Assessing cancer patients for ESA

Most people in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance are treated as needing preparation to return to work. It has taken a little time for government to realise the implications of that process, but an informal consulation on the circumstances of cancer patients suggests that the penny has started to drop. When I was interviewed on Radio Wales on 28th April last year, I took the treatment of cancer patients as an illustration of the problems. What I said was this:

“Of the people who are down here as having neoplasms, which are various tumours, we have 33% who don’t get signed off. Some are being found fit for work and some don’t complete the assessment. Now of course, it’s not that people basically say, ‘I’ve got cancer, I’m stopping work.’ What happens is that people are uncertain. They don’t know. They want medical assessment. They want clarification. They are unsure about the situation. Theyhope that things will be different. It takes time to sort this out. And what we’ve increasingly got is a system that is treating people mechanistically, ticking boxes, and saying ‘sorry – wrong boxes – go away.’ “

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