A BOURNEMOUTH student living with multiple sclerosis (MS) has hit out at the government's assessment system which she says left her without vital support.

Aliie Harpham, 26, a student veterinary nurse, suffers permanent weakness in her left side and has problems with her vision. She experiences chronic fatigue, severe nerve and bone pain, and ‘foot drop’ which causes difficulties with walking.

"I was diagnosed with MS in July and applied for a Personal Independence Payment to help me pay for prescriptions and eyesight tests, and to cover fuel costs for GP and hospital appointments," said Aliie, who lives in Southbourne.

However, she claimed her assessment didn’t properly reflect how MS affects her. “A woman who’d never met me before decided that I’m not ‘disabled enough’ to receive any help," she said.

Aliie alleged that her assessor said her physical examination 'showed a full range of movement'. "But there was no mention that I wear a fitted orthotic piece every day for my foot drop. And they didn’t pick up any of my weakness or movement issues," she claimed.

She is also angry that the assessor reported her mental state as 'fine'.

"On the day I went to the assessment I had severe anxiety and a panic attack," said Aliie. "But I could hardly speak to her properly, I get anxiety every day at the moment, which I am being medicated for.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “PIP assessments look at how people are affected by conditions such as multiple sclerosis over the majority of days in a year, rather than just assessing ability on a single day.

"Under PIP, 36 per cent more people with multiple sclerosis receive the highest rate of support than under the previous DLA system." Anyone

who disagrees with a decision can appeal, and may submit additional evidence, she said.

Aliie is one of more than 4,000 people with MS who have been turned down for PIP since it was introduced in 2013.

A Freedom of Information request made by the Multiple Sclerosis Society revealed 31 per cent (4,100) of new claims from people with MS between April 2013 and April 2017 were found to be ‘disallowed’.

A further six per cent (1,100) qualified for PIP initially but were then rejected after a reassessment. This is despite MS being a long-term progressive condition, for which there currently is no cure.

Chief Executive of the MS Society, Michelle Mitchell, said: "With 68 per cent of all PIP decisions that go to appeal being overturned at tribunal, these new figures provide further evidence suggesting the PIP assessment system is fundamentally flawed."

Aliie added: "I didn’t ask for this money to go shopping or to the pub. It’s a huge struggle for anyone to pay all the bills, but having to buy all the extra things to do with MS is a nightmare for a student vet nurse on a very low wage. It’s so sad they can’t see that such a small amount of money would make a huge difference to my life.”