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Announcement: ESA claimants now have the option of having their WCA recorded


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Well one would simply post the Assessment on Youtube and let people make their own minds up.


The poster of the video couldnt be responsible for any malicious comments that viewers made .............could they ? :mad2::mad2:

Taking a poke at the world


Never argue with an idiot, he will only drag you down to his level and beat you with experience

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Spotted on one of the disability FB earlier, slightly OT, but thought it might make people smile (wryly, if nothing else!):


Newsflash: Maggie has privatised hell. She insists there are no targets built into the new assessments for evil doing, and that they are simply "performance indicators" and nothing to worry about. A spokesperson for the company employed called "Thanatos", Mr Screwtape, has dismissed what he called "scaremongering", and insisted that all Companies need "aspirations" and "robust statistical norms". "These are not targets, honestly," he said.


I particularly like the pun Atos / Thanatos. Might have to re-use that one. :-D

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  • 2 weeks later...

The DWP is trying to excuse its refusal to provide recording facilities for PIP claimants by saying that claimants can record themselves – see e.g. the link that CrazyD provided at post #1094 above (http://www.disabilitywales.org/1168/4430),and yesterday's parliamentary written answer from McVey:-


Esther McVey(WirralWest, Conservative)


"Audio recording of PIP assessments will not be offered by Atos or Capita. The DWP has not seen evidence fromother disability assessments that this would improve the quality ofassessments. If claimants wish to record their assessment they must inform theassessor in advance and provide the assessor with a copy of the recording."



Behind the scenes, however, and not included in the published HCP 'handbooks', Atos and the DWP have been conspiring to preserve what is in effect still a total ban (by price and unavailability) on overt recording using personal equipment.


Here are the internal documents:-




and here's the FoI enquiry which got them disclosed yesterday:-




I think it's worth keeping in mind just how disgraceful the'personal recording equipment' saga has been and continues to be.


In December last year, the DWP accidentally disclosed that it knew its obstruction of recording was illegal. This led, before the year end, to Atos' being instructed to put stuff in its website making it look likepeople could use their own equipment. As we can see from the dates on these documents, however, their first job in the new year was to agree privately with Atos that that wasn't actually going to happen - in the overwhelming majority of cases or, more probably, at all. And then DWP went onto revise its WCA handbook in March of this year (link at#1093) deliberately keeping the true nature of the restrictions it had agreed with Atos only a very few weeks before "off the map", and going on to make public announcements giving a wholly untrue picture of the supposed'personal equipment' entitlement – as does McVey's above, written for her bythe DWP.


It's not flip-flop politics: it's deceit by a department of state.








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:Pinocchio's Consent:?::


From Caxton House to Starryeyes on 14 December 12;


'The HCP must agree to the recording of the assessment'


From a resources clerk to Starryeyes on 21 December 12;


'...... you'll need to arrange it in advance so we can find a healthcare professional who's prepared to be recorded.'


From Caxton house to another freedom of info enquirer on 19 April 13;


'I can confirm that it is now within the job description of all Atos Healthcare Professionals (HCP) that they undertake recording of assessments if required to do so; this came into effect from 1 December 2112'. (My emphasis)




Although 'not in my/their contract' seems lost to pinocchios and resources clerks alike, I suspect Tatos'll continue to wheedle out of as many audio recorded farcicals as possible. Specially as (from a friend's enquiry this morning) Tatos don't appear to have told said resources clerks that pinocchios no longer have a choice as to whether they're recorded.


:evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

Edited by **Margaret**
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Just to update I had a phone call from the DWP DM on Friday saying that after my last wca I am now being placed into the support group for a year, I should get the letter in the next few days. This is the best result I have had so far with ESA so I am pleased and I am sure that having the assessment recorded made all the difference as well as submitting as much info as possible and having help with the form from a welfare advice worker. Thank you to everyone who gave me advice and I recommend getting your WCA recorded if possible.

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Just to update I had a phone call from the DWP DM on Friday saying that after my last wca I am now being placed into the support group for a year, I should get the letter in the next few days. This is the best result I have had so far with ESA so I am pleased and I am sure that having the assessment recorded made all the difference as well as submitting as much info as possible and having help with the form from a welfare advice worker. Thank you to everyone who gave me advice and I recommend getting your WCA recorded if possible.


Well done you, I'm really pleased. :)


My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum




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Part One.


Monday morning! I'm half awake, and thinking about the info commissioner when thud! A large thick brown envelope hits the doormat. Some overdue freedom of info responses; reams of DWATO's repetitive rhetoric concerning audio recorded disability assessments. Taken from walls of text, about reasonable conditions, reasonable endeavours and acceptable formats (still restricted to audio cassettes and compact discs), the interesting bits:


'Is it necessary for the claimant to arrange an appointment, prior to their assessment, for personal recording equipment to be approved/checked ...... by Atos Healthcare? Yes or no?'


