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Julian Sturdy - Strong Voice for York Outer

Julian Sturdy

Member of Parliament for York Outer

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January 13, 2016

Julian has wade into Government Ministers for their unsympathetic approach to people who have suffered life-changing side effects from vaccinations.

Yesterday, Mr Sturdy spoke in a debate in Parliament on the swine flu vaccination, pandermix, which in rare cases has led to the development of narcolepsy and cataplexy, particularly in young people.

Mr Sturdy raised the plight of his 10 year old constituent, Ben Foy of Strensall, whose life was turned upside down after receiving the vaccine in February 2010. Ben was first diagnosed with narcolepsy in April 2013 and at the height of his condition he can fall asleep as often as 20 times a day. Ben was also diagnosed with cataplexy at the same time, which if untreated can mean that certain emotions, such as excitement, cause him to suddenly lose his strength and collapse.

Mr Sturdy used the debate, organised by Liverpool West Derby Labour MP, Stephen Twigg, who also has a young constituent who has been affected, to criticise the eligibility criteria for the Government’s Vaccine Damage Payments scheme. Under the present rules, a person must be assessed as being 60% disabled, according the industrial injuries scale, which is the equivalent to the amputation of a leg below the knee.

Sadly the scheme does not adequately take neurological injuries into account, meaning that Ben is acknowledged as being disabled by the DWP, but his disability is not considered severe enough to entitle him to the one-off Vaccine Damage Payment. This has led Mr Sturdy and others to claim the model is no longer fit for purpose.

Speaking in the debate, Mr Sturdy said:

“The DWP has acknowledged that there is a link between Ben’s swine flu vaccination and the development of narcolepsy and cataplexy. The Department appears to acknowledge that he is disabled as a result, as Ben is in receipt of disability living allowance, but it is saying that his case is not severe enough and there are no grounds for that disability compensation. As can be imagined, the family feel that that is a complete insult.”

In response, the Health Minister, Jane Ellison MP, said:

“The hon. Gentleman referred to the Vaccine Damage Payment Act 1979, which was designed to help to ease the burdens on those individuals to whom, on very rare occasions, vaccination has caused severe disablement. The degree of disablement is assessed on the same basis as for the industrial injuries disablement benefit scheme. It would not be appropriate to comment on the case raised by the hon. Gentleman.”

Reflecting on the debate, Mr Sturdy said:

“I am deeply disappointed that the Minister has refused to reconsider this outdated legislation to ensure it is fair on families like Ben’s. Their worlds been turned completely upside down simply because they followed the established advice at the time in getting vaccinated with pandermix. For the Government to say that his disability is not severe enough to entitle him to the payment is an insult to all those who know Ben and have seen how his quality of life has been affected. I have written to the Minister to ensure she is aware of our disappointment and to again urge her to reconsider the Government’s approach.”

Ben Foy’s grandfather, Brian Hamilton added:

“We all recognise the importance of vaccination programmes which are designed to protect public health, however in the rare occasions when there is an adverse reaction to the vaccine the Government has a responsibility to ensure these children are taken care of, thereby maintaining the credibility of the programme.

“The vaccine damage payment scheme was set up for exactly that reason. The DWP have lost their case in a lower tribunal, they have lost the case in the higher tribunal, they have had an appeal turned down by the higher tribunal and now have made an appeal to the court of appeal. As Julian has stated the Government’s approach is callous. The next time there is a threat of a pandemic situation the take up of a vaccination scheme may be very low creating a serious threat to public health. I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Julian and his team for his continued support and help for representing our and other children’s cases.”