Launching Wheelchair Alliance
You may have seen a picture of me sitting in a wheelbarrow this week and as you may guess it is not a regular occurrence for me. I have been working on a project for the last nine months looking at the provision of wheelchair for disabled people in England
There are some people who have had a relatively good experience but the vast majority of people who have been int ouch with me have not. There are some really tragic stories. Some people with motor neurone disease who have died before their chairs have been ready for them. One mum wrote to me to tell me that it took a year for her son to have a chair measured and he died only a little while later. And the experiences go on and on.
No one who works in wheelchair services is trying to do a bad b but there are so many different ways of working. There are 209 clinical commissioning groups who can all run wheelchair services how they want. This has left a post code lottery of different assessment criteria, equipment and wait times. The most shocking example is of a young woman who had to wait seven years to get the right chair.
The reason that I decided to sit in a wheelbarrow was to try and explain what the wrong chair feels like. A wheelbarrow may have seat, and wheels and even handles but in it I have no independence. I cannot get to work or the shop and I can't move myself around. At the moment the is potentially financial waste by having a chair that doesn't fit but there is also a huge personal cost. If someone has a carer and they are trying to push the wrong chair it will do them damage. Pressure sores cost the NHS over a billion pounds a year. Not all of these will be from the wrong chair but it won't help
I have been involved in writing a charter for change and we also have a public campaign. We are asking peeled to ledge their support. There is a website called www.rightwheelchair.org.uk You don't have to be a wheelchair user, or even know anyone in a chair, but we want to get the public to understand the implications of not doing this properly. It has a big impact on U.S. ally
It feels like the end of the process but realistically we need tens of thousands of signatures to be able to go back to the NHS and ask them to think differently and this is also a service that will effect many more people in the years to come.
To support the Alliance, please sign the pledge here