Arkless Urges UK Government To Help Fight MND

Dumfries and Galloway MP Richard Arkless has met with the Minister for Community Health and Care, David Mowat MP, and representatives from Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Associations to discuss how the UK Government can lend their weight to help combat the debilitating disease. 


The meeting follows Mr Arkless’ question to the Minister several weeks ago which drew attention to the high incidences or ‘clusters’ of MND in Dumfries and Galloway, with fifteen people per 100,000 diagnosed with the condition across the region against a UK average of 5-7 people per 100,000.  The cluster affect is particularly acute in Stranraer where the statistics translate to 57 people per 100,000 diagnosed with MND.


Commenting, Mr Arkless, said:


‘Having lost my Mum to this horrific disease earlier this year, MND is an issue which is incredibly close to my heart.  Unfortunately, in Dumfries and Galloway, it is an issue close to many people’s hearts as more people here have lost a loved one to the disease than anywhere else in the UK.


‘No-one knows exactly why the disease is so prevalent in our region but it is clear that more must be done to help fight it – MND has such a profound and devastating impact of lives of so many of my constituents.’


Kirsty McAlpine from MND Scotland, Susan Rabin from MND Association which covers England and Wales and Madeline Moon MP who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on MND, all attended the meeting to discuss the current progress of MND medical research, adult social care and carers, and the coming changes to benefit reassessments and attendance allowance.


Mr Arkless continued:


‘This meeting was about getting everyone concerned with MND together in the same room with the Minister.  It was a constructive meeting and I was pleased when Mr Mowat shared with us his personnel experience of the illness. He made it clear that he understands the full nature of an MND diagnosis.’


‘Kirsty, from MND Scotland, and I urged the Minister to adopt the advances that MND Scotland and Gordon Aikman have campaigned for and secured.  The Scottish Government have now doubled the number of MND Nurses and introduced 3 fully funded PHD places to research the illness. The UK Government should be doing the same at the very minimum.’


The meeting comes only a few weeks after Penny Mordaunt, Minister of State for Disabled People, Work and Health, announced that no-one with MND or any other terminal illness would have to be reassessed for benefits.  Previously, everyone in receipt of ESA (Employment Support Allowance) had to undergo a reassessment every six months but the UK government now plans to allow the payments to continue automatically for those who have lifelong and severe health conditions with no prospect of improvement.


Mr Arkless said:


“This change in procedure is very welcome and will go a long way in helping to reduce the stress and worry that is inherent with any kind of benefit assessment.’


He continued:


‘Ending the need for reassessment for people with lifelong health conditions such as MND is a very sensible decision and I am pleased to see that common sense is prevailing in this regard.’


‘We still need clarification from the government as to what conditions will qualify for the reassessment exemption so I have tabled a Written Question to the Minister to request clarification on this issue.  I would urge any of my constituents currently in this position, awaiting an exemption from assessments, to get in touch with me and my team as we will be able to help you.’


To contact Mr Arkless please call 01387 265 698 or email [email protected]

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