THE family of a disabled boy who waited seven months for a new wheelchair will finally get one after their plight was highlighted in The News.
Eight-year-old James Shepherd has been told by the NHS that he will have the chair by the end of the month.
It comes after The News told how his family could not afford the £1,300 wheelchair and so applied to Solent NHS Trust in April.
They contacted the newspaper in desperation after failing to get an answer about the chair despite seven months ticking by.
James, of Cherry Close, Lee-on-the Solent, suffers from Angelman syndrome – a rare condition characterised by severe learning difficulties and unsteady or jerky movements.
He desperately needs a new wheelchair as his old one is falling apart and all the straps are coming off. The family chose the type of chair they needed at an NHS centre in Southampton.
Mum Emma Shepherd, 32, said: ‘We went there on Thursday and they found a suitable wheelchair within about 20 minutes.
‘It’s been an absolute nightmare for us.
‘Wheelchair services are just as much a part of the NHS as Accident and Emergency and NHS dentists.
‘We are really happy but at the moment we are also really frustrated. Why has it taken so long?’
The Trust apologised for the delay and is now carrying out an investigation into why it took so long.
‘This wheelchair we are getting is perfect for James,’ added Emma.
‘This new chair is a lot more comfortable. With the other chairs in the past, if he moved the chair moved with him. This one is really secure.
‘He was sat in the new chair for half an hour the other day and he was just really comfortable. He was just really relaxed in it.
‘It’s all about health and safety and it gives a life to James.’
Meanwhile, Emma has thanked people who have pledged their support for James and for the family since reading his story in the paper.
‘It’s nice to know that there are people who care out there,’ she said.
‘I think it was at the stage where they knew they had to do something – but the fact that the story went in the paper has put pressure on them.
‘There are lots of people out there in the same situation as us. We are very pro-active when it comes to James.’
The family has been told that James’ new chair should be ready by Friday, November 25.
The NHS Trust refused to comment on James’ situation any further.