BLUE badges that allow disabled people to park nearer to town centre shops should be given to people with dementia too, an MP has told the Government.
Michael Dugher, MP for Barnsley East, is calling for the blue badge scheme to be expanded to help up to 60,000 people living with the condition across Yorkshire and the Humber to get around more easily.
He said: “As a proud patron of the Barnsley Independent Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support charity, I know the terrible impact dementia has as a mentally and physically debilitating disease which causes real pain and suffering for patients and their families.
“But people with severe dementia are not always eligible for a Blue Badge, which often means a difficult application process for patients and their carers – sometimes resulting in failure.
“I’m calling for a change in the rules so that people with dementia are specifically eligible to apply for a Blue Badge, which means easier trips to the shop, the doctor’s or the hospital for dementia patients if they choose to apply. I hope the Government will consider this change.”
Possessing a badge can be a lifeline when out shopping or attending a doctor’s or hospital appointment for someone who has dementia.
Department for Transport guidance for local councils currently gives some disabled people eligibility for the scheme, but dementia is not on the list of criteria.
The number of people with the illness is set to rise from 850,000 this year to over two million by 2051 across the UK.
Charities like the Alzheimer’s Society have pointed out that the rules mean people with dementia face a postcode lottery, with some local authorities issuing a blue badge and others enforcing much stricter rules.
Linda Pattison, chief officer at the Barnsley Independent Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support Charity, said: “People affected by dementia have many issues to face including social isolation, fear of the future and a lack of understanding.
“We need to help them in whatever way we can and their lives would be made easier if dementia was recognised as part of the criteria for having a Blue Badge.”
Mr Dugher has written to Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling to ask him to include dementia on the list of eligible criteria.