9 August 2013
What: Mark Wood starves to death in 2013 after being found ineligible for ESA, even though he had never been able to cope with the demands of a job and his GP had said he was completely incapable of working. The decision to find him fit for work caused him extreme anxiety and distress and exaggerated his eating disorder. He died four months after his incapacity benefit was stopped. Because of his complex mental health condition and other impairments, including an eating disorder, Asperger’s syndrome and multiple chemical sensitivity, he had not provided the evidence needed in his ESA application, or at a face-to-face WCA which was carried out in his home because of the severity of his mental distress. His mother said later that neither the Atos assessor nor the DWP decision-maker made any attempt to secure further medical evidence about his mental health from his GP, who would have told them that he was unable to work.
Why significant: Mark Wood’s death came three years after ministers had been warned by a coroner – following the death of Stephen Carré in January 2010 – that they needed to review their policy not to seek further medical evidence from the GPs and psychiatrists of ESA claimants with mental health conditions.