A coroner has issued a Prevention of Future Deaths (PFD) report after the DWP forced a severely ill claimant to leave hospital to make a claim, rather than allowing him to do so electronically. The claimant, who was very vulnerable to infection, subsequently died.
Terence Talbot, who had Bipolar Affective Disorder, was being detained under the Mental Health Act when he had a rare reaction to the medication he was being prescribed.
This left him very vulnerable to infection.
However, the DWP refused to let Mr Talbot make a claim for benefits electronically, instead insisting he had to make the claim in person.
In her report, the Coroner says that health professionals had never experienced such an ill patient being forced to make a claim in person before:
“I heard from all the doctors and a senior nurse in this case who have a considerable experience across a range of specialties and across several different NHS Trusts that they have never experienced nor heard of a case where a severely ill inpatient was required by the Department of Work & Pensions to leave hospital to attend its offices in person to make a claim for welfare benefits.
“Terence Talbot was suffering with a mental disorder and an exceptionally rare and complex disease with a risk of death and suffering severe exfoliative dermatitis that rendered him very vulnerable to infection.”
The secretary of state for Work and Pensions has until 28 January to say how the DWP will make sure that nothing like this happens again.