Last Thursday I used an Adjournment debate I had won in the Common ballot to raise the tragedy of one of my constituents, Colin Traynor. He was diagnosed with grand mal epilepsy at the age of 14 months. At the age of 25 in 2008, striving to be independent, he was interviewed at Oldham Jobcentre to try to find an employer who would be willing to give him a job.
Remploy was contacted, but assessed his condition as so severe that he was deemed unemployable. In August 2011 he got a letter from DWP, again summoning him for a medical assessment. On the Atos Healthcare work capability assessment scale he was awarded 6 points, but told he needed 18. He was judged fit for work, and for that reason was told by letter on 19 December that his Incapacity Benefit was being cut by £70 a week. Colin worried he would lose his home, not be able to pay his bills or even afford food to eat. His health deteriorated, his seizures increased due to stress, and he lost a lot of weight. On 3 April this year he had a massive seizure that killed him.
This is far from an isolated case. After my speech in the House I received several other similar heart-rending accounts by email. I quote from two:
“I was sent to an Atos fit-for-work assessment medical. I was unwell at the medical and pointed out I have had 7 heart attacks, 2 of which were within the prior 18 months. At the medical the doctor took my blood pressure with a machine and it read 174 over 145. She said That’s high, so took it on the othjer arm, and it read 172 over 142. Then the doctor said The machine must be broken, you look fine to me. That is the first time I have known a doctor to see visually that a person’s blood pressure is fine. As I walked out, I asked for my taxi fares, and was told I am not entitled any. As I walked to get a taxi, I got about 50 feet from the medical centre door and had a heart attack…..10 days after the medical I was allowed home (from Hospital), only to find that I was found fit for work in a letter and all my benefits were stopped”.
“I have been fighting for 18 months now for DWP to accept that my clinical depression rules out my capacity to work for the foreseeable future………How many people who have been mentally ill for 15 years or more have found lasting jobs after being forced onto JSA? The real purpose of this process is to force mentally ill people to live on less money and ‘look for work’. In my opinion every Conservative and Liberal /democrat minister is guilty of murder. I am 52, and have never been so terrified (literally terrified) of what this government will do next”.