Wales

£2m to tackle wheelchair delays in Wales

A wheelchair
Image caption Disability Wales said the announcement was long overdue

An extra £2.2m will be spent on reducing waiting times for wheelchair services in Wales.

The assembly government says it will double the number of staff who assess patients to make sure they get the right equipment.

Last year an assembly committee called for an end to what it said was a "postcode lottery" for wheelchairs.

Miranda Evans from Disability Wales said the announcement was "excellent news" but "long overdue."

She told BBC Radio Wales: "There are many people who have experienced long waiting times to receive the appropriate equipment.

"There are instances where young people are having to have an assessment but by the time they have received their wheelchairs they've actually outgrown them.

"If someone requires a wheelchair and they have to wait a long time it means they can't leave their homes.

"They are not able to live their life independently - they are shut behind closed doors.

"We really hope with this additional funding improvements will be made as soon as possible."

Welsh Health Minister Edwina Hart said the new money would be available from April.

She said it would be used to double the number of clinical staff across Wales to assess individuals to enable them to have the most appropriate wheelchair to suit their need.

It will also support better waiting list management and more training for health professionals and for patients and their carers

Wheelchair services are provided by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board for patients in north Wales and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board for patients in south Wales.

Mrs Hart said: "It is important the people requiring wheelchairs have swift access to an assessment and delivery of a permanent wheelchair to enable them to remain independent and maintain their quality of life."

The assembly government said demand for short-term loans of wheelchairs was increasing between five and 10% every year.

Some of the new funding will go to the British Red Cross for it to pilot ways of more working with health boards to tackle demand.

Last year an assembly health committee report found people had to wait much longer to get wheelchairs in north Wales compared with those in the south.

It called for an end to what it called a "postcode lottery."

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