Ray Hodgkinson former BHTA director generalAfter accidents involving mobility scooters resulted in the hospitalisation of two elderly grandmothers, family members of the victims have started petitioning for a review of the laws governing mobility scooters.

With the number of accidents steadily on the rise and with more scooters on roads and pavements than ever before, Ray Hodgkinson MBE, former Director General of the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA), questions what the industry can do to tackle the growing issue of scooter safety.


By Ray Hodgkinson MBE

We keep seeing reports of accidents involving mobility scooters, although this is not exclusive to this form of mobility product. Accidents happen and are most likely avoidable but that does depend upon a number of factors, not the least on trained people; good instruction in use; customer understanding; professional assessment; and high-quality, reliable products.

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The recent reaction from a family to start a petition to review the rules on scooter use may seem extreme to many in the industry but it really should not come as a surprise. We are all aware of the responsibility that comes with advising and the selling of mobility scooters. There has been a persistent number of incidents and deaths over the years and various calls for regulation change, compulsory insurance, better assessment and more responsible sales practice.

Mobility scootersafety woman riding mobility scooter

The BHTA took the big step of introducing a strong Code of Practice to improve behaviour and provide confidence to customers and clinicians and there have been various attempts to address staff training, qualification and certification, which seems a logical step to support the Code of Practice.

Alas, we are still talking about it and I am aware of many working in the industry who would like to see a positive step towards formal qualifications with CPD for those working in the sector. Whilst this may not be the complete answer to reducing accidents, it surely must be a large step towards doing so.

The population is more aware & savvier and there is now an expectation when purchasing any technical product that you can rely upon an appropriately trained and qualified person – we should be thinking of the problem in that way. Regulations only go so far and they rely upon everyone involved in the process to ensure high standards, eliminate risks where possible and ensure that the person being let loose on the scooter has a good level of competence.

“It’s a natural one for the BHTA and its members to get a step ahead before more scrutiny, rules and criticism envelops the industry.”

We, as an industry supplying the large numbers of product into the market, can make a difference to the situation which, in turn, will improve confidence in retailers, clinicians and procurement authorities.

The prospect of a further review of the rules will involve everyone and could be uncomfortable, particularly if the question is asked “was the person selling the device qualified”, “does the industry have a process of training”, “is it national and accredited?”

The surprising part of this is that we do not have to invent a whole new system to qualify people as most of the building blocks already exist e.g. Assistive Technology Training courses by various agencies and even one produced by the BHTA. There are also a number of agencies who can endorse and certificate the outcome.

Of course, this takes resource to organise, including funding, people and the will to do it, however, I do believe this is something the sector should lead on. It’s a natural one for the BHTA and its members to get a step ahead before more scrutiny, rules and criticism envelops the industry.

I am sure we all believe we are professional and it’s an easy term to use but a nationally recognised qualification will go a long way to sealing that claim, as well as reducing the chance of more accidents in what is a growing market place which, in its current state, may only see things get worse. This is a real opportunity for BHTA and its members to make a difference and positive contribution to the wellbeing of customers.

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