Jackie Baillie MSP's new Private Members Bill would see wheelchairs supplied to people who have a temporary need for one.
There is currently no duty on the NHS, or any other public body, to provide short-term wheelchairs to anyone with a mobility problem that is expected to last for less than 6 months. The current criteria to access NHS wheelchair services states that the mobility need must be permanent.
A range of ALLIANCE members, including British Red Cross, MS Society Scotland, British Lung Foundation, have expressed concern that this prevents people with short-term needs accessing a wheelchair, and leaves many people prisoners in their own homes, unable to get out and increasingly dependent on others.
A Freedom of Information request by the British Red Cross has found that only one NHS wheelchair provider was prepared to provide a wheelchair on a short-term basis and this was in only issued in specific circumstances. There are no set criteria for how wheelchairs were provided in the short-term.
Launching the Private Members Bill, Jackie Baillie MSP said: “Not being able to access a wheelchair when you have a clear short-term mobility need can lead to a delay in discharge from hospital; prolong your rehabilitation; slow down your reablement and have a negative impact on your emotional wellbeing, your social connections and your financial situation. Creating a statutory duty to provide access to short term wheelchairs, where it is appropriate to do so, is a relatively small change, but it is one that can make a significant difference to people’s lives.”
The Bill is supported by a range of organisations including British Red Cross, MS Society Scotland, British Lung Foundation, Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland, Marie Curie Scotland and the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE).
You can have your say on the Proposed Wheelchairs (Short-term access) (Scotland) Bill via the Scottish Parliament’s website (this link will take you away from our website).