Mobility equipment providers criticised for not collecting loaned out wheelchairs and leaving disabled children stranded
Disabled children are unnecessarily going without vital equipment because local wheelchair providers lose track of the chairs they have loaned and do not pick them up, some users have said.
Following recent figures that more than 5,000 children have to wait more than 18 weeks for an NHS wheelchair due to a lack of equipment, it has been claimed that these delays are worsened because local wheelchair providers do not pick up the loaned-out mobility aids.
Patient advocates have contacted a national newspaper and called these failures a “shameful waste of resources.”
As seen in the Telegraph, a fundraising consultant called Jimmy James has reported that local services in Northamptonshire have ignored his offers to return his daughter’s £300 wheelchair.
“This is a really useful piece of kit which could be providing a hugely beneficial service to a child somewhere that is being wasted because no one can be bothered to pick it up,” he said.
“The paperwork clearly states ‘property of the NHS.’ To have it lying around when children are going without is dreadful.”
Jimmy’s daughter Imogen, who has Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome, grew out of her NHS wheelchair after the age of 16, which is the cut-off for free eligibility. Her parents then bought a larger replacement themselves.
Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, whose predecessor organisation commissioned Imogen’s wheelchair, said wheelchair services had since been contracted out by local clinical commissioning groups to Millbrook Healthcare.
Millbrook said to the Telegraph that its contract outlines that wheelchairs are collected within ten days of patients calling to arrange collection.