Date for Burnley Thalidomide victim to prove she is ‘not fit to work’

Martine White who has been declared fit to work despite profound health problems.
Martine White who has been declared fit to work despite profound health problems.

A Burnley Thalidomide victim, who has undergone brain surgery, is blind in one eye, partially deaf, can barely walk and is to undergo spinal surgery later this year, has finally been given a date for a tribunal where she must prove she is not fit to work.

Mrs Martine White (50), of Palatine Square, has been waiting almost a year for the date of the hearing before a judge, which has been set for Wednesday, July 17th, by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Last year Mrs White received a letter notifying her of a changeover from incapacity benefits to Employment and Support Allowance.

Just a few weeks later, in July, she received another letter saying she was no longer entitled to benefits and must go on a work training course.

The family appealed and the decision was overturned. In October, however, she was contacted by the department and told once again she should not be claiming benefits.

This time the family’s appeal was rejected and they have spent the last few months gathering medical evidence from her GP and the consultant who has been treating her at Burnley General Hospital.

Mrs White’s son, Carl said: “This hearing has been a long time coming but finally we will be able to prove how ill my mum is.’’ Mrs White married her late husband Michael, also a Thalidomide victim, in 1981.

They became the first Thalidomide couple to be married in Britain.

Michael died in 2004, four years after she had undergone surgery to remove a brain tumour. Prior to her brain surgery,Mrs White worked for Social Services . She now requires a carer seven days a week, needs a lift to help her up stairs and is on medication to help relieve constant agony.