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David Lidington MP and Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office visited the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust’s (BIRT) Kent House in his constituency of Aylesbury last week.

Mr Lidington was shown around the service by Jo Smith, Service Manager and then held a question and answer surgery with his constituents at the service. He said, “I was very impressed by the dedication of the staff and the homely, welcoming ethos of Kent House.”

The questions that had been formulated in advance by the service users gave a real insight of the subjects that concern them. Topics covered included, local transport issues, welfare benefits and improving access to education for adults with a disability.

This was Mr Lidington’s second visit to the service, and his engagement with staff on national issues such as lack of integration between health and social care services as well as much needed funding for local authorities to provide timely care and support packages, was positive and very welcome.

Staff also took the time to explain BIRT’s engagement with the Department of Health on a new BIRT tool called the Brain Injury Needs Indicator (BINI) to assist social workers when carrying out social care assessments with individuals with a suspected brain injury.

Q&A Session

What are you doing to improve the pathways and pavements for wheelchair users? They need smoothing out! (From Lavinia and Sean)

David had recently had a meeting with members of the Council about this very subject and was pleased this question had been asked. He said that the most important thing for the service users to do would be to contact him when they came across a particularly dangerous or unsuitable pavement or pathway and he would directly contact the Council on their behalf.

Are there any plans for building new train stations in Aylesbury, perhaps near the hospital?(From John)

Whilst John pointed out that a new train station in Aylesbury would be of real benefit to hospital workers and parents of school children, Mr Lidington said he had not heard of any plans to build a new station but agreed that this would be a positive move, especially taking into account a new nearby housing development that is set to house a significant amount of people. Mr Lidington said he would ask the Boss of Chiltern railway for an update.

What benefits will your party bring to people with disabilities? What are you doing to support people like us?(From John)

Mr Lidington said the first priority was ‘getting the economy right’ as this would be benefit everyone and get more people into jobs. He also said it was important to ensure more integration between the NHS and local authority so that people with disabilities had a better experience of healthcare.

I went to university, what education is available for older people with disabilities? (From Sandra)

Mr Lidington said that it really depended on the type of course or further education you were interested in but that colleges and universities had a legal obligation to ensure that reasonable adjustments were made for individuals with a disability who wished to study.

When can we expect more benefits for disabled people like myself? (From Bobby)

Mr Lidington said that the state of the economy had to be considered when it came to benefit spending and that he agreed it had been squeezed but that the Conservative Party had tried to continue benefit levels for those that needed it most.

Contacts: Policy and Campaigns Manager: sarah.rufrancos@thedtgroup.org or telephone 01433 239 123