'Existing process does not specify that a prior appointment to check equipment must be made. The claimant is required to advise Atos Healthcare, in advance of their scheduled appointment, of their intent to have their assessment audio-recorded. Atos Healthcare will make the appropriate arrrangements with/for the claimant.'


'Existing process', this seems to be a change of process from earlier in the year. Praps no longer necessary? Lack of demand? Cos we don't have spare £100s to spend on dual deck audio recorders?


'Atos Healthcare confirms that, since 1 December 2012, participation in recording assessments has been standard practice for all practitioners and has formed part of their role description.'


About time too!


'The latest information provided by Atos Healthcare for the Midlands shows two machines available to the Nottingham Medical Services Centre and two for the Birmingham MSC.'


For them as needs to know.


Onward n upward, Margaret. :flame:

Edited by **Margaret**
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Part Two.


I've decided to transcribe one of the freedom of info responses in full. At a third attempt, I've finally got a complete answer to the question that was asked. But of more significance, I think, is what DWATO haven't said.


'Is there a printed process guide for claimants who, as a reasonable adjustment for disability, need the information in a written format because they cannot use a telephone? Yes or no?


'Information is available on the Atos Healthcare website for claimants who wish to have their face-to-face assessment recorded. ...... There is no separate printed process document for claimants.'


And the info on the website is :?: To phone 08002 888777 :mmph:

As with parking and stairs, no reasonable adjustments for disability. Third party authority? In my experience, Atos aren't very good at that either.


Helpfully, DWATO enclosed 'an extract of the guidance, for use by Atos Healthcare customer service agents, which describes the infomation to be provided for enquiries about audio-recording.' It reads;


'If a Claimant requests that their assessment is recorded, the Virtual Contact Centre Agent (that's the call handler on 08002 888777 to thee n me) should confirm that arrangements will be made for the recording to take place. A mutually convenient appointment must be made with the Claimant for three weeks ahead. The appointment should be as early in the session as possible to avoid claimant sent home unseen, and take into account the additional time that will be required in order to arrange the recording.

The Regional Manager at the Medical Services Centre should be notified immediately that the appointment has been booked, and that recording is required. Notes must be put on Siebel, and an email sent to the Medical Services Centre Resource Team Inbox.


End of! As with the guidance for Atos assessors (discussed at #1093) there's absolutely nothing about the decidedly unreasonable conditions for recorded, by claimant, assessments when Atos can't source one of their own machines. :mmph:


:flame: Margaret. :flame:

Edited by **Margaret**
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  • 4 weeks later...

" DWP had previously asked Atos Healthcare to apply a processing safeguard whereby requests for recorded assessments should be accommodated within four weeks and where this was not possible the assessment should go ahead without a recording. However, during the remainder of the evaluation period, to help ensure claimant expectations can be met, the four week safeguard will be removed. This will enable us to gather a fuller picture of demand and capacity in order to inform a full and robust evaluation. "




Effectively, in amongst this costive tangle of tenses, is the admission that DWATO currently doesn't dare to refuse a claimant's requirement to record a WCA, no matter how long their own inefficiency takes. Sincerely hope this might (one day) prove useful in the cases of rmw and others as regards ESA.


As regards PIP, the goal is wide open, in my view. DWATO is pursuing a policy which it knows claimants cannot afford.



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  • 2 weeks later...



The white envelope looked all innocent as it fluttered to the doormat without a whisper. Deceit! A DWATO invite!! Without indication of whether it's to be audio recorded!!!


#22 of;




:flame: Margaret.

Edited by **Margaret**
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"Work Capability Assessment: audio recording of face-to-face assessments FAQs"


DWP document published 05 06 13:




Some preliminary views:-


1. The stuff about using one's own 'equipment' (overtly) is of course silly little window-dressing by impertinence and deceit. Only dual-deck simultaneous -recording devices similar to that used by Atos will be accepted – and those cost 4 figures. Overt personal recording remains only available at a price very few claimants could possibly afford.


2. As the document makes clear, no recording 'service' is provided by Atos or Capita in PIP assessments; so the document remains an illegal policy as regards those claimants, as the DWP's own legal advice has already made clear.


3. The frantic threats about not signing the 'agreement form' in respect of the recording (which you may never see until the day of appointment) betray the DWP's desperate anxiety and inconsistency. The form seeks to impose apparent conditions on the use of the recording which are more extensive than those resulting from the Data Protection Act (s.36). However, the DWP has previously said that the document is not intended to have contractual force – and an intention to create legal relations is an element required to turn an 'agreement' into a contract. In my view, therefore, in so far as it the 'agreement form' referred to seeks to express 'terms' wider than those already inexistence pursuant to statute, it is a) unenforceable and\or b) misrepresentation of the law.


