Death of cancer patient who went public over benefit cuts

 

A Co Tyrone woman suffering from cancer who had her sickness benefits payments cut and later reinstated has died.

Her payments were withdrawn under the controversial “work capability assessments introduced across the UK.

Cecilia Burns (51) from Strabane died from breast cancer on Monday but the news only became public yesterday , on the same day as anti-cuts campaigners picketed Atos offices in London.

The IT giant was awarded a £100 million contract by the UK government to conduct the fitness-to-work assessments but campaigners say the scheme has been mismanaged and object to Atos’s sponsorship of the paralympics.

Ms Burns, a mother of two boys, was diagnosed in 2011. After surgery, she underwent months of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and was on the drug Herceptin until her death.

In March 2012, her employment support allowance was reduced by £30 and she was told she was fit to work, even though she was still undergoing treatment.

After she launched a public campaign to have the decision overturned, Ms Burns had her full payment reinstated.