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  • > Macmillan responds to Government proposal to make all chemotherapy patients to face benefits check
JenniferB- Macmillan

Macmillan campaigns

Keep up to date with Macmillan's campaigns, current issues, and how we’re working with government to improve outcomes for people affected by cancer.

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Macmillan responds to Government proposal to make all chemotherapy patients to face benefits check

  • Comments 8

I wanted to let you all know about some big developments in our ‘put the fair into welfare’ campaign in the last couple of weeks.

At the end of November the government published its long awaited response to Professor Malcolm Harrington’s review of the Work Capability Assessment. The review - which we made a submission to as part of our campaign - looked at the way in which the benefits claims of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy are assessed.

In our submission to the review we argued that all cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy as well certain groups of radiotherapy patients should get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) automatically – without having to face the stress and anxiety of a medical assessment.

Sadly, the government doesn’t agree. Ministers feel that each claim should be considered on a case by case basis and that no-one should receive ESA automatically. 

Needless to say we’re incredibly disappointed by the government’s response. It flies in the face of all the evidence provided to us by patients and professionals. If you’re undergoing or recovering from chemotherapy the last thing you want to be worrying about is whether or not you’re going to get the financial support you need. As we tried to explain to the government patients find any kind of assessment stressful, no matter how ‘light touch’ or sensitively handled it is. Our press statement – reported today on the front page of the The Guardian - reflects this concern. 

Fortunately, we still have a chance to change the government’s mind – but we need your help. A consultation on the government’s proposals is going to begin in the next few weeks. If we’re to persuade Ministers to think again we need direct evidence from cancer patients about what it’s like to go through an ESA assessment. So if you’ve got a story that you think might help us, then please do get in touch by emailing  

You can also help us by signing our welfare reform petition and getting your friends and family to do the same. Almost 10,000 people have signed it to date, which is a great start, but we still want a lot more support. The more people who support us, the stronger our case to Ministers will be!

  • They certainly have NO idea.  I even found a miserable faced receptionist upsetting - let alone if I had an assessment.  I didn't even think of any benefits as I am retired.  My chemo was mild - but I still felt very tired, forgetful with zilch concentration, and dropped stuff - plus just not feeling at all well.  I did a certain amount of housework etc - but at my pace and at times that suited me - which companies would not have found helpful! 
  • Hi Bryan, This Government want get a grip. Dont they realise that carers and patients alike have to go through Hell with their treatment without getting the Third Degree. Its the people who abuse the system they should be chasing after,  not the people in genuine need and vunerable. 
  • Absolutely disgusting what this government are getting away with. This should have been front page on all national newspapers, mirror, express etc etc. Looks like chemotherapy and radiotherapy patients will have to have own protests around the country. Taking portaloos, sick bags, wheelchairs, zimmers, carers. Oh I am so mad.
  • Just trying to imagine checkout people, factory workers, teachers, nurses etc carrying on with their jobs trying not to puke everywhere, lose control of bowels etc. The most important thing that the Government is ignoring is that our immune systems are low, and a simple cold can hospitalise us. I would have loved to go back to work......but a doctor's surgery??? I was so weak I couldn't even pull out a filing drawer! Surely that has got to be somebody in Government who has had experience of cancer???
  • What are the Government on??? Are they so far removed from reality that they actually think this is a good idea? ANYONE on chemotherapy or radiotherapy deserves to have financial help if they need it, whatever their circumstances.  The illness is stressful enough without worrying about where the next mortgage/bill payment / payment for the weekly grocery will be coming from. I think we all know someone who has never worked a day in their lives and it's these lazy, work-shy people who need to be hauled into an office to be re-assessed NOT people with cancer. This makes me SO angry. On the other hand, it would be interesting to see if they can get people mid-chemo into an office to be assessed.  On the understanding that a patient could actually get out of bed, get dressed, get some form of transport and have energy reserves enough to get into a Government office would be an amazing feat.  Chemo patients need to unite and do a mass projectile vomit in a local Government office to teach the idiots who run this country a lesson.  I will even offer to drive you all personally. This country is run by donkeys. It has now been confirmed.  
  • My hubby took me to FIVE interviews whilst I was undergoing treatment. I'd postponed a couple but they kept coming back and asking if i could come in because I could lose benefit. The first one, I barely got through the door and you could see the horror on their faces. YOu've never seen so many people dashing round to fetch chairs, drinks, tissues. To give them their due they treated me well and unfortunately were only doing their jobs, but even having letters from hospital did not count for anything. I would class myself as unemployable now...or at least would love to know what sort of job they think I could do! Have received pension early due to ill health!
  • Dear Bryan I think you need to flag this blog up throughout the day, every day, just in case people have missed it and want to sign up. As I am sure they will.