refusals of the DWP to provide, as you say, such staightforward information, surmounts the political emabarrssment of revealing the information sought, will the DWP actually comply with statute (quoth he).

J Newman left an annotation ()

Sadly Jim, DWP has already demonstrated that it has lost all of the characteristics of which its service charters so proudly boast. It is not easily embarrassed and clearly has no sense of shame. ICO & ICE are all that is left - I hope they are bracing themselves.

Jim Otram left an annotation ()

I am sure that John will already have picked up Grayling's fautuous parliamentary written answer yesterday, but for the benefit of any other Enquirers here 'tis:-
http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=...

I think the absolutely simple, point blank question at 1.d, (09 03 12) in this inquiry, is likely to prove a source of considerable embarrassment to the DWP (eventually).

J Newman left an annotation ()

I have emailed Mr Ruane, briefly explained the true picture and pointed him in this direction. I hope he is suffiently interested to take up the challenge.

Jim Otram left an annotation ()

I note that the DWP has answered Paul Smith's quite similar request ahead of this earlier one of yours, John.

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/au...

I take a flying guess that this would be because the responses to yours would be even more embarrassing for them. In view of the pitiful number of (currently) available recording devices, the point you ask about to whom any delay will be attributed becomes even more crucial.

Seems to me the DWP aren't so much managing this issue as watching a 'slo mo train crash' of their own making.

J Newman left an annotation ()

The "marketing" is undoubtedly intended to supress demand, but I'm sure word will get round quickly - another good example of the sympathetic support Grayling promises.

If they don't warn people there is a lead time, they cannot possibly blame anyone other than themselves for any delays caused by not complying with it. If this causes slippage beyond 13 weeks, they have to upgrade ESA from assessment rate, so there will be a very direct cost. I wonder how soon it will be before the Atos appointment letter extends the offer?

I also wonder how long it will take DWP to address the questions raised in the Atos Trial Report?

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

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman,

Please see the DWP's response to your internal review request.

Kind regards
Central FoI Team

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Jim Otram left an annotation ()

There must be a section of the FoI Act I can't find.

It reads something like, "Notwithstanding any other provision herein enacted if the public authority questioned happens to be comprised of donkeys led by mules it can make up the rules as it goes along".

Each time I look, I can't spot it in the statute, though. Losing my touch, I guess.

Still, you got a 'next week' out of them, John, at last, and I know there are many claimants who want to see some clear answers to the questions you have raised.

Dear DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request,

This might be acceptable if DWP offered the information freely rather than waiting until an IR has been raised. The law makes no provision for any of the excuses listed. If indeed the problem arose a FULL 6 MONTHS AGO, one would reasonably have expected a half-decent management team to have sorted it out by now.

Rightly or wrongly, this "project" is of great interest to very many people who have suffered wrongly at the hands of an Atos HCP and DWP's inability to answer even the most basic of questions resulting from a trial completed 12 months ago simply shows the disdain with which they regard their so-called customers.

Yours sincerely,

J Newman

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

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been received at the DWP Central FoI Team.

We will forward your request to the relevant information owner within the
Department who will respond to you direct. 

Should you also 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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Dear DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request,

PS

What DWP cannot realise is that the disingenuous and dishonest way it is approaching many aspects of its Welfare Reform programme is precisely what causes this increased workload – they have simply lost our trust & their own integrity.

Yours sincerely,

J Newman

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

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been received at the DWP Central FoI Team.

We will forward your request to the relevant information owner within the
Department who will respond to you direct. 

Should you also 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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Jim Otram left an annotation ()

"Enquiries are currently being made to obtain the information that you require and it is expected that a response to your request will be issued by 18 May 2012."

Well, as at 5.15pm...

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 'WCA Audio recordings (2)'.

It is now past CoB on 18th May and still nothing. With both DWP & Atos bragging that this has been fully implemented, why is it so hard to answer a few simple questions?

It looks like someone is not exactly telling the truth.

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

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

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

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been received at the DWP Central FoI Team.

We will forward your request to the relevant information owner within the
Department who will respond to you direct. 

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

1 Attachment

Our Ref: VTR 3013-1090

Dear J Newman,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request that was received by
the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Adelphi on 9 March 2012 and
forwarded on 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:-

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

As I am sure you are aware, the interest in this facility was borne out
the fact that many claimants felt that Atos HCPs do not always
accurately record the content of a WCA. The ultimate aim is simply to
improve right-first-time decision making. Chris Grayling has stated that
this facility is now available.

Although, I have two outstanding requests relating the this project,
they do not include the questions below which have arisen from
information that has only recently become available.

