Express & Star

Wheelchairs ‘taken from those in need’ in Dudley

Children and adults with disabilities are being refused vital wheelchairs, according to campaigners aiming to take legal action against health chiefs.

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Dozens of families took part in a walk to raise money to challenge Dudley CCG

We Love Carers claims people who are mobile enough to walk around their homes unaided do not qualify for a wheelchair outside under the new criteria.

They claim it means some living in Dudley who desperately need wheelchairs are going without.

The group has launched a Crowd Justice page, which has already raised more than £2,000, for a Certificate of Investigation as they believe the wheelchair users have not had their voices or concerns listened to

Rachael Gardner’s 14-year-old twin sons Harry and Thomas were born with profound disabilities and suffer chronic lung disease.

She says Harry had been refused a wheelchair when before he had been provided with one.

Rachel, who founded the Dudley-based We Love Carers, said her son was being forced to use a wheelchair that was too small for him.

She said: “We as a charity got notified of the criteria changes towards the end of last year – and it basically seems if you can walk in the house, you don’t need a chair outside of the house.

"This affects a lot of people in Dudley. My son can walk but for longer distances its difficult. His joints can swell up and cause him a lot of pain. The chair was there to relieve the pressure

“I know a lot of parents of children and adults who need the chairs have now been refused. A lot of people were unaware of the change of policy – there was not a fair consultation.

"A lot of parents are now afraid to go to the wheelchair assessments because they are scared their children will get them taken off them.

“I think the change in policy is a lot of rubbish – it impacts on the whole family and it takes away their independence.

"Families feel they can’t take their children out of the home. We want the children to be independent but they will be reliant on us if they have their means of transport or of getting about taken away. Its quite expensive to fund a wheelchair ourselves.”

The group took part in the walk at Baggeridge Country Park to raise funds to take action against the CCG for their changes.

Neill Bucktin, director of commissioning at Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Our policy has always sought to ensure those who are immobile have access to a wheelchair that meets their mobility needs and we are sorry to hear these families do not feel we are currently doing that.”