The GMC’s response to that ATOS article

is here, which is in return a reply to a letter from Dr Cooper saying that doctors seeing people within ATOS centres aren’t really in a  ‘normal’ doctor patient relationship. I cut and paste

  • Jane O’Brien, Assistant Director, Standards & Fitness to Practise Directorate

General Medical Council, 350 Euston Road, London, NW1 3JN

“Edward Cooper is mistaken that the principle of making the care of your patients does not apply to doctors when they are assessing benefits claimants on behalf of ATOS. Our guidance is for all doctors and in the guidance we use the term ‘patient’ to refer to anyone whom doctors test, treat or assess in their professional capacity as a doctor. This includes amongst others, employees, benefits and insurance claimants, and athletes.

“The first duty of all doctors is ‘to make the care of your patient your first concern’. But that is not the only duty doctors must observe. Being open and honest and acting with integrity is also an essential part of medical professionalism. Good Medical Practice provides guidance, not a set of rules, so doctors must use their judgement to apply the duties and principles defined in our guidance to the various situations they face as a doctor, whether or not they routinely see patients in a therapeutic or any other role.

Dishonesty in writing reports cannot be justified by reference to the first duty of doctors. Further advice on disclosing information for employment, insurance and similar purposes can be found here: http://www.gmc- uk.org/Confidentiality_disclosing_info_insurance_2009.pdf_27493823.pdf”

Competing interests: None declared

For someone who cares deeply about professional standards, I find this to be very heartening response. It may also be of note to people who have been poorly treated within their medical assessments.

27 Responses to “The GMC’s response to that ATOS article”

  1. stan March 8, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    I welcome this response ,at last ,a direction is being given.A patient is a patient whether in surgery ,hospital or assessment.
    If the GMC supports this feeling completely ,then such as Atos Healthcare should be made aware not to comply will lead to charges being brought.

  2. DeusExMacintosh March 8, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Only problem with that… ATOS aren’t required to use Doctors and usually don’t. Their “medical professionals” tend to be nurses, midwives and physiotherapists.

    I would think Doctors would have an obligation to consider the prior medical evidence of other NHS Consultants and GPs when doing an assessment but ATOS assessors typically refuse to look at this (even though claimants are asked to bring it with them).

    Also, why aren’t we hearing Occupational Therapists screaming bl88dy murder about this fake new specialism impinging on their area of expertise?

  3. Mo Stewart March 8, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    It has more to do with the 500 page contract between DWP and Atos which claims other medical reports may be “resisted”. Furthermore, unlike GPs and Consultants, the Atos doctors have no direct public accountability, according to the former Healthcare Commission. Patients with problems with NHS doctors have somewhere to turn to, such as the Care Quality Commission. However, the patients with a serious grievance against a doctor in the employ of Atos, when already chronically sick or disabled, are then required to make formal representations themselves to the GMC. To date, not one complaint against Atos doctors have run the distance to a GMC decision, with GMC confirming that investigations may at times take up to three years to complete, although they stress that most are completed much faster.

  4. Stan March 8, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    Atos are not untouchable,nobody in this country is,it may take time but opinion WILL change. We may just have to keep chipping away,as more professionals make comments like this the Government will see it can no longer defend the undefendable.
    A major problem we have is the influence of Unum on the DWP,it could be argued Unum actually are the DWP.
    From April onwards protest will pick up a pace,people like Mr Cooper may feel they can no longer support a ststem that is implemented with a built in bias.

