HASLAND: Man collapsed but still ‘fit for work’

John and Joyce Flanagan
John and Joyce Flanagan

A man who became so unwell during an assessment by benefit inspectors that he was asked if he ‘needed an ambulance’ - was still declared fit to work.

John Flanagan, 64, has a degenerating spine, is unable to stand or walk far, heart disease and problems with his nervous system but was told by benefits test firm Atos that he could do a job.

John Flanagan

John Flanagan

Six weeks after the assessment Mr Flanagan collapsed due to problems with his nervous system and was rushed to hospital.

He said: “I wasn’t feeling well at all when I went for the assessment, due to stress. They just made me feel worthless. These people don’t have a heart they have a cash machine.”

Mr Flanagan, of Talbot Steet, Hasland worked at Chesterfield Tube Works for 25 years until problems with his back meant he needed a less manual job. He then worked in security for ten years, but seven years ago two cardiac arrests and severe problems with his nervous system saw him give up work.

The dad-of-two is now appealing Atos’s decision but has had his benefits cut and told he must seek work.

Wife Joyce, 63, added: “My husband was getting so unwell and stressed during the assessment they asked if he needed an ambulance. I can’t believe they think he’s fit for work. He has worked all his life but now must go through more stress with the appeals process.”

MP says case ‘crosses the line of basic decency’

Mr Flanagan’s case has been taken up by Colin Hampton of Derbyshire unemployed workers centre in Chesterfield and MP Toby Perkins. Mr Hampton said: “The government is effectively killing its own citizens and labelling everyone on benefits as scroungers. How many more people have to suffer or how many more deaths will there be before this is changed.” Mr Perkins added: “This situation crosses the line of basic British decency.

“Mr Flanagan is an extremely unwell man, who has worked for most of his life and is being made more unwell by this unfair and inconsistent process.”

The Derbyshire Times approached Atos for a comment, but had not received a response as it went to press.