Amber Rudd says she may axe ‘unnecessary’ benefit assessments for terminally ill patients

Posted On: 
11th July 2019

Amber Rudd has said she will look to axe a rule in Britain's benefits system which forces dying patients to undergo health assessments.

Amber Rudd
Credit: 
PA Images

As it stands, terminally-ill patients are only fast-tracked to a higher rate of benefits if a doctor or nurse says they have fewer than six months to live.

The Work and Pensions Secretary said families should not be forced to face “unnecessary hardship” at such a time, as she recalled her own experience of watching her ex-husband AA Gill die of cancer in 2016.

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“Having a life-limiting illness or severe condition can cause unimaginable suffering for the patient and their loved ones,” she told the Daily Express.

“Having seen it in my own family I know that the last thing you need is additional financial pressures or unnecessary assessments.

“So that’s why today I am beginning work on a fresh and honest evaluation of our benefits system so that I can be sure people who are nearing the end of their life get the best possible support.”

The Cabinet minister added that the review would amount to a “comprehensive evaluation of how we treat those with severe conditions and terminal illnesses”.

“I want people to have confidence in what we do at [the Department for Work and Pensions] and no one should be suffering unnecessary hardship at this especially difficult time,” she added.

The announcement comes after a report by the all-party parliamentary group for terminal illness found the six month rule was "outdated, arbitrary and not based on clinical reality".

SNP MP Drew Henry, who chairs the group, said: “The policy is not only very hard on people living with terminal illnesses, it also causes a great deal of financial pressure and worry on their families at the very worst time in their lives.”

Marie Curie welcomed Ms Rudd’s announcement, but chief executive, Matthew Reed, added: “The review must be focused and quick and the government must act at pace when the review is concluded.

“Every day 10 people die while waiting for benefits.”