Parliamentary Question: recording of Atos medical assessments | 17 July 2011

The Employment Minister’s thinking on the subject of the recording of work capability assessment interviews continues to be unravelled this week through a series of Parliamentary Questions.

Frank Field (Labour MP for Birkenhead) put down another written question on the subject which was answered by Employment Miniuster Chris Grayling on 17 July 2001. This looks like the fullest statement of the Government’s position on this issue so far.

Mr Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will ensure that each Atos assessment centre has a recording device available so that medical assessments can be recorded at the request of a claimant or their representative.

Chris Grayling:

Based on the results of a trial during 2011, we have not implemented universal recording for claimants going through the work capability assessment (WCA). We have asked Atos Healthcare to accommodate requests for audio recording, where a claimant makes a request in advance of their assessment. This approach began in late 2011 and we will monitor take-up during 2012 before making a decision on the requirement for recording assessments, taking into account factors such as value for money and the value it adds to the WCA process.

As part of this process we are also reviewing Atos capacity to provide recordings for those claimants who currently request one. Additional machines have been ordered. However a large scale purchase of machines in the absence of an evaluation of the process is not effective use of public money. Although there have been increases in requests these still represent only a small percentage of overall work capability assessments.

In the meantime, while Atos will do all that they can to accommodate requests for audio recording there may be times when the service cannot be offered, for example where it has not be possible to get access to recording equipment on the date/time of the WCA. In these circumstances clients will be told in advance that their request cannot be accommodated and offered a later date.

Independent reviewer calls for evidence on the subject