Blind from birth, epileptic and unable to leave home alone – but Government says she’s fit to work

Hazel Macrae has been told by the Department of Work and Pensions that she must go back to work despite being blind from birth

Blind since birth and stricken by a string of disabilities but told she is fit to work – this is the reality of Government benefit cuts.

Hazel Macrae, who also suffers from epilepsy, Type 2 Diabetes and osteoarthritis, was claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and was told she’d have to undertake a back to work assessment.

The 62-year-old filled in a questionnaire explaining she’s unable to leave her home without the help of her partner or son because she is afraid of falling, can’t use a pen or pencil, telephone, and would be unable to “move safely” in a workplace.

She was also required to meet with a health professional in Gosforth to undergo a face-to-face assessment where she was asked a series of questions about her daily activities.

Echoing the award-winning Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake – which was shot in Newcastle – Miss Macrae has been told she has “limited capability for work” and her ESA has been moved from the Support Group to Work Related Activity Group, and reduced by £15 per fortnight.

Miss Macrae, who has artificial eyes, will now have to regularly meet with a work coach to discuss how she can get back into work.

read more here:


The story of how one man died soon after the DWP’s benefit tests found him ‘fit to work’

The Department for Work and Pensions has released statistics showing that thousands of people have died soon after being found fit to work by its disability benefit tests.

The DWP says the figures alone “provide limited scope” for understanding why people died. Here is one case study from 2014.

Trevor Drakard was found dead in his Sunderland home a few months after his incapacity benefit was stopped. He had killed himself.

Mr Drakard, 50, who had recently been assessed as “fit for work” and ordered to find a job, was in the process of appealing against the decision with assistance from Citizens Advice Bureau when he took his own life in July 2014.

An inquest in September of the same year in Sunderland heard how Mr Drakard, who had suffered with epilepsy from the age of six, was left feeling depressed “due to the stress of losing his benefits”.  Mr Drakard was described as a “lonely man” with few acquaintances who had recently lost two of his closest friends. He had suffered from meningitis at five months old which left him brain damaged, causing severe epilepsy when he was six.

The hearing was told how Mr Drakard would meet his parents for a meal three times a week. His parents explained that they were unable to contact their son to ask him to sign some documents relating to his benefit appeal. They visited Mr Drakard’s home and found their son’s body in his bedroom.

Tests found that he was still taking his epilepsy medication and the senior coroner ruled that Trevor Drakard had taken his own life.




Epileptic man hanged himself after his benefits were stopped

Trigger warning. This tragedy should not be repeated. If you dispute a wrong decision you are very likely to get it overturned. I hate having to post articles like this, but the mainstream newspapers don’t do it, and people need to know what this government’s policies are doing to the sick and disabled.

“DEVASTATED that his benefits had been stopped, a man with epilepsy hanged himself.

Trevor Drakard had been deemed fit for employment, after a back-to-work assessment. The 50-year-old, who never married and had few friends, took his own life at his home in Sunderland.

An inquest into his death heard Mr Drakard had been diagnosed with epilepsy from the age of six and was receiving Incapacity Benefit.

Coroner’s officer Neville Dixon told a hearing in Sunderland: “In the past few months he had been deemed fit to work and his benefits were stopped. He had been in the process of appealing with the Citizens Advice Bureau. He had been feeling very down in recent weeks, due to the stress of losing his benefits.”

A “lonely person”, Mr Drakard had also lost two close friends in the last three years. He would meet his parents for dinner three times a week, the hearing was told. They last saw him on July 18, after dropping him off at his home in General Graham Street.

When they were unable to get in touch with him about signing papers relating to his benefits, they called round to the house and found Mr Drakard’s body in his bedroom.

Senior coroner Derek Winter said Mr Drakard would have been unconscious “in a small number of seconds” and died shortly after. Tests showed he had still been taking his epilepsy medication.

Mr Winter said he was satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that Mr Drakard had been responsible for his own death.

