4 Aug 2016

Work and Income apologises to cancer patient

9:13 pm on 4 August 2016

An Auckland man suffering from Hodgkin's lymphoma for a second time says a change to the law is needed after he was put on a jobseeker's benefit.

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Photo: 123rf.com

Kent Findlay is a schoolteacher but he is unable to work while he undergoes intensive chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.

Work and Income put him on a jobseeker's benefit and he has had to repeatedly provide documents to prove he could not work because of his illness.

Mr Findlay told Checkpoint with John Campbell he would like to see a change in the process to reduce the hassle for patients.

"Provide a certificate at the start from your doctor that will say how long your treatment is going to be, then when your treatment is finished, someone from the hospital could contact WINZ and that would cut out all the unnecessary back and forth."

In a statement to RNZ, Ministry of Social Development Auckland Regional Commissioner Blair McKenzie apologised to Mr Findlay and said his current certificate meant he would not be expected to work or actively look for a job.

He said staff had waived Mr Findlay's stand-down period, and contacted him to acknowledge they had "originally calculated his commencement date incorrectly".

At this point, Mr Findlay would still need to provide periodic updates of his medical certificate, he said.

"The first will typically be after four weeks, then after another four weeks, then after every 13 weeks... We should stress that it is early days for Mr Findlay and our decision-making is very much influenced by the input of medical professionals."