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Wheelchairs

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 10 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what representations he has received from wheelchair users groups in relation to proposed changes to wheelchair provision and other community equipment services; (155953)

(2) what steps the Government are taking to prepare for future demand for wheelchair provision;

(3) if he will make a statement on proposed changes to the provision of wheelchairs and other such equipment for the disabled, currently being considered.

The Prime Minister launched the Transforming Community Equipment and Wheelchair Services Programme in June 2006 to work collaboratively with stakeholders to develop a radical new model for delivery of community equipment and wheelchair services in England, which has users and carers at its heart. The intention was to look at the two services in parallel, but this has not been feasible.

Two potential models were developed for wheelchair services. However, without robust data it was not possible to make recommendations for the way forward. This is of particular concern in view of the successive reports over the last 20 years which have consistently argued for modernisation and investment in the wheelchair services. A further data gathering exercise was agreed, this will report back to the Ministers in December 2007.

The programme has engaged with users, carers and organisations that represent them since the beginning. This continues through the user representative group and a user and carer questionnaire.

We have been working with individual wheelchair users and carers of people who use wheelchairs as well as representatives of:

Action for Kids;

Muscular Dystrophy Campaign;

Multiple Sclerosis Society;

Spinal Injuries Association;

Em Power;

Whiz-Kidz;

Limbless Association;

National Forum Wheelchair User Groups; and

Motor Neurone Disease Association.

The questionnaire offers users and carers an opportunity to comment on the chairs they currently have and make suggestions for change. It is available on the CSED website at:

www.csed.csip.org.uk/workstreams/transforming-community-equipment-wheelchair-services/wheelchair-services/wheelchair-services-user-questionnaire.html

and through the third sector organisations both through their publications and websites. Wheelchair services are also helping reach those users and carers who are unable to access the web.

The analysis of the questionnaires will continue until the end of November and the results will feed into the development of the business case.