Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Are Atos about to Bail Out of All Occupational Health?
In one of those sick ironies of the Atos WCA regime, there were several stories of Atos's corporate Occupational Health service finding people unfit for work, only to have their WCA arm find exactly the same person, with exactly the same symptoms, fit for work
A new blog from Dr Greg Wood, the Atos whistleblower, points out that the Atos corporate OH service has quietly migrated itself off the Atos Healthcare website and now lives under an assumed identity as OH Assist with the only mention of Atos on the front page being a tiny acknowledgement that the website is by 'Atos IT Services UK Limited 2014', and in fact that sanitising of any reference to Atos seems to be pretty much site wide.
If you go to the Atos Healthcare website, it now states only that "Atos Healthcare conducts assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions." All mention of corporate OH has disappeared. A quick whois check on the OH Assist domain name suggests it was registered on 5th December, so this has been in process for several months, though it is difficult to tell when the website changes went live.
There are several possibilities here:
As Dr Wood suggests, that the Atos Healthcare brand is now so toxic that they can only preserve their corporate OH service by separating it from their own corporate ID and branding.
A spin off from this would link it to the story broken by John Pring and Disability News Service a couple of weeks ago, Doctor recruitment crisis leaves Atos begging for help, that Atos are finding it impossible to recruit doctors to Atos Healthcare, in which case hiding the corporate OH service's toxic parent identity may be the only way it can now recruit staff,
But there is a third, even more startling, though long overdue possibility, the separation of the corporate OH service onto a different website and the complete firewalling of it away from Atos branding, may be clear indicators that it is being prepared for sale, and that, when combined with Atos's 'Oh, woe is poor little bullied me' whinging in the Telegraph last Friday, strongly implies that Atos may be about to bail out of all involvement with Occupational Health, whether corporate or government led.
It is becoming very apparent that the campaign has worked, that the Atos corporate brand is now so toxic that Atos themselves are becoming unable to conduct work only marginally related to the WCA and may be in the process of selling up and doing a fly-by-night flit in the hope of saving what they can. Of course the tragedy is that the campaign was ever necessary, WCA was always flawed, but Atos had the opportunity to become a force for good in trying to make it work. Sadly they aligned themselves with DWP and against disabled people and sealed their own fate.
Of course the fight against DWP goes on until WCA is replaced with an assessment process that is fit for purpose and which meets the needs of disabled people. So, IDS next?