Brid cancer patient gets his benefits returned

Cancer patient Carl Lewis with his wife Carolyn.
Cancer patient Carl Lewis with his wife Carolyn.

THE DECISION to take away the benefits of a Bridlington man suffering from a rare form of terminal bowel cancer has been reversed.

But the decision did not come in time to relieve the stress that eventually saw 37-year-old Carl Lewis admitted to hospital in the early hours of last Thursday morning.

The Department of Work and Pensions had removed Mr Lewis’ Employment Support Allowance of £79 a fortnight after a healthcare assessment by Atos ruled him ‘fit to work’.

But his wife Carolyn said that a DWP officer contacted them last Thursday to reinstate the benefit after the Free Press highlighted his plight, but that the stress had resulted in his hospital admission.

She said: “The stress for Carl has been terrible, he was panicking about the benefit and that made his condition worse. He was in so much pain that he had to go to hospital during the early hours of Thursday, and he has had tests.

“They’re not sure if it is an infection, or if his bowel has given up. He’s hoping that the operation will be brought forward and that it will be done by the end of the week.”

Mrs Lewis said that the DWP apologised for the mix-up, and that Mr Lewis would not have to attend healthcare assessments for the “foreseeable future.”

Mr Lewis was first diagnosed with the rare Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) in 1991 after inheriting the disease from his father.

After numerous tests and hospital procedures, Mr Lewis had a section of his colon removed in 1999 and has not been able to work since.

He now needs to undergo an operation to have the rest of his colon removed and have a permanent stoma fitted - a procedure which could see him housebound for up to a year.

His healthcare assessment was performed at a health centre in Scarborough in August by Atos, a company criticised by the Citizens Advice Bureau and others for their record in classing disabled and terminally ill people fit to work.

Last week they told the Free Press that they did not decide on benefit entitlement, and while they could not comment on individual cases it is always happy to review decisions.

A spokesperson for the DWP confirmed that due to extra medical evidence being provided, Mr Lewis’ claim has been reconsidered and he is now eligible for benefit.