NHS Wheelchair Services
Wheelchairs are available on the NHS through NHS Wheelchair Services. Some areas have a voucher scheme that increases the range of equipment you can choose.
Assessments are normally carried out at NHS Wheelchair Services centres by a professional qualified in wheelchair assessments. Assessments usually look at the nature and level of your disability, your lifestyle needs and your ability to use the equipment on offer. As your needs may alter, the Wheelchair Service may conduct repeat reviews to see if you would benefit from changing to different equipment.
Depending on where you live, referrals to the local NHS Wheelchair Service may be made by a hospital, GP, consultant or occupational therapist. Some services may allow you to contact them directly without a referral from a health professional.
The National Wheelchair Managers Forum publishes a list of wheelchair services around the UK.
Some NHS Wheelchair Services operate a voucher scheme that can increase your choice of equipment. The voucher covers the value of the wheelchair originally recommended. You can choose a more expensive option and pay the difference in cost. Where a voucher scheme exists there are usually three options:
- Standard option - A wheelchair is supplied, repaired and maintained free of charge.
- Partnership option - You choose an alternative wheelchair from an approved supplier. The Wheelchair Service will repair and maintain the wheelchair free of charge.
- Independent option - With this option there is no restriction on the supplier of the wheelchair. You own the wheelchair and are responsible for its repair and maintenance. The voucher usually includes an amount towards the anticipated costs of repair and maintenance.
A voucher usually lasts for five years. Unless a reassessment shows that your needs have changed, you will not normally be entitled to a new voucher until this period has expired.
Other sources of wheelchairs
In most areas there are charities or organisations that will hire out wheelchairs if you only need to use one for a short period. In many areas this service is offered by the British Red Cross
Many larger towns have a Shopmobility scheme. These which provide short-term hire of scooters and wheelchairs whilst out shopping.
Further information about choosing a wheelchair
The AskSara website, provided by the Disabled Living Foundation, gives independent advice about mobility equipment and wheelchair and scooter accessories.
Which? has a page of information on what to consider when thinking about what type of wheelchair would be best for you.
Our book, 'Are you sitting comfortably?', gives advice on how to ensure a comfortable seated postion and avoid worsening pain or pressure sores.