Epilepsy

Part of Culture, Media and Sport Committee – in the House of Commons at 4:15 pm on 26th February 2015.

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Photo of George Howarth George Howarth Labour, Knowsley 4:15 pm, 26th February 2015

The hon. Gentleman’s speech highlighted a more general point about how chronic conditions are dealt with. I have some knowledge of type 1 diabetes. When someone with that condition reaches a crisis, whether that is a psychological crisis or something that should be dealt with by a diabetologist, they cannot always get to see the right people at the right time so that they can get the right support, prescription or advice. Brilliant though our national health service is, that is one aspect that all too often breaks down, so I hope that the Minister will address that problem.

I want to concentrate on a particular issue, which I do not think has been mentioned, about which one of my constituents has contacted me: how the benefits system makes life very difficult indeed for those people who find themselves on benefits. No doubt the Minister will not be able to respond to my points, but I hope that he will pass them on to his colleagues in the relevant Department.

My constituent, who has asked to be named, Mr Adam Lane, who lives in Huyton, said:

“In regard to my DLA claim I had to go through 6 months with no money for myself, my wife and my two-year-old son. At that time we had to live on £50 a week until I went to a tribunal and won. Now I have to go through the whole process again on 13th of March for PIP. I have a letter from my epilepsy doctor stating how bad my epilepsy is. I fall and convulse without warning and have seriously damaged my knee, and have panic attacks throughout the whole experience. My seizures are occurring every week now and are very serious and now I suffer with migraines where I vomit 14 hours a day and I’m confined to bed through the process for 2 weeks at a time. I’m hoping Atos will not brush me off like last time, hoping to appease Government numbers to get people off benefits. I feel I am in need of benefits. I cannot work with my health conditions. My wife is my carer 24/7. My son has been traumatised though watching my seizures. I’m hoping my Atos interviewer sees what is in front of their eyes and not what the Government want them to see and say. Please, for others out there like me, let there be a way for people who do not abuse the system to be given a fairer crack of claiming what is deservedly theirs. Thank you.”

I thought it was worth reading that out in full because it gives a very clear picture of how this man has had to struggle to keep his family together and to support them in extremely difficult circumstances, where the benefits system seems to mount up against him to prevent him having any kind of reasonable life. I hope that such cases—there are many more of them out there—give the Government cause to think again about how people with chronic conditions are dealt with in the benefits system.