Figures on NHS Wheelchair Services Reveal Delays
22 Mar 2017
The first official figures on delays experienced by those awaiting NHS wheelchairs have been released, and they paint a bleak picture. Thousands of people, both adults and children, are waiting longer than they should, with results varying wildly based on location.
While the NHS Constitution guarantees access to a wheelchair within 18 weeks, some 7,200 people between October and December 2016 had to wait 19 or more weeks. This is 1 in 6 adults, and 1 in 5 children, and the data shows that waits have only been lengthening this last year. While NHS England does not record the amount over 18 weeks that people have to wait, we have heard of cases of people waiting months beyond that to get a suitable chair.
These delays vary significantly between different NHS clinical commissioning groups, with Paralympic champion and Wheelchair Alliance leader Lady Grey Thompson saying there is “great variation in ability to access assessment and obtain service provision”. The Wheelchair Alliance is looking to ensure equality of access, particularly to avoid disadvantage when needs such as educational ones require someone to move between areas.
The NHS has acknowledged that some local NHS clinical commissioning groups need to be faster, and has pledged to halve the number of children waiting longer than 18 weeks by April 2018, and to eliminate “overly long waits” for everyone by April 2019.
Our short-term powered wheelchair hire is often used by people waiting for the NHS to provide them with a suitable chair, with the flexible hire periods particularly helpful for those who do not know how long they will need to wait. Alternatively, for those using an NHS voucher, we are able to accept these towards the purchase of a powerchair of your choice – offering a much wider selection of models than are available on the NHS. For further information, please call 0800 025 8005 to speak to one of our powerchair specialists.