11th August 2016
A nurse has been struck off after pretending that she had assessed disabled people for their eligibility for disability benefits in their own homes, when she had actually carried out the assessments by telephone.
Amelia Victoria Bailey was conducting personal independence payment (PIP) assessments for the government contractor Atos when her deception was discovered by her employer.
Atos and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have since had to review every one of the assessments Bailey carried out.
Bailey’s deception was exposed when a manager realised that several of her assessment reports had been completed at times when, according to her diary, she should have been attending appointments.
When Atos contacted some of the disabled people Bailey had supposedly visited at home, many of them said their assessments had in fact been carried out by telephone.
Bailey had made up comments about the appearance of the claimants, and falsified her own clinical findings. She also submitted fake claims for travel expenses in a bid to cover her tracks.
When she was confronted by her manager, she admitted carrying out about half of her assessment reports by telephone and blamed “personal issues and a backlog of work”.
Now she has been struck off the nursing register by a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) panel, which found her guilty of misconduct.
The revelation of her dishonesty comes only days after Disability News Service revealed that another PIP assessor, a nurse with extreme right-wing sympathies, was suspended by another government contractor, Capita, after she posted disablist, racist comments about social security claimants on her Facebook page.
And DNS also reports this week how another nurse has been struck off for conducting “fitness for work” assessments of disabled benefit claimants while drunk.
Bailey’s NMC panel concluded that her behaviour had put the claimants she assessed at “unwarranted risk of harm”, because she would not have been able to identify their “particular needs” properly over the telephone.
It said that such dishonesty in a “sensitive area” such as disability benefits assessments meant her dishonesty was “extremely serious”.
The panel also said that her failure to show “any insight, remorse or remediation since that time suggests a risk of repetition of such behaviour”, and it pointed out that she only admitted her deceit after pressure from her manager.
The fake assessments took place between August and November 2014, and Bailey was finally struck off in June this year.
An Atos spokesman said: “The healthcare professional in question was employed by Atos for a brief period between August and November 2014.
“Our regular reporting processes identified this as an issue and enabled us to inform DWP as soon as it was discovered.
“Atos worked in partnership with the department at every stage of the process, fully investigating and reviewing every case to ensure that all claimants received a fair, correct and comprehensive assessment.
“It is important to recognise that the behaviour of the healthcare professional in question fell very short of the expectations of both Atos and the DWP.
“The NMC decision to remove the healthcare professional from the register is entirely consistent with the serious nature of these actions.”
A DWP spokeswoman said: “We expect the highest standards from the contractors who carry out assessments on our behalf and this behaviour is in no way tolerated by DWP.
“All claimants have the right to a fair assessment and we have been working closely with Atos to fully investigate the situation and review any cases overseen by the individual concerned.”
She said she could not disclose how many PIP assessments Bailey had carried out.