A severely disabled woman has had vital funding reinstated. Sadly however, it was only after I intervened.
Martha Trust resident Clare Costelloe, 43, from Deal, suffers from a rare disease called neuro-Behcet's syndrome. She is blind, epileptic and wheelchair bound. Clare was receiving NHS Continuous Care Funding, until a review by Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in November found she "no longer meets the criteria". The family was told payments would stop in January.
That month I contacted CCG bosses expressing my utter bemusement with the decision and demanding it be reconsidered without appeal. The CCG contacted me soon afterwards, agreeing to hold a new review and continue payments in the meantime. Last week, the new review was completed and funding was awarded.
Last year Clare was also told she was not entitled to disability benefits because she was already cared for in a "hospital or similar institution". I contacted the Department for Work and Pensions, explaining how the Martha Trust did not provide specialist treatment and highlighting a legal ruling differentiating between care homes and hospitals for VAT purposes. Last month, Clare's Employment and Support Allowance was also re-instated.
Brian and Sue Costelloe, Clare's parents, said: "We thank Charlie and his team most sincerely for their concern and support.
"The CCG were infinitely more conciliatory and understanding than at the last review meeting in November. No doubt thanks in no small measure to Charlie's timely intervention.
"He has also agreed to keep working with us to raise wider issues within the care system.
"There are real problems. It seems we were just lucky Clare had an MP willing to fight on her behalf."
When Clare's parents came to me I was really concerned. The situation was ridiculous – unacceptable – and I made my feelings clear to health chiefs. I'm pleased that in the end, at least, they listened and did the right thing.
Helping people in Dover and Deal is the most important part of my job. I urge anyone having issues to contact me. Anyone in need of help or advice should email firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office on 01304 379669.
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