IT COULD take 18 months to clear a wheelchair waiting list.
Milbrook Healthcare provides the service across Hampshire.
But 10 months into its contract, patients are still waiting for wheelchairs to be provided.
They include 18-year-old Ailsa Speak who, as revealed in The News on Monday, has had the same wheelchair since she was nine and has been waiting for a new one for five years.
The West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group organises the wheelchair service.
A spokesman said: ‘We would like to provide reassurance that Millbrook Healthcare is providing a fully operational service and all orders for wheelchair equipment are being processed.
‘It’s recognised there are pressures due to a large number of orders.
‘However, as lead commissioner for this service, we’re working with Millbrook to reduce this backlog over the next 12 to 18 months.
‘Millbrook is committed to providing a high-quality service and is prioritising assessments and wheelchair equipment orders based on clinical need to ensure patient safety is not compromised.’
Ailsa, of Long Drive, Gosport, has cerebral palsy and was given a manual wheelchair when she was nine. Five years ago the family asked for a replacement as Ailsa had outgrown the chair.
Solent NHS Trust, which ran the service at the time, gave her an electric wheelchair in 2013, but this was not suitable.
Ailsa is due to meet Milbrook on Tuesday, February 24 for an assessment.
Her mother Eileen said: ‘I believe the companies which tender for the contract should make sure they can actually fulfil it before they take it.
‘Otherwise it’s the “clients” that suffer, like my daughter, who use equipment that is exacerbating their condition.’
The chairman of a charity says the wait is ‘unacceptable’.
George McAleese, chairman of the Gosport and Fareham branch of the MS society, said: ‘Eighteen months to reduce the backlog is unacceptable.
‘The Millbrook contract should be reviewed and key performance indicators, plus financial penalties, included.
‘It seems that providers change frequently, and that no-one in the wheelchair service seems to care.’
Previous provider said it inherited a waiting list as well
THE NHS trust that previously provided the wheelchair service said it went some way to reducing a backlog.
Solent NHS Trust, which provides community and mental health services in Portsmouth, said it held the wheelchair services contract for less than three years.
A spokesman said: ‘We handed over the running of this service to Millbrook Healthcare in April last year.
‘It’s important to place on record that we ran this service for only two-and-a-half years prior to that. We also inherited a waiting list.
‘We had managed to significantly reduce that waiting period by the time we handed over.
‘We fully accept there were areas of improvement needed, particularly with regard to information systems, but we can give reassurance we did our best to provide a reasonable service, within the means at our disposal at the time.’