In last week’s BMJ they mention that ~15% of NHS patients have to wait more than 12 months for a wheelchair and that over 50% of wheelchair users are likely to get a pressure sore from an ill-fitting wheelchair.
Is this fair?
About a month ago I saw two patients in clinic. One patient had been waiting more than 8 months for a wheelchair and had to resort to buying a second-hand wheelchair on eBay that was clearly too small for them. In contrast, another patient came in with a brand new top of the range wheelchair that could help them stand erect. It had cost them over £8,000. The sad thing is that the NHS wheelchair this second patient had been supplied with was not been used. These anecdotes highlight the inequity of the system we are building.
The wheelchair issue is simply the tip of the iceberg. The following piece from the BMJ tells us that things are likely to get worse.
Should access to a NHS wheelchair be means tested to stop inappropriate waste?
Gareth Iacobucci. Exceptional requests for care surge as rationing deepens. BMJ 2017; 358 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j3188
….. Vautrey called for “an open and honest discussion” on this type of rationing. He urged NHS England to set clear guidelines on which treatments should be routinely available and which should require an individual request. “It’s clearly unfair for patients to be subjected to this postcode rationing, and it also adds further to GPs’ workload as they are called on to provide more and more evidence to support each application,” he told The BMJ.