NAO calls for overhaul of Atos medical
By Jaimie Kaffash | 21 Aug 2012
The National Audit Office has called for the Government's contract with Atos to provide medical
assessments to be overhauled to be made 'more challenging'.
In a letter to Labour MP Tom Greatex, the auditors said
targets in the contract between the Department for Work
and Pensions (DWP) and the private provider to assess
the fitness to work of people on disability benefits were not
The letter from National Audit Office director general
Amyas Morse, dated 2 August, said: ‘We have
recommended that the department consider tightening the
performance requirements on the contractor in relation to
the quality of medical assessments.
‘We do not consider that the current contractual targets
are sufficiently challenging, and in our view this allows the
contractor to deliver a significant number of assessments
before financial penalties become due.'
The National Audit Office noted Atos had met the target in all but two months of the contract.
In March this year, Pulse reported the GPC had raised concerns about the contract, after LMCs
warned that GPs were being swamped with requests from patients asking them to support their
appeals to overturn fitness to work judgments.
The GPC had said it was alarmed by the high success of appeals against original fitness to work
judgements made under the work capability assessment.
The DWP said a quarter of people who had received work capability assessments to date have
had appeals heard against rulings by Atos assessors. Of this quarter, 38% have had their fitness-
to-work judgments overturned.
A spokesperson for Atos Healthcare said: ‘We meet our obligations in delivering a complex and
challenging contract. We have also been flexible with the DWP and implemented all the changes
and recommendations from the Harrington report.'