Rachel Hamilton MSP has sponsored a debate in the Scottish Parliament about potential improvements to the Blue Badge Scheme for disabled people.
The MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire was made aware of issues with the scheme after she was contacted by a constituent with MND, Doreen Cheesmond, and her husband Paul.
On average, it can take up to 12 weeks to process a blue badge. For people with MND, this involves having to declare that they have a terminal illness to increase the chances of their application being fast-tracked. However, even when this does happen, feedback from MND Scotland’s Welfare and Benefits Officers tells us that it can still take 2 months to receive a Blue Badge.
Based on the experiences of the couple, the MSP says she was “spurred into action” to try and change the process to ensure it works for people with MND.
Rachel Hamilton teamed up with rugby legend Doddie Weir OBE, who revealed his diagnosis with MND in June 2017, to launch a campaign calling for people with MND to get automatic access to the Blue Badge Scheme.
After a debate was secured in the Scottish Parliament, our Policy Officer Colette McDiarmid attended on behalf of MND Scotland. She was joined in the gallery by Doddie Weir, his wife Kathy, and Doreen and Paul Cheesmond.
In the debate, Rachel Hamilton repeated her call for the Scottish Government to give automatic access to the blue badge scheme for people with MND. MSPs Brian Whittle, Monica Lennon & Annabelle Ewing also spoke in support of the idea.
Paul Wheelhouse, the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, closed the debate by saying he recognised the issues faced by people with MND and agreed that guidance, last updated in 2014, could be reviewed.
MND Scotland will now work closely with Transport Scotland, and others, to ensure that guidance for local authorities works for people with MND.