Anger at long wait for wheelchair

A six-year-old Down's Syndrome boy unable to walk has been told he is facing an indefinite wait for a wheelchair.

A six-year-old Down's Syndrome boy unable to walk has been told he is facing an indefinite wait for a wheelchair.

Norfolk Primary Care Trust has not been able to give Ian Clark and his single parent dad, 56-year-old Ian (corr) any idea of when he might be able to get a wheelchair.

And without it, young Ian is facing not being allowed to go to Woodfields special school in Sheringham because he has grown too heavy to be lifted onto the school bus and his three-wheeled buggy is not allowed on board.

Little Ian, a rugby fan, has thin and weak legs, meaning he is unable to walk.

He had to have reconstructive surgery to his bowels and had gangrene as a baby. But his father says he is a fighter.

“It is a constant battle every day, trying to keep things normal and it takes a lot of planning. It has not been easy but he is a fighter.

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“But the waiting list for a wheelchair has thrown me. I try to keep a sense of humour but it seems everyone in Norfolk has problems with the wheelchair services.

“You do not realise how big it is until you need a wheelchair and you come up against it.”

Ian's plight has revealed that there are a staggering 600 people on the waiting list to be assessed for a wheelchair by Norfolk Primary Care Trust.

He applied for one and after months of waiting he was told in a letter from the PCT that he could be waiting a year and that his only options were to wait, to complain or to buy one himself.

“I feel pretty annoyed. Not just for him but for everyone in Norfolk who gets this letter.

“It is pretty poor. They might as well just tell people to go private.”

At the moment there are about 600 people on the waiting list for a wheel chair, according to the PCT.

The PCT said the average wait was a year but that some people wait just days because they have a higher priority according to clinical criteria and how long they have been waiting.

Every week there are about 100 new people on the list, 50 who have never had a wheelchair and another 50 of the 7,500 who currently already have wheelchairs but need a new one because their needs have changed.

Tony Hadley, deputy director of provider services at the PCT said the problem is the wide variety of needs of patients.

“Complex disabilities have to be assessed by a number of people and that slows the process up. So it is our capacity to assess people quicker, as with most other PCTs.

“And at the moment we are fully staffed but we do not have any more money to recruit any more people.”

But this does not help Ian who works at home running three businesses from home - buying and selling second hand vinyl, running a film company and a bed and breakfast establishment.

And he is worried for his son's future.

“There is a potential for him to live until he is 70, many with Down's do. But my main worry is when he gets older. You do wonder what it is going to be like in 10 years time.”