Criticism over wheelchair repair delays in Kent

Professor Mike Oliver
Image caption Professor Mike Oliver has called for Milbrook Healthcare's contract to be cancelled

Wheelchair users have been waiting more than a year for chairs to be repaired by a company contracted by the NHS, a disabled rights campaigner said.

Mike Oliver, professor of disability studies at the University of Greenwich, has criticised Milbrook Healthcare's service.

Prof Oliver, from the Kent Wheelchair Users Group, claims the service is "the worst it has ever been".

Milbrook apologised and said it was "taking this situation very seriously".

The company said it is "prioritising" wheelchair users who have been waiting for more than a year for repairs to be carried out.

The Kent and Medway wheelchair service is contracted to Millbrook by NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on behalf of eight Kent and Medway CCGs.

Mr Oliver told a meeting of Kent County Council's health overview and scrutiny committee: "I have to say the service now is the worst that it has ever been," according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Image caption The arm of Professor Mike Oliver's wheelchair is held together with sticky tape

Mr Oliver, a wheelchair user for 56 years, said the group had met with Milbrook in November and been promised improvements but the situation "continues to get worse".

In a joint statement, NHS Thanet CCG and Milbrook Healthcare said: "We are taking this situation very seriously and we apologise for the time it has taken to get to this point.

"The CCGs recognise that cost-pressures have had an impact on the day-to-day running of the service, leading to longer waiting times for patients, for which we are very sorry."

The statement added: "Those who have been waiting for longer than a year are being prioritised."

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