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Costly chaos of PIP and ESA medical assessments

A report by the National Audit Office published last week reveals the costly chaos that has engulfed outsourced assessments for employment and support allowance (ESA) and personal independence payment (PIP).

The NAO has discovered that whilst the costs of reports are rising, errors are huge and backlogs remain, whilst recruiting and retaining health professionals is becoming increasingly difficult.

Amongst the findings of the report:

  • Over the three years from April 2015 to March 2018, the DWP expects to spend a staggering £1.6 billion on medical assessments.
  • ESA and PIP reports between them only hit a shocking 13% of the quality standards they are supposed to meet, meaning that they fail to meet 87% of the targets set by the DWP.
  • The DWP believes that the number of health professionals needed for benefits assessments will increase by 84%, from 2,200 in May 2015 to 4,050 by November 2016. Many of these will have to be poached from nursing and paramedic staff currently working in the overstretched NHS, which cannot match the salaries being offered by the assessment multinationals.
  • The cost of ESA assessments has gone up by 65% from £115 to £190 per assessment, since the contract was transferred from Atos to Maximus.
  • The expected savings from the introduction of ESA of £5.4 billion in the 10 years up until 2020 are not going to happen. In fact, the NAO says the cost of ESA is expected to go up in 2015-16.
  • In August 2018 there was still a backlog of 280,000 waiting to be assessed for ESA and stranded in the lower paying assessment phase.
  • The waiting time for an ESA assessment report to be carried out and sent to the DWP has fallen from 29 weeks in September 2014 to 23 weeks. Considering the entire assessment phase, from claim to decision is only supposed to last 13 weeks, this is still a massive failure.
  • Maximus is not meeting its targets for the number of work capability assessments for ESA it carries out each month. The main problem is difficulty in recruiting health professionals, even at much higher wages, and the fact that a much higher proportion than expected drop out before completing the training.
  • The NAO has suggested that ESA assessment quality is lower because staff are less experienced.
  • ESA reassessments were suspended early in 2014 but have been restarted ‘gradually’ from December 2015. At August 2015 almost one million ESA reassessments had been suspended.
  • Savings from the introduction of PIP have failed to materialise. The DWP expected to save £800 million up to April 2015. It saved nothing at all. It has now reduced its estimate of the savings to be made from PIP between 2015 to 2019 from £1.1 billion to £0.4 billion.
  • The DWP have still failed to come up with standard computer software to carry out PIP assessments, in spite of the fact it was supposed to be available from October 2013. This has led to Atos and Capita coming up with their own systems, which many would consider are patchy at best and which have cost the taxpayer an additional £76 million so far.
  • The DWP had expected to have assessed 1.7 million DLA claimants for PIP by 2018. It now expects this to take at least an additional year.

You can download the complete NAO report from this link.

Comments  

#12 tintack 2016-02-03 13:34
Quoting Throwaway:
Hello all. I am finding this very hard to follow.

Can someone confirm this for me?

Have all ESA Reassessments been pushed back "several" years? I ask as I have not heard about my reassessment which was suppose to happen in Sept 2015. This uncertainty is not doing my anxiety much good and a reassuring word would go a long, long way.


Beginning in January 2014, the DWP started deferring ESA reassessments for two years. In December 2015 the reassessment process started again, but all we know at the moment is that this applies to "some" people.

Exactly who the "some" people are who are being reassessed now we don't know, nor do we know the criteria the DWP is using to decide who is being reassessed now and who isn't. They certainly can't just reassess everyone who had the two year deferral straight away, because the system would collapse again. Some people on the forum have reported receiving a new ESA50 for reassessment, but others are saying they have still heard nothing. Precisely what the DWP thinks it's playing at is anyone's guess.
#11 Throwaway 2016-02-03 07:18
Hello all. I am finding this very hard to follow.

Can someone confirm this for me?

Have all ESA Reassessments been pushed back "several" years? I ask as I have not heard about my reassessment which was suppose to happen in Sept 2015. This uncertainty is not doing my anxiety much good and a reassuring word would go a long, long way.
#10 MyelopathicMe 2016-01-25 22:47
As a former registered general nurse whose code of practice stated that we were responsible and liable for any act or omission that harmed our patients, I find it incredibly unethical for any health care professional, in particular fellow nurses to be involved in such a shameful unfair, invalid and unreliable method of assessment, especially when it further compromises the physical or psychological well being of those having to undergo it. If anyone is interested, here is the link for the Nursing and Midwifery Council's current code of practice http://www.nmc.org.uk/standards/code/read-the-code-online/#first
#9 tintack 2016-01-17 01:38
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/firm-doing-tories-dirty-work-7182545

Another interesting article. This bit (from a whistleblower, talking about Maximus) is particularly damning:

Quote:
“It wasn’t just that they couldn’t recruit staff, they couldn’t retain them,” he claims.

