04 Jun UK mobility industry and the NHS
The UK mobility industry and the National Health Service (NHS) have a long history together, but it is often not a history of great cooperation. With growing waiting lists, staffing and funding problems making more and more patients opt for the private mobility sector, there are several issues which need to be addressed to ensure access is available to all those who need it most.
Getting mobility equipment on the NHS
Whilst the NHS does offer mobility equipment, whether or not those who require it actually receive it tends to be something of a postcode lottery. The most common forms of mobility equipment as defined by the NHS are walking sticks, walking frames, Wheelchairs and Toilet Aids – and whilst the NHS states that wheelchairs are available to all ages when long-term mobility issues can be proven, in reality the eligibility of individuals is decided at a local level. Some wheelchair services or local hospitals provide temporary mobility solutions such as loaning wheelchairs after surgery or an accident, but current guidelines state that the NHS is unlikely to provide a mobility scooter.
Being given a wheelchair via the NHS requires an extensive assessment by the designated wheelchair service, who decide whether each patient requires one and defines which type will be provided. These assessments are traditionally carried out by the wheelchair service centre and can be completed at home or work if required. To request a wheelchair assessment, you are recommended to speak to your local GP who will refer you to the appropriate governing body. Unfortunately, many wheelchair services have a long waiting list for the initial assessment, with an estimated waiting time of several weeks for a referral.
Household adaptations on the NHS
In addition to mobility equipment, the NHS offers household adaptations subject to similarly stringent rules. If a care assessment has been carried out and the need identified, then the local council will provide minor home adaptations costing less than £1,000. These are usually related to preventative measures such as fitting ramps or steps, adding grab rails or automatic lighting to avoid falls. Councils will however charge for larger home adaptations such as stairlifts and rails, bathroom extensions and ramps. The average NHS cost of fitting a stairlift is between £2,000 and £7,000.
Funding and Grants
In most instances, mobility equipment will be privately funded and purchased. However, there are a number of channels through which funding can be applied for, such as the Motability Scheme for anyone seeking to hire or buy a wheelchair or electronic scooter. For home improvements and adaptations, there is the possibility of a Disabled Facilities Grant, and the charity Independence at Home also offers grants for long-term conditions.
With NHS cutbacks wreaking havoc on options for those in need of mobility equipment, the service offered by MobiQuip as both an online store and source of guidance and impartial information is increasingly invaluable. The team is always available to discuss options and bring a wealth of experience to the mobility industry, helping to bridge the gap between the NHS and patients. Contact us for more information.
MobiQuip specialises in offering mobility equipment and free guidance. Call us today on 0800 118 2625 to discuss your unique mobility needs.