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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Disability benefits  →  Thread

Over emphasis on face to face assessments

 

JAS1
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Advice Worker, Gaddum Centre

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Hi,

Bit of a general query really. DM’s often write on their decision letters something like:

‘you state you have problems with XYZ, however at your face to face assessment you were observed to have no problems with XYZ’. Then they get 0 points.

If PIP is based on someone’s needs ‘most of the time’, why does one 60 minute meeting seem to over ride everything else? Despite the person claiming the benefit clearly mentioning that their needs fluctuate.

Surely the ATOS assessor should be writing on their report that they did not observe anything however client reports fluctuating needs (I know I’ve heard them say this when I’ve been at assessments in the past).

Am i maybe missing something here? Just been on my mind when reading decision letters recently

Cheers!

      [ Edited: 13 Mar 2018 at 11:52 am by JAS1 ]
Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Information and Advice Resources, Age UK

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Because the healthcare professionals are so good and well trained, they can carry out a thorough and comprehensive physical and mental health examination simply by looking at someone and feeding some stock phrases into a computer programme. It’s truly a miracle.

     
JAS1
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It’s amazing isn’t it Paul. A true wonder.

I have seen this issue brought up before a few times, but out of interest has it been formally challenged at any stage? Be interested to read if so.

     
Mike Hughes
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I challenge it all the time with varying amounts of success. Easy enough to do a formal complaint. The DWP PIP assessment providers guidance at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/684001/pip-assessment-guide-part-1-assessment-process.pdf is an excellent tool for this.

So, in relation to this specific aspect, it makes it clear that they must not take a snapshot but in the same virtual breath it talks about the value of informal observation and emphasises, much to my horror, that a consultation starts when a person enters the assessment centre. Good to know in order to dismiss the old chestnuts about walking across the car park but less good in so many ways.

It also has a relatively clear comment that pain is largely not visible, which can be handy when you get “did not appear to be in pain”.

Key thing with complaints is that they either cave and recommend more points or bang out their template “You can’t prove we’re liars” and “we weren’t there so who knows” letter. I’ve found it useful to not drop the matter in the face of that immensely annoying first response. Further complaints highlighting the failure to address specific concerns and the gaps in their response is very useful, if only because putting the whole thing into appeal papers instantly kills the “there can’t have been that much wrong if you didn’t complain” nonsense and nails a number of areas of concern that shouldn’t then be erroneously pursued by an errant DQTM or medical professional at a hearing.

     
JAS1
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Very interesting, thanks Mike!

So complaint to ATOS same time as the recon request to DWP worth doing in these cases then? Or afterwards? Have you ever had them respond that they will do another assessment? That would potentially not go down well with a few clients!

     
Mike Hughes
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I’ve heard other people have that outcome but I personally haven’t. I tend to make the complaint as soon as I get the case. I don’t think it’s possible to predict outcomes with any great reliability though. key thing is to persist. If you get a complaint response that is patent nonsense then don’t stop there. Pick it apart.

I’ve just had one back with fantastically generic answers which is a cross between a template response and goodness knows what. Became apparent that at no point have they put any of the complaint to the HCP or investigated whether the room was in fact so small you couldn’t do a Snellen test in there (and yet they did). Despite the line about the complaint going on the HCPs record my experience is that where they fail to put any points to the actual HCP it means they’ve already left.

Bear in mind also that whilst a HCP complaint does not get you PIP it does give you an opportunity to refute the dumb approach from some tribunal that the report must be okay because the appellant didn’t complain. It also gives you a second bite of the cherry as regards documentation from the assessment provider suggesting they’re not very bright.

     
JAS1
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Cheers Mike, that makes sense. Just sent my first complaint off to ATOS, will see what they say!

Unfortunately I wasn’t actually at this particular assessment, but the client and his mother informed me that the HCP got frustrated when the client couldn’t answer the MSE questions in a reasonable time so she just gave him the answers and then wrote that he had no problems with the mental state test. Be interesting to hear what they say to that one!