People who have been following Welfare Weekly for some time will be well aware of how cruel and heartless the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can be. And also how seriously ill and disabled people in desperate need of state support are routinely bullied and harassed into looking for work – even when their own doctors have advised against it.
The following example of how vulnerable people are treated in 21st century Britain may shock some readers, but for those of us who write and read about it on an almost daily basis it comes as no surprise whatsoever. Sadly, it has become all too common.
A seriously ill gran, who needs a nebuliser to help her breath and suffered her second stroke just six weeks ago, has been stripped of her benefits and told she’s “fit for work”. Yes.. you read that correctly.
Pauline Pike, 59, has a long history of health problems and suffered her first stroke at the age of just 35. Her many health problems go back as far as 30 years and include cancer, diverticulitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and asthma.
And yet despite her very obvious frailties and long-term health problems – and how these would make it virtually impossible for her to carry out any kind of job – the DWP has declared that Pauline is well enough to work.
The decision comes following a face-to-face “medical assessment”, which was almost certainly carried out by someone with limited medical knowledge after only a few week’s “training”.
Speaking to the Daily Record, Pauline said: “I just got a call this week and I could not believe what I was hearing.
“I had been to a medical assessment a few weeks back and they found me to be fit for work.
“When I was forced to go for the medical, that was the first time I had been out the house in ages. I went along and I felt as if the woman was putting words into my mouth.
“She was asking if I could walk around the shops if I was with my husband and whether I could use my arms. I felt harassed and as if she had made her mind up before I was even finished.
“I was shocked to be told I was fit to work and flabbergasted when they then rang me and told me my benefits would stop next month and I would need to get a job.
“Who is going to take me on? I can’t breathe and can barely walk about the place. It’s not right to put me through all this especially when I am trying to recover from my second stroke six weeks ago.”
Pauline has been informed that her income support and severe disability allowance will stop on August 17th and says the way she and others are treated by the DWP is a “disgrace”.
“They don’t care” she said. “I am just a number to them.”
She continued: “I’ve been on morphine for at least five years and yet I am expected to just go out and get a job. I have never heard anything so ridiculous.
“I have asthma and have to use a nebuliser several times a day just to breathe. I have COPD which restricts my airways and I had cancer, which led to my kidney being removed.
“I don’t care what they do to me, I am just not going to play along.
“There’s no way I can work – I can barely walk. There always has to be someone with me, either my husband or my daughter.
“When I first went in, the doctor was okay but she was asking me to do things like moving my arms and I could hardly do even half of it.
“I have high blood pressure and this is making it go through the roof. I can’t believe they are putting me and my family through all this.
“It is an utter scandal – the way the Government are treating people is a disgrace.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “The decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken after an independent assessment, including all available evidence provided from the claimant’s GP or medical specialist.
“Anyone who disagrees with the outcome of their assessment can appeal.”
This article was last updated at 04:47 (GMT) on 30 July 2017.