Funding your Chair
NHS Wheelchair Services
NHS Wheelchair Services are run by local health authorities. They allocate funds to the Wheelchair Service and Primary Care Trusts who are responsible for providing the service itself. Because each local authority runs the service independently it can vary between locations.
Each service has its own eligibility criteria and the details of your referral will be reviewed to work out its priority. Factors taken into account include the nature and level of your disability or medical condition, your lifestyle and needs, and where and when you will use the wheelchair. If you cannot propel a manual wheelchair, you may be eligible for a powered wheelchair.
Where to go next:
Your first step is to be referred to the local NHS Wheelchair Service either by a hospital, doctor, consultant or occupational therapist, or some services may operate a self-referral system.
Once referred, you will be assessed for equipment by the services and this can be provided in two main ways:
A standard manual or powered wheelchair supplied free of charge that meets the users basic mobility needs. The wheelchair remains the property of the NHS and is eligible for free maintenance from the local wheelchair service contractor appointed to run the maintenance and repair service.
If you want something different to the standard provision, you do have the option to choose an Independent Voucher on the Voucher Scheme.
The aim of the scheme is to give disabled people more choice of wheelchairs above what the NHS can supply. This can be for reasons like “lightness”, performance, style, colour etc.
Key things to note:
- Voucher amounts can vary for each Wheelchair Service from region to region.
- The average period is approximately five years for adults, 3 years for children however this can vary and extreme changes in clinical need can mean lower periods.
- Continued access to NHS provision of special seating/pressure-relieving cushions if needed.
- The user will own the wheelchair and be responsible for its maintenance and repair. The voucher amount will include an amount towards the chairs repair and maintenance.
- Each Wheelchair Service maintains a list of approved suppliers. The minimum criteria are based on the supplier's ability to offer a choice of products, have demonstration stock, local showroom and repair capability, including adequate stocks of locally held spare parts.
GBL is an approved supplier for over 50 Wheelchair Services.
The ‘Access to Work’ Scheme:
Access to Work aims to provide advice and support to both you and your employer if your health or disability has an impact on the way you do your job.
You may be eligible for support from Access to Work if you’re: in a paid job unemployed and about to start a job unemployed and about to start a work trial self-employed and your disability or health condition stops you from being able to do parts of your job. Visit the direct.gov website to see if you are eligible to apply for the scheme. If so, you can download a letter about the scheme to show potential employers.
Where to go next:
The next step is to contact your regional Access to Work contact centre to find out if you are eligible. If so, you will be sent an application form to complete and return. An Access to Work adviser will then work with you and your employer to decide on the best solution to support you. This is generally done over the telephone, but may involve a visit if necessary. Once approval for the support has been given, it is your employer’s responsibility to arrange for the support and purchase any necessary equipment. They then claim the costs back through Access to Work.
Find out more about this scheme at www.direct.gov.uk
The amount of help which you may receive from Access to Work will vary depending on how long you have been employed, what support you need and whether you are self-employed.
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