I raised a complaint with Atos immediately after an appallingly badly performed WCA in Feb 2011, before I had even seen the subsequent DWP decision and I decided to pursue it regardless of the decision.
It was still unresolved in Sept 2011, when the next WCA came around. I tried to get some help from DWP, based on the continual promises of better support from Messrs Grayling and Harrington, but guess what . . . . . . . . ????
Stuff like this ends up with a DWP Dept. called Commercial Management of Medical Services (CMMS), one of whose jobs it is managing the Atos contract. Another is responding to FoI Act requests, so the style is predictable, generally evasive, non-committal and most certainly not unbiased and helpful.
Dear Mr xxxxxx,
Thank you for your letter dated 10th December, received today.
I am afraid you have not addressed the sole point in my original letter dated 30th October, to which Mr xxxxx first responded. I am more than conversant with the way the Atos complaints procedure SHOULD work – my complaint to you was because it was failing and clearly whatever controls you apply were failing too.
As you say, they should make an initial response to a complaint within 4 weeks – mine took 7 weeks and was incomplete. I then spent the following 6 months trying to get straight answers to quite legitimate questions about my WCA which Atos continually sidestepped and in some cases referred them to CMMS as a FoI Act request when they were nothing of the kind. This was all an elaborate plot to drag the process out as long as possible without admitting the errors that were apparent to pretty much everyone else.
In relation to the “controls” DWP apply, what exactly are they? I would expect to see for example a “red flag” against any complaint
a) Where the initial response had not been dispatched within 5 weeks, with a double red flag at 6 weeks and
b) That overall had been running for more than 8 weeks, double red flag at 13 weeks.
A “red flag” is the point at which the customer (in this case DWP) gets involved to sort out the delay. This is a very common arrangement in managing complaint handing and I am surprised that you do not have anything like this in place. Professor Harrington’s two progress reports emphasise the need for DWP to provide greater support to claimants, but I cannot quite see where this forthcoming from you here. As I said at the beginning, all you have told me is what should happen rather than help me through a process that has clearly failed.
The email issue is indeed now resolved – it was not at the time I wrote and I would like to think that you have admonished Atos for the childish stance they took – hardly becoming of a multi-national conglomerate – but I doubt you have. You will never be able to provide the support Chris Grayling promises if you continually take the side of Atos against the claimant.
Although Atos has to this day not addressed the outstanding issues around my complaint about a WCA in February, I have dropped it for other reasons.
Finally, the Atos so-called “Independent Tier” will never have any credibility whilst it remains shrouded in secrecy.