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Wednesday, 11 December

Training the Disability Assessors

Maximus, which has won a government contract to assess people’s ‘fitness for work’, will receive disability equality training workshops from Disability Rights UK against accusations that it has sold out.

The move will see the training of approximately 1,600 members of staff employed by the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments (CHDA) which is owned by the US outsourcing company Maximus, according to Disability News Service and it states that every member of CHDA staff – including healthcare professionals, managers and reception staff – will go through the training that will be delivered through about 100 two-hour workshops’.

The controversial scheme, previously administered by the heavily criticised French owned Atos, has as its basis the testing of disabled people’s need to meet the stipulations for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). However, Maximus itself had to fend off complaints that CHDA discriminated against disabled staff by not providing them with the adjustments they needed to do their jobs.

Another criticism was that Disability Rights UK (DR UK) should get involved with a training contract, said to be worth in the region of £100,000, especially one that has proved so controversial and unpopular with disability groups and individuals. One organisation has gone so far as to claim that it had betrayed its principles by taking on the work with Maximus. “Given what we know of the Department for Work and Pensions and Maximus, I have to say that DR UK have betrayed us again and sided with abusive practice,” accused Rick Burgess, Co-founder, New Approach. “DR UK are doing their job of laundering government policy, taking the money and making retroactive rationalisations after the fact to save what is left of their public reputation.”

Not surprisingly, DR UK defended its actions. “DR UK won the contact to provide equality training to healthcare professionals carrying out the work capability assessment earlier this year,” said Philip Connolly, Policy Development Manager, DR UK. “We decided, after much deliberation, to apply for the contract because we knew we could provide high quality trainers with personal experience of disability, and therefore could have an impact on healthcare professionals delivering the work capability assessment.”

TwinFM approached Maximus for a statement but was referred to previous press releases around the time it won the contract.

Picture:   Protests have already begun against Maximus, who took over from Atos on the government’s controversial work capability assessment.

Article written by Cathryn Ellis

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