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Three NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in the Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport, and South Eastern Hampshire areas are undertaking a review process to improve wheelchair services and are asking for feedback and experiences of long-term wheelchair users.

The review hopes to combat longstanding concerns locally about the length of time that patients can face before receiving their wheelchairs, with provision waiting times in some regions being deemed as unacceptably long by NHS England.

According to Portsmouth CCG, the review will look to go beyond just tackling waiting times and examine other issues, including whether people want more opportunity to buy their own wheelchairs with NHS budgets, and whether the system of assessment and appointments can be improved.

Suzannah Rosenberg, Director of Quality and Commissioning for NHS Portsmouth CCG, and speaking on behalf of Portsmouth CCG and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Partnership of CCGs, said: “For many years now, too many people have found that the local NHS wheelchair service has not been working as well as it should.

“We are reviewing wheelchair provision with a view to making positive changes, because for people who rely on wheelchairs for a long-term health need, this service is absolutely and fundamentally important. We want people to get a better experience, and the best way for us to know whether we are on the right track is to hear directly from the experts – the people who receive the service.”

Wheelchair users were invited in November 2018 by the CCGs to take part in face-to-face discussion groups in December or fill out a short online survey providing their thoughts and insights.

Despite the cancellation of the face-to-face group meetings, patients can still complete the form, with the CCGs stating that the feedback will be considered when a new service is designed.

“We have some ideas about what a better service might look like – for example, giving people more control over choosing and buying their own wheelchair – but we need to hear from people who will know most about what might work, and what we should avoid,” concluded Suzannah.

“I would urge anyone living in Portsmouth and south east Hampshire who has a long-term need for the NHS wheelchair service to get in touch with us, and help us to improve the support we can offer.”

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