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Dartford campaigners demand law change for the terminally ill

PUBLISHED: 11:33 11 July 2019

Rachael Martin-Smith and Councillor Kelly Grehan spoke to Dartford MP Gareth Johnson and the BBC's Jeremy Vine at the Parliamentary drop-in. Picture: MND Association

Rachael Martin-Smith and Councillor Kelly Grehan spoke to Dartford MP Gareth Johnson and the BBC's Jeremy Vine at the Parliamentary drop-in. Picture: MND Association

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A group of Dartford campaigners have visited Parliament to join the call for a change to an outdated benefits system for the terminally ill.

They travelled to Westminster with TV and radio presenter Jeremy Vine, more than 60 MPs and representatives of the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association and Marie Curie on Wednesday, July 3.

It was to mark the release of a new Parliamentary inquiry report, which found the rule that a person must have a life expectancy of six months or less to get fast access to benefits is "outdated, overly-time consuming and demeaning".

The report recommends the UK government scraps the six-month rule and adopts 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.

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Dartford resident Rachael Martin-Smith and Stone Councillor Kelly Grehan have been campaigning with The Motor Neurone Disease Association and its local supporters for a change in the law under the Scrap 6 Months banner for the past year and were pleased Dartford MP Gareth Johnson took time to join them at the event.

Rachael 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 us chance to speak to MPs and urge them to take action."

And Cllr Grehan added: "I feel passionately that the benefit system should be made as easy as possible for terminally ill people to access and, unfortunately the current system does the opposite and causes stress and anxiety at a time when people have enough to worry about.

"It was really lovely to spend time with the charity volunteers and hear about their experiences."

The group is calling for people to help change the law by signing the scrap6months petition at

mndassociation.org/S6Mpetition, which will be handed in to Downing Street in early August.

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