This is the response that Atos sent me when I asked what work capability assessment mental function champions did. I didn’t think the statement below was particularly revealing, so a few of us are pursuing a meeting with MFCs so that we can find out more for ourselves. That whole story is referenced in this article here.


Atos response to questions about the role of mental function champions and work capability assessments (22 November 2012):

“There are two useful points to make up front, the first is that the assessment is not about diagnosing or treating a medical condition and so looks at different things to your doctor, GP or mental health nurse. It is designed to assess a person’s capability to enter the

The second is that all of our doctors, nurses and physiotherapists are fully trained and registered with their relevant professional body and have at least three years post qualification experience. As such they have a knowledge and understanding of mental health issues.

All our doctors, nurses and physiotherapists have received specific training in mental health and we have put in place a network of Mental Function Champions to spread best practice across the business and offer advice and coaching to other professionals carrying out WCAs.

We invited leading external experts in mental health to help us shape the role for the Mental Function Champions, and we now have 60 Champions. They work alongside our healthcare professionals, supporting them in a range of different ways.

Our Mental Function champions are selected for the role because they have considerable expertise within the mental function field. They may already have higher training or a higher qualification in the field of psychiatry or have experience working in Mental Health, Learning
Disability or Cognitive Impairment.

The Mental Function Champions received refresher training, delivered in part by the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), to ensure everyone had a consistent base of current understanding. They are then expected to maintain their subject expertise through continuous professional development.

Topics for training include:

Bipolar Disorder
Anxiety Disorders
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Alcohol and Drug Misuse
Assessment of Suicide Risk
“Red Flags” suggestive of severe MH difficulties or learning difficulties MH Act

The Mental Function Champion role is predominately to provide telephone-based support and advice to Health Care Professionals dealing with more complex cases involving mental function or learning disability. They also travel to the larger assessment centres to meet with and provide coaching for the Health Care Professionals based there.

Mental Function Champions provide advice before, during or after face to face assessments- an approach endorsed by Professor Harrington as an effective means of improving the quality of the assessment process, particularly for vulnerable customers.

Just to let you know, we have a blog site which contains a lot of information on Atos Healthcare. It may be worth taking a look if you have time:

Professor Harrington says in his review that his findings on Atos havebeen based on only one visit to an assessment centre and other than that on testimonials from DRGs. When looking at quality of our assessments it is worth noting that:

DWP Decision Makers have the right to send back a WCA report if they feel it doesn’t contain adequate information to make the right decision – they send back less than 1%

Claimants can ask for a copy of the report from the DWP and a complaints process is in place for individuals not happy with it or any other part of the process – less than 0.6% complain

Appeals tribunals are also invited to send back WCA reports to the DWP if they think they are below standard – only 23 have been sent back in 2012

Figures from the Tribunal Service reveal that an error in Atos’ functional assessment report was the main issue in successful appeal in only 0.3% of appeals allowed to date”