The Countess of Mar, chairman of the Forward ME Group of ME charities, tabled two questions for the Government about the turnover of professional staff employed by Atos (the French-owned firm contracted to deliver the assessments for people claiming Employment and Support Allowance) and the number of claimants sent for reassessment within two years winning their ESA appeals at tribunal.
(A) In the first, the Countess asked for details of the annual turnover of (1) general practitioners, (2) nurses, and (3) physiotherapists, employed by Atos Healthcare to undertake the work capability assessment for each of the past five years.
The Minister of State for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud, replied:
Data on the annual turnover of Atos Healthcare professionals (general practitioners, nurses and physiotherapists) are commercial in confidence. They cannot be released as release of the information would prejudice the interests of Atos Healthcare and the department’s future dealings with Atos Healthcare or other service providers.
(B) In the second, the Countess asked how many claimants in receipt of Employment Support Allowance whose appeals have been allowed by a tribunal have been sent for reassessment within two years of the tribunal decision.
Again, the Minister wasn’t giving much away. He replied:
The information is not readily available and has not previously been published as official statistics. We will consider whether it is feasible to produce the statistics requested within the disproportionate cost limit, and if so, will issue them in an official statistics release in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.