Benefits officials' apology after mum's suicide
The mother of a disabled woman who took her own life after some benefits were stopped has been given a personal apology by government officials.
Jodey Whiting, 42, from Stockton, had some payments halted after she missed a capability assessment because she was in hospital with pneumonia.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) later admitted mistakes were made and paid the family compensation.
Senior officials travelled to Teesside to explain what changes have been made.
Ms Whiting, a mother of nine, suffered multiple physical and mental health issues including curvature of the spine and a brain cyst, and took 23 tablets each day.
Following her death in 2017, an independent inquiry found that the DWP did not follow procedures, such as telephoning and visiting Ms Whiting after she missed the appointment.
Her mother, Joy Dove, who has been campaigning for justice, said the officials told her they felt they had to apologise in person.
She said they "seemed sincere", but "apologies mean nothing, they won't bring Jodey back".
Mrs Dove said: "They said 'we really want to tell you how for each of those failings, changes have been made'.
"They said they are going to make it so you can phone up and get every consideration over the phone, instead of having to go in.
"They are going to employ people from [mental health charity] Mind, they are going to get consultants, going to train staff, they mentioned 26,000 staff.
"They kept saying sorry for that, sorry for that, but in the end I said, 'OK are you going to put it into writing?' and they said 'yes'.
"I said to them, if you're putting it in writing, please put it in Jodey's name so our daughter didn't die in vain."
The Department of Work and Pensions said in a statement: "Senior officials have met with Mrs Dove to apologise again for the failings in handling her daughter's case and discuss the lessons learnt.
"We fully accepted the Independent Case Examiner's findings earlier this year and have since reviewed and strengthened our procedures to ensure all vulnerable claimants are safeguarded."
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