A cancer survivor has slammed the Department for Work and Pensions after his benefits were stopped after he suffered a hernia as a result of his cancer treatment.

Peter Jackson, from Chesham, says the DWP stopped his employment and support allowance (ESA) claiming he was fit for work without medically assessing him.

Mr Jackson, a HGV driver, was diagnosed with bowel cancer last February and had to be fitted with a stoma bag. According to the British Hernia Centre, sometimes the muscles around a stoma can come away from the edges, creating a hernia – which is what happened to Mr Jackson in June.

He said: “The hernia protruding out of my body is the size of a small bowling ball.

“We are allowed 28 weeks of statutory sick pay. I used that all up and in September I had to apply for ESA.

“I started getting it and had to go in for an assessment at Aylesbury Job Centre.

“I then got a letter on January 2 this year saying that my benefits had been stopped because they thought I was fit to work.

“The questions on the form were things like ‘can you lift an empty cardboard box?’ and ‘can you lift your arms above your head?’

“And because I answered yes to those questions, they said I was fit to work even though I am clearly not.”

Mr Jackson, 61 now has to apply for universal tax credit, for which claimants are expected to spend 35 hours a week looking for work.

He is due to have surgery for his hernia to be removed this week and says he should be able to return to work after around 10 weeks of recovery.

He said: “I already have a job so I don’t know why I should look for another one. My employers have been very understanding and have said I can return to work as soon as I am fit enough.

“But since January 2 I have had no money and have had to dip into my pension, even though I am still working, to make ends meet.

“My father passed away just before Christmas so this has all been really stressful.

“The DWP hasn’t medically assessed me, I have not been seen by a medical professional. They have made their decision based on the questions I answered on the form and from what they saw at the job centre.

“They say there must be some job out there that I can do in the job world – but that would mean I would have to leave my current job which they have advised me against.

“It’s like banging your head against a brick wall. You just feel down and depressed all the time.

“I have been working since I was 19 or 20-years-old and have never had to have benefits before – and then this happens, you lose faith in the entire system.”

The DWP insists Mr Jackson was assessed by a medical professional who found him fit to work.

A spokesman said: "'We're committed to ensuring that people with health conditions get the support they're entitled to and following an assessment with a medical professional, in which Mr Jackson was found fit for work, staff are available to support him in claiming alternative out of work benefits.

“Decisions for ESA are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist.

“Any claimant can appeal a decision for free to an independent tribunal.”

The spokesman also said people claiming universal credit can supply medical evidence so they are not required to search for work.