HC Deb 04 December 1973 vol 865 cc1079-81
23. Mr. John Hannam

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will extend the provision of the constant attendance allowances so as to provide for kidney patients receiving dialysis treatment.

Mr. Dean

Attendance allowance is payable to all those who are so severely disabled physically or mentally, for whatever reason, that they satisfy the statutory requirements relating to attention or supervision. People receiving dialysis treatment at home qualify for attendance allowance in the same way as everyone else if they satisfy these conditions.

Mr. Hannam

Does my hon. Friend agree that kidney patients, because they are receiving treatment on possibly three or four days a week, find themselves ineligible for the constant attendance allowance even though they require a great deal of attention by their families and their wives—perhaps amounting to 10 hours—for the cleaning up of the machine after use, providing special diets, injections and so on? Should they not qualify as of right for the special allowance?

Mr. Dean

We all admire the courage of the way in which people who are having dialysis treatment continue to do valuable work within the community. However, it is for the board to interpret the statute. I assure my hon. Friend that where those who are on dialysis come within the regulations—in other words, require treatment for more than three days or nights a week—they are eligible for the allowance.

Mr. Grimond

Will the Minister take another look at the requirements for payment of the constant attendance allowance? I have a case of a blind diabetic suffering from heart disease who was apparently quite properly refused the allowance under the existing regulations. Does that not seem extremely hard treatment?

Mr. Dean

I shall look at any case which is of concern to the right hon. Gentleman. The criterion is the amount of supervision or attention required. It is a fairly new allowance and we have recently extended it to a further group of people. We are anxious to learn from experience.

Mr. Marten

Will my hon. Friend learn from the experience of one of my constituents who is on the machine for three or four days a week and from the enormous burden which is placed upon my constituent's wife on the other days, which makes it into almost a constant attendance case? Will my hon. Friend look at this again?

Mr. Dean

I shall gladly look at the case mentioned by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Alfred Morris

There is justifiable and very strong feeling on this matter. Is the Minister aware that praising the courage of these patients is not enough? if the regulations are to blame, something must be done, because hon. Members on both sides of the House want to see them made more flexible to help more of these patients.

Mr. Dean

I accept the hon. Member's point but this is a comparatively new allowance, introduced in 1971. More than 100,000 hard-pressed families are now benefiting from it. We are anxious to extend and improve the arrangements and to learn from experience.

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