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Philippa Day: young disabled mother took her own life after being told to attend PIP assessment

18 January 2021

An inquest has heard a young disabled mother killed herself after hearing she would have to attend a face-to-face interview at a benefits assessment centre, following repeated warnings that she could not cope with such a meeting, reports the Disability News Service (DNS).

Philippa Day left an apparent suicide note blaming the way the government had dealt with her benefits, and had previously told her sister that she believed the DWP was trying to kill her.

Her unconscious body was found by her sister and father on 8 August 2019, just days after she had been told she would need to attend an assessment centre for a face-to-face appointment to decide her new PIP claim.

They found her lying on her bed at her home in Nottingham. On the pillow next to her was the letter from outsourcing giant Capita telling her that she would have to attend the appointment at the assessment centre in Nottingham.

On previous occasions, she had always told family or friends that she was intending to take such an action, which allowed them to call an ambulance. This time, she had not told anyone what she planned to do.

She was taken to hospital but later died after more than two months in a coma.

Philippa’s father later found notes on a laptop he had lent his daughter and which was also found on the bed, including one which appeared to be a suicide note.

It said:

“I have been trapped for so long and then along comes a government who people would assume are there to help.

Since January the 11th 2019 my benefits have been severely cut, this has caused me to get payday loans to simply live and that has escalated into a hole I can never get out of.

Not just that, having nothing has isolated me from the world, has affected my identity.”

The inquest heard how Philippa had experienced months of distress due to DWP’s decisions to remove her disability benefits when it appears to have lost her claim form, and then to confirm that decision, as well as the length of time it took to reinstate her benefits, and deal with a new claim.

It also heard how multiple errors were made by those working in the system

Both DWP and Capita had been told of her history of significant mental distress and mental health inpatient admissions, that she was agoraphobic, and that she would be unable to cope with attending the assessment centre.

The inquest heard that the decision to force her to attend the centre had caused her “immense distress” and that she was “terrified” of having to attend the assessment centre.

Philippa’s trusted community psychiatric nurse, Tessa Rand, had spoken with her on 7 August about the assessment, which was going to take place 12 days later.

Ms. Rand told the inquest: “She was very, very distressed that it wasn’t an appointment at home. She was distressed about having an appointment in general.

“She felt she would not be able to cope. She would not be able to communicate what she needed to communicate.

She said: ‘I’m done. I can’t do this anymore.’”

Despite Ms. Rand informing Capita of the distress the imminent assessment was causing Philippa, the company refused to offer a home assessment.

The inquest is expected to end next week.

For more information see the following DNS news stories:

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