A severely disabled man has been ordered by the callous Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to prove he is ‘unfit for work’, it has been reported.
Stuart Chester, 25, suffers from Down’s syndrome, epilepsy and autism. But despite not being able to speak, read and write, wash or even feed himself, Stuart has still been told by cruel DWP officials to complete a 20-page work capability assessment form by September 18th.
Mr Chester, who requires round the clock care from a full-time carer, may yet be required to attend a full face-to-face medical assessment to determine his eligibility for sickness and disability benefits.
He currently receives Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – which is being axed and replaced by the harder to claim Personal Independence Payment – and the sickness benefit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the Daily Record reports.
Mr Chester had previously been told that he would continue to receive disability benefits for the rest of this life, because there is absolutely no chance of his medical conditions improving.
However, a toughening of the rules means that even if his benefit claim is successful this time, he may still be subjected to yet more benefit assessments in the future.
His full-time carer and mum Deborah McKenzie, 51, from Glasgow, said she could not understand why someone as severely disabled as Stuart has to prove to the Government why he is unable to work.
“There is no way he could work and this is just causing a lot of undue stress and anxiety”, she said.
“I am his full-time carer and there is no way my son could work – no chance.
“He needs 24/7 care and cannot feed or wash himself, and he has a lot of accidents toilet-wise. I have to do everything for him.”
Deborah claims she contacted the DWP to ask why Stuart had to complete the assessment questionnaire, only to be told is was ‘tough luck’ by a cruel and callous member of staff.
Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith (pictured), has faced repeated calls to resign after figures published last week revealed that thousands of people have died after being told they were ‘fit for work’.
Mr Duncan Smith has also had to weather a damning revelation exposed by Welfare Weekly through the Freedom of Information Act, which found that the DWP had fabricated quotes from fake benefit claimants in an official benefit sanctions information leaflet.
The leaflet has since been removed from the Government’s website, but it remains unclear as to how many people would have seen it before it was taken down.
But, Iain Duncan Smith’s troubles don’t end there. The besieged Tory MP is also facing a United Nations investigation over alleged ‘gross and systematic violations’ of disabled people’s human rights.
For many of our readers it may seem as if Mr Duncan Smith is finally getting his just deserts. But the ‘not so quiet man’ has weathered many a storm and, somehow, just keeps bouncing back.
He also appears to have the support of his party. But, more importantly, can he guarantee continued support for his policies from the general public, or is opinion beginning to change? We live in hope…
Campaigners have urged the British Medical Association (BMA) to inform GP’s of the existence of Government regulations, which could help prevent more people from dying after having their benefits removed.
John McArdle, from the grass-roots campaign group Black Triangle, said: “I read Stuart’s story in The National and we immediately offered to help him and his mum in any way we can.
“In cases such as Stuart’s that boy should be protected from the DWP, it is perfectly clear he is unable to work and sadly his case is by no means isolated.
“We have been lobbying the BMA to issue a safety protocol for cases like Stuart’s, where the GP just has to state it in their medical opinion that if their patient was to be found fit for work or have limited capability for work that there would be a substantial risk of harm, either to the patient or other people which is stated in the ESA regulations 29 and 35.
“Regrettably, it remains the case that most GPs remain ignorant of these regulations.
“We have hit a brick wall with the BMA council who promised us that they would issue an advisory but rather than do that they just inform GPs that information was available online which isn’t good enough and is frankly ridiculous and insulting.
“This is why we are in talks with the Scottish Government and the SNP group at Westminster because this is a public health crisis in Scotland.”
A spokesperson from BMA Scotland said: “The BMA position remains that the work capability assessment process should be scrapped with immediate effect and replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause avoidable harm to the weakest and most vulnerable people in society.
“The BMA has consistently lobbied politicians on this issue in the past few years and will continue to do so.
They added: “We have highlighted the current regulations around work capability assessments to our members, so as to help patients get the best outcome for their needs.”
Responding to the comments from BMA Scotland, a furious John McArdle said: “The BMA leadership are being duplicitous with us and both the Scottish and UK general public.
“We disabled people fighting for our lives will not stand for it!
“They gave an undertaking to us via John Pring of Disability News Service that they would issue a cascading, clear and concise safety protocol advisory to all their members throughout the UK. They have done nothing of the sort.
“In correspondence with our Member and Medical Adviser Dr Stephen Carty, a GP in Leith, a spokesperson from the BMA council secretariat in London merely said that they had advised doctors that ‘information is available online.’
“That was not what was promised and we will not rest until every GP received the proper guidance they need to fully discharge their solemn duty of care to their patients in accordance with the profession’s code of practice (GMC ‘Good Medical Practice’) which states that ‘a doctor must act where there are policies and systems that cause avoidable harm’ to patients.
“As things stand they are unequipped with the tools to do this and the blame lies squarely at the door of the BMA council and secretariat in London for failing to do what ethical conduct demands.
“They must issue this advisory in full now or else be complicit in the tragedies that are unfolding hour by hour, day by day.”
Please note: This articles featured image is not a photograph of Mr Stuart Chester.
Last updated at 03:45 on 4 September 2015 to include comments from Black Triangle and BMA Scotland.