PIP Assessor Didn’t Know What Thalidomide Was

Same Difference

For Phil Spanswick, who has lived all his life with shortened limbs, three fingers on one hand and four on the other, as a result of the thalidomide scandal, it was galling enough to have his benefits cut after reassessment. But it was doubly so to discover that the assessor had put his condition down as genetic.

“She was 21 and had trained as a paramedic and asked me three times how I had got my disability and what age was I when I got it,” says Spanswick. “She didn’t even know what thalidomide was, that it was manmade and babies were born with it.”

It is almost 60 years since the thalidomide drug was first licensed for use in the UK to counter the effects of morning sickness in pregnancy. By the time it was withdrawn within three years, in 1961, hundreds of babies in Britain and tens of…

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