GAD - Greenwich Association of Disabled People

20 July 2015

Baroness Grey-Thompson and Wheelchair Leadership Alliance to fight for change in nationwide wheelchair services

Wheelchair Leadership Alliance Press Release 20th July 2015

  • The RIGHT CHAIR RIGHT TIME RIGHT NOW campaign aims to raise awareness of the vast differences in quality of wheelchair services across the country
  • The Wheelchair Charter encourages MPs, CCGs, the general public and others to pledge their support to the campaign and to take positive action to help bring about improvements

The 10 point charter lists criteria that wheelchair services should strive to fulfil in order to provide great care

July 2015

A national group of wheelchair users and advocates led by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE is heading to Parliament Square to call for an improvement to wheelchair services in England before more users are adversely affected by the poor levels of service present across England.

The Wheelchair Leadership Alliance, chaired by Baroness Grey-Thompson, is a commitment group tasked with improving wheelchair services for users across England. The group is bringing together MPs and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), as well as other healthcare professionals and senior figures who will be vital to bring about success, at a launch event at Speaker’s House on Monday 20th July. The event will highlight the issues facing wheelchair users in getting the right chair at the right time and will launch the wheelchair charter and national improvement campaign.

It is crucial that wheelchair users receive the right chair at the right time in order to lead a normal life but many users often face severe delays to receive their chair; this leads to harm and waste. Additionally, there are no set standards for budget per user and there is no current clear idea of what is spent on wheelchair services in NHS England, leading to widespread confusion and varied levels of service for users across the country.

Baroness Grey-Thompson said: “For too long wheelchair services have been inadequate and it is time that wheelchair users are listened to and provided a proper service, rather than being marginalised. The huge variation in quality of services across the UK is astounding, and means a huge proportion of wheelchair users are left immobilised, frustrated and ignored.

“Now we want to get this issue on the radar of people who
can influence change and also get them behind the campaign by urging them to pledge their support to the Charter.”

In addition to healthcare professionals and CCGs, members of the public can pledge their support to the Wheelchair Charter and campaign online through the Alliance’s website www.rightwheelchair.org.uk. The Alliance hopes support from people in positions of influence as well as the general public will help bring about change faster.

The charter is a 10 point document which outlines the key principles that wheelchair services should aspire to and can be accessed through the Wheelchair Leadership Alliance website.

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For further information, please contact Jack Williams JackW@acceleris-mc.com 0203 356 2852 or David Mayers DavidM@acceleris-mc.com 0203 356 2745

Notes to editor:

The Wheelchair Leadership Alliance was formed after the second NHS England wheelchair summit held on 27 November 2014. The Alliance brings representatives of key stakeholder groups under one umbrella to work collectively to make a lasting positive change to wheelchair services.

  • The alliance acts as an advocate for people who use wheelchairs, their carers and families. It has an overarching aim of taking action to transform the quality and effectiveness of services for people who use wheelchairs across the UK. 
  • Part of the Wheelchair Leadership Alliance’s role is to deliver the RIGHT CHAIR, RIGHT TIME, RIGHT NOW campaign, highlighting the need to reduce waiting times, waste and harm for wheelchair users.

It will:

    • Raise awareness of widespread weaknesses in delivery of wheelchair services to build a commitment for change
    • Be the driving force behind delivery of lasting and transformational change o Share the vision of what a brighter future will offer and look like for wheelchair users
    • Show what good practice already looks like and what can be achieved
  • The Alliance has developed a Wheelchair Charter in collaboration with wheelchair users, carers and other key stakeholders from inside and outside the health and social care system. This Charter sets out the ten key principles that will support the delivery of excellent wheelchair services and improve the experience of care received by wheelchair users.
  • There are around 1.2 million wheelchair users in England, roughly 2 per cent of the UK population
  • Research by the Muscular Dystrophy UK found that wheelchair users with muscle wasting conditions often face severe delays to receive their chair:
    • 70% wait more than three months
    • 30% face a delay of more than six months
    • 15% wait more than 12 months
    • Unfortunately it is a very similar story for all wheelchair users
    • For every 182 wheelchair users not able to work, the benefits bill can increase by up to £1m
    • The positive economic contribution made when wheelchair users are in work can be up to £4.7m