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Labour’s Jackie Baillie is calling for the NHS to provide wheelchairs to people in Scotland with short-term mobility needs, changing the NHS’ current six-month policy.

At the moment, the NHS only offers wheelchairs to people who are expected to need the mobility aid for more than a six-month period. However, under the new legislation penned by the Scottish MSP, it would be mandatory for public bodies to provide wheelchairs to people who require one for under a six-month period.

“No one should have to rely on charity to get the help that they need to stay mobile in 2019. Sadly, that is the case however for many Scots who temporarily lose their mobility,” said Jackie.

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“Not being able to access a wheelchair when you have a clear short-term mobility need can lead to a delay in discharge from hospital; prolong your rehabilitation; slow down your reablement and have a negative impact on your emotional wellbeing, your social connections and your financial situation.

“Creating a statutory duty to provide access to short term wheelchairs, where it is appropriate to do so, is a relatively small change, but it is one that can make a significant difference to people’s lives.”

The move has been welcomed by many organisations, including the Health and Social Care Alliance and the Red Cross, however, some have commented on the ability for already strained Wheelchair Services to meet the increased demand.

Jackie revealed that only one NHS wheelchair provider in the whole of Scotland was prepared to provide a wheelchair on a short-term basis in certain situations. The new proposal has now gone out for public consultation.

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