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Starved to death – Atos to blame

29th July 2014

Starved to death – Atos to blame

This is a report from the ‘Daily Mirror’ on July 28th 2014

Disabled Mark Wood starved to death four months after his benefits were cut, an inquest heard.

The ‘frail and vulnerable’ 44-year-old weighed just 5st 8lbs when he was found.

He had been declared fit to work by Atos, leaving him struggling to survive on just £40 a week, despite numerous health problems.
Mark died at his home in Bampton – part of David Cameron’s Oxfordshire constituency – in August last year.

He had Asperger syndrome and obsessive compulsive disorder, in addition to cognitive behavioural problems, including a phobia of certain foods.
His GP Nicolas Ward told Oxford coroners court yesterday: “He was an extremely fragile individual who was coping with life.

“Something pushed him or affected him in the time before he died and the only thing I can put my finger on is the pressure he felt when his benefits were removed.”

Dr Ward added that he had not been contacted by Atos – the French-based firm that carries out benefit assessments – or the Department for Work and Pensions about his patient’s medical history.

He told the court that, had he been asked, he would have ruled him unfit for work.

Following last April’s assessment, Mark, described as ‘gentle and sweet’, lost his housing benefit and employment support, leaving him just £40 a week disability allowance – not even enough to cover his rent or utility bills.

Mark’s mum Jill Gant, from Abingdon, said the family knew nothing of his money problems until a few weeks before his death.
She gave him £250, but said that by then it was too late.

Mark’s sister Cathie Wood, 48, of North Oxford, said: “When the police found him, there was very little food in the house, just half a banana and a tin of tuna.”
She added: “Atos are completely to blame.

“Anyone who knew Mark’s complex problems would see he couldn’t work. ”

She added: “I’d like David Cameron and his Government to be aware of the personal cost of their policies and how they are affecting real people and causing real heartache.”

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