A BARRHEAD man with a heart condition that has left him confined to the house and in dire financial need has slammed the Department for Work and Pensions for refusing him disability benefit.

Hugh Trainer, of Cedar Place, was diagnosed with chronic heart failure after suffering two heart attacks, leaving him unable to work and reliant on Employment and Support Allowance.

However, he has been repeatedly refused Personal Independence Payment (PIP) because, in the view of DWP assessors, he does not need the help.

Hugh, 49, was working as a security officer when he suffered his first heart attack in 2009. He was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve, which restricts the flow of blood around the body, leaving him fatigued, breathless and prone to black-outs.

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He continued to work until he failed a medical assessment, which was followed by the revocation of his driving licence due to his symptoms.

Unable to work and stuck in the house, he is cared for by his 14-year-old son, who saved his life when he suffered a second heart attack in August.

Hugh said: “I collapsed in the kitchen. My son found me and called an ambulance. He was spraying nitroglycerin under my tongue.

“He’s well clued up because he knows I could go in a minute. If not for him, I’d have been dead on the floor.

“After that, the doctors said the valve needs replaced. It won’t get any better until I get heart surgery but I don’t know when that will be.

“They’re telling me I have to rest and not exert myself in any way. I can’t work, I can’t drive, I can’t leave the house without someone holding my hand. I can’t even stand up without nearly passing out.

“I applied for PIP, they refused me. I appealed, they refused me. I went to a tribunal, they refused me.

“I’m on 15 tablets a day. I want to know what the point is in taking them because, according to the DWP, there’s nothing wrong with me.”

The face-to-face PIP assessment, introduced in 2013 as part of the switch-over from Disability Living Allowance (DLA), is typically an interview with someone with a healthcare background, such as a nurse or paramedic.

Claimants are assessed depending on their ability to complete day-to-day tasks such as getting dressed and preparing food, with each answer awarded points.

Someone will receive help if they come out of the assessment with at least eight points.

In his most recent assessment, Hugh emerged with zero.

He said: “The doctors all agree I’m in a seriously bad way but, when I went for the PIP assessment, the guy was an ex-paramedic. How is he qualified to pass judgement on my heart condition or my mental health?

“If you can work a microwave, you can live without support, that’s what they say. I don’t even use the microwave. My son does all the cooking. They asked me if I could get up and make a cup of tea. God forbid I should feel good one day and make myself a cup of tea.

“But according to them, if I can do that, I can live my life no bother. If you can walk 20 metres, there’s nothing wrong with you. Where do they come up with these rules? It’s a joke.

“I’m a genuine case. It’s not as if I’m trying to scam anyone. I want to work but there are things an able-bodied man can do that I physically can’t. By definition, doesn’t that mean I’m disabled? But not to them.

“I could drop dead tomorrow and I’m getting nothing. Where is the justice in that?”

For Hugh, the situation is increasingly stressful as, without further financial support, he risks losing his home and custody of his son. He is struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide but says the supporting statements of his doctors don’t matter to the PIP process.

He added: “Clearly, if anyone feels ill, they should consult the DWP first because they obviously know better than GPs or surgeons.

“I understand there are people in much worse situations than me – people with cancer and brain tumours – who are being refused help. If they can’t get it, there’s no chance I’m getting it – but that doesn’t stop me being entitled to it.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “We’re spending more than ever on benefits to support disabled people and those with health conditions.

“PIP assessments are carried out by qualified health professionals and decisions are made following consideration of all the information provided, including supporting evidence from someone’s GP or medical specialist.”

‘The most vulnerable are being let down by Westminster’

RENFREWSHIRE South MSP Tom Arthur has called for more to be done to make sure those who most need the welfare system aren’t “stigmatised.”

The SNP man said: “I regularly see constituents in obvious poor mental and physical health and it is heartbreaking that people are subject to dehumanising tick-box exercises and flawed assessments.

“The Scottish Government is committed to improving the experience of those applying for benefits through Scotland’s new social security agency – which will eventually take responsibility for Personal Independence Payments and Disability Living Allowance amongst others – and will run assessments in-house, rather than through for-profit private companies.

“The most vulnerable in society are being let down by Westminster and I am sure the people who come to see me are only a small number of those affected. For anyone who is having difficulty, I will do all I can to help those affected and work with other organisations that provide invaluable support which is so sadly required.”