- Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MPHealth Secretary
NHS Wheelchair Services (Nationwide) : To provide complex wheelchairs to everyone with need for them.
This is important because everyone with a disability is different and each disability affects an individual in different ways. Each and every wheelchair user needs a wheelchair to suit THEIR needs. Not everyone with mobility needs can have an independent life in a 'basic' wheelchair. It seems to be a postcode lottery but generally speaking basic manual wheelchairs and basic powerchairs are all that the local NHS Wheelchair Service will provide. Some individuals with complex conditions can get complex wheelchairs on the NHS but sadly this is not the case for everyone, it is decided locally by local managers many of whom lack sufficient training or experience.
This is important to me because I have severe Osteogenesis imperfecta (genetic brittle bones) and I require a powerchair with full suspension to enable me to have a full independent life and to go out safely. My national specialists all demand this but my local wheelchair service (Milton Keynes) will not provide one as they say they have to provide an 'equitable service'. This means everyone has to get the same basic, minimum level of service no matter what their clinical needs are, if you have a complex condition then its tough, you get what you are given even if it is totally unsuitable or even dangerous. Basic wheelchairs cannot cope safely with rough terrain, kerbs and slopes without the assistance of an able bodied person. Why should severely disabled people be a prisoner in their homes simply because of being refused a suitable wheelchair by the NHS, when the amount of money involved is small in the grand scheme of things espcially compared to the freedom it would give.
With a suitable chair I wouldn't have to worry about where I visited in terms of kerbs, slopes, steep hills, ground that has gravel and a whole host of other physical barriers.
The Wheelchair Service seem to think they have done their job if you can get from your bed to the toilet and back but naturally we want rather more in life than this!
For me, a wheelchair that does not have full suspension can cause multiple broken bones. This is deemed acceptable in the name of being 'equitable'.
My own brother who had the same condition as me was killed in a fall from an unsuitable wheelchair. It seems this is still acceptable in the name of 'providing an equitable service'.
Lives have been lost and the lives of severely physically disabled people are being limited by red tape, bureaucratic inertia and a complete lack of understanding of our needs by those who are charged with making decisions, usually based solely on false financial and 'what we've always done' grounds.
Start providing people wheelchairs that accommodate their needs and stop refusing suitable wheelchairs to those with complex needs with excuse after excuse after excuse.
- Health Secretary
Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP
I have severe Osteogenesis imperfecta (genetic brittle bones) and I require a powerchair with full suspension to enable me to have a full independent life and to go out safely. My national, world renowed specialists all demand this but my local wheelchair service will not provide this as they say they have to provide an 'equitable service', where my additional needs are ignored.
Basic wheelchairs cannot safely cope with rough terrain, kerbs and slopes without the assistance of an able bodied person. Why should disabled people have to restrict where they go or even be a prisoner in their homes because of being refused a suitable wheelchair by the NHS.
My health and life and that of countless severely physically disabled adults are being put at risk by a complete failing of wheelchair services nationwide to provide equipment to meet our needs. I find it disgusting that the lives of people such as myself are being hampered and even put at risk by red tape, bureaucratic inertia and staff within the wheelchair services wholly untrained in our conditions but who refuse to listen to outside advice and complaint. It is the same stick your head in the sand, maintain the status quo, ignore bad news and bad feedback, cover up complaint attitude which led to the Mid Staffs and other scandals.
My brother who had the same condition as me was sadly killed in a fall from an unsuitable wheelchair. It seems that this is acceptable in the name of 'fairness' and 'providing and equitable service'.
With the correct wheelchair provision I could lead a full independent life in safety but with the current (locally decided) provision my health and even life are being put at risk.
We are being utterly failed by the wheelchair provision postcode lottery and we demand change.
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