Lever Chambers Centre for Health, Ashburner Street, Bolton, Greater Manchester, BL1 1SQ
When I was applying for a wheelchair, the chair I was offered was apparently suitable for my needs, although this didn't take in to account my daily needs other than medical needs, the chair was too heavy to be lifting in and out of my car for my independent lifestyle. When I went for my next chair I decided after consultation I should get my own and was offered the voucher instead of a wheelchair, however the value of the voucher was substantially lower than the cost of any chair I could get and also much lower than the value of the voucher my friends were offered in neighbouring towns, with a difference of around £1000 between these vouchers. On my most recent trip to the service I applied for a chair and was starting new employment at the same time so I asked that they write a letter supporting my claim to access to work for help with a new wheelchair to help in my daily work life. However I was told the chair they could offer was suitable and they would not write a letter to say it was unsuitable. Despite my concerns over this i was simply told that this was the chair and it was right, without my considerations being taken into account. This meant I could not be processed for access to work and subsequently had to purchase my own wheelchair at full cost to myself, I did ask if I could just get a pressure relieving cushion for the chair I have purchased myself and was again told that as the chair was purchased by myself this was not possible. I can not afford to get my own and have therefore struggled with spending long periods of time in my wheelchair.
When being assessed for a new wheelchair, Bolton Wheelchair Service offered me a manual "lightweight" chair to replace the one I had previously purchased myself. I had had this wheelchair for 5 years and was ready for a new ones which the NHS assured me they could provide. Unfortunately, the equipment they offered was heavier than the chair I already had and I could not lift it into my car independently. When I expressed this to the team, I was met with quite a defensive reaction. They said that the chair they offered definitely met my needs and although I argued the point, my opinion was discarded. I then requested the voucher the BWS provide if they are unable to meet a person's needs. I had to argue my case for this voucher which was difficult and incredibly demeaning. When I eventually did receive this voucher, it was £500 - a sum that is substantially less than vouchers given in other neighbouring postcodes. Although the £500 did help towards the cost of my new wheelchair, I still had to pay over £3000 myself. As I work full-time there were no other grants available to me to help with these costs. I therefore felt very let down by my wheelchair services and have been reluctant to return.