Dying woman ordered onto the Work Programme

The following message appeared on the Vox Political Facebook page. It is reproduced in the hope that somebody from Prospects might have the courage to explain their organisation’s behaviour – and in the hope that this further evidence of the Coalition Government’s inhumanity to the citizens it has a duty to protect may encourage anyone who still thinks it’s a good idea to vote Tory or Lib Dem to think again. Here’s the message [boldings mine]:

I have terminal cancer. My prognosis is 0-3 years and I was diagnosed in March 2014 with my brain stem glioma.

In April 2014 I was placed in the support group for three years and I have gone from being able-bodied to hopelessly disabled. I have many neurological deficits including diploplia, dyspraxia, dysarthria and dysphagia. To save you Googling, this means that I have double vision and am going blind, I’m very clumsy and most days I drop everything I pick up, my speech is failing and one day I won’t be able to communicate verbally at all and I have such difficulty swallowing that I now have a feeding tube. I cannot leave the house alone and I’m at risk of choking and need 24 hour care. They speak of me going into residential care, but they hope to keep me in my own home for as long as possible.

The trouble is degenerative, nothing will get better, only worse, the cancer can’t be cured. I’m 37.

Now, I can deal with all that. I’m alive! And I can still do stuff!

What I cannot deal with is that I am on the work programme! I received this letter today (too late to ring the WP) demanding I come to an appointment with the Work Programme on Tuesday or they’ll stop my benefits.



It should be noted that Ms Ryan did not realise that the letter was for a telephone appointment until it was pointed out to her that she did not have to go to Prospects’ Bristol office. This is because the letter is very poorly-worded, as any reader can see.

You are encouraged to comment.

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33 thoughts on “Dying woman ordered onto the Work Programme

  1. leonc1963

    This looks to be now sorted Mike, Someone from twitter read my blog and asked for her MP I duly gave that info and this person emailed Kerry McCarthy MP.

    Giving Kerry credit she tweeted us straight back with the following messages:

    Have just seen email and replied, will get onto it first thing tomorrow.

    Now seen this update too, thanks for info. Glad she has some support but I will tell DWP to back off.

    it’s completely inhumane to treat someone who is so ill like this.

    So it looks like DWP HQ will be getting a nice phone call tomorrow morning and I am sure you will agree Mike it is nice to see MP’s doing there job although it has to be said perhaps we would not have the same outcome if her MP was Conservative!

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Let’s not count our chickens yet!
      DWP has to actually back off before anyone can say the job’s done.
      That being said, you’re absolutely right that this is a step in the right direction – and yes, it is extremely doubtful that any intervention would have taken place if her MP had been a Tory.

      1. leonc1963

        Yes why I said looks to be sorted! Kerry was quick to pick this up and that has instilled me with some faith in Labour and I do now think aside to this incident Labour are starting to come around although long way to go yet.

  2. Alan Grimes

    This is just another example from many, but people need to be aware that not just a vote for the cons or the lib dems is bad but also that a vote for UKIP is a vote for the conservatives.

  3. maria

    I notice it say if your phone is unavailable please phone whatever number, define the logic in that one. As for this poor person can they not leave her alone in the last days of her life, she is dying at 37 that’s a shame for a start is she not going to use her last days to get as much pleasure out of life that is possibly left? but be worked to death instead? There are no words to describe the level of inhumanness the DWP has sunk.

  4. Thomas M

    I, really, really want to see the end of this government. It’s indirectly killed it’s own citizens, tried with varying degrees of success to clamp down on freedom of expression and the Internet, and has undermined what rights workers still have. Having destroyed the power of the unions, it’s now made industrial tribunals and the law too expensive for the poor to access properly. And it hates those with disabilities or even diseases like cancer.

  5. lanzalaco

    Well I started off with a comment and wrote a story here, about my perspectives when i was unemployed. I was on the work programme when I was having several mini-stroke type episodes a day and had to go, do job trials etc. but its too large for here, so i should send to a blog now

    1. lanzalaco

      but the point was, as far as the advisers knew, I could have dropped dead on the job ..made no difference. It is true, when under a job duress, many people (not just work programme advisers) will literally work you to death. And you better stay completely cool about that, because if you want to survive this you will have to put things to them in a very a cool and reasonable manner.

  6. Jeffery Davies

    Rtu ids been there now cams has been there
    very famous gates with those famous words
    now we get the picture work us to death jeff

  7. Bill Kruse

    I think you’ll find this was a mistake. They do happen. As I understand it, she’s in the Support Group and shouldn’t have been sent this at all. I’ll agree the toxic environment Duncan-Smith’s created surrounding the sick and disabled greatly exacerbates the likelihood of such mistakes being made but we ourselves shouldn’t mistake incompetence for malevolence. God knows there’s enough of the genuine variety out there.

    1. concernedkev

      If it was a mistake how did the provider get her details if they had not been sent to them by the DWP. You have to be referred if your placed in the Work Related Activity Group WRAG. You have to know the system Bill and the fear that is instilled in Job centre staff by a new breed of managers they have brought in over the last 4 years. There are countless examples of cases like this where sick people are bullied back to work. Go on ATOS Miracles site or Black Triangle the Scottish based campaign group. Why is IDS refusing to provide the figures of claimants who have died or committed suicide around the time of their Work Capability Assessments ? Open your ears to the pleas of those who are suffering unjustly. It would be great if this case was a one off occasion but it is not. There is a deep conspiracy of silence in the media who have been alerted to the issues and choose not get involved. Look at Andrew Neil’s interview of IDS on Sunday Politics. Yes he tested him on figures and Universal Credit, food banks etc. but he never touched on the human cost in lives and he can’t say he has not been given them because he has.

