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Monday, 6 February 2012

WCA Audio Recordings - Extract from WCA Handbook

Training & Development, Revised WCA Handbook,  ESA (LCW/LCWRA) Amendment Regulations 2011
MED-ESAAR2011HB~001 Version: 4 Final 4th October 2011

4.1.3 Audio and video taping of examinations
At the present time, the DWP are considering their position on the issue of audio taping of assessments following the publication of the “Harrington Report” in 2010. In this report, one of Professor Harrington’s recommendations was that there should be a pilot and evaluation involving the audio taping of assessments.   Until this evaluation has taken place and further guidance is issued, should a claimant attend the assessment requesting permission to either audio or videotape the medical assessment you should politely refuse on the following grounds:
·         The Department for Work and Pensions does not require that a medical assessment for the purpose of advising on entitlement to state sickness or disability benefits be recorded on audio or videotape.
·         Such a claimant request can only be agreed with the prior consent of the examining practitioner, and then only if stringent safeguards are in place to ensure that the recording is complete, accurate, and that the facility is available for simultaneous copies to be made available to all parties present.

The recording must be made by a professional operator, on equipment of a high standard, properly calibrated by a qualified engineer immediately prior to the recording being made.
The equipment must have facility for reproduction so that a copy of the tape can be retained by all parties
The responsibility for meeting the cost of the above requirement rests with the claimant.
Any request by a claimant for an assessment to be audio or videotaped must be declined unless the above safeguards are in place. The claimant must instead be offered the opportunity of a rescheduled assessment in the presence of a companion or other witness. If the claimant refuses to avail him/her self of this opportunity and refuses to proceed with the assessment, the practitioner should return the file to the Department for Work and Pensions with an ESA 85A min explaining the situation.
Unauthorised taping
It is for Atos Healthcare, in conjunction with their legal advisers, to determine the action to be taken in the event of a claimant making an audio or video recording without the prior knowledge and consent of the examining practitioner, or without ensuring that the safeguards defined above are in place.

4.1.4 Taking of Notes during an Examination by Claimant or Companion
From time to time you may encounter a situation where the claimant is accompanied by a companion and either the claimant or companion may wish to take notes during the assessment.   Persons who are entitled to be in attendance are always entitled to take notes. This is because it is for their own purposes and not an official record of the process.
To attempt to deny the right to do so is likely to be contrary to Human Rights legislation.
To request a copy of the notes is unlikely to be helpful – it will place you in the position where you will be obliged to review the notes and comment on their reliability.
However, you should record in the medical report, the fact that notes were being taken. The following warning should also be given and the fact documented in the report. LiMA will offer the phrases as an optional addition. For any handwritten report, on the rare occasions when this is necessary, the report should be annotated on the front cover.
The form of words you should use has been clarified on legal advice. Please replace any copies of existing desk aids you hold with the one incorporating the following form of words:
“Where notes are taken by you, we consider it of assistance to both myself, as the examining practitioner, and yourself to point out the following:
1.       It is your right to take notes for your own use and benefit.
2.       The notes will not be included in the Report I make save for the fact that notes were taken and further, they are not accepted by myself or the DWP as an official record of this examination.
3.       If the notes are subsequently produced at any time for any purpose, such as part of an appeal process, I the Examining Practitioner, my employer and the Dept of Work and Pensions reserve all rights to challenge anything in the notes in the event we are asked to comment on the content of the notes at a future time.
4.       You are free to use your notes as you choose but if you chose to publicise the notes (other than in connection with correspondence with the DWP or under any appeal procedure) I would ask that you do not publicise my name. “

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