A BROADFIELD woman who was told to travel 35 miles for a disability assessment despite not being able to walk is “annoyed” her initial request for a home assessment was ignored.
Emma-Louise Bryant from Broadwood Rise is in a wheelchair and has been diagnosed with a series of health conditions which mean she suffers seizures and is in constant pain.
The 20-year-old suffers from fibromyalgia, which causes pain all over the body, and pseudoseizures, which are similar to epileptic fits.
She also has joint hypermobility syndrome, which causes her joints to move beyond their natural range.
Miss Bryant was awarded a personal independence payment (PIP) in January by the Government, which helps with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or disability.
She then applied for an additional payment under the umbrella of PIP, which allows for a further benefit to cover the cost of going out or moving around when a person has problems regarding their mobility.
To determine how serious her need was, Miss Bryant was instructed to attend an assessment and, despite requesting it be done at her home, she was told she would have to travel 35 miles, to Deptford in south east London.
She said: “I live in Broadfield and I cannot get into the main town, so it is probably nearly impossible [for me to get to London].
“I can stand with the support of my nan [who is my carer]. Other than that I am not able to stand without support. I might be able to stand for a few minutes but other than that I would fall.”
Atos Healthcare sent her the letter on June 23 informing her of the assessment, which the company carries out on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Miss Bryant contacted the Crawley News after receiving the letter, distressed that her request for a home assessment appeared to have been ignored.
Only after the Crawley News contacted Atos did they offer her a home assessment, after first suggesting she could attend a nearer centre – in Brighton.
“I am just a bit annoyed because we had to go through all of this before someone listened,” Miss Bryant said.
“I think because they had so much bad press already [nationally] they wanted to quickly stop [any further negative coverage].”
Miss Bryant, who had to stop attending college because of her disabilities, explained this was her second application for the mobility component of the PIP.
He first application and subsequent appeal was unsuccessful and she had to buy herself a wheelchair and mobility scooter.
Her grandmother Alice Bryant said her needs should not be in question and that the DWP and Atos would see from her medical records that she needs the additional support.
“On a bad day, Emma can have up to 30 seizures and if she has a really bad one, she is paralysed on one side and she loses her speech,” said the 69-year-old.
“Sometimes she loses her sight and I will have to put her arms over my shoulders and put her on my back to take her to the bathroom.”
An Atos Healthcare spokeswoman said: “We recommend that people who will have issues in getting to a centre give us a call to discuss this as we do offer home consultations and there is a taxi facility for those who need it.
“We try to make coming to an assessment as easy as possible as we understand it can be a stressful time for people.”
Source: Crawley News