Who Decides if I can work or not

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

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The request was partially successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

At my last visit to Atos, the HCP was quite clear that she was only performing a medical assessment and the WCA is performed by a DWP Decision Maker. The WCA then dictates whether or not ESA is paid and at what level. However, DWP015 (http://www.direct.gov.uk/prod_consum_dg/... ) states, “The medical assessment may find that you are able to work”, which means the Atos HCP determines capability to work.
Please clarify who actually decides whether or not I am able to work as it is this that determines ESA payments– Atos HCP or DWP Decision Maker? This is important due to the large error rate discovered at tribunal, often based on EXACTLY the same information that was available to both the DM and HCP – they may have additional information in some cases, but not always.

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

Department for Work and Pensions

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

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

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Dear J Newman

Please see attached response to your FoI request 3353

Kind regards

DWP Central FoI Team

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Dear DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request,

I am sorry, but I am still confused:

Claimants are told to take all relevant information to a WCA for the Atos HCP to consider. The HCP also has the ESA50. To do their job correctly and make a sound recommendation through the ESA85, the HCP has to take account of this information in the way they conduct the WCA and make their final recommendation over fit to work or not. There is therefore nothing additional for a DM to consider as the ESA "decision" has already been made as it directly relates to fit to work or not.

If this is not the case, the DM is potentially left with various possibly conflicting medical information that they are not qualified (as they are not medically trained) to judge. If they then make a decision that someone it fit to work, against medical opinion, they become directly culpable for any consequences in the same way as doctors can be held liable for their mistakes. They cannot have the authority without the corresponding accountability.

Q1: Who decides I am fit to work - DM or HCP? I understand that the DM makes the subsequent ESA decision.

Q2: If through the WCA I am forced back to work and my health suffers, who is accountable?

Yours sincerely,

J Newman

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

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Dear DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request,

Can you please tell me the reason for the delay? Are you waiting on someone? Snowed under?

Yours sincerely,

J Newman

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

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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
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Mr Taylor left an annotation ()

Why was your wheelchair use request removed from the website J Newman?

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

J Newman left an annotation ()

Please call me John. I had an email from the adminstrators of the site saying it was not FoI material, so they took it down. Prompted by DWP perhaps? I'll pursue it another way, because I still want the answer.

Mr Taylor left an annotation ()

Well John this is the first time I have seen a request removed like this from this website, usually they make people jump through hoops to even remove a couple of words from the site. It would be very interesting to know how often they have done this before. Does this set a precedent? I see it as a question of integrity as they are asking for donations.
Usually, as I understand it, if a request is made for information pertaining to you personally the authority will respond advising that you should request it under the DPA. So why the need to remove all trace of the request? I copied it from the cache when I saw it was gone.
Do you intend to try requesting the information again in a generic form, without asking questions about you personally?

J Newman left an annotation ()

You know how evasive these chaps can be, so requests get longer as you try to anticipate and plug the gaps they will use. The question was general, but I'd used my own situation as an illustration only.

Have tried again already with http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/wh...
They have now placed me in a support group so my appeal is scratched, but I still have the wheelchair dilemma – an HCP & DM who feel I’d be better off with one, a GP & surgeon who don’t agree. I want them to tell me how to deal with this. If they want to take authority over certain aspects of my health, they have to accept the accountability that goes with it, which DMs have certainly evaded so far.

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

1 Attachment

Dear J Newman

Please see attached response to your FoI request 3738

Kind regards

DWP Central FoI Team

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Mr Taylor left an annotation ()

It appears that the HCP doesn't take the decision but tells the DM what decision to take based on the brief given to Atos by the DWP.

"The WCA focuses on the functional effects of an individual’s condition rather than the condition itself and provides a ?? COMPREHENSIVE AND ACCURATE ASSESSMENT OF AN INDIVIDUALS ABILITY TO WORK ??, taking into account the modern workplace."

(If the WCA is comprehensive and accurate why are 40% of cases overturned on appeal to Tribunal??)

J Newman left an annotation ()

Whoever does what and qualifications aside, this is a job for medically trained people, NOT administators. But a private sector company cannot be seen to be making benefit decisions and DWP has no medics, so they have to make up a job with an untenable job spec to maintain the illusion. It adds nothing other than cost.

Dear DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request,

Q1: As I pointed out on my previous note, I know the DM makes the ESA decision, but my question was who decides if I am fit to work?

Also, all the "further" evidence you describe would have been available to the Atos HCP who should have reviewed and assessed its content as part of the WCA. What is there left therefore for a DM to consider? Or are you saying that none of this evidence should be taken to the WCA?

Q2: You have not answered my question. If a DM has countermanded my GP's advice in sending me back to work, they must surely take accountability for that decision. Or are you saying categorically that DMs have no accountability for the consequences of their decisions?

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,

If it helps you with this, the important point here is that

• The decision to pay ESA or not is based exclusively on the fit-for-work decision, so in reality can be made by anyone armed with the FFW outcome.

• The FFW decision (regardless of whether it is based on clinical history or work capability) can only be made by someone medically qualified who understands both and the relationship between them. No level of ad hoc training or internet interrogation allows a DWP administrator to make this judgement safely.

Can you imagine an analogy in the NHS where an administrator with no medical qualifications would be allowed to make decisions that could affect a patient’s well-being – I can’t and rightly so.

I want to know who within the laid down procedures makes the FFW decision - it is not clear in any of the manuals.

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

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Dear J Newman

Please see attached response to your FoI request IR 10

Kind regards

DWP Central FoI Team

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Dear DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request,

Not a reply, more a closing comment for anyone who comes across this.

As the ESA decision and FFW decision are inextricably linked, DWP cannot assume responsibility for the former and DENY responsibility for the latter. By the same token, if they deny responsibility for the latter they do not have responsibility for the former, which by default can only rest with Atos (nobody else is involved) - so in effect we would have a private company dictating benefit payments; not something that DWP could acknowledge.

The attempt here to play with words and craft sentences to paint an alternative, logically sound and acceptable scenario does not stand up.

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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References

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

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

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman,

Please see attached response to your email.

Kind regards,

DWP Central FoI Team

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J Newman left an annotation ()

In its latest response DWP dismisses my previous comment as no more than a matter of opinion and therefore of no consequence. I of course disagree on the basis that my proposition is logically explained step by step, their's is not.

DWP adopted the Atos/outsourced model without thinking it through and now find themselves in a contradictory corner from which they cannot escape other than by trying to convince us all that black is indeed white. It is reminiscent of the Monty Python "do you want an argument?" sketch. You can draw your own conclusions.