  5. Margaret McCartney
    margaretmccartney March 8, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    atos say that doctors have to be used if there is any ‘neurological’ problem. I don’t know why, but it means that they have to employ doctors.
    here is what the Nursing and Midwifery Council say
    “Make the care of people your first concern, treating them as individuals and respecting their dignity
    Treat people as individuals

    1. You must treat people as individuals and respect their dignity
    2. You must not discriminate in any way against those in your care
    3. You must treat people kindly and considerately
    4. You must act as an advocate for those in your care, helping them to access relevant health and social care, information and support

    /….
    Collaborate with those in your care

    8. You must listen to the people in your care and respond to their concerns and preferences
    9. You must support people in caring for themselves to improve and maintain their health

    and for physios
    they are registered with the health professions council, who say
    “Your duties as a registrant
    The standards of conduct, performance and ethics you
    must keep to
    1 You must act in the best interests of service users.”

    I do think that working for atos means an automatic difficulty with the professional registration on which employment with Atos depends.

  6. peter mcdade March 9, 2011 at 10:15 pm #

    With regards to the NMC code of conduct, I believe that the NMC really have a role to play here in protecting the public. This is their primary purpose after all, they could make a stand and lobby for ATOS to at least employ Mental Health registered nurses to do mental health assessments. The Nursing Times could also put pressure on ATOS by refusing to run their adverts until they employ Mental Health registered nurses. When someone presenting with acute mental health problems is admitted to a general hospital it is required that mental health services are involved in the care of the individual either through regular consultation or specialist nursing. Why are people who require a very individualized assessment denied this basic right ? (rhetorical QM)

  7. Mo Stewart March 14, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    On a related subject, I have just had it confirmed that the Royal College of Nurses have refused to accredit the Atos nurse training… Is this a glimour of hope I’m thinking?

  8. Sharon Morgan March 19, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    It’s really shocking the way we get treated by ATOS. I can’t believe that they can even contradict themselves on paper and get away with it. I am social phobic, suffer with anxiety and depression and have bowel and bladder problems after suffering cervical cancer 5 years ago. My examination report said that I had no problem going to public places without someone with me, yet I gained 6 points on my report for not being able to go to social places without someone with me, despite my telling the so called ATOS professional that I don’t go anywhere socially and need someone with me at all times when going out publicly. They never even examined me for bladder and bowel problems. Well how could they when they’re not even qualified? My examination only lasted 10 minutes and I now know that none of my medical records were even requested let alone viewed. This sort of treatment in this day and age is shocking and for me the days just get darker and darker without a light at the end of the tunnel.

    The government had better hope they don’t get ill one day as they are cutting their noses off to spite their own face but then i’m guessing that their pay offs and huge pensions will see them through their illnesses while the rest of us go on with nothing.

    Millions for the bankers and nothing for the disabled. I’ve never been so ashamed of being part of the UK.

  9. Margaret McCartney
    margaretmccartney March 19, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    I agree, Sharon- and I’ve also concluded that the only real regulator here is going to be either the GMC or NMC. I am aware of several people who are making formal complaints. I think that there is an argument that the very nature of ATOS assessments makes them very difficult to do professionally. If you want to contact me please do at margaret@margaretmccartney.com

  10. Margaret McCartney
    margaretmccartney March 22, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    the BMJ have published the rapid response from the GMC in the paper edition, which hopefully means it will be well read…

  11. Mo Stewart March 28, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

    And now the news is worse…. I had recently been warned that the DWP ‘have an arrangement’ with the GMC NOT TO investigate ANY Atos doctor, which may explain why not one staff member has been taken to a fitness to practice panel… I didn’t want to believe this so tested it…

    I am a (retired) medical professional and sent detailed and very strong evidence as testimony to a breach of ethics and the fact that the Atos doctor who visited me actually broke the law – providing a bogus medical report is still against the law. However, despite being advised that an Assistant Registrar would consider all evidence, I received a letter from a medically unqualified administrator, attempting to brush me off, claiming that nothing further will be done unless the employer (ATOS) confirm that there are concerns about this doctor’s medical practice….