1. At TODAY'S date:
a. How many assessment centres are in operation?
b. How many assessment centres are fully equipped to undertake
these recordings, i.e. have the requisite equipment permanently on site
and the enough staff fully trained to ensure that all WCAs could be
recorded if required?
c. If your plan is not to provide 100% cover in case it is
required, what proportion have you decide upon and on what basis? How
will you deal with the "excess" as and when it arises?
d. How many recording machines are in use across the network?
2. If Atos cannot comply with a recording request from a claimant
and the date has to be rearranged, to whom will the postponement be
attributed - Atos or claimant?
3. It is obviously important to track progress and value for money
with this exercise. What measurement parameters have you established to
ensure an accurate and objective evaluation can be performed and when is
the first review scheduled? - clearly no point in continuing if it is
not delivering objectives.

Firstly may I apologise for the delay in responding to you request.

In answer to Q 1a under section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act
(FoI), we are not required to provide information which is already
reasonably accessible to you. The information you requested is available
on the Atos Healthcare website, which in the interests of customer
service I attach a weblink
http://www.atoshealthcare.com/UserFiles/...
Assessment%20Centre%20Location%20List_July%202011.pdf this provides you
with access to addresses of all the Medical Assessment Centres (MAC)
that are used by Atos Healthcare to conduct medical assessments.

If you do not have access to the Internet at home, you may be able to
use facilities at your local public library.

With regard to Qs 1b & 1c no specific MAC has been permanently fitted
with or currently holds recording equipment on site.

The Minister has informed the House of Commons: "we will offer everyone
who wants it the opportunity to have their session recorded. We decided
not to implement universal recording because, based on the trial
experience, people did not want it. Few people wanted their sessions
recorded, and some said that they definitely did not. We decided
therefore to offer recording as an option to those who want it". (Source
Hansard)

Atos Healthcare will offer to undertake the recording of a Work
Capability Assessment (WCA) where a claimant enquires about recording
their WCA. The process for the claimant will be to contact the Atos
Healthcare Contact Centre to make a request for a recording to be made
of the WCA. Atos will then timetable an appointment so as to ensure the
necessary equipment and suitably trained staff are available for the
appointment. Atos Healthcare will respond to all requests.

The Department comment on speculation of "excess " as and when it
arises. The FoIA is not about creating information, entering a debate on
the meaning or definition of phrases used or educating the requestor on
what things mean or enter into speculation, and therefore this part of
your question cannot be classified as being related to the FoIA.

In reply to Q 1d there are 11 recording machines in use across the MACs

In answer to Q 2 if a claimant is unable to attend their WCA because
Atos Healthcare are unable to comply with the request the postponement
will not be attributed to the claimant.

In response to Q 3 evaluation and Value For Money is part of the
performance management of the Department's contract with Atos
Healthcare. I have attached a copy of a document of how Procurement
Value for Money is measured in DWP.

Following the end of the recording pilot Atos have been asked to provide
an audio recording service to those that request it and to monitor the
volume of requests received. The Department will undertake further
evaluation of this service over a 6 month period and criteria are being
discussed. An outcome report is expected at earliest in January 2013.

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, Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW1H
9NA. 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

show quoted sections

Dear DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request,

1) This request was raised on 9th March. Your response is dated 14th June, 3 months later. It contains nothing new. I would therefore like to know why the statutory time limit of 20 days was exceeded to such a large degree.

2) Within your KPI monitoring has this request be categorised as a failure to comply within 20 days?

3)What is the source of your attached extract “Procurement Value for Money Measurement1.doc”

Yours sincerely,

J Newman

DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, 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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Jim Otram left an annotation ()

Finely persisted, John.

Many useful points extracted from the DWP here, albeit disgarcefully late and squirmimg all the way.

Still only the 11 recording devices for over 140 medical assessments centres, eh? In fact, given the reports I have been reading elswhere about some of these being reported as 'broken', that may be an overstatement. How patently, utterly, absurd.

And thanks, in particular, for making the DWP spell out that Atos CANNOT try to penalise claimants for its own inabilty to meet demand for recorded assessments. That nasty little habit can now be firmly counted as dead and buried.

J Newman left an annotation ()

There is of course still every reason to believe that within a few months the facility will be abandoned on the basis of the heavily manipulated “insufficient demand”. This is why the project plan under which the ongoing work is proceeding is important as its inclusions and omissions will show without any remaining doubt where true motivations and intentions lie.

It will also be interesting to see how comprehensive the IA is – all of the others I have seen have been incomplete by choosing to ignore the risks that might create bad press – health deterioration as a result of an erroneous WCA being the most disgraceful ommission. One of the inevitable risks here is ever increasing WCA delays due to equipment not being available which has a very direct cost as after 13 weeks the assessment rate should be increased to WRAG rate whether the WCA has taken place of not. It must also have given rise to additional costs in Atos (capital and revenue) and it would be interesting to know what they are and who precisely is paying (I think we can reliably guess the answer to this).

