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SCOPE’s Drive To Improve The Lives Of Disabled People

A new report [1] recently published by SCOPE, the disability charity, highlights the challenges disabled people face in trying to lead the full lives of their choice. As a clinical negligence lawyer acting in many cases involving disabled people, and seeing these challenges for myself, I endorse the findings of this report.

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES REVEALED BY SCOPE’S REPORT?

• Employment – people who become disabled whilst in a job are unlikely to keep that job, and disabled people who want to get back into work are much less likely to do so than a non-disabled person.

• Social Isolation/Discrimination – all of us can be frightened of disability, which makes us awkward around disabled people which in turn limits social integration, and at its extreme can result in discrimination.

• Financial – as I can wholeheartedly endorse from the cases I run on behalf of disabled people they have extra costs of care, for equipment such as powered wheelchairs and travelling to and from work and social activities which reduces the financial resources available for other things including savings and pensions.

• Limited choices – this is about where disabled people want to live, and so a lack of opportunity to build up social networks.

WHAT ARE THE SOLUTIONS SUGGESTED IN SCOPE’S REPORT?

• Personal, targeted support to get disabled people into work, together with incentives for employers to take on disabled people. This would certainly help to give disabled people the best chance of getting into work in my view.

• To continue to highlight the positive “news” about disability and the contribution disabled people make to society as a whole in spite of their disabilities – including the Government’s Disability Confident campaign. I certainly know from my work that there are many positives around disability, and indeed the claims I run are all about helping disabled people to become and do the best they can – and the resilience of some of my clients is truly breath-taking.

• Financial help to offset the extra costs associated with disabilities – all too often it seems to me, disabled people are left to get on with their lives without the help and support they need. The claims I run on behalf of disabled people can help to provide some of that extra support, but often the compensation monies are still not enough, and that does not help those people for whom a claim is not possible either.

• Ring-fencing the social care budget to provide more choice for disabled people as to how and where they want to live – it does seem rather strange that the NHS budget, which provides ongoing healthcare for us all, is ring-fenced and yet the social care budget to provide support to the most vulnerable in our society is not.

WHAT I SAY

As the SCOPE report makes clear, we have come a long way as a society in terms of our attitude to disability and trying to “level the playing field” for disabled people – but there is still a long way to go. I act for lots of disabled clients, and so see first hand the struggles and barriers they face. My aim, through the claims I handle and the compensation I obtain for my clients, is to help them make that money work hard to open up as many choices, as much freedom and as many opportunities for them as possible. My hope – expressed in SCOPE’s report as well – is that one day we may reach a point where whether or not someone is disabled really does not matter.

If you have suffered injuries due to medical treatment and you wish to discuss a possible clinical negligence claim, please contact me or one of my colleagues.

[1] Better Living, Higher Standards: Improving The Lives Of Disabled People by 2020.

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