      1. Bill Kruse

        The mistake initially would have been the DWP’s then, assuming you’re correct in what you say. Where the whole thing’s a clusterf***, stuff like this will happen. But I see no reason to suspect individual personal malice here, just a cockup. I’m familiar with BT, Atos Miracles too.

      2. Mike Sivier Post author

        I never thought there was any ill intention towards that specific individual – it’s the DWP’s direction of travel that is the concern. This particular person just happened to be the one who got the treatment on that day.

  8. Stuart McGoo

    I dislike Tory MPs as much as the next guy but both Robin Walker and Peter Luff helped with 2 similar cases I was dealing with (as a benefits advisor) and helped get things moving. I think an MP will get behind a constituent’s case when it is like this whatever party they support and when they do it does help a lot.

  9. Steve grant

    The real guilty parties are those employees who uphold this system.Its no good them trying to justify their actions because they are as guilty as those who construct such a system that the disabled and terminally ill are targeted in such a way that it can only be assessed as deliberate. These people should be named and shamed by those who after all pay for disabled and sick in their taxes, it’s in their names that the DWP implement what can only be described as acts of pure evil. Let’s say that the employees who continue to work for blood money are marking their own cards for the future. What goes around comes around.

  10. Smiling Carcass

    Words really do fail me; well almost.

    It is my opinion that if you are terminally ill, no matter you are invalided by your illness, even if you are relatively fit and possibly able to work, in these circumstances work should be a choice and benefits should allow you a comfortable life for whatever your remaining time is- and I am thinking average earnings here to allow you the economic freedom enjoy it.

    Hell, anybody who is ill should get it!

  11. Niki

    How is she on the work programme if she is in the support group? Poor poor woman, I hope the MP does her job well and this woman is left in peace.

    Why are the DWP letters so badly written? To confuse us???….

    1. Bill Kruse

      I would assume they’re cobbled together from templates in a hurry by people who are a) under pressure and b) don’t care about getting it right anyway. I’ve had similarly nonsensical letters from British Gas when I was in dispute with them. It’s a corporate thing, I’d say. I doubt in this case there’s some hand-rubbing individual gloating over this (apart from IDS of course) because it looks too much like it’s just a mistake or a series of mistakes happening, but I’ve no doubt in other cases there are examples of socially inadequate people abusing their authority to create misery for others and doing just that. You put IDS in charge, himself a classic example of a weak inadequate individual compensating by bullying, that’s what’s going to happen.

    2. Gazza

      Niki, sad to say they are written that way on purpose. If it was clear, intelligent and understandable, mistakes would not happen, like say actually in this case doing the interview could well have someone being sanctioned. That is the end result that the letter is written for – one more struck from the list. Next!!!

  12. Keith Jackson

    Sadly there are just too many situations like these, there is just no humanity in any of these sickening polices from this current government. It is beyond disgusting.

  13. ghost whistler

    That’s great and well done to those that got involved and for broadcasting this awful story. But it shouldn’t be happening in the first place. There is no excuse for this. The DWP will have her medical details, so will the WP. This cannot go on.

  14. Ann Archy.

    They wouldn’t get public liability insurance for a person so seriously ill. That’s why all they could do was arrange a phone call, which is totally out of order. Wondering if Prospect has a Facebook page. I fancy a spot of trolling. 😉

  15. department for deciet and sanctions aka dwp

    ids Iain duncan smith has the blood of my neighbor on its hands !

  16. aturtle05

    I’m sorry, I like to think of myself as an intelligent person, even though I do have chronic osteoarthritis, but when I read that letter, my eyes went straight to the address of “4th floor….” and thought I hope they have a lift.

    Why is the address listed if it is a telephone appointment? Surely just a letter saying “You are due a telephone appointment with XXXX YYYYY who will call you on the number we have for you 01999 999999 if there is a problem with this number or time, please call us on 01888 888888.”

  17. Sarah

    I’d just like to raise a quick point regarding the wording of this pitiful letter:
    How is anyone supposed to call the prospects office to let them know that their phone is unavailable?

    (Presuming that the primary reason one’s phone would be unavailable would be lack of credit, cut contract, unable to pay phone bill etc etc).

  18. Wes G (@DJWESG)

    Hi, i think more focus should be put on the way the EU Social Fund is being used by the tory party to aid in its own desires to reduce the claim count. ive looked through the SF documents and it does mention that it should be used to help marginalized groups back into productive lives, but i do feel its being used incorrectly in these cases.

  19. concernedkev

    Hi Mike one thing that has not been suggested and I have checked all the replies on your blog and no one has suggested it. I would ask is this just a one off mistake as suggested, which in itself is still disgusting given Charlottes condition, or is it possible that other claimants in the Bristol area who have been placed in the support group have been referred to Prospect “mistakenly” and then switched back or PARKED which is the term used in the industry. If for instance I am right in what I suggest then Prospect would be PAYED their referral FEE. What is it they say “follow the money” ? Her MP should be able to see the company records.

    1. Gazza

      “concernedkev”, you could well be right there. If so, this WOULD fall under “Threats and Menaces” – look it up.

Comments are closed.