Woman with incurable cancer claims she was sacked by the DWP for taking too much sick leave

Pauline Fisher was diagnosed with clear cell renal carcinoma - a form of kidney cancer - that spread to her lungs and liver

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The Independent Online

A woman receiving chemotherapy for incurable cancer has claimed she was sacked from her job at a disability centre for taking too much sick leave.

Pauline Fisher, who had worked at the Department for Work and Pensions’ Warbeck office in Blackpool for the last decade, was diagnosed with clear cell renal carcinoma – a cancer of the kidney – that soon spread to her lungs and liver.

The 65-year-old, who was diagnosed in June 2015, told ITV News she had hoped to be fit enough to return to work after a round of chemotheraphy treatments but had largely been confined to a wheelchair since then.

But in a letter from the DWP, dated 2 November 2015, Mrs Fisher, who had been absent from work since June due to her ill health, was told: "You are currently being cared for by your daughter due to your fatigue and dizzy spells…Since taking your medication you have seen little improvement in your ability to care for yourself."

 "Although you aspire to return to work as soon as possible, it is clear from the information provided there is no clear indication that you will be able to return to work in the foreseeable future due to ongoing care and medical treatment."

The letter then concluded that Mrs Fisher would have her contract with the DWP terminated because she “failed to maintain an acceptable level of attendance and are unable to return to work within a timetable” the department considered reasonable.

She told ITV News: "I've not made myself ill, I don't want to have cancer, I don't want to be terminal. I want my life back.

"I loved my job. I'm just a bit sad really. They shouldn't treat people like this."


A spokesperson for the DWP told the Independent: “We do all we can to support an employee’s return to work, including offering part-time, flexible hours or a different role.

“If someone tells us they won’t be able to return to work for the foreseeable future, we do need to make plans to ensure we can continue to deliver government services.”