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Disabled Persons (Wheelchairs)

Volume 973: debated on Wednesday 14 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why severely handicapped persons, living in areas with steep slopes, are not provided with appropriate wheelchairs by the National Health Service; if he will investigate the difficulties faced by such severely disabled persons; and if he will make a statement.

Wheelchair users may find difficulty in mounting or descending a steep slope and it will be appreciated that it is quite impracticable for a wheelchair, whether powered or non-powered, safely to negotiate some of the steeper slopes. A wide range of non-powered wheelchairs is available, some of which are more suitable for use on slopes than others. A severely disabled person who needs to be pushed outside in a wheelchair and who lives in an area with steep slopes which make pushing very difficult may be provided with a powered wheelchair for operation by the attendant. Powered outdoor occupant controlled wheelchairs are not provided by the Department and there are no plans to extend the range to include this type. We have under consideration the supply of a slope aid that will prevent an occupant controlled wheelchair running back when being propelled up a slope and of service brakes to assist control when descending slopes.If the hon. Member has any particular case in mind and will provide the details it will, of course, be investigated.