    I have very firmly advised this administrator that I would have thought that, if any employer had any concerns regarding a doctor’s fitness to practice then that doctor would be dismissed, so it seems unlikely that that is possible. Furthermore, I have INSISTED that I am a medical professional, I have identified a breach of ethics and a doctor that willingly breaks the law and have demanded that an assistant registrar looks at my evidence…. Time will tell if it works… Meanwhile, the GMC assistant director, Jane O’Brian, is writing to the BMJ insisting that all doctors have a duty of care and that bogus medical reports are unacceptable. She’d better tell her admin staff.

  12. fiona April 2, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    Why wont people wake up to thease criminals,in my opinion.
    why havent the goverment been made aware of thease sort of corrupt people.
    people come before money,unless we invent highly shopisticated machines.

    Ignorance should not be in any sort of responsible position….
    Maybe the tax payer would rather have Gadaffi.

  13. Tammytroot April 9, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    As a layman, I find it heartening to see that some medical professionals are unhappy with Atos and their conduct, I’m sure it will give any disabled person who reads your blog some comfort to know that they are not alone in their struggle against bureaucracy, and that there are those in your profession willing to be “valiant for truth”.

  14. Shelagh April 17, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    The fact that doctors are willing to work for Atos Healthcare seems like a total contradiction to their role. The medical assesments are carried out in such a manner that patients are made to feel as though they lying about the severity of their illness. The stress caused by these assessments and the way they are carried out goes against any guidlines or basic respect for the dignity and care of a patient. People with mental health problems seem to be the most vulnerable in terms of justifying their illness and its effects. The lack of thorough training and attitudes of medical professionals carrying out these assesments means they are discriminating and victimising those who in fact require their support. I care for someone with mental health problems and have witnessed their treatment at these medicals, there are constant irregularities, the medical professionals often do not follow their professional standards, are aggressive and confrontational and have put the opposite of what the patient said. I am deeply shocked at this situation and have no way to get these issues addressed. The GMC must look at the ethics of the current situation and not condone those perpetrating these abuses.

  15. Shades of grey April 21, 2011 at 12:47 am #

    Shelagh – Doctors have mortgages to pay, and need a job, just like other people. I have a friend who works in occupational medicine and is on a part-time contract – could get made redundant any time. Not many jobs in occupational health – esp. for part timers. Meanwhile, ATOS have the big adverts out, attractive headline rates of pay highlighted etc etc. Doctors do have ethics, and the GMC statement is important, but doctors are people, not saints.

    You might well think that hiving all this off into the private sector makes it intrinsically MORE likely that the people (doctors and nurses) working for the company (as opposed to for the NHS) will be “sympathetic” to specifically COMPANY priorities. You might well also think it suits the Govt (the last one and this one) to have it all done by a company rather than by any Govt agency (arms length, “not OUR decision” etc etc).

    Anyway, you might well think that… I (and my friend) couldn’t possibly comment etc etc.

    Incidentally, my friend said they would never work for ATOS doing the assessments, precisely they didn’t see how they would be able to square it with their primary medical duty to the patient. But inevitably not everyone see things in quite such clear-cut terms.

  16. peter mcdade April 26, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    How about writing letters/emails to the NMC and getting the official line from them?

    Something along the lines of .

    Why does the NMC tolerate the practice of members form the non mental health part of the register doing mental health assessments ?

    And does the NMC believe that this practice is promoting/protecting the public ?

    I would be really grateful if as many people as possible could do this.

  17. DavidG May 2, 2011 at 1:31 am #

    Having been subjected to two WCAs (http://wheresthebenefit.blogspot.com/2011/04/wca-sick-joke-or-national-disgrace.html) I have to thank you for the work you’re doing on this. Even though I ultimately passed the second WCA I don’t consider either to have reached an appropriate level of professionalism. As an engineer formerly specialising in safety critical work I’m all to aware of my duty of care, both ethically and in law, yet my two WCA’s aspired to a level of competence that would have embarrassed the Keystone Kops, falling well short of the level of competence I would expect to deliver in a similar professional interaction.

