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Hernia patient left suicidal after disability benefits cut

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: February 21, 2013

Sandra Wells, pictured with the medication she needs to treat her hernia, has had her benefits cut and been told she is fit enough to work Picture: Staff photographer Lloyd Ellington BALE20130218C-043_C

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A woman awaiting colostomy reversal surgery following the removal of her bowel and intestines says she is has been left suicidal after her benefits were cut by £65 in the recent shake up of the benefits system.

Sandra Wells, who lives with her partner and carer Tony Jacobs in sheltered accommodation in Coleford, has to take handfuls of tablets each day and finds it difficult to move because of a hernia bigger than a football on her stomach caused by problems with a stoma following surgery.

Ms Wells, who worked as a senior care worker in charge of a team of ten before she became ill, also suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, blackouts and has a slipped disc, and says she has become increasingly depressed after being told she is no longer eligible for Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

The 55-year-old has been told she is only eligible for Income Support which means the money she receives has been cut from £280 a fortnight to £215. The cuts came only two weeks after she was deemed fit for work.

Ms Wells said: "I wish more than anything I could go back to work. There is nothing more I would love to do but I do not see how I can work like this.

"There is no employer who would put up with me having to attend several doctors' appointments each week or the extra time I need for toilet breaks. I get upset when I think about it. I am booked in for an angiogram on Friday to see if I am fit enough to have surgery to have the stoma reversed."

Ms Wells, who has carers visit her each day to help her wash and dress, said one of the most depressing aspects of the change has been her car and bus pass being taken from her.

Mr Jacobs added: "Until Sandra had her operations we were hard-working people who have spent all our lives paying into the system. We are not asking for a millionaire's lifestyle."

The couple have now appealed the decision and hope to be found to be eligible for Personal Independence Payment. They have been told it could take up to 11 weeks for them to hear if they have been successful.

A Department of Work and Pensions spokesman said about £13 billion a year was spent on DLA and the department had a duty to keep in touch with claimants about their circumstances.

The spokesman added: "We know for instance, that around a third of disabled people who report an impairment in one year no longer have it a year later."

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