Lawrence Bond suffered a fatal heart attack in Highgate Road
Published: 23 January, 2017
By WILLIAM McLENNAN
A VIGIL is to be held for a man who collapsed and died in the street after being ruled “fit to work” and forced to sign on.
Lawrence Bond, 56, suffered a fatal heart attack shortly after leaving Kentish Town Jobcentre on Thursday, January 12.
Mr Bond suffered from prolonged health problems, including difficulty with mobility and breathing, associated with being heavily overweight. But his incapacity benefit, now known as Employment and Support Allowance, was cut following a second “work capability assessment”, which was carried out by American private firm Maximus in July.
A subsequent appeal was turned down and Mr Bond was awaiting the outcome of a second appeal at the time of his death.
The circumstances of his death were revealed in the New Journal last week and caused widespread outrage at his treatment.
The vigil is being organised by Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group with WinVisible disabled women’s group and supported by Camden Momentum and Unite Community Camden. It will take place at midday outside the Jobcentre in Kentish Town Road.
Mr Bond's sister, Iris Green, said that he was in obvious “physical distress” when he arrived at the Jobcentre, adding that staff are faced with an “awful dilemma”.
“I do feel really sorry for the people who dealt with him,” she Iris Green said. “They face an awful dilemma of being the people responsible for collecting signatures for people signing on as fit for work, even when they can see people are very sick.”
Ms Green, said: “I realise that the reception staff have no clinical knowledge or responsibility for doing it, but the rules need to be changed so that they have the right and discretion when they see a human being turning up in physical distress to flag the situation up and ask for urgent re-assessment.”
Mr Bond, who lived in Gillies Street, went to visit a friend in Highgate after leaving the Jobcentre and was boarding the 214 bus in Highgate Road when he collapsed. Paramedics battled to revive him in the street, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
A spokeswoman for the London Ambulance Service said: “We were called at 4.57pm on Thursday, 12 January, to reports of an incident at Highgate Road.
“We sent an ambulance crew, three single responders in cars and an advanced paramedic to the scene. The first of our medics arrived at the scene in under seven minutes.
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “The local Jobcentre had been supporting Mr Bond and our sympathies are with his family at this difficult time.
“ESA decisions are made following a thorough assessment and after considering all of the evidence, including that provided by a claimant’s doctor or other medical professionals. Anyone who disagrees with a decision can ask for it to be reconsidered, and if they still disagree they can appeal.”
Details of the vigil can be found on a dedicated Facebook page.