I recently made a freedom of information request to NHS Gloucestershire regarding Wheelchair Services, I wanted to try and understand how well they were doing their job, below is the response I received.
Information received from NHS Gloucestershire
From the above it seems only 101 powered wheelchairs were provided in Gloucestershire last year, this number seems rather low to me considering Wheelchair Services have told me, several times, that they have to deal with thousands of patients needing wheelchairs. It also seems they have a very nice deal with Invacare, some of those prices are below half the retail cost, and I mean retail cost without VAT added, they are also the most popular type of chair they offer.
Pretty much all the Invacare powered chairs listed above get bad reviews, NHS Gloucestershire seem to be just going for the cheapest chairs in my opinion and not considering patients needs, this isn’t surprising considering their attitude towards me over the last year or so.
They had over three quarters of a million pounds last year, yet patients have to fight to get a wheelchair which costs less than £2000, this seems very wrong to me, I know some money goes on modifications, repairs and standard wheelchairs, but I can only assume most is wasted on management and bureaucracy. I’m sure plenty of other theories can also be made from the information but I’ll leave that to others for now. I would encourage others to apply for similar data from their local authorities, it would be nice to see the big picture.
I would like to say one good thing about NHS Gloucestershire though, their Information Governance department is extremely knowledgeable and helpful, I have dealt with them twice now and can find no fault, they didn’t even charge me for this request, they are entitled to ask a small handling charge, but unlike most penny pinching departments they seem to actually put patients first.