Creating a new NHS England: Health Education England, NHS Digital and NHS England have merged. Learn more.
‘A wheelchair is our lives, our independence’ – Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson chairs Expo discussion
Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson has hailed an NHS programme aimed at improving the lives of wheelchair users but warned there is still more to be done.
Chairing a discussion on wheelchair services at the Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester, Dame Tanni said: “I got involved in improving wheelchair services as I am a wheelchair user and my experience of the services has always been pretty good but I have people writing to me describing a variable service.
“Everyone is trying really, really hard to do the best they can but rules are getting in the way of the improvements needed. People need to understand a wheelchair is our lives, it’s our independence.
“I have been really pleased with the response from NHS England as they have now launched their improvement programme but it’s not just a case of saying change is needed, we now need to help people understand and make those changes.”
My Voice, My Wheelchair, My Life is a programme aimed at transforming wheelchair services for users and their families so that users with complex and changing needs can get the right wheelchair for their needs in a timely way with continuing support.
Tanni was joined on stage by representatives from the national Wheelchair Leadership Alliance, charities and wheelchair users to discuss the issues facing patients.
Nick Goldup, NHS Partnership Director at Whizz-Kidz, told delegates that the difference the right chair makes to people as ‘unbelievable’ and said that learning from industry and putting innovation at the heart of the supply chain would be key to the future.
I AGREE WITH WHAT YOU SAY AND WOULD LIKE TO LET YOU KNOW THAT IN NORFOLK YOU HAVE TO BE WHEELCHAIR DEPENDENT FOR 5 YEARS BEFORE YOU GET CONSIDERED FOR A POWERCHAIR. BEING IN A LOT OF PAIN SELF PROPELLING DOESN’T COUNT AND THEY (WHEELCHAIR SERVICES) STATE THEY DO NOT HAVE THE FINANCES TO PROVIDE CORRECT CHAIRS FOR ALL USERS, BUT THEY HAVE THE MONEY TO PROVIDE THEMSELVES WITH STATE OF THE ART VANS THAT ARE BETTER THAN AMBULANCE TRANSPORT FOR THE DISABLED. THEY PROVIDE THE CHEAPEST CHAIRS THEY CAN GET, ADMIT THEY ARE NOT SUITABLE FOR SOME USERS YET WILL NOT CHANGE THEM. I BOUGHT 1 THROUGH MOTABILITY AT HIGHLY INFLATED RATES,( IF I’D HAD CASH, COULD HAVE PAID FOR 2 BETTER 1’S), AND THAT WAS THE ONLY WAY I COULD GET NORFOLK NHS TO PROVIDE 1. THEY IGNORE THERAPISTS CALLS AND LETTERS, DOCTORS DO NOT REQUEST CHAIRS FOR PATIENTS AND DO NOT LIKE CERTAIN DISABILITIES. HOW FUNDING IS METERED OUT IS ANYBODY’S GUESS AS IS NOT BY NEED BUT WHAT THEY WILL PROVIDE REGARDLESS OF SUITABILITY. DISABLED PEOPLE ARE TREATED AS LESS THAN 3RD CLASS PEOPLE WITH LITTLE OPPORTUNITY OFFERED. MEDICAL CARE IS SCANT. IF AT ALL, AND CARE NEEDS ARE NOT MET MOST OF THE TIME. I WAS OUT WALKING MY DOG EARLIER AND WAS VERBALLY ASSAULTED, MENACED BY 3 “WOMEN”, RANG THE POLICE, THEY WOULD DO NOTHING, WOULD NOT SPEAK TO A WITNESS AND DO NOT SEE THIS AS A CRIME!! NORFOLK TEND TO TREAT PHYSICALLY DISABLED PEOPLE AS £MENTALLY ILL”, WE ARE NOT, WE ARE JUST PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED AND TRYING TO LEAD A “NORMAL” LIFE, BUT OUR SOCIETY DOES NOT SEEM TO WANT THIS FOR US. WITH YOUR NAME, YOU COULD DO A LOT TO EDUCATE NORFOLK AND IT’S PEOPLE, SO WOULD LIKE TO INVITE YOU TO TAKE UP A CHALLENGE TO EDUCATE NORFOLK TO THINK THE WAY DISABLED PEOPLE WOULD LIKE THE PUBLIC TO THINK ABOUT THEM. A LOT OF US ARE WASTED HERE DUE TO LACK OF OPPORTUNITY AND DISCRIMINATION. I’M CERTAIN THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE LIKE ME IN NORFOLK THAT WOULD LIKE TO BE REALLY LISTENED TO. AND UNDERSTOOD. I PREFER TO BE TREATED LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, NOT LOOKED DOWN ON NOR IGNORED. NOR RIDICULED. I WOULD LOVE TO BE ABLE TO WALK AGAIN, I MISS DANCING TOO, BUT MY MAJOR PROBLEM WITH DISABILITY AND WHEELCHAIR DEPENDENCY IS PUBLIC AND AUTHORITY ATTITUDE. I CANNOT WORK, (HAVE BEEN FULLY ASSESSED), WOULD LOVE TO, CANNOT WALK AGAIN, WOULD LOVE TO, CANNOT DO ALL I USED TO DO, WOULD LOVE TO, BUT CAN LIVE WITH DISABILITY, TOOK A LONG TIME, BUT CAN, WITH THE RIGHT ATTITUDE FROM THOSE AROUND ME. THE WORST DISABILITY IS “JOE PUBLIC” AND WHAT THEY SEE. I PREFER PEOPLE NOT TO SEE THE CHAIR I’M IN. BUT TO SEE ME FOR WHAT I AM, NOT WHAT I WAS, OR COULD BE. I HAVE ADJUSTED, BUT LOST NEARLY ALL MY OLD FRIENDS, AND NEW ONES DO NOT REALLY KNOW ME, THEY KNOW THE CHAIR! I ADMIRE YOU FOR WHAT YOU’VE DONE, AND WISH I COULD BE LIKE YOU, I’M TOO OLD, BUT I WOULD STILL LIKE TO BE SOMEONE, NOT JUST “HER IN THE WHEELCHAIR”.