Man with life-threatening blood clots and open leg ulcers loses benefits after job centre labels him fit for work
Local MP says the assessment system ‘a shambles’
PUBLISHED: 15:42, 30 April 2012 | UPDATED: 15:42, 30 April 2012
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A man who is suffering from horrendous blood clots and open ulcers has lost his disability benefits – after job centre doctors labelled him fit for work.
James Major, 33, struggles to walk, and has been told by specialists at two hospitals he would be risking his life if he went back to work.
But the fisherman has had his benefits stopped after the job centre in Grimsby, decided he should go back to work – despite the huge open sores on his legs.
His MP, Austin Mitchell, has labelled the assessment system “a shambles”.
James regularly has to travel to London for specialist medical care and has been told by professors at both Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals that he is unfit for work.
He now claims he is now in a no win situation where if he returns to work he will be risking his life.
He has been brought back to land from his job at sea twice since 2010 as a result of his condition, and each time, doctors said his life was in grave danger.
James, who suffers from blood clots, has been brought back to land from his job at sea twice since 2010 as a result of his condition
The father-of-three said: ‘The ulcers on my legs started three years after I scratched myself on a cement mixer.
‘The cut got infected and I ended up with blood clots in my legs and lungs. I was in hospital and also got pneumonia and nearly died.
‘I started claiming sick benefit because I obviously couldn’t work.
After this I went for a medical at the Job Centre and failed it, but the doctor there said I was fit enough to work. At the time I could only walk with crutches.
‘I was told that I would have to claim Job Seekers Allowance (JSA).
But when I went to sign up for JSA, the staff there said I was clearly not able to work so I couldn’t claim.
‘I didn’t have a choice but to go back to sea.’
But being on his feet all the time only worsened his condition, and he went on to develop septicaemia.
After his second dash back to land, he tried to claim again, but was told the same as he was the previous time.
‘I was advised to take legal action because of the situation and we won at a tribunal.
‘I was ecstatic and we also got some money backdated.’
Although the situation was resolved for a few months, Mr Major then had to go for a routine medical review which once again deemed him fit for work.
He added: ‘But I failed the medical and I am now back at square one.
I now have to appeal again like the first time round.
‘There needs to be a change in the way the system is run because I now have the choice of either not going to work and not be able to live or go and risk dying.’
Austin Mitchell, MP for Grimsby, said the ESA assessment system is proving to be a “shambles”.
He added: ‘I would advise this gentleman to appeal the decision and to get in touch with me as soon as possible so that I can advise him.
‘A lot of appeals against ESA are being successful, which suggests there is something wrong with the assessment system.
‘The problem is that even once the ESA has been granted, people are having a long wait for the money they are entitled to.’
A spokesman from the Department for Work and Pensions, told the Grimsby Telegraph: ‘We shouldn’t automatically write off a person’s ability to work, solely on the basis of a health condition or disability.
‘That’s why the Work Capability Assessment doesn’t focus on a particular diagnosis, but on the actual abilities of an individual, and whether that person – with the right support – could undertake suitable work.
‘People who are too sick or disabled will continue to receive our unconditional support, but those who are able to work will get specialist help through the Work Programme. Customers unhappy with the decision made can appeal.’