Campaigners across South Yorkshire are joining the fight calling for a change in the law to give people with terminal illnesses easier access to benefits.
Members of the Motor Neurone Disease Association’s South Yorkshire Branch are among thousands affected by the terminal illness that are calling on the government to support Madeleine Moon MP’s private members bill through Parliament.
Under the Special Rules for Terminal Illness, people’s application for disability benefits can be fast-tracked if their GP, consultant or specialist nurse completes a form confirming there is a ‘reasonable expectation of death within six months.’
MND is a rapidly progressing disease which attacks the nerves that control movement so muscles no longer work. People are left unable to move, talk, eat and eventually breath. It is a complex condition and it is almost impossible to give such a precise life expectancy.
In a recent survey by the MND Association, only 4 per cent of GPs in Yorkshire and the Humber said ‘the patient’s condition always makes it clear whether they should sign the SRTI form.’ That leaves many patients having to apply for benefits such as Personal Independence Payments and Universal Credit under the standard systems, involving long forms, face to face assessments, conversations in a Job Centre about work related activities and long delays in accessing benefits.
James Douglas, who lives in South Yorkshire and is living with MND, expressed his frustrations with the process, saying: “It’s a lengthy, stressful and time consuming exercise which could be made much simpler for people with terminal illnesses such as MND, who will only deteriorate with time and never get better or recover.”