3. The document makes it clear that you may encounter delay in being assessed simply because you want a recording. While it is the case that the DWP will not now, currently, risk saying, "Well it's taking us more than 4 weeks to get it organised, therefore you have got to have an unrecorded assessment" – a grotesque and ridiculous stance – we have no way of knowing when the DWP may 'flip-flop' again on this. It could well happen again after someone has already waited months for an appointment.


4. It continues to be the case that you may only get an antique audio cassette at the end of the appointment - a format which you (and any advisors) may be unable to replay.


Taken in the round this 'guidance' is just more of the 'same ol' foot–dragging and misrepresentation of both fact and law. In such context, it would be understandable if many claimants still decided simply to record covertly. It remains entirely legal to do so; and, on account of that legality, if push comes to shove, it will (despite some 'by-the-way' wording in CIB\3117\2008) effectively be for the DWP to show that the obstacles it continues to put in the way of claimants who wish to take an audio recording home, are reasonable. It will have a job.


Hoban has answered a number of parliamentary questions recently, about recording. The unpleasant but obvious ''spin" he is trying to maintain is that because there is no statutory obligation on the DWP to provide an audio-recording there is 'therefore' no 'legal entitlement' for a claimant to obtain an audio recorded assessment. They are different things. If the DWP won't GIVE a recording on reasonable terms then it must permit claimants to TAKE a recording on reasonable terms. It is still doing neither.

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Disability Rights UK ESA recording fact sheet


Audio Recording of WCA assessments 06 June 2013


The DWP has produced a FAQ on the audio recording of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) Work Capability Assessments


The FAQ states that:




couple of links at the bottom there you might be interested,


Hansard Steven Timms 3 questions to Mark Holborn on ESA recording


Work Capability Assessment


Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps a person undergoing a work capability assessment has to take in order to obtain an audio recording of their assessment. [158174]


Mr Hoban: All requests for audio recorded assessments should be made to Atos Healthcare as part of the appointment booking process. This is to ensure adequate notice to make recording equipment available and ready for use.


In the case of a claimant using their own equipment this will ensure that the Atos health care professional (HCP) conducting the assessment is aware and to make sure that the proposed recording equipment is compliant with the DWP/Atos Healthcare requirements.


If Atos Healthcare has been unable to contact a claimant by phone and an appointment letter is issued, the claimant will need to telephone Atos Healthcare as soon as possible to notify them of their request for a recorded assessment.


If a claimant makes a request for the recording service to a DWP Benefit Centre they will be advised to make their request to Atos Healthcare.


6 Jun 2013 : Column 1254W


Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what items of equipment are available for the audio recording of the work capability assessments. [158187]


Mr Hoban: Currently Atos Healthcare has 31 audio recording machines, three of which are in for repair. They also have access to 21 cassette machines on loan from DWP.


Claimants who have requested to record their own assessment must use appropriate equipment that can provide two copies of the recording in such a way to ensure that the recording has not been tampered with and is a reliable and accurate record of the assessment.


For this reason certain devices which are capable of real-time editing or live-streaming are not approved; such as computing devices, these include but are not limited to; PCs and laptops, tablets, smart phones, MP3 players or devices which cannot provide a media copy that can be easily verified during the assessment. Media types that are acceptable at this time are standard CD and audio tapes only.


Stephen Timms: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many requests for an audio recording of the work capability assessment have been turned down to date; and for what reasons. [158188]


Mr Hoban: Presently only nine requests for an audio recording have been turned down, this occurred in July 2012. This was because they could not be accommodated within the four week timeframe for arranging assessments.


DWP had previously asked Atos Healthcare to accommodate requests for recorded assessments within four weeks and where this was not possible the assessment should go ahead without a recording.


However, to help ensure claimant expectations can be met, the four week timeframe has currently been removed to enable us to gather a fuller picture of demand and capacity in order to inform a full and robust evaluation of the interim audio recording policy.



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Execellent, sounds like two ordinary tape recorders fits the bill, tape in each, press record at the same time, let the assessor pick the tape they want. Much more affordable.

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office ~ Aesop

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I agree, Estellyn. That's what one of the 'FAQs' seems to permit:


"A complete and accurate copy of the recording must be available for both parties at the end of the assessment – to ensure that both claimant and DWP/Atos Healthcare have access to an identical copy of the recorded assessment. This copy can be provided by using two appropriate devices running simultaneously, or a single device capable of recording two copies of the assessment onto an acceptable format."


And although buying two single-cassette machines for the sole purpose of recording a WCA represents significant expenditure for many, there are some relatively low-priced offers around on the net for handheld cassette recorders – and what the hell, even when you win you will be on the unending cycle of re-assessment for ever. The investment could cover many WCAs.


