Disabled people in Notts receiving NHS wheelchairs on time
All patients needing wheelchairs in Nottinghamshire are receiving them within the NHS target time, figures show, despite lengthy delays elsewhere across England.
Charity Disability Rights UK has called on the NHS to tackle wheelchair waiting times across the country, and said leaving someone without a wheelchair is akin to removing the use of a non-disabled person's legs.
Clinical commissioning groups in England are required to deliver wheelchairs to patients within 18 weeks of a referral.
NHS England data shows all new patients who received wheelchairs in the NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire clinical commissioning group area between July and September received them within this timeframe.
But nationally, 11 per cent of adults and about a third of the children who received equipment during the same period had waited longer than four months.
Fazilet Hadi, Disability Rights UK head of policy, described the figures as shocking and said: “A wheelchair enables mobility within and outside the home, allowing children and adults to get around independently and safely and live the lives they choose.
“Many disabled wheelchair users talk about their wheelchairs as being an extension of their bodies.
“To not have a wheelchair is akin to a non-disabled person not having their legs for a prolonged period of time.”
The data shows there is considerable disparity in waiting times between CCG areas across England.
Just 23 out of 91 CCGs with data available delivered all prescribed equipment to new patients within 18 weeks, while at the other end of the scale, 78 per cent of patients in North East Lincolnshire waited longer than the target time between July and September – the highest rate of CCGs with at least 100 new patients.
Disability Rights UK has called for the disparities to be addressed urgently and for the NHS to consult with wheelchair users to establish quality standards, timescales and monitoring arrangements.
An NHS spokesman said that most people received the right wheelchair for their needs within 18 weeks, but those with specialist requirements may wait longer.
He said personal health budgets gave people more choice and control over their wheelchair provision.