I finally got round to writing to my MP about this.
I am writing with regard to the recording of ESA Work Capability
Assessments, carried out by Atos Healthcare.
On 12th July 2012, Chris Grayling stated, in answer to a parliamentary
question, "We have asked Atos Healthcare to accommodate requests for
audio recording, where a claimant makes a request in advance of their
Within days of this statement, people were posting online to say that,
despite having made advance requests to have their WCA recorded, they
were now being told by Atos that recording was not possible. Two
different reasons cited were that all the recording equipment is
broken, and that the DWP have instructed Atos that the option of
recording has been withdrawn.
I would be grateful if you could confirm the current situation
regarding the ability for people to have their WCA recorded, whether
this option is still available, and if so, what the problem is that has
led to people being denied the option of a recording and when this will
As someone who has yet to be migrated from Incapacity Benefit to ESA, I
am already terrified of the impending ESA process. The option of having
any WCAs recorded is a slight reassurance, in case the Atos healthcare
professional's report contains errors or omissions. Without this
option, there will be no way to prove what really happens at a WCA,
making it all more worrying.
One further question I have is regarding what happens if WCA recording
is temporarily unavailable.
In response to a Freedom of Information request (available athttp://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/w ... cordings_2
), the DWP
stated on 14 June 2012: "if a claimant is unable to attend their WCA
because Atos Healthcare are unable to comply with the request [for a
recorded WCA] the postponement will not be attributed to the claimant."
Yet in a blog entry (available athttp://blog.atoshealthcare.com/2012/07/ ... f-the-wca/
Atos Healthcare has said on 6 July 2012: "under the terms of our
contract with the Department [for Work and Pensions], we cannot
postpone an assessment on the basis of audio-recording."
This is obviously conflicting information. I would like to know if it
is possible for a WCA to be postponed until the recording equipment is
available, where recording has been requested in advance? And if
postponement is possible, could you please confirm that the benefit
claimant will not lose out due to this delay, for example by being told
that they have failed to attend a medical (by insisting on waiting for
a recorded WCA), or being held on the assessment rate of ESA beyond the
initial 13 weeks assessment phase?
I look forward to your reply.