AN ORGANISATION that provides wheelchairs to those who need them has been given £1.4m to clear an 18-month waiting list.
Hundreds of patients have been left waiting months – and in some cases years – for a new wheelchair in south-east Hampshire.
In April last year, Millbrook Healthcare took on the contract from Solent NHS Trust, which held it for four years.
It said it had inherited the problem from the previous provider.
The backlog when Millbrook took over was 1,011 patients, but the firm says this was reduced to 121 patients last month.
And in a final push, five Clinical Commissioning Groups from the area and NHS England have put in £1.4m to help.
The South Eastern Hampshire and Fareham and Gosport CCGs have put in £95,000 each, and Portsmouth CCG has put in £107,000.
The other two CCGs are the Southampton CCG and the West Hampshire CCG.
Ailsa Speak, of High Drive, Gosport, had been waiting nine years for a replacement wheelchair, and finally got one earlier this month.
Solent had previously given her a new chair, but the family said it was not the right sort for the 18-year-old.
She said: ‘My new chair is comfortable, smaller to move around, lower to the ground and that makes it easier to transfer in and out of it – and the brakes work.
‘Also I will be able to go out to places more without worrying about the size of my electric wheelchair.
‘With Millbrook’s budget being more, it will hopefully get the backlog back to normal, which will be better for both the NHS and the people that are receiving the care.’
The West Hampshire CCG is the lead trust for the service and says the extra money will be spent on hiring more staff and buying equipment.
A spokesman said: ‘At present we anticipate there will be no backlog by December.
‘With this in mind, the additional money is primarily going towards equipment and staffing costs, in order to help us reduce the backlog and waiting times.
‘Everyone in the backlog is seen in order of clinical priority and if the needs of a patient have changed, they can get in touch with the service provider to be re-prioritised.
‘While the backlog is being successfully reduced, the number of referrals being received is higher than anticipated.’
Millbrook said meetings with user groups were held to find out what their priorities were to be tackled.
The feedback said Millbrook needs to tackle waiting times and provide a quicker service.
It says it will aim to do that.