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Fury Among Scottish Disability Rights Campaigners As London Coroner Says DWP Assessment Is To Blame For Suicide

September 19, 2015

THE UK Government’s brutal welfare cuts have for the first time officially been blamed for the death of a disabled dad.

The 60-year-old man with serious mental health problems killed himself after being hounded back to work by Iain Duncan Smith’s Department of Work and Pensions(DWP) after being on disability benefits for 10 years.

An investigation found that the “trigger” for the suicide was “his recent assessment by a DWP doctor as being fit for work”.

The London-based coroner has written to the DWP raising concerns that “there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken.

Last month, we revealed that thousands of people have died after being declared “fit for work” sparking fresh calls from campaigners and politicians for an overhaul of the Tory Government’s welfare regime.

New statistics released by the DWP show that more than 80 people a month are dying shortly after the work capability assessment (WCA) found them fit for work.

The shocking figures revealed that 2,380 claimants died between December 2011 and February 2014 shortly after being told to get back to work and their benefits were being stopped.

However, this is the first time an official has ruled that the death of a claimant was as a direct result of being found fit for work.

The coroner’s report has sparked fury among Scottish disability rights campaigners and Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil who say this is “the most damning evidence yet” which proves that the benefit reforms are killing people.

Disabled activists described the ruling as “ground-breaking” in the fight to get the fitness-for-work tests scrapped and replaced with a more humane and less dangerous assessment.

Neil said: “This coroner’s verdict is the most damning evidence yet of the appalling cost of the UK Tory government’s inhumane welfare policies.

“This man’s suicide has been linked directly by the coroner to the fact he was assessed by the DWP as being ‘fit for work’ – despite a huge weight of expert medical evidence to the contrary. The fact that none of this medical evidence was taken into account by the DWP is totally unacceptable.

“This utterly tragic case is the starkest example imaginable of the reality of what is happening as a result of Tory welfare cuts – and it only begs the question as to how many more cases like this may go uncovered.”

Following the inquest, the coroner wrote to the DWP saying that the Atos healthcare professional had failed to take into account the views of any of the man’s doctors during a 90-minute assessment, telling him the DWP decision-maker would look at that evidence instead.

But the Atos assessor did not request any reports or letters from his GP, who had assessed him as not being well enough to work, his psychiatrist who diagnosed him with recurrent depression and panic disorder with agoraphobia, or his clinical psychologist, who had assessed him as “very anxious and showing signs of clinical depression”.

Instead, the man, from north London, was found fit for work and six months later, he killed himself in the autumn of 2013. The inquest took place last year but the shocking details of the report have only just emerged.

The coroner’s verdict stated: “The anxiety and depression were long-term problems, but the intense anxiety that triggered his suicide was caused by his recent assessment by the DWP as being fit for work, and his view of the likely consequences of that.”

A spokesperson for Disabled People Against Cuts said: “This is a ground-breaking verdict, which must now put the onus on the DWP to explain themselves since the response they provided to the coroner was pitiful, callous and inadequate.”

The patient-led Black Triangle disability rights campaign co-founder, John McArdle, said the case provided “the first irrefutable evidence from a member of the judiciary that the DWP’s regime has been directly responsible for the death of a disabled person and that there exists no reliable mechanism for doctors to flag up substantial risk”.

He added: “It is now incumbent on the government to respond swiftly and meaningfully.”

A DWP spokesman said: “Suicide is a tragic and complex issue and we take these matters extremely seriously.

“Following reforms to the work capability assessment, which was introduced in 2008, people are getting more tailored support to return to work instead of being written off on long term sickness benefits as happened too often in the past.”

9 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2015 2:33 pm

    Reblogged this on perfectlyfadeddelusions.

  2. Florence permalink
    September 19, 2015 2:43 pm

    The headline is a bit misleading, as it makes it sound like the Scots were angry with the coroner!

  3. Jean Calladine permalink
    September 19, 2015 3:02 pm

    This Tory government is so bloody callous it beggars belief, this government is the worse we have ever had, they don’t give a dam about the sick & disabled, that my friends is the fact of the matter…

  4. September 19, 2015 3:05 pm

    This week I had a suicide note sent as a comment to my blog. I wont quote it here. It put the blame firmly and very convincingly in the hands of the DWP and its work capability assessment. Fortunately the police were able to trace the person and get them to a hospital in time. I hope he is feeling better now.

  5. stilloaks permalink
    September 19, 2015 5:16 pm

    Reblogged this on DWPExamination..

  6. September 20, 2015 7:36 am

    what part of too sick to work dont these bastards understand, whats the point of a wca when everyone is told there is nothing wrong with you ,never mind what the doctors say a nurse can tell in 20 mins from across the room that your fit,and dont even look at your history, its all a tory con to steal your benefits ,they dont care if you live or die

  7. Mr.Angry permalink
    September 20, 2015 7:43 am

    This poor man is one of thousands who have lost their lives because of the ill thought out Tory policies. How many have disappeared without the full story being known.

    What an absolute tragedy, this so called government are repeating the Aitken T4 program used by the Nazis, back door genocide and paying a third party contractor to carry out the murders on their behalf.

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