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Jeremy Vine joins Norfolk campaigners for launch of inquiry into benefits for terminally ill

PUBLISHED: 11:18 08 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:37 08 July 2019

Sue Heal (left) and Dianne Hepburn (right) together with others from the East of England meeting with Peter Aldous at the Parliamentary drop-in. Photo: Submitted

Sue Heal (left) and Dianne Hepburn (right) together with others from the East of England meeting with Peter Aldous at the Parliamentary drop-in. Photo: Submitted

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TV presenter Jeremy Vine joined a group of Norfolk protestors in Westminister to discuss how the benefits system fails people with terminal illness.

Drew Hendry MP launching the Parliamentary drop-in Event with Madeleine Moon MP waiting to speak. Photo: SubmittedDrew Hendry MP launching the Parliamentary drop-in Event with Madeleine Moon MP waiting to speak. Photo: Submitted

Members of the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association travelled to parliament on July 3 for the launch of a new parliamentary inquiry report, which deemed the current benefits system "not fit for purpose" for dying people.

The inquiry heard how terminally ill people and their families, including those in Norfolk, face devastating and far reaching financial hardship and crippling debt, due to problems accessing benefits.

Currently, a person must have a life expectancy of six months or less to get fast access to benefits, with those who do not fit the rule sometimes being forced to prove they are looking for work.

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As a result, the report recommended the UK government scraps the 'six-month rule' and adopt a new definition of terminal illness, mirroring the recent change in Scotland that allows clinicians to use their own judgement to certify if a person is terminally ill, with no arbitrary time limit.

The inquiry found that the medical profession would support this change.

The MND Association and its local supporters have been campaigning for a change in the law under the 'Scrap 6 Months' banner for the last year.

Sue Heal and Dianne Hepburn from Norfolk were among dozens of people attending a drop-in at Parliament this week.

Ms Heal, from Wymondham, said: "As an MND Association campaigner I have been raising awareness of the difficulty many terminally ill people face accessing benefits they desperately need for some time. It was a privilege to attend the Parliamentary drop in and heartening to hear the results of the report which add further weight to our call for a change in the law. The drop-in gave me a chance to speak to local MPs Peter Aldous and Brandon Lewis and welcome their support. I hope to be able to talk with other Norfolk MPs back in their constituencies and urge them to take action."

A petition calling on the government to scrap the six month rule has been signed by 16,832 and will be handed to the new prime minister in early August.

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