And it could save you a lot of money in return, and prevent you being mucked about with re-scheduling of appointment dates…


…except for the fact that this apparent 'permission' has supposedly been in place since the beginning of the year, and, I am told, hasn't actually been 'permitted ' in practice.


This text was agreed between DWP and Atos on 04 01 13:-


"The copies must be made following the same principles of dual recording using a format of either CD or cassette tape e.g. similar equipment to that used by Atos, or use of two Dictaphones."




Armed with this information (which the DWP didn't release until April this year), I understand a claimant invested in two handheld cassette recorders, only to be told very recently that they wouldn't produce recordings of 'adequate quality', and couldn't be used.


I emphasise 'I have been told' and 'I understand'. because this was not a case with which I had any contact as it proceeded, and although I have no reason to doubt the bona fides of the report to me, that report was not first hand either.


But if any contributors here could post details of an affordable make and model which DWATO have accepted, I think this would be the best possible, practical subversion of what I greatly fear is otherwise just more obstruction by DWP for the reasons I mentioned in my previous post. I hope in such circumstances the site wouldn't think that would be advertising. Once an accepted specification is known, there would probably be other makes and model matching it, and DWATO's goose would be cooked.


Well, one can always hope.

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And there you go. The site's official advertising (top left) from an extremely well-known online store is right now offering a handheld casstte recorder for £12.59. Now if that model were accepted by DWATO...

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On current evidence? Probably not! :rant:


Until DWATO prove otherwise it's dream on, and please don't waste time or money on the purchase of dictaphones cos DWATO'll be sure to find them unsuitable for one reason or another. And while we're about it, forget the dual deck cassette recorder capable of simultaneously recording two cassettes (T-A-S-C-A-M 202 MK.5).


With a friend we've been pursuing audio recorded by claimant assessments, without a glimmer of success, since February for the dual deck audio recorder and April for dictaphones. Thus far, DWATO's get out;


'Information regarding specific items of recording equipment is not held by the Department.'


And the guidance for Atos Healthcare personnel regarding audio recorded, by claimant, work capability assessments is allegedly to be found at;


Section 4.1.3 in the Work Capability Assessment Handbook.




Section 19.1 in the Virtual Contact Centre Procedural Guide.


Neither of which offer guidance, beyond the usual rhetoric for simultaneous copies, to Atos personnel (or anyone else) as to the suitability of personal recording equipment for work capability assessments.


Margaret n Starryeyes.


:rant: :rant: :rant:

Edited by **Margaret**
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I note Hoban said that the evaluation of providing audio recordings of WCAs is extended to the end of the summer, and that the government would update claimant communicaitons to boost awareness that they can be requested.


What's the betting that the updated information arrives well after the evaluation has finished? One of the main reasons for lack of take up on audio recordings is claimants don't know they can request them, information that should by rights be in the ESA50.


Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges


Being poor is like being a Pelican. No matter where you look, all you see is a large bill.

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Yes. odset. That is exactly where it should have been ages ago. However, even under the DWP's 'last minute' oh-so-diffcult endeavour to ' increase awareness' they are not going to put any information or option there - only in or with documentation issued later in the 'customer journey' (with Form LA1c (?), I think I read recently).


Yesterday, I 'sat in' silently on a couple of telephone conversations made by a former colleague of mine, first to the Atos' central telephone number (which you are directed to telephone re recording at Atos' website) then to a regional appointment-booking office. He has several claimants he's trying to help, who are on the misery-go-round of re-assessment; and they are determined to obtain their own recordings of their next WCAs – overtly, or covertly if necessary


Atos-central's operative, knew nothing of using personal equipment. She was sure you could only get Atos to use theirs. Was unaware of the publications on Atos' web site since last December, and, as from this month, on the DWP's. She would have to ask her manager.


Her manager said a regional booking office might be able to shed more light on the matter. Half an hour of engaged tones later, the operative at the regional office was slightly better scripted…


She said, it was best to use Atos' equipment because the requirements for' personal equipment' were 'very strict'. Had to be one machine making two recordings simultaneously. Very specialised and expensive.


What about two 'dictaphones' then, specifically of a model available for purchase on-line for less than £20, she was asked - and given the precise make and model description. Well, she didn't know about that: she would have to ask her manager.


A little later, she returned to say, that would be O.K.


The make was the one I mentioned a little earlier - at the other end of the Greek alphabet from "alpha".


The trouble with this of course, is that you can't get the operative to put that in writing. So if you duly invest in the kit and another Atos person takes a different view at or prior to or at the WCA, you are stuck and out of pocket. But I would be very grateful to learn of any similar experiences.


(I also learned in this process that only 5 medical examination centres have their 'own' recording machine. All the rest are being couriered round the country to the 130 plus medical examination centres to 'meet demand' - or to fail to do so. )

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