New Government proposals will force cancer patients to prove they are not fit to work or face their benefits being cut.
The proposal, buried in a report to ministers by Professor Malcolm Harrington, will mean that patients receiving intravenous chemotherapy will have to undergo medical tests and face "back to work" interviews to prove that they are too sick for employment.
If cancer patients are found able to return to employment they may be required to participate in work-related practice job interviews, as a condition of receiving their benefit.
Benefits can be worth up to £100 a week for patients suffering from cancer.
More than 9,000 cancer patients were placed automatically on the welfare payment from October 2008 to June 2010.
Macmillan Cancer Support, which was consulted on the report, recommended continuing the current rates where chemotherapy and radiotherapy patients are automatically given the highest rate of employment support allowance.
However, lead author Professor Malcolm Harrington, the government’s official advisor on reforming welfare payments, concluded that: “the basis for the current provisions is no longer sound”.
He said that if these automatic payments remained in place it would fail to recognise the variation on debilitation created by the treatment, and would stigmatise cancer sufferers as unfit to return to work.
Ciaran Devane, the chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “The government is proposing to change the rules so all cancer patients will have to undergo a stressful assessment to prove they are unable to work.
“This shows a clear disregard and misunderstanding of what it's like to undergo punishing treatment. Patients who previously had peace of mind would face the stress and practical difficulties of getting assessed for work they are too poorly to do.”
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2011