Speaking after the hearing, Sunderland MP Julie Elliot said: “This case is tragic and need not have happened. My thoughts are with Mr Drakards’ family and friends. Sadly, the removal of benefits to genuinely sick people is becoming all too common, having a devastating impact on people’s lives and in this case a tragic outcome. The system is not fit for purpose – the Government needs to act now to stop anymore tragedies occurring and causing unnecessary hardship to people.”

Verdict: Suicide.

ffrom the Sunderland Echo:


An Open Letter to Jeremy Hunt

This was published on the website Empowerment, Epilepsy and Elephants on the 13th June 2013


Dear Jeremy Hunt,

I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but your name has unfortunate rhyming potential… I’ve never written to a politician…. tears are streaming down my face and my heart’s thudding in my ears…. the buck has to stop somewhere, someone must be responsible and as your fancy job title ‘Secretary of State for Health’ implies, I guess that someone is you.

Yesterday I had my first interview with ATOS, the company you’ve hired to assess disability and eligibility for benefits. I want to tell you what happened to me because – you have no idea the effort this is taking to type – because, I have a voice, I have a family and support. I am lucky, others are not and this, this thing you are doing cannot continue to happen:

I guess my life is pretty average in political eyes,
Sure you know the type,
Married a Colombian (I know that’s not your department!) and have a loving family,
Oh and I have epilepsy too!

Got alright grades at school, even went to Uni,
But epilepsy chased me and career after career ended with epileptic-complications.
Discrimination, ignorance and bureaucracy ruled my life
Red tape and disability laws wrapped around my heart
Seizures increased and I developed Chronic Pain
I couldn’t walk, couldn’t stand, sit or hug my loved ones,
Signed off work I lost my job, my tax-paying-40hour a week job.

Brought up to Carry-On, I did so!

Are you listening? I DID SO!

In agony and alone I balanced a laptop over my head and forged a new career as a writer,
I didn’t want a penny of your money.
I got some freelance work but my mind could not sustain it.
I saw every Doctor going, spent every penny too!
You offered help, so finally, battered and bruised my ego shattered into shards, I accepted.


My GP warned me ATOS would not be good,
I was half prepared for the hours long wait
The frozen smile of the receptionist in an underground cell.
The smell of piss and blood splattered on the filthy walls,
I’m well versed in the caring embrace of the NHS décor!
I was not prepared to be interviewed like a criminal,
My husband first told that any notes he took would not stand up in court.
In court?! I am a patient, a person, not a convict. Aren’t I?
The ignorance of your ‘health-professional’ floored me. Left my mouth ajar.
A flys still buzzing around it now!


Did I mention that when I am asked about epilepsy I have flashbacks and have been treated for PTSD? No, OK then.

ATOS don’t care anyway.
Ask away then, as I see images of seizures, blood pouring out of my chewed up tongue,
Ambulances roar in my mind and the desperate faces of my loved ones are scorched onto my eyelids.
I writhe in agony, but hold it in.
I wouldn’t want you to see what I see.
So go ahead, ask me.
Ask and I will answer from my war, where limbs are ripped off and seizures never stop.


She asked me what Juvenile (Epilepsy) meant if I was 29 now.
She asked about dates of seizures so fast my head spun.
She asked what my recovery time was like? For what I asked? What type of seizure? She looked at me blankly Well which do you have?
How could she not know? I have an array. Which one first?

NOTHING…………………an absence seizure hit me………

What did she say? Tears stung my eyes, what?
Panicked, I reached out for my husband.
She did not seem to register or recognise. How could she not see epilepsy? When it hit her in the face?
Surely some training has been done?!


My tears are hot and furious. Scalding my throat.

– When was your last seizure?

– One second ago.

– Do you have a drivers licence?

– …………………… could I?!


