I don't usually use this blog to actively highlight political causes. Nor do I use this blog to ask you to sign petitions. In this case I make no apology for doing either. This is because the reason behind the petition could happen to any one of us or our friends and family - in fact - it has happened to the sister of a dear friend of mine.
We hear a lot about how the Longterm Sick are a drain on the "Welfare System". What we don't hear so much about is the "Welfare System" being a drain on the Longterm Sick - to the detriment of their already poor health.
If you are unable to work due to ill-health you are entitled to claim benefits such as DLA (Disability Living Allowance), Housing Benefit, ESA (Employment Support Allowance).
Not only do you have to jump through very narrow hoops in order to get DLA and its replacement PIP (Personal Independence Payments), one of the drawbacks of it (as I have recently learned) is that it (as well as the other Benefits I have mentioned) can be taken away as a direct result of you receiving treatment for your condition - especially if you are in an NHS Hospital for over 28 days. Private Hospitals are not covered by this crazy rule.
Now - according to me - there are a couple of slight problems with this.
Firstly, the chances are you have not chosen to require an extended stay in hospital. You still have bills to pay and a home to maintain during your stay (or do the Government think you are going to stay with friends or relations when you leave hospital??? Or even worse - sleep on the streets or in a Homeless Shelter???).
Secondly, do the Government really expect the Longterm Sick to involve their friends and relations in their private business (reading personal correspondence, contacting various Authorities, etc) so they get more and more stressed whilst they are supposed to be recovering from their latest setback??? What about those who are on their own???
Thirdly, what happens if the person who is Longterm Sick and on Benefits has any kind of complication which results in them being in a coma for longer than 28 days??? How are they supposed to report their location if they are not conscious???
Efrosyni Hobbs (the lady who set the petition up and very kindly allowed me to blog about it) suffers from poor health herself (and her condition is not going to get any better - if anything it will deteriorate).
I was shocked when she told me that - instead of feeling able to use her three week stay in hospital earlier this year to recover from whatever situation had put her in there - she was worried that her stay would go over the 28 day mark and she would lose her Benefits. This would mean she would need to reapply for them and wait for everything to be processed again (or at least wait for a month after she had come out of hospital for them to be automatically reinstated - whilst incurring Bank Charges and going into deeper Debt).
Efi and I have both got the same reason for bringing this cause to your attention. We are both committed to championing the cause of the most vulnerable in society who are unable to speak out for themselves.
Speaking personally - I know what it is like to have someone in hospital for a very long time and the associated stress that situation causes. I also know what it is like to claim benefits (along with being made to feel like the dregs of society as a result of claiming what I am entitled to).
I will never ask you to sign something I would not be prepared to sign myself. So, please join me by visiting www.change.org/p/the-government-abolish-the-stoppage-of-benefits-dla-housing-benefit-esa-for-claimants-who-have-spent-28-days-or-more-in-an-nhs-hospital-stop-penalising-the-most-vulnerable-members-of-society-by-adding-a-financial-burden-during-a-heath-crisis and signing the petition.
You never know - one of the people who ends up benefitting from this could be you.
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