The Welsh Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Local Government and Equalities, Peter Black, has accused the Welsh Labour Government of failing to sort out the confusion and bureaucracy surrounding the issuing of blue badges to disabled and elderly people in Wales.
Peter hosted a debate on this issue in the National Assembly on Wednesday.
Across Wales, Welsh Liberal Democrat parliamentarians have received a significant number of pleas for help from constituents who have faced major problems accessing blue badges. These problems include:
- elderly people who do not have access to consultants having no way to provide medical evidence as the Minister has excluded GPs from providing notes;
- unqualified council officers making assessments;
- Councils refusing to carry out occupational therapist assessments on appeal even though the Welsh Government guidance says that they should do so. One constituent complained that his local council wanted to charge him for an OT assessment;
- Councils insisting that the condition affecting the applicant must be permanent even though the blue badge only lasts three years.
Peter Black, Assembly Member for South West Wales said:
"The current system is a complete mess and the Welsh Labour Government is failing to sort it out.
"Firstly, I believe it is wrong for GPs to have effectively been taken out of the decision making process. Council staff are not medically trained, yet they are being forced to make judgements on complex medical conditions. That simply isn't right.
"There is also an over reliance on consultants. If we are to rely on consultants to provide medical evidence, then this only adds further delays into the current process. After all, most people end up waiting twelve months for an appointment with a consultant. Unfortunately, the outcome of this confusion is that vulnerable and elderly people are being denied assistance they desperately need.
"There are also issues with the guidance being issued. According to the guidance, a person's condition must be permanent and already present for six months if they are to receive a blue badge. Yet many conditions that would require a blue badge can be resolved within a reasonable period of time, such as needing a knee replacement. These people need help too and are not getting it.
"This chaotic system has been going on for too long. It is time the Welsh Labour Government actually showed some leadership on this issue and sorted it out once and for all."