It is of course sad that DWP has still missed the main point over why this is needed at all – i.e. justified mistrust born out of demonstrable deception – yet another case or poor diagnostics resulting in treating symptoms not causes.

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

Our Ref: FOI 3341-IR338

Dear Mr Newman,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request that was received by
the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Adelphi on 18 May 2012 and
forwarded on 21 May 2012 for response by DWP Medical Services Contracts
Correspondence Team (MSCCT) Internal Reviewing Officer.

In your email you asked to be provided with information answering the
following questions:-

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 'WCA Audio recordings
(2)'.

It is now past CoB on 18th May and still nothing. With both DWP &
Atos bragging that this has been fully implemented, why is it so
hard to answer a few simple questions?

It looks like someone is not exactly telling the truth.

As Reviewing Officer, I have read your email and accepted this as a
request for an Internal Review in order to assess if there was a delay
in providing you with the information you requested. I have therefore
conducted a full investigation into your FOI request reference FOI
3157-IR222, an Internal Review request regarding your original request
received on 09 March 2012 (reference FOI 3013-1090).

The Freedom of Information (FoI) Act allows 20 working days from date of
receipt of the request in which to respond. MSCCT endeavour to answer
promptly and no later than the 20 day deadline, unless the deadline is
extended to consider if an exemption applies.

The response of the Internal Reviewing Officer dated 10 May 2012
(reference FOI 3157-IR222) explained that enquiries were being made to
obtain the information that you required and it was expected that a
response to your original request would be issued by 18 May 2012. The
Freedom of Information Officer's response (reference FOI 3013-1090) was
issued on 14 June 2012.

The 20 working day deadline for your Internal Review request was 10 May
2012 and I note that the response was issued to you via the What Do They
Know website on 10 May 2012. I am therefore satisfied that the response
was correct.

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

show quoted sections

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 'WCA Audio recordings (2)'.

Excuse me . . . . a straightforward request based on a statement made in Parliament takes over 3 months to answer and you find nothing wrong . . . . . . . I think you do not understand FoI legislation in which you are required by law to respond one way or another within 20 days. You did not. Please make sure this IRR is dealt with by a member of staff who understands the law.

The diary of events is as follows:
• Request made 9th March.
• First IRR raised 11th April in the absence of any response at all.
• IR222 dated 10th May (in response to my IRR dated 11th April) apologises for the delay, but does not uphold the complaint. It promised a response by 18th May.
• On 13th May I pointed out to you that the law expects you to manage fluctuating workload, particularly when the problem evidently arose 6 months previously. You acknowledged receipt.
• No reply had been issued by CoB on 18th May, so I raised a further IRR which you acknowledged.
• Eventually on 14th June you issued response 1090 to which I replied on 16th June requesting clarification.
• IRR 338 in response to my IRR on 18th May published.

The matters STILL outstanding are:

• IR222 related to my IRR raised on 11th April and does not formally uphold the original complaint. It should. Please confirm that this has been logged as a service failure.
• I have had no response to my message of 13th May. Why?
• IR338 does not address my IRR raised on 18th May. You had promised a result by this date and you failed. You didn’t just fail by a few days, you failed by a whole month – to the 14th June. Please explain why and confirm that this represents a second service failure.

Please phrase you response to this clearly as I will be referring it to the ICO due to these unacceptable delays.

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

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

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

1 Attachment

Dear J Newman

Please see attached response to your FoI request.

Kind regards

DWP Central FoI Team

show quoted sections

Dear DWP freedom-of-information-requests,

I had hoped only one more response would see this at an end, but this latest one does not cover my IRR dated 26th June.

Surely this is not the most efficient way to deal with requests?

Yours sincerely,

J Newman

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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DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman

Please find enclosed an update to your request for information under the
Freedom of Information Act.

<<3490-IR413 update.pdf>>

Kind regards

Medical Services Contract Correspondence Unit, Department for Work and
Pensions, Room 306, Block 3, Norcross, Norcross Lane, Blackpool, FY5 3TA
Tel 01253 611556, extn 69956

Please consider the environment before printing

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DWP DWP Medical Services Correspondence, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman

Please find enclosed a response to your request for a review of the
information previously supplied   under the Freedom of Information Act by
the Medical Services Contract Correspondence Team Freedom of Information
Internal Review Officer, who apologises for the delay in providing you
with a response.

<<IR413 Mr Newman Response.pdf>>

Kind regards

Medical Services Contract Correspondence Unit, Department for Work and
Pensions, Room 306, Block 3, Norcross, Norcross Lane, Blackpool, FY5 3TA
Tel 01253 611556, extn 69956

Please consider the environment before printing

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