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Wheelchair waiting times England: disabled people ‘denied fundamental right’ as thousands wait months for NHS chairs

Thousands of disabled adults and children, including those with the highest and most complex needs, are having to wait more than four months for an NHS wheelchair, official health figures show.

In one part of the country more than two-thirds of patients referred to the wheelchair service face waits of more than 18 weeks, or roughly four months, to get the help they need. Besides preventing them from getting around independently, and the mental health problems that can come from the resulting social isolation, a leading disability charity says disabled people can also be left with physical pain if forced to use poorly fitting or unsuitable chairs while they wait for upgrades and adaptations.

Data published by NHS England shows 16.5% of patients – one in six –  were waiting longer than the NHS target time of 18 weeks for a wheelchair, equipment for a wheelchair, or wheelchair modifications between October and December last year. This represents more than 6,000 adults and almost 1,600 children, of which thousands were registered as having high or specialist needs. The figures include new patients as well as re-referred patients whose needs may have changed or whose current equipment needs adjusting or modified.

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Source: National World, 21 March 2023


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