Hartlepool family paves the way for greater support for sufferers of devastating condition

From left: Councillors Mike McLaughlin and Stephen Thomas, Julie Compton of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, Sandra Hamilton, Michelle Moran, Jayne Donkin and MND social worker Charlotte Roberts.
From left: Councillors Mike McLaughlin and Stephen Thomas, Julie Compton of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, Sandra Hamilton, Michelle Moran, Jayne Donkin and MND social worker Charlotte Roberts.

Vital help and information for people with a devastating condition is set to be made more widely available thanks to the legacy of one Hartlepool man.

Brian Hamilton died last October, aged 75, just 11 months after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

Brian Hamilton who died of Motor Neurone Disease

Brian Hamilton who died of Motor Neurone Disease

His family, including wife Sandra Hamilton and daughters Michelle Moran and Jayne Donkin, appealed to Hartlepool Borough Council to adopt the Motor Neurone Disease Charter.

It is a statement of the respect, care and support that people living with MND and their carers deserve, with a number of key statements including rights to an early diagnosis and high-quality care and treatments.

Yesterday, the council’s Adult Services Committee supported the adoption of the charter.

An emotional Sandra fought back tears as she described how her family encountered a lack of support during Brian’s illness.

She said: “It’s absolutely vital to get immediate help for people straightaway.

“Through my husband’s illness, 11 months that’s all he got and three of those were wasted with no help whatsoever because we didn’t know about MND.

“I just want people to be signposted so as soon as they hear the words MND they know where to go and who to contact.”

As part of the charter the council has appointed a social worker to spearhead work to improve early referral to relevant council services. The council will also look to work with local health professionals to develop an action plan around assessment and management of the condition.

Motor Neurone Disease can leave people locked in a failing body unable to move, talk and eventually breathe.

Brian fell ill in Bulgaria in September 2016 and Sandra said they originally thought he had had a stroke.

On their return home they paid privately to see someone at James Cook hospital before he was diagnosed.

There are 10 people in Hartlepool known to have the fatal condition.

Councillor Stephen Thomas, chairman of the Adult Services Committee, said to Sandra: “I think what you have done is pave the way for services to be far more effective in Hartlepool in the future.”

Sandra said she was delighted at the council’s support adding: “It’s everything we could have dreamed of and everything we want to fight for.”