In July 2009, Atos Healthcare announced that it had won a contract with the Co-op group. The press release read as follows:
"Atos Healthcare, the number one occupational health provider in the UK and a business division of Atos Origin, today announced that it has won a contract with the Co-operative Group (tCG) and Co-operative Financial Services (CFS).
Under the new contract, Atos Healthcare will provide occupational healthcare services for the 82,000 employees who serve around 10 million customers a week through food, pharmacy, travel, funeral care, motor dealerships, legal and financial services. Atos Healthcare will provide pre-employment referrals and absence management including physiotherapy and workstation assessments to help improve employee wellbeing and reduce absence.
“Occupational health is a business-critical service in people-focussed organisations like ours,” said Graham Greaves, Occupational Health, Safety & Wellbeing Manager at CFS. “Atos Healthcare presented a solution that will enable us to further improve and standardise our occupational health service right across our organisation. It also demonstrated how, by implementing new management information and trend analysis tools, we can better monitor our service and ensure that it continues to meet the needs of our employees in the future.”
“We are absolutely delighted to win the contract to provide Occupational Health Services to The Co-operative Group, the UK’s largest mutual retailer,” said Gary Gear, General Manager for Occupational Health and Primary Care Services, Atos Healthcare. “This success further strengthens Atos Healthcare's position as the UK's number one Occupational Heath Services provider.” "
In light of what we now know about Atos, the discovery of the contract with the Co-op has led to disappointment amongst many of the Co-op's members. Last night, the Co-op posted the following statement on their Facebook page:
"Thank you for your comments on Atos, which we do take very seriously. As you will appreciate, as with all our suppliers, we have contractual obligations towards Atos which cannot immediately be revoked, although we will consider your views when reviewing our future relationship. It should be pointed out, however, that we began using Atos as our occupational health services provider before the Government moved to tighten the criteria for disabled benefits and as far as we understand it, this is a wholly different brief to the one we set them. Atos work with our HR department to help us to support those employees who are either on long term sick, or who are working with a disability or other health condition. We take our responsibility towards the health, safety and wellbeing of all of our employees very seriously and an occupational health assessment is just one of the many ways in which we look to support our employees."
As you can see from the comments following the statement, this has not done much to appease the members, many of whom are threatening to relinquish their membership. And it remains to be seen whether or not the Co-op feels that trying to find a way of terminating its contract with Atos is the preferred option.