Seven doctors employed by the company that carries out controversial “fitness to work” tests for the government are being investigated by the General Medical Council (GMC).
At least one of the doctors has been the subject of more than one complaint, with a total of 10 cases under investigation.
Although the seven doctors work for Atos Healthcare, the company that carries out the work capability assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions, the GMC said it could not confirm whether the complaints related to their work for Atos.
Disabled people forced to undergo the assessments have repeatedly complained about the attitude of Atos staff.
Only last week, two Atos employees – a nurse and an administrator – were caught making offensive comments about their disabled customers on the social networking website Facebook.
Atos is investigating those complaints, while a complaint about the nurse’s comments has also been lodged with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
A GMC spokesman said: “Regardless of the type of work a doctor does they must follow the same standards of good medical practice set by the General Medical Council, including making the care of your patient your first concern.
“We can and do take action to remove or restrict a doctor’s right to practise if there have been serious failures to meet our standards.”
The NMC said it was unable to say if any Atos nurses were under investigation.
An NMC spokeswoman said: “Under our disclosure guidance we cannot confirm if someone is under investigation until it has been referred for a hearing.”
An Atos spokeswoman confirmed that seven of its doctors were under investigation, but said this was less than one per cent of the doctors the company employed.
She added: “We wouldn’t comment on the individual cases of the doctors.”
She declined to say how many Atos nurses were under investigation, but said the company was “committed to providing a high quality, professional service and requires these standards of all its employees”.
She added: “Any complaint made about an employee is taken extremely seriously. In addition to our own, rigorous, internal investigations we will cooperate with any external investigation to ensure that all facts are properly established and the appropriate action taken.”
18 August 2011