Making your voice heard: Wheelchair services

Earlier this year, we started to hear a number of serious stories from patients and professionals about wheelchair services.

We heard about long delays with patients being discharged from hospital in a ‘normal’ chair.

We also heard about people waiting weeks for repairs to their wheelchairs with no provision in the meantime.

“I waited 330 days since I was referred by my MS nurse for the wheelchair service to assess me. I then had to wait another 69 days for the actual wheelchair.”
— Kent resident

We shared these stories with the commissioner and Millbrook Healthcare, the provider of the service, as we would always do.

We helped facilitate a meeting with the Kent Physical Disability Forum and the commissioner, then later escalated our collective concerns to the Kent Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) who acted immediately.

Thanks to your voice and our intervention wheelchair services are slowly improving. There is still much work to be done but so far:

  • Over £500,000 of additional funding has been invested to reduce the number of people waiting for assessments.
  • Waiting times have reduced.
  • Saturday clinics have been introduced to reduce waiting times and offer more flexibility for people.
  • Peoples’ feedback is being actively gathered, listened to and acted upon.
  • Wheelchair users are now working directly with the service.
  • A new Service Improvement Board has been created to review progress and delivery of the Improvement Plan. This Board involves service users.
  • More clinical and support staff have been recruited.
  • Several public events have been hosted to meet service users face to face and gather feedback.
  • A new website dedicated to the Kent & Medway Wheelchair service has been created to make it easier for local people to see local information.
  • Commissioners and decision makers are now aware of all the issues and able to tackle them. The spotlight remains on the service to ensure progress continues.
  • Millbrook have developed their communication and engagement plan

We continue to work with the Kent Physical Disability Forum to monitor the situation. 

“The only way my wife can get to her appointments is on a stretcher as we are still waiting for her wheelchair to be repaired."
— Kent resident

What else have you been up to?

If you would like to read more about what we've been up to this year. Check out our annual report for 2018/19. 

Find out more