When seriously ill Emma Dolan, 46 from Sefton Park, was told during the pandemic that desperately needed NHS treatment for her multiple and complex medical conditions were to be delayed again for a further 16-18 months, meaning a lengthy delay would undoubtedly cause further physical and mental decline and reduce her chances of any form of meaningful recovery and the chance to live a more fulfilling life she knew that neither she, nor her body, had the time to wait to stand any chance of successful rehabilitation.
Emma swallowed her pride launching a Just Giving Page in March this year and was overwhelmed with support from her army of friends, followers and supporters and the total quickly hit over £35,000. The fund was set up to purchase a stretcher and pay for private rehabilitation treatment to ensure that she would be in the best possible condition to benefit for the NHS rehabilitation program when it was finally reallocated to her.
Emma spent five years unable to work and for many years supported herself, she has now exhausted her life savings and as the condition has worsened took the heartbreaking decision to accept a place at a care facility to give her the support she needs whilst waiting for the rehabilitation she desperately needs to improve her quality of her health and her life. She initially transferred the funds into an account in her own name so that she could pay for her stretcher and make the necessary treatment bookings and payments. The DWP then intervened and stopped Emma’s Universal Credit prompting Emma to take ook advice from leading Welfare Lawyer Steven Lunt at Astraea Legal.
Steven said “I was instructed to work with Emma in relation to a complex welfare benefit matter. Emma was receiving Universal Credit, due to having no other income in the household and suffering from severe disabilities. Universal Credit is a means tested benefit, which does take into consideration other income within the household and capital above £6,000 will affect how much Universal Credit you can receive. Capital above £16,000 would disentitle a claimant to Universal Credit.
Emma, has been formally diagnosed as suffering from several severe autonomic nervous system disfunction and Addisons disease medical conditions. This has resulted in Emma being immobile and unable to selfcare and she requires 24 hour care from assisted living. We advised Emma immediately to transfer the funds into a Trust Fund which Emma does not have access to which is set up for the purpose of furthering her rehabilitation and we have lodged an Appeal with HM Courts & Tribunal Service for their consideration as to whether Emma should be considered as the beneficial owner of the monies received by way of donations as they are now in a Trust Fund.
We will be working tirelessly at Astraea Legal to assist Emma in her challenge with the DWP’s HM Courts and Tribunal Service and hope that the right conclusion in this distressing case will prevail. This is a complete injustice and potentially detrimental to Emma’s failing health causing her to have a substantial worsening in her mental health as a result of the financial restraints and potential possession proceedings which would leave Emma statutory homeless”
Emma said “I have taken a lot of blows in the last ten years and had to swallow my pride on more occasions than I care to remember. This DWP ruling is by far the most monumental knock to date and feels like the most cruel of blows.
I live in a horizontal world and my only outings are to hospitals I am desperately trying to help myself get to the point where I can live a more fulfilling life than staring at a ceiling all day. This treatment could potentially get me upright enough to be in a wheelchair which would quite literally change my world physically and mentally and put my in a good position to benefit from an NHS rehabilitation programme when one becomes available. If I do nothing I will be too sick to benefit.
I WILL NEVER SPEND ONE PENNY of the money people have raised for me for treatment to live, that would be immoral and is not what people donated their hard earned cash for. I am truly devasted and feel like I am lost in a system that does not care. The pandemic has been tough on everyone, but lying on your back for 24 hours a day for over a year with extremely limited access to visitors has been really, really tough. I genuinely feel that if the DWP fail to reassess my status they will take away any hope I have of giving myself ANY chance of rehabilitation. I cannot describe the feeling of helplessness or hopelessness I feel today it really is the most cruel of blows and desperately needs to be reversed for me to move forward and live as near a normal life as I possibly can. The faster I get better, the faster I can look at earning my own living and start contributing to society again and be un-reliant on the benefit system at all”
A spokesperson for The Department of Work and Pensions told The Liverpool Echo. “Our Merseyside team is taking the necessary steps to help Miss Horlock re-open her claim and support her during this difficult time. In the meantime she is in receipt of the highest levels of Personal Independence Payments”.
Emma is now nervously awaiting an appeal which has been lodged at HM Courts and Tribunal Service.