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DWP lawyers tried to prevent a coroner from releasing a recording of a distressing telephone by Philippa Day in which she told a call handler that she ‘needed a reason to live’, but received no help whatsoever.

Philippa took her own life after she was told that she had to attend a face-to-face PIP assessment in spite of her anxiety, depression and agoraphobia and in defiance of pleas by her CPN.

In the call, a clearly very distressed, sometimes crying, Philippa tells the DWP staff member she is “literally starving and cold”, “genuinely can’t survive like this for much longer”, is “in so much debt”, “literally cannot leave the house”, and needs “a reason to live”.

However, the DWP agent simply asks her if there is anyone in her family or a local charity who can help her and tells her that she needs to talk to Capita about when she will have her assessment.

No note was made on Philippa’s file of the level of distress she was in and the DWP’s six-point plan to be used when claimants express suicidal intent was not used.

The call handler told the inquest that she had heard many claimants crying and saying similar things.

In a statement, Philippa’s family said:

“As our family made clear in evidence given at the inquest into the death of my sister, we believe that Pip’s treatment by the DWP had a direct impact on her mental state and in the end is the reason for her death.

“Support from her community psychiatric nurse and from her family kept her going. But the constant cold and unsympathetic wall of resistance that she met at Capita and the DWP was more than she could endure.

The coroner is to issue a prevention of future deaths report telling the DWP to improve mental health training, record keeping and assessment processes.

Listening to the call, however, it is hard not to conclude that the first thing the DWP needs to introduce is the tiniest scrap of humanity into its treatment of claimants.

You can listen to a copy of Philippa’s call on the Guardian website

Read more about the conclusion of the inquest on the Leigh Day website

The Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or by emailing jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie.


+4 #1 mrfibrospondodysthmatic 2021-02-01 14:45
Just don't know what to say. I'm speechless about the way that DWP call handler, handled the call. He/ she should be sacked and made accountable for in a court of law.

But no doubt he/she will be shielded by the might of the DWP's lawyers.

Sometimes it can be just too much to read some of the stories. But reading them does open up ones eyes how claimants are being let down and having to suffer more and more stress, due to atos/capita/max imus and the dwp itself. Eventually causing claimants more physical and mental health deterioration. Consequentially meaning more suicides are inevitable. Just hope the family gets a proper closure and not fobbed off. It's about time more judges/barriste r's etc and MP's stood up for us claimants. All outsourced contracts should be scrapped, and all assessments need to be done inhouse, with more GP / and other specialists input. Not focused on dodgy contractors causing people to kill themselves, all because of a bonus.

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