In September Mr Douglas-Wilson was told he would no longer receive benefits for his condition under new Personal Independence Payments (PIP) regime despite still being in pain.
A benefit claimant who found himself £346 worse off a month after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) stopped his claim despite a catalogue of health problems is rejoicing after a judge ruled that his payments be reinstated.
Ben Douglas-Wilson, 45, from Clinton Road, Redruth, was just a young child when he was diagnosed with salaam epilepsy and so begun a lifetime of health problems. When he was a baby doctors told Ben’s parents that due to the severity of the fits he was suffering, which could potentially have killed him or left him severely brain damaged, steroids would be needed to stop them.
After 24 hours the drugs eventually took effect but Ben was so weakened he contracted pneumococcal meningitis, a consultant later admitting that he had been given a higher dosage of steroids than usually used with infants as doctors had been so pleased with the first results of the drugs.
During that stay in hospital Ben also developed hydrocephalus, caused by a build-up of fluid inside the skull which can increase pressure and cause damage to the brain, and was treated at Great Ormond Street after operations to fit a Spitz-Holter shunt inside his skull to drain fluid from his brain to his heart.
Ben’s parents were then told by a consultant that he would never lead a normal life and was unlikely to live past the age of three. Today his eyesight is poor, he is weak on his right side and walks with a stick. Because the right side of his body has atrophied Ben walks unsteadily with a limp, is in permanent pain and, due to his unsteadiness, often falls over.
Also, due to the damage done to his body from the extraordinarily high dose of steroids he received as a baby he regularly picks up common illnesses and, in recent years, has had a recurrence of epilepsy.
Despite Ben’s past problems and the ongoing difficulties he faces, in September he was told by the DWP that he will no longer receive financial assistance after more than 20 years of receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA). This decision reduced his only income to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) of £67.55 a week.