A SALISBURY grandmother suffered a heart attack during a job centre assessment but was deemed fit to carry on.

Salena Hannah, 50, started suffering chest pains during an appointment and asked if she could be excused to see a doctor.

But she claims her pleas were ignored – and she was so terrified of having her benefits cut that she carried on with the interview.

She then rushed to an NHS walk-in centre, where doctors diagnosed a heart attack and inserted two stents.

Salena’s experience echoes the plot of the 2016 Ken Loach film, I, Daniel Blake, in which carpenter Daniel Blake is deemed fit to work despite suffering a heart attack.

She said: “I was feeling some really bad pains in my chest and I told her at least two or three times that I was in agony, but she just kept ignoring me.

“I said I needed to go to the NHS walk-in centre immediately, but it fell on deaf ears.

“I was living in fear of being sanctioned and just felt trapped. I didn’t think I could leave or I would have my benefits stopped.

“I was sweating profusely and must have looked very ill. I was with my grandson, and he looked concerned, but she didn’t.

“The way I was treated in that interview was a total disgrace.

“I was so worried about losing my benefits that I didn’t just get up and leave to go to hospital. I just sat there having a heart attack.”

Part-time chip shop worker Salena, who lives in Bemerton Heath, attended the Job Centre in Salisbury, on May 2 at 1pm.

She had been suffering with chest pains for about two weeks and took a couple of doses of angina medication before her appointment.

“My job is under 16 hours so I am forced to attend regular meetings, or my benefits might be stopped,” she explained.

After the 40-minute session was over Salena went straight to the local walk-in centre and was immediately taken by ambulance to Salisbury District Hospital.

“They did some blood tests and told me I had suffered a heart attack, my first ever,” she said.

“They inserted two stents into my arteries and I was kept in hospital for three days.

“Eventually they let me out and within an hour of being at home, the pains returned and I went back to the hospital, this time they inserted three stents, and kept me in for a further few days.

“I have been signed off for a month and I am now on ESA rather than JSA.”

Commenting on Salena’s experience, Dr Wanda Wyporska, Executive Director of The Equality Trust, said: “It’s disgusting to see how some of the most vulnerable people in society are treated.

“What’s even worse is that these people are doing everything that’s asked of them.

“They’re going out to work everyday, or desperately searching for work, trying to look after themselves and their family, and yet they’re treated with contempt.”

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said:”When you hear stories like this, you have to wonder if all compassion has been completely ripped from our system by continued austerity and cuts to front line services.

“We’re talking about people’s actual lives here, their health, their families, not numbers on a spreadsheets or theoretical targets.

“It’s heartbreaking, and what’s so frustrating is that it doesn’t need to be this way.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We would always encourage claimants who suddenly fall ill to seek medical attention, or to speak to a member of staff for assistance.”