We have had a heart-rending response to our revelation that at least 32 people
are dying each week despite them being ruled not sick enough in the medical test for the new incapacity benefit.
Employment and Support Allowance claimants died after a “work capability assessment” concluded that they were able to get a job and only entitled to a lower rate of benefit.
Among them was 36-year-old Martina Delaney from Bolton. In November the private firm Atos, on a £100million government contract, deemed her fit for work and her benefits were cut.
“She was so worried about losing her flat and she had to sell the family jewellery to pay for the gas and food and never even told us, it would have broken her heart,” said her mother Elizabeth. “We found our beautiful girl in her bed on March 12.
“She suffered from high blood pressure, numerous allergies and long-term depression, there is no way she was fit for work.”
Another shocking story came from Citizens Advice which told of a warehouse worker whose degenerative lung condition forced him to give up work.
“His weight had dropped to just seven stone, he had trouble breathing and walking” said a CAB spokeswoman.
“But in the medical test for Employment and Support Allowance he was awarded zero points and was told that he would be fit to return to work within three months. Before three months was up he died.”
Then there was the woman of 50 with terminal cancer, who we’ve been asked not to name.
This lady got a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions saying that following her medical test she was found fit for work and was told by a “back to work adviser” to attend some gym sessions.
“There has got to be a better way to assess people as to whether they are fit for work or not,” said Natasha, her support worker from a Midlands charity.
Atos – where the boss Keith Wilman gets £800,000 a year – has been widely slated for the quality of its medical assessment.
Just last week the company was condemned by the Advertising Standards Authority for claiming that it has got “1700+ healthcare professionals”. Such is the arrogance of this firm that it didn’t even bothering responding to the ASA, which is the kind of behaviour we usually see in fly-by-night conmen, not huge companies trusted by the government with such important matters as this.