Scandalous Cancer Treatment
Just how far the authorities are prepared to go in their drive to cut the cost of benefits to the country as a whole? Cancer is tough enough to face up to without this added pressure, so those in charge really do need to think again.
Scandalous Cancer Treatment
In what will surely provoke a storm of protest, the UK government has announced that, as part of their drive to clean up the benefits system, in future many seriously ill cancer patients will be forced to take medical tests and face back to work interviews by DWP staff.
This dreadful news comes despite ministerial assurances that it would not be made harder to get welfare, the proposals to force cancer patients undergoing intravenous chemotherapy to prove they are too ill to work are buried within a report, penned by Prof Malcolm Harrington - government adviser on testing welfare recipients - are.
Currently cancer patients unable to work because treatment side-effects are allowed to claim the highest rate of employment support allowance - around £100 a week - with over 9,000 placed automatically between October 2008 to June 2010 in this group. This report outrageously claims that this encourages benefit dependency.
Chemotherapy suffering cancer patients will now have to prove themselves too sick to work, taking part in the controversial work capability assessment program. This has already been proved to be majorly flawed, so chances are that some such cancer patients will be judged able to return to employment.
This truly ludicrous decision is under attack by charities simply because of the mounting evidence that seriously ill people are being judged fit for work when they clearly are not by these panels, over 40% of appeals against such decisions proving successful
30 cancer charities, and indeed all cancer experts questioned argue that such patients should remain automatically eligible for ESA, instead of, often fighting for their lives in the middle of treatment being made to undergo stressful assessments to prove inability to work anymore.
This ridiculous legislation demonstrates, on the part of government, a misunderstanding of what it's like to undergo punishing treatment, and blatant disregard of the stress and practical difficulties inherent in these cold assessment processes. It turns completely on the head the government's own benefits position on cancer patients.
Work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, earlier this year amended ESA regulations so that exemption from medical tests and face-to-face interviews, as well as getting benefits automatically would apply even to those patients only likely to receive chemotherapy within six months.
It is felt by most, quite rightly, that people obviously serious ill should be continually tested and retested but instead allowed to get on with their treatments in peace, yet the government is pressing ahead with welfare reform bill changes that will cause 7,000 cancer patients to lose ESA entitlement after 12 months simply because they have not quickly enough recovered from their illness, proposals that definitely need to be reconsidered.
To be fair, government sources did say that patients would not always be asked to undergo a complete assessment and further be allowed to prove they were too ill to work with documentation, only being asked to attend a face-to-face assessment where absolutely necessary, but the question still remains about just how far the authorities are prepared to go in their drive to cut the cost of benefits to the country as a whole? Cancer is tough enough to face up to without this added pressure, so those in charge really do need to think again.