Lupus charities demand greater support from new government

Lupus charities are demanding that the newly formed Liberal Conservative government provide more funding and support for people suffering from the chronic illness. According to the two major lupus charities in the UK; Lupus UK and St Thomas Lupus Trust, lupus patients are not  receiving adequate support to live with the illness.

Patients suffering with lupus, a disease that affects the joints, muscles and internal organs such as the kidneys, also say they have received little support.

Chris Maker, director of Lupus UK, told People with Voices that  with the new coalition government it will be more difficult than before to receive funding with the proposed tax increases and cuts to public spending. The health budget will also mean financial constraints, according to the Lupus UK director.

“We sincerely hope that the new government will improve lupus awareness, particularly within the medical profession… funding could be an issue that affects resources available for healthcare.  Overall it is difficult to say at this stage.

“Members have told us many times that they would like to see free prescriptions for everyone who has lupus.  They cannot understand why some long term conditions, such as thyroid, automatically receive free prescriptions but those with lupus do not.”

Lupus UK said that they would like to see free prescriptions throughout the UK and Northern Ireland for lupus patients.

Teaching assistant Katherine Redway, has suffered from the chronic illness for five years. Redway told People with Voices that lupus patients should receive the same benefits that patients suffering with cancer or obesity receive.

“I have been rejected twice for my disability living allowance which I need as I am continuously off sick from work with my lupus and can’t physically work full time, but I’m forced to in order to survive. I have to pay for my own prescriptions which cost me around 40 pounds every month.”

Both Lupus charities agreed that the new government should invest more time into understanding the illness and its affect on patients; why more funding is needed for hospitals and research and why lupus sufferers who are unable to work due to mobility difficulties need disability living allowances.

Angie Davidson, director of the St Thomas Lupus, Trust, told People with Voices that the charity has failed to receive any funding or support from the government. Davidson said that the Louise Coote Lupus unit, which is the only unit in Europe that specialises in lupus, based at St Thomas Hospital, receives no funding from the government.

“The government seems to think that lupus is less important, compared to other illnesses. Lupus patients deserve the same special treatment and support from the government that is given to other patients with other illnesses.”