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NHS Wheelchair Service

Hi, I am a wheelchair user and I work for a company called AJM Healthcare which is contracted by the NHS to provide wheelchairs and other mobility equipment through the Wheelchair Service in various parts of the country. If you are living in the London boroughs of Redbridge, Havering or Barking and Dagenham, I would very much like to hear from you about the service you have been receiving. Thank you. Best regards, Rudi


  • diyjoediyjoe Posts: 10Member Listener
    Hi Rudi 

    I am not qualified to comment as I live outside the areas stipulated, I live near Ashford in Kent, the boroughs you mention are in striking distance.  Have any of your depots got the facility to give basic training in manual wheelchair skills like curb climbing,  If you have, is the training restricted to those people you supply chairs to.
  • rudewellrudewell Posts: 2Member Listener
    Hi Eric

    Thank you for your enquiry.

    Unfortunately, the company does not provide training in wheelchair skills but  perhaps this is something they might consider in future.

    One place where wheelchair skills training is available is the BackUp trust, based in south London. Here is a link for them: www.backuptrust.org.uk. I hope they can help.

    Best regards

  • rayreyrayrey Posts: 11Member Listener
    Would you like to comment on NHS ENGLAND policy of personal wheelchair budgets,how will an open market opinion affect your company
    Regards rayrey
  • diyjoediyjoe Posts: 10Member Listener
    I am not a company, but I think it is about time the whole wheelchair industry was investigated. from manufacturers down to the actual providers which are normally profit making companies contracted by local CCG's, the providers having no competition except for maybe at the quotation stage. The quotation stage not being very transparent.

    It is my opinion that wheelchairs should be provided by reputable high street providers with properly trained staff on a competitive basis giving a service that adheres to the NHS model. It is my belief by opening up the market in this way and permitting users to shop around with a decent personal budget would see a fall in the overpriced and often imported wheelchairs. 

    From my experience the voucher system is low in value compared to the final price one can pay for a suitable to personal needs chair, The voucher needs increasing and this could be done by eliminating the current practice of supply by a single CCG appointed supplier. 

    At the moment in my area and possibly the same in most areas, to obtain a wheelchair someone needs to refer you. That someone , as in my case, new nothing about wheelchairs, only the need for one was recognised. However on the referral form, even though I described fully the use I wanted to put a wheelchair to, which I know now was the description  an active wheelchair, a box was ticked by an inexperienced person which referred to a tank,  and that is what I was offered by the NHS supplier. I could not lift it, to put in the boot of my car, and there was no consideration of future needs.

    I think, the sooner wheelchair services are thrown open to a competitive market and the user given a decent personal budget or decent voucher, cutting out CCG  appointed suppliers or making them join a competative market,wheelchair users and the NHS will be better off. 
  • rayreyrayrey Posts: 11Member Listener
    Great news this week
    NHS England website has annouced that you have a legal right to a personal wheelchair budget so start looking in the open market,
    But remember the battle starts with the assessment, perhaps some of you have  some experience or guidance that could share
    As you can choose what Hospital you attend, maybe this also means you can choose your assessor, not sure about that,
     thought s .any one
    I would like Scope to take the whole personal wheelchair budgets thing on as a project as I predict it could be a struggle for some people 
    Love to you all out  there, together we can overcome

  • diyjoediyjoe Posts: 10Member Listener
    Hi Rayrey.
    You mention "the battle starts with the assessment", In Q&A on the NHS site, it also states the CCG appointed equipment suppliers clinician will carry out the assessment for the personal budget. Most if not all the wheelchair service providers are private companies intent on making a profit, they will not want business drifting away.

    My experience of the current system is my Dr. made the referral and gave medical grounds, but as he was not qualified in wheelchair types, his secretary filled in the rest of the referral form, the rest being an initial assessment into the type of wheelchair required. Usage, hrs. and days of use etc. As it was a tick box answer assessment wrong information was sent to the chair provider. At the face to face assessment the service providers clinician asked again what sort of chair I wanted, she took one measurement and produced a heavy transit chair totally unsuitable for my needs, I left empty handed. On the way out I looked at the suitable active chairs which had a label face down on the seats, on turning it over it mention " available on voucher scheme" I had to inquire what the voucher scheme was The Senior Clinician came out to see me and offered a voucher for £250.00***.  

    I made several complaints to the service provider  at the local depot, then to head office, eventually I was invited to meet the depot manager, the senior clinician, and a wheelchair manufacturers representative. I was still denied a suitable chair but under the guise of trying to help me cobbled together a lightweight folding wheel that I would be able to lift into my car. 
    The clinician had very little input leaving it to the rep. Although when I mentioned the voucher offer was ridiculously low she said she thought £500.00*** was a generous offer.

    The assessment took place mid December Last year and took 8 weeks to supply. or 9 months from first referral.

    After 4 days of use up and down ramps, hoping over obstacles for 10 hrs a day, everything is out of line on the chair,
    even the additional bracing bar which was supplied with the wheelchair is hanging down. The chair feels unstable.
    I contacted the service supplier  about this 10 days ago, under the loan agreement only they can service the chair , I have heard nothing, and have chased again today.

    Unless the NHS employs it's own fully trained assessors who are not tied to the profit making suppliers, just answerable to the NHS. I cannot see how the personal wheelchair budget scheme will work to the benefit of users or allow them to shop around for the best deal.   

