"Wheelchair services and other ways to save the NHS money"

About: Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust

(as a carer),

My partner is disabled and uses a wheelchair which she bought some years ago with help from the NHS voucher scheme. After consistent usage and wear and tear, including a lot of travelling it needs some repairs and renovation of the upholstery. On enquiring about this she was told they would not fund this but she could have a new chair, but it is not the chair itself that is needing maintenance but the fittings. This seemed to be a lost opportunity for the NHS service to save money by getting repairs done rather than pay out for another new chair that is not required.

Another point is about the amount of equipment that is given out to patients but never returned eg wheelchairs, crutches etc which could save the NHS money as well as avoid waste - imagine how many such items are left either rusting somewhere or thrown out when they could be cleaned and reissued? I feel strongly about these issues as well as recycling certain waste that avoids landfill and energy conservation to reduce running costs eg lighting left on when unoccupied and computers left on standby overnight in offices. How good is the Community Trust in addressing or taking these issues seriously I wonder?

On the whole the service my partner and I have received has been good when attending an NHS service but we do see areas which could be improved and although they may seem small, combined have a big impact. For instance at the Walton Hospital today and the GPs, where they have a self check-in service on screen, both venues were not easy or inaccessible for a wheelchair user because of their height. Does this seem obvious to people who make the decisions about these type of support mechanisms for patient and the service?

I would be interested in any discussion about these sort of issues as they can have an impact on everyone's access to service and efficiency of the service.

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Response from Kate Jones, Equality & Patient Experience Manager, Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust

Thank you for taking the time to leave feedback. Our Wheelchair Service have explained that under the voucher scheme and in accordance with national guidelines the value of wheelchairs depreciates by 20% percent each year and after 5 years it would be seen as being at the end of its life so this maybe the reason why your partner was not offered a replacement.

LCH has a recycling target for equipment of 85% that is set by our commissioners. we consistently exceed the target and are currently recycling 91% of the equipment that we loan. Some equipment would be too costly to recycle so it is unlikely that we would reach 100%.

We do take environmental sustainability seriously and have policies and processes to recycle and reduce waste.

LCH does employ a Disability Access Manager who conducts Access audits on all of our buildings to ensure that they there aren't any barriers such as the ones described.

Please contact me if you would like further information about the points that you have raised or about how you can get involved in the decisions that we make at Liverpool Community Health.

Many Thanks

Kate Jones

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