AFTER 18 months spent waiting for a new wheelchair, a woman with muscular dystrophy says she fears she may soon be confined to her bed.
Laraine Tee, 46, of Fareham, has suffered from the muscle-wasting disease all her life and has become the latest to be affected by a backlog of patients requiring new wheelchairs.
But since being told she would be getting a new chair in November 2013, Laraine has endured a year and a half of uncertainty as Millbrook Healthcare, the company that provides the chairs to NHS patients, has been unable to provide the chair or a date of delivery.
Parts for Laraine’s current chair are no longer available which means that if anything goes wrong, she will be unable to fix it and will have to spend all of her time in bed, increasing the rate of muscle deterioration.
She said: ‘If it breaks I would be bed-bound. It’s a real worry that if this chair goes wrong I am stuffed.
‘The way my posture is, I lean over to the side and the armrest digs into my ribs and I have got a sore there. If I had the new chair sooner the sore would not be there. It is very painful when I am in bed and I lay on that side.’
Laraine, who lives with her partner Gary, 45, explained how she has gone back and forth with Millbrook for the past 18 months but says she is no clearer on when a chair will be provided.
‘I’m just infuriated,’ she added. ‘It’s really frustrating, you are talking about someone’s life here and it’s like it doesn’t mean much.’
Millbrook Healthcare says it is unable to comment on individual cases but provided the following statement: ‘When Millbrook Healthcare took over the contract from the previous NHS provider we inherited an undisclosed and significant waiting list of up to two years. Working with commissioners throughout 2014 we were provided additional funding to assist in clearing the inherited backlog.
‘We continue to work with commissioners of the service to ensure that moving forward, funding meets the increased levels of referral we are experiencing ensuring that waiting lists and waiting times are reduced.
But Laraine remains unconvinced, saying: ‘They are clearly not bothered otherwise they would be contacting me with some sort of response but it appears it doesn’t matter to them.
‘It really is frustrating that they think they can just treat people like this.’
In January The News reported that Ailsa Speak, 18, had been waiting for a new wheelchair for nine years, and was despairing about Millbrook’s backlog. She finally received a new chair in April.
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