Man ‘bullied’ into attending benefits appointment days after brain surgery

Russ Bradford feared if he did not turn up vital disability payments would be stopped

Russ Bradford, with partner Charlotte Allen
Russ Bradford, with partner Charlotte Allen

A father with Parkinson’s disease has said he was “bullied” into attending a benefits interview – just days after undergoing brain surgery.

Russ Bradford, who had two eight inch probes inserted into his head, told the Sunderland Echo he was made to fear his disability payments could be stopped if he rearranged the claim-assessment meeting.

Recovery time for brain surgery is almost always a minimum of six weeks.

The 47-year-old, from Sunderland, says he told the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about the operation more than a month before it took place.

The procedure saw him undergo a four-hour deep brain stimulation where wires were placed into his head and connected to a battery in his chest in a bid to re-stimulate communication between brain and body.

But the father-of-two was left stunned after receiving a letter days before he was due in hospital instructing him to attend his planned benefits assessment after the operation.

While the communication included a number to ring to discuss potential issues, it also stressed in bold that those who did not attend the meetings could lose their benefits.

The DWP has now apologised and confirmed that Mr Bradford should not have been asked to the meeting.

But the one-time business owner – who had to give up his successful property company after being diagnosed with the illness in 2011, said: “I feel stressed, angered, bullied and discriminated against by the way they have treated me.”

Speaking to the Sunderland Echo, he added: “To get this letter just before going into hospital for extensive surgery only added to the worries I was going through.”

Partner Charlotte Allen, 53, who has fought the same illness for 16 years, added: “Why are they wasting time and money reassessing people with chronic debilitating illnesses with no known cure?”

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A DWP spokesman confirmed that Mr Bradford’s Employment Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payment benefits remained unaltered.

They added: “We have apologised to Mr Bradford as he should not have been asked to attend an assessment.”

Parkinson’s disease is a brain illness affecting speech and movement. There is no known cure.

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