Heart Patient’s ESA Reinstated After He Has Cardiac Arrest During Appeal Hearing
A fire drill led to Bob Millar, 61, collapsing as he walked down four flights of stairs because the lift in Holborn, London, was put out of use.
His Employment Support Allowance is now being reinstated. It ceased after a Work Capability Assessment that, he said, followed four heart attacks . He added: “They’ve put me through hell.”
Officials claimed “evac chairs” were available to use.
US firm Maximus took over from Atos in assessing the health of benefit claimants on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions last year.
During an appeal against the cuts to his benefits in Holburn in March this year, the fire alarm sounded and the building was ordered to be evacuated.
Mr Millar, 61, was told he couldn’t get the lift and was told he would have to walk down four flights of stairs – despite it being a routine fire alarm test.
As he walked down the stairs, however, he collapsed with a suspected heart attack and was rushed to nearby University College Hospital by paramedics.
Given his history, the 61-year-old – who sleeps with an oxygen mask – was checked over by doctors and monitored for a day before being released, and was judged to have been suffering from an irregular heartbeat.
It was only this week that Mr Millar was finally told that his benefits would be reinstated after he won his appeal.
The DWP have been ordered to reinstate Mr Millar’s Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and has been ordered by backdate payments to when the benefits were stopped last year.
Evidence provided to the appeal hearing showed that Mr Millar suffered ‘significant ongoing issues’ and was unable to work due to a number of medical conditions.
The hearing was told that Mr Millar had his benefits stopped after the Maximus assessor gave him zero points – meaning he was judged fit to work.
The hearing this week awarded him 15 points – the highest you can get – and ordered that he should not be assessed again for two years.
Mr Millar, speaking this week, said the Department for Work and Pensions had ‘ put him through hell’.
He told the Camden New Journal newspaper “It has been horrendous.
“I had already had four heart attacks in the year before my assessment and I was telling them that when someone punched the fire alarm button.
“We were on the fourth floor and they won’t let you in the lift when there’s a fire alarm – so we had to go down the steps. I only made it to the second floor.”
A spokesman for the DWP said the WCA had been improved since it was run by Atos, and that it was now “fairer and more accurate”, adding: “If someone disagrees with a decision they can ask for it to be looked at again, and then appeal to an independent tribunal.