Wheelchairs have come a long way but the National Health Service is yet to! It is a sad state of affairs because most patients with some sort of disability are only offered a voucher for a basic NHS wheelchair. Standard wheelchairs do not meet the needs of every patient and can only worsen their ailments with the passage of time.
The only other option for any patient is to rely on crowd-funding to meet their needs. The delays caused as a result of the lack of availability of wheelchairs only creates havoc for the patient. Finally, the patient is forced to rely on the public through the process of online fundraising to purchase a suitable wheelchair.
A unanimous motion has been passed by the medics at the British Medical Association’s annual representative meeting in Bournemouth to ensure that disabled patients have timely access to suitable wheelchairs that meet their individual requirements.
Since standard NHS wheelchairs weigh approximately 44lbs/20kgs, it gets quite difficult for some patients to manoeuvre such wheelchairs. This poses a risk of causing severe damage to the health conditions of the patients. This is the proof that independence and social needs are being overlooked. Good quality elevating models cannot be afforded by the general public since they are too expensive.
Another big issue is to travel, board and alight from public transportation Since the NHS wheelchairs are too heavy and self-propelling, they make it impossible for outside use. Patients are in dire need of electric wheelchairs that are lightweight and have elevating feature.
Moreover, the privatisation of wheelchair services across the UK has led to the guidelines getting even stiffer for accessing wheelchairs. The NHS funding only accounts for a quarter of the cost of a standard wheelchair, so this is a concern that goes beyond the need for mobility. Since people with muscular dystrophy have complex requirements, they need a specific kind of chair that helps improve their posture, breathing and limb movement. Such factors are essential for the wellbeing of a human being.
Thus, urgent changes need to be implemented upon the guidelines for wheelchair acquisition by the NHS and other relevant bodies at a national and local level.