Need a wheelchair? Pay for it yourself

A fourfold increase in the number of disabled people forced to use a crowdfunding site to buy their wheelchair undermines a basic tenet of the NHS, campaigners say

“I feel like a prisoner who every now and again is let out on day release,” Kelly Palmer, 38, says from her home in Newport, south Wales.

Palmer has Marfan Syndrome – a genetic condition that affects ligaments and organs – as well as fibromyalgia and needs a power wheelchair full-time. But when she approached her GP to apply for a chair after her health deteriorated, she was told she wasn’t eligible. Even though her disability means she can’t propel a manual wheelchair, she didn’t meet the threshold to qualify for a power chair. “There was no help,” she says. “It was just ‘goodbye’.”

As there’s no one else at home to help, for the last 18 months Palmer is largely stuck in the house and she only goes out once every three weeks or so, usually for hospital appointments and only if a friend can drive her there and stay to push the to try and raise the £5,000 she needs for a suitable power chair. She got the idea from some friends who had done the same to raise money for their own wheelchairs but says pride means she’s been “putting it off” as a last resort. “I didn’t want to have to beg,” she says. “But I didn’t have the choice.”

Desperate, Palmer has turned to the internet and launched a crowdfunding appeal online to try and raise the £5,000 she needs for a suitable power chair. She got the idea from some friends who had done the same to raise money for their own wheelchairs but says pride means she’s been “putting it off” as a last resort. “I didn’t want to have to beg,” she says. “But I didn’t have the choice.”

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NHS cuts are forcing disabled patients to crowdfund in order to pay for wheelchairs

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.”

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Blind disabled girl who can’t speak ordered to attend INTERVIEW to make her WORK

A PARALYSED and blind teenager who has the mental age of a three-month-old baby was told by Government officials to attend a ‘work-focused interview’ – even though she can’t speak.
Danika Smith, 19, has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which has left her unable to walk and with the mental age of a zero to three-month-old, and she also has cortical blindness.

After mother Donna, 41, put a benefits claim in for her several disabled daughter, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) sent a letter calling Danika in for a meeting.

Ms Smith, who is her daughter’s full-time carer, planned to attend the meeting as she was “intrigued” to watch the adviser try and discuss work prospects with her.

But after publishing the letter on Facebook, the DWP cancelled the meeting.

Ms Smith, from Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, said: “I would gladly have taken her just to see how farcical it is.”

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Wheelchair bound disabled man – ‘I’m living in a bin cupboard’

A wheelchair-bound man who lives in a bin cupboard has spent more than two weeks in a hospital bed because the council cannot house him.

Homeless Connor Edwards, 44, was admitted after taking an overdose because he could not bear life on the streets.

Kind-hearted hospital staff allowed him to stay in the hope Milton Keynes Council would find him accommodation. But this week, desperately in need of his bed, they had no choice but to load him and his wheelchair into a taxi and pay for him to be deposited at the council’s housing office.

 As the Citizen went to press, Connor had no idea if he would have a roof over his head. He said: “I’m scared. I’ve spent six months living rough. My only home is a bin cupboard in the service area outside John Lewis.

“I’m gay, and because of that the other homeless people pick on me. I’ve been mugged twice and had all my possessions stolen.”

A former software trainer, Connor lost his job when his legs were paralysed due to diabetic neuropathy. He was evicted from his Wolverton council house 18 months ago after getting into rent arrears due to bedroom tax demands.

“The council has put me into bed and breakfast accommodation twice, but each time I’ve been forced to leave and go back on the streets,” he said. “Because I’m not mentally ill and I’m not a drug user or alcoholic, I don’t have enough priority points for them to allocate me a house.”

Connor cannot claim benefits because he has no address. But he refuses to beg for money.

“I survive thanks to the Salvation Army soup runs and going through bins to eat peoples’ left-over takeaway food. I pick up cigarette butts and unpick them to make my roll-ups,” he said.