    I am very glad to see that the GMC has now ruled that ATOS assessments are subject to the same professional standards as any other doctor-patient interaction. I found Doctor Cooper’s suggestion that a lower standard of care applied in ATOS assessments to be truly disturbing. Even if it were not considered a doctor-patient relationship, the doctor would still be operating in a professional capacity, still be subject to the expectations of professional duty of care in English law. Dr. Cooper appeared to be arguing that professional expectations of doctors are lower than those of engineers, or car mechanics, and it is a relief to see that viewpoint ruled incorrect.

  18. victoria July 2, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    I have a trapped nerve (caused by cervical spondylosis) ie a neuroligical disorder, I was “assessed” by a RGN who has put “inaccutrate data”m on my report…test results given for tests not done…condition due to “paoin + stiffness”

    wot a joke!!!

  19. Scott August 13, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    I am a mental health nurse for a crisis team and have recently been inundated with cases whereby people have experienced social crisis due to having ESA stopped by ATOS assessors. Most of these cases get overturned by appeal, quite rightly so as the initially decision was ludicrous. Assessors do not look at reports etc. Recently a lady with paralysis in arm was deemed fit to work.
    I have heard that the assessor work on commission, is this true!!! If so it is disgraceful. Also the cost of the appeal process is completely contradictory in terms of trying to save money. If appeals turn over the decision, the assessor should be financially penalised in my opinion

  20. Mo Stewart August 27, 2011 at 5:41 am #

    Sorry Scott, but this is where people go wrong…. and how Atos survive …

    ESA could not be stopped for your clients by Atos assessors Scott, it was stopped by the DWP admin team following an Atos assessment. This is how Atos escape all responsibility, as all decisions regarding benefit are DWP decisions, the GMC refuse to investigate any doctor unless the Atos decision has gone to Appeal and been overturned at Appeal, and the chronically sick and disbable people of the UK remain in jeopardy of this American style medical tyranny funded by the DWP.

  21. Paul August 29, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    Why do the government want to move all the sick and lame off ESA onto JSA?

    Is it purely to create hardship for the people who have paid into the system all their working lives?

  22. Mo Stewart September 3, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    For those of us struggling with this government funded medical tyranny, please be advised that latest research has confirmed that all the protests in the world will change nothing. The DWP are simply managers and the welfare reform is at the direction of the discredited American insurance corporate giant Unum Inusrance who, when named Unum Provident Insurance were identified by the American Ass of Justice as the 2nd WORST insurance company in America. They were banned from 15 states in America until 2008. More detailed info from research reports etc now published at Black Triangle, where Atos can’t force the website to close down, as recently undertaken against CarerWatch. Please go to: http://www.blacktrianglecampaign.org and check out the front pages. More detailed and dmaning evidence to be published on 14th Sept, following the welfare reform debate in the House of Lords.

  23. Mark Piggott September 10, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    Hello,
    I’m a freelance journalist writing a major feature about ATOS Healthcare and would be grateful to hear (in confidence if desired) from anyone who has recently had dealings with the company. You can read some of my published articles on my website at:
    http://www.markpiggott.com/journalism.htm
    Many thanks
    Mark Piggott

  24. nursesagainstatos November 17, 2011 at 3:13 am #

    Mark/or anyone else could you possibly get some info on Unum’s influence on the policy of Atos assessors all being from the general part of the nursing register ?

    I have been told that Atos do not employ mental health nurses because it is part of the agreement between the DWP and Atos for the contract/memorandum. This has been verbally verified by the HR department at Atos. I can’t find anything in writing though, If anything could be traced back to Unum having any input into this then things could be really interesting. As Unum have a vested interest in less state provision and more people taking out private health insurance.

