ONE of the world’s longest surviving kidney dialysis patients has hit out at the UK Government’s “Nazi” tactics after being declared fit to work in a scheme designed to get more people off incapacity benefit.
Paul Mickleburgh, 53, has undergone a series of operations over the past 33 years, including four failed transplants, and has suffered 14 heart attacks.
The father-of-three says he is the victim of changes which involve transferring tens of thousands of Scots claimants off incapacity benefit or severe disablement allowance and on to the new Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
He criticised the Government after being told to attend work-focused interviews and actively look for employment or face a cut in benefits.
Mr Mickleburgh, of Aberdeen, blamed the stress of worrying about “cruel and nasty” welfare reforms for a heart attack he had three weeks ago.
He said: “How ill do I need to be to pass their test? Apart from being dead, I don’t know how I can get much worse. It makes me so angry.
“I was asked to tell them all my illnesses. When I had finished it was a page-and-a-half long.
“I enclosed all my medical history, medication, dialysis times, and what it does to me after being on it for 33 years.
“But to my great shock I have been passed fit for work under these new rules and must attend work-focused interviews and do everything possible to find work or lose my benefits.
“I don’t think they have bothered to read the forms.
“I’d liken this to what the Nazis did, working the disabled and the sick until they dropped dead and were no longer a burden.”
Mr Mickleburgh was diagnosed with renal failure when he was 19 and has not worked since 1992, when his body rejected a fourth donor kidney.
The former Territorial Army Royal Engineer is too unwell to be on a transplant list as he would not survive a fifth procedure and will spend the rest of his life on dialysis.
He is kept alive by a machine which cleans his blood, although his other organs, including his heart, are now failing.
He has battled cancer, pneumonia, 14 heart attacks in the past five years, and suffers from spontaneous internal bleeding and brittle bones.
Mr Mickleburgh also has a mechanical prosthetic valve fitted in his heart, a twisted bowel, and suffers agonising joint pain as a result of prolonged renal treatment.
Tests for the ESA scheme are carried out by medical staff based on a computer-based questionnaire.
In February, Citizens Advice Scotland warned 115,000 Scots will lose out on sickness benefits over the next three years. Of these, 36,000 will only be eligible for Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Mr Mickleburgh said he was placed in a “work-related activity group”.
He added: “It’s unrealistic and unreasonable to expect me to attend these meetings when there is no realistic prospects of an improvement in my health.
“I’m on dialysis three days a week and because I have been on it for so long now it takes me days to recover from it.
“No-one is going to employ someone like me who is going to be off six days a week.
“I’m worried sick about these changes. I believe I took my last heart attack due to this cruel and nasty policy.”
The DWP has rejected his request to reconsider his position, but said that he could appeal.
A spokeswoman said: “We shouldn’t automatically write off a person’s ability to work, solely on the basis of a health condition or disability.
“The assessment for Employment Support Allowance doesn’t focus on a particular diagnosis, but on the actual abilities of an individual, and whether that person, with the right support, could undertake suitable work.”