Council pressed to make ‘blue badge’ pledge for lung disease sufferers

A CHARITY has written to East Dunbartonshire Council to ask that the full impact of having a lung condition is considered when assessing applications for a blue badge.

The British Lung Foundation (BLF) has expressed its concern that those with respiratory disease will be more vulnerable to missing out on receipt of a blue badge, as applicants generally find them harder to secure.

It also noted that during the winter it’s even more important that people can use their cars to get around safely while nights are long and the weather is cold.

Without the life-line of a blue badge, many will be left housebound, isolated and dependent on services.

To help those applying for a badge, BLF has produced ‘The Blue Commandments’ to help ensure applicants provide their local authority with the data it needs to make an informed decision in the best interests of those who need a badge.

Head of the British Lung Foundation Scotland & Northern Ireland, Dr James Cant, said: “At the British Lung Foundation we’ve noticed there’s a lot of variation amongst councils about how they respond to blue badge applications.

“Very often people with a lung condition look much better on the outside than they actually are on the inside. So the full extent to which their disability limits everyday tasks is widely unappreciated.

“Many of the blue badge applications are processed by people who may not have had enough training to understand the full impact of lung disease on somebody’s mobility.

“I’ve written to every council leader in Scotland, urging them to ensure the full implications of lung disease are thoroughly considered when an application is assessed. This way those who appear well, can still get the support of a blue badge that they so desperately need.”

Tony Keogh, the council’s head of social work, said: “Following the reform of the Blue Badge Scheme by the Scottish Government implemented in 2012, East Dunbartonshire Council is using the guidelines provided by the Scottish Government to administer the Scheme.

“The standardisation of practice across all local authorities is a major aim of this reform and will result in less variation and less use of discretion.

“I would like to reassure residents that we are applying the scheme in line with Governmental guidance and all applicants are given due consideration regardless of the health or disability issue that they experience.

“Eligibility for a blue badge is assessed on the ability to walk and applicants must be ‘unable or virtually unable to walk’.

“There is opportunity within the application to give information about breathlessness and any face to face assessment would also address this health issue as it affects mobility.

“I would also like to reassure residents that all assessments of applications are carried out by suitably qualified staff who have the requisite knowledge and experience to make informed decisions.”