Benefits cuts blamed for son’s fatal seizure
Reporter: Lobby Correspondent
Date published: 14 September 2012
THE Government is being blamed over the death of a 29-year-old Oldham epileptic who suffered a massive seizure his family says was caused by the stress of having his disability benefits cut.
Colin Traynor suffered grand mal epilepsy from the age of 14 months and despite medication the condition was never controlled, Oldham West and Royton MP Michael Meacher told the Commons.
Mr Traynor was assessed as fit for work in the Government’s overhaul of the benefits system, but died less than four months later.
The Labour MP called for the medical assessments of a person’s ability to work, carried out by Atos, to be suspended.
Mr Meacher said: “There are some particularly disturbing aspects of Colin’s treatment at the hands of Atos Healthcare and the Department for Work and Pensions that deserve official attention and reform.”
MPs were told how in 2008 Mr Traynor was deemed “unemployable”, though he had wanted to work for nine years.
In August 2011 he attended an Atos health assessment and was told his incapacity benefit was to be cut by £70 a week, which caused him great stress, Mr Meacher related. He was told an appeal could take nine months and nothing more could be done in the meantime.
“From December 2011 to April, Colin’s health deteriorated, his seizures increased due to the stress and he also lost a lot of weight,” said Mr Meacher.
“On April 3 the stress and anxiety resulted in a massive seizure and it took his life.”
Tragically, after his death Colin’s mother contacted the Department of Work and Pensions and was told the decision had been overturned; her son should never have been assessed.
Mr Meacher said: “if the appeal had been resolved more quickly he would almost certainly be alive today.”
He called for the points-based assessment to be scrapped, a new system introduced which separates people who are clearly too ill to work, and a speeding up of the appeals process.
He also called for the Atos contract to be suspended until a more “sensitive” assessment can be put in place.
Newly-appointed work minister Mark Hoban said executives will meet Mr Meacher and Mr Traynor’s family to discuss the case later this month.
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