  25. kaleem September 9, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    Thank you for all this information

  26. nikki December 27, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    I was assessed by an Atos doctor and the report on his observations were disgraceful and a pack of lies . He was rude ,ignorant and rushed me during the assessment .He refused to look at further evidence which was put in a file to show him . I was removed from high rare care and mobility of DLA to nil overnight ,and this Doctor’s report defineatly held the majority clout in the decision .I have suffered long term mental health problems for 18 years , am 100 % dependent on people ,cant go out alone or even stay in alone .I feel detached from reality nearly 24/7 .I have had to have electric shock treatment for suicide attempts as a result of depressive illness .I feel detached from my own self ,have no confidence or self esteem .I suffer with bladder and bowel incontinence ,severe anxiety ,panic attacks. I was under a psychiatric consultant for 17 years ,and was only discharged a year ago because my consultant had exhausted all avenues of medication ,including Lithium ,electric shock therapy ,counselling ,psychotherapy ,psychology none of which made any significant improvement to me . Every day of my life is a living hell in my mind and body .I get no feelings of joy ,happiness , I suffer with fibromyalgia which went un diagnosed until recently ,which can range from everyday pain in my knees ,stiffening ,pain ,stiffness in neck back ,shoulders arms ,wrists ,fingers . constant feeling of heaviness and fatigue throughout my body and mind . I have a condition where i fall asleep without warning and this could be dangerous if unsupervised .I told this doctor who is also by the way also a general practitioner at a surgery about half hr away from where i live .I told him how mixed up ,confused i get very easily and cant concentrate or take in information around me .I told him of the derealization i suffer with this word not even used in the report ,past self harm with razor blades ,suicidal thoughts of which he described as strange thoughts .Bed wetting which is embarrassing to talk about to a stranger let alone a male .Yet he summarized me as friendly , well nourished , well built ,intelligent ,no signs of sweating or shaking ,refused to get up and walk ,yet did not say in his report that I could not walk as my feet were in so much pain and I could not stand on them .Since this visit and being signed off dla ,i am lost our mobility vehicle and therefore the slightest small piece of independence i had enabling me to get out on short journeys .I have lost my appetite completely ,experiencing tremouring through out my body all day every day . Im not sleeping ,i have relapsed mentally having suicidal thoughts of which i had to been seen on 3 occasions by the crisis mental health team and referred urgently back to my previous psychiatric consultant , both my antidepressants increased .I emailed the GMC on 3 separate occasions firstly dating back to early November ,yet had no response from any of my emails . Its my strong belief that the Dr who visited me from Atos has no duty of care to patients and only to that of Atos .I even complained about this Dr to Atos and basically its mine and my partners word against his as we had no impartial witness . He even lied what time he arrived and left my home . So 18 years of suffering with mental health problems ,physical problems , people dependent and all listed above ,existing in my life not even wanting to live ,having to be supervised / cared for with personal needs ,living my life scared like a little child .Yet somehow Atos was able to cure me overnight by sending a doctor who obviously has no understanding of mental health or the complexity . or the fact that just because i can relay to him how i feel .how i am effected ,how i suffer does not warrant someone being described as intelligent ,what about the fact that years of medication and lack of mobility has made it difficult for me to lose weight ,He ticked i didnt need help with basically anything that in his opinion i can manage all alone .. Duty of care I seriously think not .. This has been typed for me by my cousin as i am unable to do it but am with her as she types this on my behalf

  27. Karl January 20, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    I can’t help but think about how did all this start..!

    Firmly believe that “Jeremy Kyle Show” has social engineered the whole country and government mindset that people claiming benefits are workshy.

    When every time Jeremy Kyle says “why don’t you get a job then ?” and scrolling his face at the same time, you hear the studio audience break out into a rapturous applause.

    Everybody who watches this program will then change their mindset to the point that it is okay to jump onto the bandwagon and attack people who claim benefits, even people who are too ill to work.

    In reality unemployment will never be eliminated, with jobs being lost everyday, and too many people being unemployed and too few jobs available, do the maths people, unemployment is here to stay.

    Well done Jeremy..!!

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