Dozens of people left waiting more than four months for wheelchairs in Portsmouth area

CONCERNS have been raised after dozens of disabled people in Portsmouth waited longer than the NHS target time for a wheelchair over the summer.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 11:26 am
Picture: Sam Stephenson

A city charity has called on a review of resources as NHS England data revealed 25 new patients who received wheelchairs in the NHS Portsmouth CCG area between July and September waited more than 18 weeks.

That equated to 40 per cent of the 62 patients given new equipment during the period – higher than the national average of 13 per cent.

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Of those left waiting longer than four months for a wheelchair, six were children and 19 were adults. And five of them were classed as being high need.

Jon Muller, trustee of Enable Activity in Portsmouth, said: ‘The provision of wheelchairs to some of our most vulnerable children and young adults supported by Enable Ability is an important aid for both them and their families. It assists them in their daily living activities and as they get older, promotes their independence.

‘We would urge the local health and social care commissioners in Portsmouth to review the resources available and the timing of provision to ensure that people receive this support within the 18 week guideline.’

The figures also showed 93 new patients who received wheelchairs in the NHS Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight CCG area in that time waited more than 18 weeks – or 29 per cent of 316 patients.

Nationally, almost 3,000 new patients were subject to lengthy wheelchair waits – and children were more likely to wait longer, with a third of disabled youngsters waiting over 18 weeks.

Head of policy at charity Disability Rights UK, Fazilet Hadi, added: ‘To not have a wheelchair is akin to a non-disabled person not having their legs for a prolonged period of time.’

The annual spend on wheelchair services nationally equates to £211 per patient and ranges from below £2 per head in Newcastle Gateshead to £800 in Thurrock.

Portsmouth CCG's annual spend was £429,000, the equivalent of around £396 for each of the 1,083 patients registered.

An NHS spokesman said most people received the right wheelchair for their needs within 18 weeks but those with specialist requirements may wait longer.

He said personal health budgets gave people more choice and control over their wheelchair provision.

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