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Dying patients "face benefits cuts"

The government's back-to-work campaign is reportedly threatening seriously ill and dying cancer patients with benefits cuts if they fail to attend interviews.

The interviews are for people seeking the employment and support allowance (ESA), which replaced incapacity benefit and income support in October 2008.

Cancer sufferers undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or who are terminally ill, are supposed to be exempt from the interviews.

But a joint report by Macmillan Cancer Support and Citizens Advice claims that cancer patients with just months to live have been told to undergo medical examinations and be questioned.

And it says that those receiving radiotherapy and being treated in hospital have also been refused ESA when they should get it automatically.

Both charities have condemned the "cruel" ESA process, saying it is "failing seriously ill and disabled people".

Mike Hobday, head of campaigns at Macmillan said: "The safeguards to protect cancer patients clearly aren't working, and the ESA system is riddled with problems."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Macmillan Cancer Support

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"I am absolutely appalled. I am a cancer survivor myself and I am now back nursing full-time and I can assure you cancer sufferers don't pretend to be sick!!! Most of us want to stay alive and well" - Mary McGuire, Glasgow