  • diyjoediyjoe Posts: 10Member Listener
    Since my previous comment I have accepted a voucher for £550.00 although the over complicated paperwork is yet to be completed, the personal budget system is still being considered in my area and is a long way from being established. I have received from my service provider a short list of three retailers they prefer to work with, all retailers are at the least 50 miles from my home, one a 100 miles, I am told this is not a problem as the companies will come to me.
    I visited Niaidex recently and showed interest in a particular wheelchair, within days I received a phone call from the manufacturers followed by a confirmation email to visit me, not only is a rep from the manufacturer visiting he will be accompanied by a London based retailer. I just do not understand why wheelchair companies or retailers are prepared to travel long distances to sell a single wheelchair. How much does this add to the cost of a wheelchair? 

    Obviously like all suppliers or retailers including those big retailers who sell on line or eBay the rep will start with the basic chair price and try to sell overpriced extras to boost their commission. It would be a shame if they did not make a sale after travelling so far?

    It also appears that a lot of wheelchair parts are made in various countries, Germany, Poland, Mexico, USA, If the Government are so worried about the loss of skilled labour in the car and aero industry, is it not possible to put the skilled labour and the NHS together and have a range of British wheelchairs of all types manufactured that would enable the NHS to fulfill it's dreams and remove NON MANDATORY from its recommendations for wheelchair supply?


  • Zebra88Zebra88 Posts: 55Member Connected
    I live in the North West and I find it so interesting when I read other people's experiences of wheelchair services. Mine has been a struggle but totally different from most.

    I was struggling to walk for years and had been provided with a self propelled chair by adult services who wrote in my care plan I desperately need a powerchair. I couldn't push the self propelled outdoors and have rib problems so barely used it. At one point I twisted both ankles so badly (while on my way to a podiatry appointment XD) I called my GP and asked what to do because I did it that often going to A&E seemed pointless as they just refer me back to rheumatology every time my dislocated ankles wouldn't heal. My GP said he had never prescribed someone a wheelchair in 40 years of of working and there was no way her could do it.

    By chance I was at my NHS OT appointment and while standing up from the chair with crutches my spine clunked and my hip came out at the same time. The OT had to get pillows to prop me up and call an ambulance. She wrote to my GP that they must do a referral to wheelchair services immediately for an EPIOC.

    My GP surgery didn't know how to do it and called me in to fill out the form myself and they stamped it.

    Wheelchair services came to my home, workplace, and about town to check I could drive the chair safely. They took away the self propelled and re-tagged it to be refurbished as adult services didn't want it back. They left me with an attendant pushed so I couldn't go to work for 3-4 months until they dropped off the powerchair. It has changed my life so much I cant even be mad.

    My case had to go to a panel because technically I can walk, I just shouldn't due to injury and pain caused by walking, but the NHS only supply powerchair to people who cant walk at all. They decided that indoor use was met by the fact I would be using it indoors at work, not in my flat which is too small and there is only 1m between each room from a central hallway. I had to get a concrete ramp installed and all of the radiators in my flat moved before I could bring the chair home.

    It is refurbished and breaks, a lot. Since I've had it, through no kind of misuse it has needed new front castors twice as they take old ones off stock to put on mine which already have wear and tear. It has had new wheels and bearings which meant I recently had no chair at all for 6 weeks and couldn't go out to work etc. Every time it breaks they take it away saying 1 week and it's always almost 2 months. It's broken 4 times since I've had it less than a year :/ at the moment it is damaged from the recent repair, one anti tip wheel is broken, and  a brake where they have tipped it up to fit castors, and the kerb climber stick thing always falls off as it's been cut too short. I'm too scared to tell them in case they take it away and I cant go out.

    I dont know whether to just ask for a voucher but I've heard that the value is nowhere near what a similar model would be?
  • rayreyrayrey Posts: 11Member Listener
    Due to me asking a lot of questions of the HILLINGDON CCG board and attending a board meeting,yes they open to the public r
    I be been invited to meet the person responsible for the implementation of personal wheelchair budgets in NW London,
    I also emailed my MP and got a reply from the Minister of State for personal health budgets
    things are moving,
    If I can do it so can you
    In November they were telling me
    We don't do personal wheelchair budgets and have no plans for them
    Get asking,get lobbying,don't be fobbed off
    Spread the word personal wheelchair budgets
    Love  rayrey

  • diyjoediyjoe Posts: 10Member Listener
    I have followed your example and emailed my MP who in turn has contacted the CCG and Minister of State, Replies are awaited. Whatever the outcome I fear that it will be the current ccg appointed wheelchair suppliers that will award the personal budgets and they will not want to give too much away if it reduces their profits.


  • diyjoediyjoe Posts: 10Member Listener
    I now have a reply from my local MP attaching a letter from the Secretary of State for Health dated the 21st May 2019, it reads " Following consultation , I announced that we will be provisionally extending the legal right to a personal health budget to people who access wheelchair services"   The letter goes on to describe time expectations for PHB's.

    The letter avoids saying very much about personal wheelchair budgets (PWB's) except it mentions "The PWB model offers a clear framework for CCG's  to commission wheel chair services. Note the use of the words model and framework, just like other NHS models, it probably means NON MANDATORY.   

    The letter concludes that a wheelchair user can ask for a personal wheelchair budget now but not all CCG's will be in a position to provide one, but vouchers are still available.  

    It would be interesting to know how many CCG's actually provide a PWB and its value..So far I have found nothing that indicates a time or date for CCG's to include PWB's in there agendas.

    All seems a bit like that word B to me.


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