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Walsall disability benefit assessment centre run by Capita ‘is unaccessible to disabled people’

Valerie Vaz MP called on Capita chief to address concerns at Personal Independent Payment assessment centre on Lower Hall Lane

A disability benefit assessment centre run by Capita and aimed at helping people cope with immobility is accused of being inaccessible – to disabled people.

Valerie Vaz, MP for Walsall South, has called on the chief executive of Capita to address serious concerns over the Personal Independent Payment offices in Lower Hall Lane, Walsall.

Her constituents have claimed that doors in the office rooms and toilets were not wide enough for wheelchairs. They also allege that the ramp is too steep to comply with building regulations. And some constituents said they were forced to climb the stairs to the interview rooms.

The PIP beneift is intended to help people aged 16 to 64 with extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or a disability and started to replace Disability Living Allowance from 8 April 2013.

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How austerity causes rickets

This is a comment posted on Mike Sivier’s excellent page Vox Political, by Tisme’s cares.

Rickets is caused by a deficiency in Vitamin D. This comes from exposure to sunlight. It is involved in the body’s uptake and absorbtion of calcium essential for the strengthening of bones. In adults, Rickets is called Osteomalciaia. Poor diet does not cause rickets per se. We do not have foods in this country enhanced with vitamin D. Other vitamins,yes, but not Vitamin D. Once you have a deficiency in vitamin D eating calcium rich foods will not help, you need to replace the vitamin D to enable the absorbtion of calcium.

We have in recent years endured some of the harshest winters on record, including several years “without a summer”. It is the closeting of people in their homes, without access to outside spaces, disabled people being unable to leave their homes for want of access to independent transport like wheelchairs or care support, children who spend their days shut in their rooms on computer games, older people being left bedbound or housebound for want of care… THESE are the problems that are causing rickets – not diet.

I know this as I care for my severely disabled son who does now have rickets. It has taken me some 5 years to fight for his right to access to an electric wheelchair. He spent the past 4 years totally bedbound and the past 9 months totally housebound unable to even get outside in the garden. This is what causes rickets – not poor diet.

MPs to tell minister Norwich disability assessment centre situation is just not good enough

A minister will be told today that the scandal of a disability assessment centre with no wheelchair access is just not good enough.

MPs will take a catalogue of complaints about the way work capability assessments and personal independence payments are being handled in Norfolk to disability minister Mike Penning.  It comes as his department admitted it had no idea how much taxpayer money is being spent on taxi bills because of the assessment centre blunder.

MPs have branded the answer to the Evening News’ request for information “not good enough”, after the Department for Work and Pensions was unable to put a figure on transport costs.

Officials are trying to send Norwich disabled people, who have to be assessed before they can claim benefits, as far afield as Nottingham by taxi, and also to Ipswich and King’s Lynn. In the latest twist to the two-and-a-half year saga, which disability campaigners claim is causing undue stress to vulnerable people, now those needing an assessment are being sent a map and told to travel by public transport.

In a letter to Norwich MP Simon Wright, Mr Penning said his department was compliant with the Equalities Act, but said any new assessment centres would have ground floor rooms. But he said his department was not yet in a position to review the decision of relocating the Norwich Assessment Centre, after deciding to give the contract to another provider.

Mr Wright said: “It cannot be right that those in need of an assessment are sent on a nearly 90-mile round trip.”

Norwich MP Chloe Smith said: “The current situation is completely unacceptable. We hope to cut through DWP red tape and find a common sense solution to ensure our constituents have equality of access to assessment centres in Norwich”.

Mark Harrison, of the charity Equal Lives, said: “People are just tearing their hair out. This is unacceptable.  This government is putting the profits of providers before the needs of disabled people.”  He added: “Iain Duncan Smith and the DWP need to be held to account. The DWP is a failing department.”

He also called for urgent action on the delays to personal independence payments. He added: “The DWP promised us the PIP would work – it is clear that it is yet another cock-up by Iain Duncan Smith, Atos and Capita. We said it was just a cost-cutting exercise and we have been proved right.”