On this went, on and on,
I didn’t understand. Couldn’t comprehend.
I knew she would fail me. Declare me fit to work.
I was articulate and clean,
I stood and walked in, in some ways I’ve healed a lot
I don’t want your money.
The fact I still see a psychotherapist is neither here nor there
You rate this person as knowledgeable enough to judge me?
This un-biased stranger with a computer and a tick box and a bank account linked to yours?

Afterwards waves of seizures marched through me,
Waving ATOS flags,
Exhaustion and nightmares followed.
You call me lazy? Disabled?
I say I am abled. Disabled only by you.
Your rules, your words, your papers
Not mine.
You say ‘disabled’ people like me shirk work?
I say we work harder than anyone else.
If you need to rest after you take a shower,
Brush your teeth,
Smile or laugh,
Cover up your constant pain and say “I’m fine” a million times a day.
Then you will know the meaning of hard work.
I am lucky, I have family, I have food and a home.
I am loved. Millions aren’t. And it’s for them as much as me,
That Jermey, I ask you now, no, I implore you,
Stop being such a *unt and end this sham.
Sincerely and still with a hopeful heart,

Lucy Baena

After his third medical they stopped his esa……

From the facebook page ‘The People vs the Govrnment, DWP and Atos’


” Ages ago a friend made an application for esa (disability benefit) due to being severely epileptic. He attended his first medical which came to an abrupt end due to having a fit so bad they had an ambulance take him to hospital. After his third medical they stopped his esa as they discovered his first medical had been put down as “not completed due to applicant leaving before medical was finished”  “

Epilepsy sufferer harrassed by DWP and job centre

Back in February, my boyfriend won his tribunal after a lengthy appeals process. He suffers from epilepsy and has various underlying health issues as a result of it. He was placed into the Word Related Assistance Group  but was too physically and emotionally exhausted to fight to get into the support group and was just so relieved to finally have his money reinstated.

However, he is being constantly harassed by both the job centre and the work programme providers to attend the work programme meetings. He hasn’t been well but no one is listening. He even wrote a letter of complaint to the job centre about how he felt they were taking no heed of his ill health and they promptly ignored it. His doctor is appalled at what is going on and has issued a 3 month sick note for him which he sent to the DWP. He has since had a letter back from the DWP totally ignoring the sick note but telling him that as he is in WRAG, he must attend the work programme or he will be sanctioned.

Can they blatantly ignore sick notes? What can he do? His appointment is next week and he is worrying himself sick over the whole thing.


From the facebook page ‘Atos Miracles’ 16th July 2013

Newham council reconsiders relocation – after threats of legal action.

A London council has agreed to review a decision to move a family of five with a disabled child to Liverpool after being threatened with legal action.

Law firm Miles and Partners’ client was to be moved permanently to a property in Liverpool on 15 May but a High Court judge on that day ordered Newham Council to house them temporarily while the local authority reviewed the case.

Solicitor Rajea Sultana said this is one case that the legal firm has been able to take on from the many calls it has received this year from people who wanted to prevent councils sending them outside London. She said most of the calls had come from Newham, but there had been others from Tower Hamlets and Camden.

In the recent case the firm had lodged a judicial review but this has been withdrawn as the council has agreed to review the case. It has until 2 July to do this.

Ms Sultana said: ‘We are arguing she [the mother] needs to stay in the borough because of the support she has [with her son]. The son does not adapt well to changes. He goes crazy if someone new assesses him.’

The firm argues the son has a behavioural impairment, focal onset epilepsy and suicidal tendencies, which are liable to be triggered when travelling by car. He currently receives a range of specialist help from support workers and psychologists in the local area known to him.

Ms Sultana is requesting the family stay in the borough, or is moved to a neighbouring borough.

The family, which consists of two parents and three children, is currently staying in bed and breakfast accommodation paid for by Newham Council.  

Councils in London say they have been forced to house people outside London because rising rents and cuts to housing benefit have exacerbated the lack of affordable private rented sector accommodation.

Ms Sultana said most of the calls to her company are from people who London councils are intending to move permanently out of their areas into private rented sector accommodation.

from   29th May 2013