Doctors are warning that savage cuts to services and a postcode lottery mean growing numbers rely on the public to help raise funds for the mobility aid online
Patients are being forced to crowdfund to pay for wheelchairs because of cuts to the NHS, doctors have warned. Savage cuts to services and a postcode lottery mean growing numbers rely on the public to help raise funds online.
Medics at the British Medical Association ’s annual meeting in Bournemouth today passed a motion calling for users to have “timely access to chairs suitable for their individual conditions”.
Dr Hannah Barham-Brown, a junior doctor working in south London, said hundreds of patients were fundraising online for their wheelchairs. Standard NHS chairs can weigh around 44lb (20kg) and, for some patients, manoeuvring the devices could cause damage, she said.
Dr Barham-Brown, who presented the motion, used crowdfunding to pay for her own wheelchair – which weighs 26.5lb (12kg) and cost around £2,000.
The 29-year-old said: “I had to crowdfund my wheelchair halfway through medical school when I was told that it was going to cost around £2,000 to get this chair and the NHS were able to offer me a £140 voucher or an NHS chair which weighs up to 20 kilos and is very bad, and not remotely ergonomic.
“That was ultimately going to do me more harm than good so my best friend set up a crowdfunding page for me and managed to raise £2,000 in 24 hours.
“The standard NHS chair can weigh up to around 20 kilos and it’s very poorly designed – it’s not remotely ergonomic. NHS chairs are very heavy and very hard to manoeuvre easily. In terms of public transport I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere in an NHS chair unless there was someone with me helping me. You need to be pushed.
“More and more I’m seeing on social media pleas from people begging for support to buy wheelchairs, not only chairs like this – lightweight self-propelling chairs – but electric chairs. “The guidelines for getting chairs now are so strict, wheelchair services across the country are being privatised and it’s just getting harder and harder to get access.”
Project by Independent Food Aid Network finds at least 2,000 food banks giving out parcels, with demand continuing to grow
There are at least 2,000 food banks operating in the UK, giving out emergency food parcels on a weekly basis to people in hardship, according to research that shines fresh light on the rapid growth of charity food provision in austerity Britain.
The research complements established information on UK food bank use compiled by the Trussell Trust, Britain’s biggest food bank network, which collects extensive data from its members and recently reported that it gave out a record 1.2m food parcels to families and individuals in need in 2016-17, the ninth successive year in which demand had risen.
Emerging results from the mapping project undertaken by the Independent Food Aid Network (Ifan), confirm that the Trussell figures represent only a partial picture of the scale of organised food bank provision, and suggest that the level of food bank use is far greater than headline figures indicate.
Ifan’s findings, seen by the Guardian, suggest that there are at least 651 grassroots food banks operating independently of the Trussell network, ranging from tiny voluntary groups that give out a few food parcels each week, to larger charity operations that hand out thousands of parcels to hundreds of clients each year.
New Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke refused to bow to pressure to ease the misery of some of the most poverty-hit households
The Tories will press ahead with their cruel benefits freeze which is crippling hard-up families despite soaring inflation, the Work and Pensions Secretary confirmed today.
David Gauke refused to bow to pressure to ease the misery of some of the most poverty-hit households battling rising prices and falling real incomes.
He also renewed fears for a fresh attack on OAPs, suggesting the pensions triple lock could be axed within three years.
Inflation has climbed to 2.9% and is predicted to rise further before the end of the year.
But the freeze on working-age benefits, which came into force last year, sees most payments capped at their current rate until 2019.
Speaking at a Westminster lunch, Mr Gauke dashed hopes of an end to austerity, saying: “I would expect the benefit freeze to continue.”
St Pancras Coroner’s Court does not hear evidence about Lawrence Bond’s work capability assessments
THE sister of a man whose death triggered protests over the government’s “fitness for work” reforms believes a coroner’s inquest has failed to answer key questions.
Lawrence Bond had seen his benefits stopped under controversial work capability assessments, which critics say are forcing people to take on jobs while they are still unwell. The 56-year-old collapsed and died in Kentish Town in January, shortly after a visit to the Jobcentre, but this back story was not considered by coroner Dr Richard Brittain.
Instead an inquest at St Pancras Coroner’s Court on Friday was completed in little more than 10 minutes with “paper-only” evidence and nobody on the witness stand. The case had led comparisons with Ken Loach’s award-winning film I, Daniel Blake, and the movie director was among protesters who joined a vigil outside the Jobcentre in Kentish Town in the days following Mr Bond’s death. Frances Coombes, Mr Bond’s sister, who did not attend the hearing, said yesterday (Wednesday): “What we would still like to know is, how can someone who had so many different things wrong with them, be classed as fit for work? What does that say about the system? Is it fit for purpose?”
She added: “I and my sister started to get seriously worried last year that Lawrence did not seem to be getting any help or understanding from the professionals he came in contact with.” Campaigners at the inquest said representatives from the Department for Work and Pensions and Maximus – the company that assessed Mr Bond – should have been called to give evidence.
New rules could see 13,000 people with disabilities and long-term health needs forced into care homes. This is treating people as objects to be stored
The inescapable logic of austerity is looking likely, once again, to reduce people with disabilities to objects – and in doing so to reduce their independence, options and enjoyment of life. According to the Health Service Journal, Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from campaign group Disability United found that 37 NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in England were introducing rules about ongoing care that could force up to 13,000 people with health conditions into care homes. The CCGs will essentially begin saying to people with disabilities and long-term health needs: if you haven’t got the cash for homecare, then it’s off to a care home for you.
Imagine you have been living in your home for years. It might be where your kids were born. Being at home, having your stuff around you, having the greatest possible measure of independence, obviously means a lot to everyone, whether you’re well, ill or disabled. Then one day someone comes and tells you, “Nope, you’re too expensive here. We’re moving you to a care home unless you cough up the money to pay for what you need.”
Flagship Conservative welfare policy does ‘real damage’ to single parents and ‘exacerbates poverty’, judge declares
The Government has been dealt a huge blow as the High Court ruled its benefit cap is unlawful and illegally discriminates against single parents with young children.
Conservative ministers are now likely to be forced to change or scrap one of their flagship welfare policies, which limits the total amount of benefits a household can receive to £23,000 a year in London and £20,000 elsewhere.
The ruling was made in response to a judicial review brought by four lone parent families who said the cap would have a severe and disproportionate impact on them.
Ministers had attempted to have the case thrown out but were rejected by the court, which ruled earlier this year that the case must be heard as a matter of urgency. The Government said it was “disappointed” with the latest ruling and will appeal against the decision.
Delivering his verdict, High Court judge Mr Justice Collins said the benefit cap was causing “real damage” to lone parent families, and, in a further blow to ministers, said “real misery is being caused to no good purpose”.