Atos fined if it falls down on time and quality levels: DSD

DUP MLA Maurice Devenney has learned that Atos is fined by the Department of Social Development (DSD) if it takes too long to complete health assessments of sickness benefit claimants or if the quaility of those assessments aren’t good enough.

Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey told the Foyle MLA about the service level the private health care firm must meet under its contract, which lasts until 2018.

Maurice Devenney.

Maurice Devenney.

Mr Devenney asked: “How is Atos incentivised to meet its contractual obligations?”

Mr Storey replied: “I thank the Member for his question. Atos provides medical support services under a contract with DSD.

“The contract has a robust performance management regime and includes joint monthly, quarterly and annual performance review meetings.

“Atos does not make decisions on benefit entitlement. It provides professional medical advice to the Department’s decision makers who use this and all the other available evidence to make a decision.

“There are a number of contractual service levels, such as length of time to complete an assessment, quality of assessment, and claimant satisfaction.

“Where performance does not meet the contracted levels, financial penalties are imposed. The level of reported customer satisfaction is consistently above 90 per cent.

“Each month, an independent market research company randomly selects claimants and seeks written feedback about the Atos assessment. Atos performance is also independently monitored and evaluated by the Social Security Agency (SSA) health assessment, and Atos is currently providing a high standard of medical quality.”