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Welcome to UK Wheelchairs - the home of value and quality

Monthly Archives: July 2017

  • Crowdfund my wheelchair

    An alarming trend seems to be developing on the number of people who are being refused a wheelchair by the NHS and are having to resort to other means including crowdfunding in order to get the wheelchair that they need. Having to turn to the public to finance their mobility needs is not going down well and we read that this trend is a building one and has been since 2014.

    The good news is that it seems that this wheelchair scarcity has been recognised and there are now plans to turn the situation round. Just last month, medical practitioners at the British Medical Association’s (BMA) annual meeting all agreed and unanimously passed a motion calling for wheelchair users to have “timely access to chairs suitable for their individual conditions”. This is after a number of warnings that cuts in services, a postcode lottery of availability and delays means that disabled patients are finding it increasingly difficult to get wheelchairs from the NHS.

    Much of this was triggered by a junior doctor named Hannah Barham-Brown who found herself in the position of having to fund her own wheelchair two years ago. It was this that caused her to rise the profile of this problem and bring it to the attention of the BMA.

    “When I tell people I had to Crowdfund for a wheelchair, they are gobsmacked,” says Dr Barham-Brown who is 29. She was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) in 2015 during her time at medical school. “I kept dislocating my knees,” she says. Within six months, she needed a wheelchair. However after going to see her GP, she was told that NHS wheelchair services would only offer her a heavyweight basic wheelchair or a £140 voucher towards another wheelchair.  As Barham-Brown’s condition means that using a manual chair would dislocate her joints if she tried to push herself along then an electric wheelchair was the only option and that was going to cost upwards of £2,000.

    Thanks to a friend help she used crowdfunding to raise the £2000 that was needed to purchase a suitable electric wheelchair and this enabled her to continue her studies and complete her course. This did however cause a great deal of distress “Without a chair, I knew I wouldn’t be able to do this job I’d trained so hard for. I wouldn’t be able to be a doctor”. “It’s the basic tenet of the NHS: you have a need and it’s met. But it isn’t,” she says. “People are housebound and trapped in their homes. Yet nothing is being done.”

    CCG's or locally CP led clinical commissioning groups are ultimately responsible for securing and funding wheelchair services and the NHS is now working with the National Wheelchair Leadership Alliance (set up by Paralympian and crossbench peer Tanni Grey Thompson in 2015) to review the situation regarding the provision of wheelchairs through the NHS “to develop best practice standards as well as introducing personal wheelchair budgets to give people more choice on the best wheelchair for them”.

    And there is change on the way already, during the next 12 months all CCG's in the country are scrapping the wheelchair voucher scheme and introducing far more suitable personal budgets for wheelchairs, a scheme which is more individualised and is based on an assessment of their individual needs and goals.

    In addition further progress is being made by the setting up of a national data collection scheme which is gathering data on the efficiency of wheelchair services in England. “The national data collection is a massive step forward in terms of understanding the needs of wheelchair users and what equipment is, and can be, provided,” explains Grey-Thompson. “However, in reality, it’s going to take some time for the information to be universally gathered and useful across the whole of England. This should be of a high priority in order to be able to provide the right equipment.”

    We know that this issue has been getting worse for some time now and we hope that as wheelchair users these positive signs are sufficient to ensure that the right types of wheelchairs are made available to all users whether they be manual or self propelled wheelchairs or for those who cannot propel themselves electric wheelchairs and powerchairs.

  • Uber offers wheelchair friendly cabs in Liverpool

    All to often private taxi form Uber is in the news and often for the wrong reasons with bad press for its gig employment rules however today it is good news for wheelchair users and particularly if you are in Liverpool.

    Liverpool is today added to the list of cities that Uber offer a wheelchair taxi service which can be accessed by phone or by its app. From 4pm today, Uber is offering wheelchair friendly cabs in and around the city all of which have rear-entry wheelchair ramps and restraint points to allow wheelchair users to ride comfortably along with one additional passenger.

    All users of wheelchairs know that i can be very difficult to get a suitable taxi that caters for their mobility needs. Uber says public transport is not always accessible or sufficient and taxis can be an expensive way to travel. The new wheelchair friendly cabs are now available at the touch of the screen on their smartphone app and what is particularly good news is that the cab will cost the same as it would for a regular cab and trips wont need advance planning as they have done for so long if you require a taxi that will cater for your wheelchair. Plus, Uber has said that all of their 'top-rated' drivers have received Disability Equality Training.

    For the initial phase to celebrate the launch wheelchair users are also being offered a discount on their first trip with a value of up to £15 as an incentive welcoming those with mobility issues and wheelchairs to try their new service. Liverpool is the seventh city where the new wheelchair friendly service has been launched, including London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle and Wolverhampton.

    Neil McGonigle, General Manager of Uber in Liverpool, said: “Thousands of people in Liverpool already use Uber to get around the city - whether it’s to an early morning train, to meet friends and family, or home after a night out. “With the launch of uberACCESS we can now offer the same reliable option for wheelchair users to travel on their terms at the touch of a button.”

    Ruth Owen, Chief Executive of Whizz-Kidz, said: “When Uber launched wheelchair accessible vehicles in London, many of the young people we work with told us how useful it was to have another option for getting across town.

    "We are delighted that disabled young people in Liverpool will now be able to take advantage of this brilliant service.”

    So if you are a wheelchair user and you live in one of the cities that Uber provide this service to we would loe to hear what you think and how you have been looked after as a wheelchair user.

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