Motor Neurone Disease (MND) sufferers in West Yorkshire call for government clarity over vulnerable person list

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Campaigners in West Yorkshire are calling for Motor neurone disease (MND) to be added to the Government’s extremely vulnerable persons list to support them through the coronavirus pandemic.

Members of the West Yorkshire Branch of the MND Association have written to local MPs urging them to raise this issue with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) as a matter of urgency and for more clarity from the health secretary, Matt Hancock.

MND is a fatal, rapidly progressing disease which affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord but also affects the respiratory system, so people living with it are vulnerable to Covid-19.

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Michael Martin, Campaigns Contact for MND Association West Yorkshire Branch, was diagnosed with MND in 2012, and like many fellow sufferers has to use a non-invasive ventilator every day to compensate for the weakness in his lungs.

He lives in Holmfirth with his wife. They have been self-isolating already for four weeks and face another three months of lockdown and say another benefit of being on the list would be getting access to basic support, such as food shopping, as his wife Jill is unable to shop due to fears of contracting the disease and passing it to Michael.

He said: "Our specialist clinics and GPs advise us that we are particularly vulnerable to Coronavirus. Pneumonia is a common cause of death for MND sufferers. We’re extremely concerned MND is not on the extremely vulnerable list. Coronavirus could be particularly dangerous for people with MND and failing to add them to the extremely vulnerable persons list will have serious implications for those living with and affected by this devastating disease.

"The Government needs to amend the list and ensure MND is clearly included to provide clarity to all people living with the condition so they can get the vital help and support they require. This is important to people with MND. We have been told by the medical profession we are an extreme risk.

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"We are self-isolating but can't get priority on things like online shopping. We don't want to put our friends at risk so would prefer online but I had to wait a month to get a slot with Ocado. We are quite well supported but maybe some people don't have that and it is difficult for them to get the help."

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