Sunday, 4 December 2011

Latest from the DWP: F*** cancer patients

Caron Lindsay and I have set up a petition against an utterly disgusting decision by the DWP to force cancer patients undergoing radio and chemotherapy to attend work related interviews, despite the fact someone undergoing that kind of treatment often will be physically unable to do so, and face financial penalties if they don't.

As someone whose mother died of cancer, I can tell you first hand just what an impact chemo and radiotherapy can have. The last thing cancer patients need is extra stress and hassle while fighting for their lives.

So that's why I'd ask you to sign this petition to get the government to change it's mind. I'd also suggest you go and read Caron's other suggestions on how you can contact Lib Dem ministers to get them to put pressure on the government on this issue.

Finally, if you're still not convinced, I suggest you read the following from Sue Marsh about the DWP's decision:
"You know how I often point out the fact that if you have IV chemotherapy you qualify for unconditional ESA support, but if you take chemo orally, you don't? 
Yup, it's that tough. Despite the fact oral chemo or radiotherapy can be just as physically devastating as IV, one meant you got unconditional support, the other meant you had to attend work related interviews!! Yup, seriously. No, I'm not making it up. 
As you can imagine, Macmillan Cancer Support campaigned pretty hard on this issue, pointing out that the system was clearly unfair. 
Well, after due consideration, the government appear to agree. It is, they conclude, clearly unfair that the scrounging IV chemo and radio patients are getting off scott free. Therefore, the government suggest they will all now have to face work related interviews. 
Yup, seriously. Yes, you did read that right. 
Anyone undergoing chemo or radiotherapy for cancer should not be considered unfit for work, according to the government. (Unless they have less than 6 months to live, great ole softies that they are) 
I can't even think of a snappy conclusion. I literally do not know how to put that into words.
If however, the government are actively looking for ways to create the biggest PR disaster of all time, then surely this will be a top contender?"


  1. Signed.

    This is disgusting politics. The Liberals should force the Tories to drop this policy by whatever means at their disposal.

    It makes David Cameron physically sick, he told us, to think of a prisoner having a vote, but he doesn't mind someone who feels like a limp rag, with the hair falling out, nausea waving over them, barely able to stay awake, terrible pain...sitting in front of a Atos interviewer with only one hour to do a tick box interview, hurrying them through the interview.

    You know what make me physically sick? David Cameron.

  2. To be absolutely fair, Tris, they're saying that the assessments will be mostly paper based and will mean less interviews and more people going in the support group. They have just gone the wrong way about it. Sometimes I wonder if anyone in the upper echelons of the DWP has any practical understanding of the realities of life.

    However, I just don't see why they can't, when they get a med cert which says someone is going through cancer treatment, put them in the support group automatically. It's pretty simple.

    The idea that someone in the condition you describe should be scrabbling around putting evidence together and filling in forms to satisfy ATOS, to strict deadlines, is absolutely unacceptable. That's why we've started the petition and we hope that it gets a lot of support.

  3. What I don't understand in all of this is how do the DWP not understand the concept of someone receiving chemo/radiotherapies being immunocompromised as a result of this treatment!

    I work with disabled people some of whom have cancer and usually their medical professionals tell them REALLY strictly to avoid contact with other people as they need to minimise their risk of contracting illnesses while their immune systems are suppressed. These are people who often want to or plan to do some kinds of work but have to make the hard decision not to based on the medical advice of their doctors and medical advisors who I believe have to know best!

    Yet more evidence of the unwieldy DWP acting like they know better than people's own medical expert professionals. It cannot be cheaper or more effective to harangue cancer patients than to just say "provide us with a med cert saying you're having chemo/radio/other between X and Y dates and we'll sign you as sick for that long". And it's certainly not kind or compassionate or even slightly ethical!


I'm indebted to Birkdale Focus for the following choice of words:

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