Medical professionals questioned the ethics of what they were doing, and whether the tests were making people mentally and physically worse off.”
It would be good to see this in the right wing press, but there probably won't be room for it - instead there will be some lurid headline about someone on disability benefit caught playing for his Sunday league football team.
#8 tintack 2016-01-16 19:59
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/osborne-isn-t-even-saving-money-while-he-penalises-the-poor-this-is-about-ideology-not-economics-a6807741.html

So there it is: the persecution of the poor and sick is actually costing more money than it saves. Yet we're told it's about "making tough choices" in order to "balance the books". Not an ideological crusade to grind the poor and sick into the dirt regardless of the cost. Oh no. Definitely not that.
+1 #7 angela 2016-01-12 14:13
The worst thing about all this is that there does`nt seem to be anything anybody can do about it so it just keeps getting worse and we the sick have to pay the price
+1 #6 Camly91 2016-01-12 12:15
Quote:
Quote:
the biggest problem with all of that (other than the obvious that it's costing more to persecute us than it would have to just leave well alone with IB & DLA just as it was),
is that they will choose to ignore the real reasons for the costs & present it to the public/parliament as evidence of a need for further cuts '- ie 'look, the cuts we've done havent been enough so we need to cut more' , rather than the truth of 'stop wasting tax payers money persecuting the sick & leave the poor buggers alone'!
And when the cost of the assessments continues to spiral out of control and further cuts don't produce the projected savings, that will be cited as "justification" for yet further cuts. And when those cuts also fail to produce the projected savings....etc.

It proves that the present policy is about as far away from evidence-based policy as it could possibly be. The political cost and embarrassment of publicly admitting that the whole area of sickness and disability benefits has been a giant train wreck since it was outsourced is deemed to be too high, so the persecution continues for no other reason than to allow the politicians and senior DWP staff concerned to save face. Their careers and egos are deemed to be of more importance than our lives.

yeah :'(
:-z GRRRRR! it's so very wrong
#5 shimtoan 2016-01-12 10:27
of course, the government won't admit this to the general public.

the shadows on the other hand...
+5 #4 tintack 2016-01-11 20:34
Quote:
the biggest problem with all of that (other than the obvious that it's costing more to persecute us than it would have to just leave well alone with IB & DLA just as it was),
is that they will choose to ignore the real reasons for the costs & present it to the public/parliament as evidence of a need for further cuts '- ie 'look, the cuts we've done havent been enough so we need to cut more' , rather than the truth of 'stop wasting tax payers money persecuting the sick & leave the poor buggers alone'!
And when the cost of the assessments continues to spiral out of control and further cuts don't produce the projected savings, that will be cited as "justification" for yet further cuts. And when those cuts also fail to produce the projected savings....etc.

It proves that the present policy is about as far away from evidence-based policy as it could possibly be. The political cost and embarrassment of publicly admitting that the whole area of sickness and disability benefits has been a giant train wreck since it was outsourced is deemed to be too high, so the persecution continues for no other reason than to allow the politicians and senior DWP staff concerned to save face. Their careers and egos are deemed to be of more importance than our lives.
+2 #3 Camly91 2016-01-11 19:10
couldn't agree more tintacQuote:
The next time you hear Cameron and Osborne going on about making "tough choices" to "balance the books", remember just how much cash they're willing to fritter away when it comes to shovelling public cash into private coffers. It's also worth remembering the huge sums the DWP is paying corporate charlatans to conduct discredited assessments when that very same DWP cuts benefits because they're supposedly unaffordable.
k
+2 #2 Camly91 2016-01-11 19:10
the biggest problem with all of that (other than the obvious that it's costing more to persecute us than it would have to just leave well alone with IB & DLA just as it was),
is that they will choose to ignore the real reasons for the costs & present it to the public/parliame nt as evidence of a need for further cuts '- ie 'look, the cuts we've done havent been enough so we need to cut more' , rather than the truth of 'stop wasting tax payers money persecuting the sick & leave the poor buggers alone'!
+5 #1 tintack 2016-01-11 13:29
The next time you hear Cameron and Osborne going on about making "tough choices" to "balance the books", remember just how much cash they're willing to fritter away when it comes to shovelling public cash into private coffers. It's also worth remembering the huge sums the DWP is paying corporate charlatans to conduct discredited assessments when that very same DWP cuts benefits because they're supposedly unaffordable.

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