Letters Atos and changes to disabled people’s benefits

In defence of Atos

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e2148 (Published 21 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2148
  1. Michael J O’Donnell, occupational physician, chief medical officer
  1. 1Atos Healthcare, London NW1 3HG, UK
  1. michael.o’donnell{at}atoshealthcare.com

In response to your two articles,1 2 Professor Harrington has examined the work capability assessment in two extensive reviews. All recommendations made to Atos Healthcare in the first review have been implemented. We are now working with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to implement those made in the second review.

In his second review, Harrington examined LiMA, the computer software used by healthcare professionals to construct assessment reports. He concluded that: “there does not appear to be any fundamental problems with the way in which the software operates” and noted that “many of the comments received . . . appear not to be robust or evidence based.” LiMA is now used in most healthcare settings and simply replaces paper as a recording tool.

Atos Healthcare and DWP encourage people to submit additional medical evidence at any stage of the process for consideration as part of the claim. Our healthcare professionals ask for additional medical information from the claimant’s GP or other medical specialist when the completed questionnaire suggests that the patient may have a high level of functional loss and may not require a face to face assessment. Unfortunately, these requests are not always answered.

For chronic and fluctuating conditions, we use the same techniques as other clinicians to assess variability of symptoms, and a detailed functional history ensures that the effects of variability are taken into account.

All our 1400 doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists are registered with their relevant professional body and individually approved by the DWP. Atos Healthcare is also a General Medical Council approved practice setting. Those who are called for an assessment will be well treated and properly assessed by highly professional and dedicated practitioners.


Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2148


  • Competing interests: MJO’D is the chief medical officer of Atos Healthcare.


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