Maximus is offering salaries of up to £84,000 for doctors, and £44,500 for nurses, to carry out medicals for employment and support allowance (ESA). The high salaries and a vigorous new recruitment drive are raising fears that more existing claimants are set to be reassessed.
‘Great opportunity for overtime’
Adverts for doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists to carry out work capability assessments (WCAs) have been posted on Maximus’ Bring Your Expertise recruitment website.
There is also a very rosy recruitment video in which staff tell viewers that Maximus “are there for the claimant” .
And, in case potential recruits are worried they won’t be able to manage on £84,000 a year, one Maximus employee explains happily:
“There’s a great opportunity for overtime.”
So keen are Maximus to recruit more staff that they even list events around the country that they will be turning up at.
But, with the drive to move incapacity benefit claimants onto ESA almost completed, there is a big question mark over why Maximus are recruiting now.
The answer may lie in a story that Benefits and Work broke last year: that because of an enormous backlog, the DWP had stopped sending existing ESA claimants back for repeat medicals. According to a memo seen by Benefits and Work, the last list of names sent to Atos, since replaced by Maximus, for reassessment was on 20 January 2014.
From that date, as claimants came up for reassessment, their medical was deferred for two years without informing them that this had happened
Where there was a change of circumstances, such as a change in the claimants condition – notified by the claimant or alleged by someone else – then a repeat WCA would still take place.
Since then there has been no information about whether repeat assessments – or a proportion of them - are still being deferred for two years.
Posts on our forum suggest that some claimants are being told, when they ring the DWP to enquire, that their WCA has been put off for another two years. But others are being called for a reassessment around the expected date.
Benefits and Work has now made a freedom of information request to try to discover what the current situation is.
But the major recruitment drive by Maximus, at a point where they might be expected to be scaling back their operations, suggests that change may be coming.