Views & Reviews Personal View

It is too difficult for ill people to claim benefits

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 30 October 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7209
  1. Anne E Dyson, general practitioner, Brickfields Surgery, 4 Brickfields Road, South Woodham Ferrers, Essex CM3 5XB, UK
  1. annedyson58{at}

I have worked in the NHS as a principal and partner in general practice providing primary care for patients since 1986. I have met patients who have told me of the difficulties they’d had claiming sickness benefits, but I had previously had no personal experience of the system.

Recently I was diagnosed as having breast cancer and had to have a mastectomy and sentinel lymph node biopsy and needed chemotherapy, trastuzumab (Herceptin), and radiotherapy to give myself the best possible chance of long term cure. This treatment meant that I have been unable to work since early July 2012 because of illness. I have regularly paid national insurance contributions throughout my working life, since 1982.

I wanted to claim employment and support allowance, which is a non-means tested benefit based on the amount of national insurance contributions that has been …

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