Atos subcontracts disability tests to a number of NHS trusts, to carry out assessments for personal independence payments (PIP).
Atos has struggled to keep up with the standards required for fitness-to-work assessments carried out on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions, which have now been outsourced back to the state.
Last year it emerged that Atos in Scotland were subcontracting the Lanarkshire NHS, which raised questions last year from MPs over whether it represented value for public money for the state to contract work to a private company if the work was then outsourced back to the state.
This week, Atos published a list of the 14 “supply chain partners” that it has made agreements with to do most of the frontline work. Half of the 14 partner bodies that have been subcontracted to carry out new disability assessment work led by a private company are NHS organisations.
University College London, King’s and York will deploy thousands of health professionals to carry out the assessments, according to the Financial Times.
Salus, the Lanarkshire NHS healthcare provider, will receive £22m from Atos to carry out the work until July 2017. Atos is receiving £238m for work in Scotland, north-east and north-west England, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.
When this originally came to light in October, Atos commented:
It means that consultations will take place where people feel most comfortable – in the heart of their local community – and they will be conducted by health practitioners that have first-class expertise in dealing with the needs of disabled people.
Atos said the supply chain model in Scotland was likely to be similar to those soon to be announced in England.
A DWP spokesperson said:
We are taking a new approach working with regional providers for a service which best meets local needs. It was open to NHS organisations to bid for a place on the health and disability assessment framework but none did so.
We believe that it is right for Atos to partner with the NHS to offer Pip claimants familiar surroundings and experienced health professionals. The partnership proposed here demonstrated best value for money for the department and its claimants.
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Steven Hill - Director of Central Services