All electric wheelchair users deserve an explanation

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We are becoming increasingly irate at the frequency with which official bodies trot out the tired excuse: ‘We are unable to comment on individual cases/patients/victims.’

How very convenient this shield of anonymity has become.

In today’s case (yes, they appear almost daily) The News was not attempting to pry into someone’s personal life, uncover an old criminal record, or delve into their medical history.

No. All we were attempting to do was find out why poor Raymond Ractliffe was not allowed to travel to hospital in an ambulance in his electric wheelchair.

You, like us, must be wondering what on earth that wheelchair had done to be found so offensive.

Might its components have interfered with the vehicle’s radio system? Perhaps it was emitting a low-frequency hum which affected the ambulance’s door-locking mechanism? Or maybe it was simply taking up too much space?

We don’t know because nobody seems capable of answering what surely is a simple question.

But he, us, and most importantly other electric wheelchair users, deserve to be told.

What makes this story all the more ridiculous is that Mr Ractliffe, a former Cosham and Southsea firefighter, says he has been picked up from home and transported by the same crew in the same ambulance on three previous occasions.

So, when we approached South Central Ambulance Service for an explanation, yes, he got an apology, but then up went that defence of ‘patient confidentiality’.

Then we were treated to an excruciatingly mealy-mouthed sentence which would have done the writers of BBC spoof W1A proud: ‘We would encourage the patient to contact our patient experience team with full details so a thorough investigation can be initiated.’ Instead of dreaming up exotically-named ‘teams’ perhaps the ambulance service could tell us why Mr Ractliffe and his wheelchair were refused access to that ambulance.

‘Patient confidentiality’ is no excuse here. All we are asking for is a little transparency.

To read the full story click here.