Fife man in death protest over benefits

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A SEVERELY disabled Scot has “written his own death certificate” after stopping his medication in a protest against government red tape.

Frank Campbell suffers from chronic lung disease but claims officials have him “jumping through hoops” to receive his benefits.

The 55-year-old has been begged by his family and GP to abandon his protest but he maintains it is the only way to fight the bureaucrats.

 

Mr Campbell may face a sharp decline in health as a result of not taking medication

 

 

Frank, from Rosyth, Fife, suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which is the fifth-biggest killer in the world, claiming the lives of 250 sufferers every hour.

The railway engineer was diagnosed with the illness in 1988 but managed to stay in his job until 2005.

It was only last year he decided he would try and get help as he was told he wasn’t eligible for a carer, but since then has been bombarded with forms and procedures.

He said: “I received a document on Friday from the Job Centre saying that I had to fill out more bloody forms in order to get help with money.

“I then went to the Job Centre in Dunfermline on Monday, which was a real struggle for me, and said that it was getting out of hand with the number if forms and if it continued then I’d stop taking my medication.

“The advisor said ‘No, you can’t do that’ but nothing was resolved – so on Monday night I stopped my treatment.”

The only thing Frank still uses is his oxygen tank that he is hooked up to for 16 hours a day.

The treatment he gave up was a steroid inhaler and an assortment of medicines which help get desperately needed oxygen into his blood stream.

He said: “I’ve basically written my own death certificate.

“It means in a few weeks, maybe a month, I’ll struggle breathing, be in pain and end up in hospital – then things just get worse.

“I’m not scared. I’m on borrowed time as it is. I was told by a consultant when I first got diagnosed that I would die when I was 52.

“And now it seems better than putting up with all this rubbish from the Job Centre. They should accept people with a long-term illness have got a long-term illness and shouldn’t be made to prove it again and again.”

He added: “You’re only getting a couple of months between each form, they make you feel like you’re jumping through hoops with all the different stages you have to go through to continue getting benefits.”

Frank lives with his elderly mother Mary.

He said: “I’m not scared about dying. I’ve been kind of preparing myself for years. But my mother is concerned. I don’t know how long I’ll have now, but I know I won’t be collecting a state pension.”

Inverkeithing MSP Helen Eadie recently hosted an event at Holyrood that highlighted the struggles of genuine benefit  cases such as Frank.

She said: “Mr Campbell is being put in an intolerable position and the authorities should think again.

“It is worth pointing out that of those turned down for Employment Ssupport Allowance as many as 60% win their appeals which shows that they system is just not working.”

Dr Jean Turner from the Scottish Patient’s Association said: “It is sad that reasonable communication has not seemed to work in this case and this man has been brave enough to make a stand in the only way he feels he will be noticed to have his point made.

“With COPD he will not have the energy to deal with the bureaucracy and the phone calls. I hope the benefits system finds a human face and deals with this case urgently.”

The Department for Work and Pensions said they are just following “re-assessment” procedures.

A spokesman said: “The Work Capability Assessment is an important part of the Government’s reforms to incapacity benefit.

“The old system simply wrote too many people off without looking at what they were able to do.

“If it is found the condition hasn’t changed following the re-assessment the he or she would be allowed to stay on ESA.”