Tests unfit and unfair - MLA

Mark H Durkan
Mark H Durkan

Foyle MLA Mark H. Durkan has described the ATOS medical assessments for cancer patients as “unfair and unfit for purpose.”

Mr. Durkan MLA told the ‘Journal:’ “More needs to be done, our party has lead the campaign at both Westminster and the Assembly to get changes to Work Capability Assessments (WCA).

“I am on record in both the chamber and at Committee calling for effective and fair exemptions from these medicals for those individuals living with severe illnesses.

“I continue to work closely with Macmillan Cancer Support to get the Department to change the assessment process in support of cancer patients.”

The Foyle MLA added his own support to the Pink Ladies campaign on behalf of cancer patients: “I am committed to continuing this fight for more exemptions to protect cancer patients from the strain of the work capability assessment. I support the Pink Ladies and their campaign to protect those living with cancer.”

Mr. Durkan continued: “I have made no secret of my view that the Atos work capability assessment is unfit for purpose. I have many concerns about both the assessment itself and how it is conducted. Some of these concerns center around the treatment of cancer patients.

“It is both unfair and unnecessary for claimants who have been medically diagnosed with cancer to be forced to undergo assessment or reassessment time and time again. Whether living with or fighting cancer, individuals and their families need all the support they can get.

“Financial fears should be the last worry on a cancer patient’s mind,” stated Mr. Durkan.

“Many of those diagnosed with cancer have never been on benefits and find the challenge of even making an application for support daunting. We must ensure that the system is able to quickly and effectively support those people without forcing them to face these long and unfit for purpose assessments.

“It was the SDLP that successfully secured concessions to exempt those undergoing or awaiting chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments from facing the assessment process.

“While this will go far in assisting some, it does not go far enough.”