Cash lifeline plea for disabled Doncaster girl

(l-r) Damian, two, Declan, Lucy, and Nicola Sheridan, four, of Cantley are campaigning against governemtn proposals to cut disability living allowance for children who spend too long in hospital. Picture: Andrew Roe

(l-r) Damian, two, Declan, Lucy, and Nicola Sheridan, four, of Cantley are campaigning against governemtn proposals to cut disability living allowance for children who spend too long in hospital. Picture: Andrew Roe

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The mum of a disabled little girl who needs 24-hour care has called for the Government to scrap its rule of cancelling disability allowances for children who spend too long in hospital.

Lucy Sheridan of Cantley says her purse strings are tighter than ever when her four-year-old daughter, Nicola, is in hospital.

Last year, Nicola - who has a number of disabilities - spent 64 days in hospital, mostly in Doncaster Royal Infirmary or Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Government rules state that if a child spends longer than 84 days per year in hospital the Disability Living Allowance handouts, worth up to £134.40 a week, are cancelled.

Lucy, aged 26, of Church Lane, said: “For us the DLA pays for petrol to get her to and from appointments, it’s for if you take her out and it’s for parking at the hospitals, which is quite a lot. In Sheffield the spaces cost £8 per day.

“Taking the money away from children who have been in hospital for a long time doesn’t make sense at all. We pay more for travel costs to and from the hospital, the cost of food and drink while there, and parking. All this is on top of the usual costs of running a household.

“It’s about time the Government realised parents don’t leave their children at the hospital door and then go home.”

Nicola, who lives with Lucy, dad Declan, also 26, and little brother Damian, two, was left brain damaged after she was unable to breathe when she was born. She has a breathing tube in her neck, she is fed by tube, and she will be on hormone treatment for the rest of her life.

“As it is now, we go to hospital for routine visits and check-ups but sometimes she needs to be kept on oxygen and medication for chest infections and pneumonia,” said Lucy, a full-time carer for Nicola.

“When the winter weather comes we are generally in hiding because when people are out shopping they might have a cough or cold.

“It’s not something severe to a normal, healthy person but for Nicola it could cause a very bad spell and two weeks in hospital.”

Disabled children’s charity Contact a Family and The Children’s Trust say 93 per cent of parents of disabled children incur increased costs relating to their child’s disability, when their child is in hospital.

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: “Our sympathies are with these families during what is obviously a very difficult time.

“Disability Living Allowance is paid to help people who are unable to walk or virtually unable to walk or do things like wash and dress themselves.

“After a child is looked after free of charge in hospital for nearly three months we put payment of their DLA on hold because their needs are already being met by the NHS.

“We continue to spend over £13bn on this benefit and this will increase over the lifetime of this government.”