French company Atos, which has a £108m per year contract with the government, has failed to remove grossly misleading claims from its website – despite being ordered to do so by the Advertising Standards Authority.
The controversial outsourcing giant, which carries out benefits health assessments for the DWP, features impressive figures on its website which the ASA says are unproved. The dodgy figures boast:
“Each year Atos Healthcare process over 1.2 million referrals for medical advice completing over 800,000 face-to-face medical assessments within our nationwide network of over 140 medical examination centres.”
“All our 1700+ healthcare professionals are fully trained to undertake disability assessments.”
But Freedom of Information requests by the website WhyWaitForever.com reveal that referrals averaged 751,000 per year and the number of healthcare professionals was just 848 — far less than claimed by Atos.
Atos refused to cooperate with the ASA’s investigation and, despite being ordered to make changes to the ubsubstantiated claims, the material is still visible on the their website.
But stonewalling regulators nevertheless represents a change in tactics when dealing with critics:
Last year Atos forced a thriving support forum for disabled people to shut down after users had the temerity to criticise the company.