wheelchair provision concerns

Brian Donnelly, Chief Executive Officer of CECOPS, the standards and accreditation body for assistive technology services, has warned of potential problems relating to service provision outlined in a recent NHS England and NHS Improvement letter.

With health and social care services undergoing pressure as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the NHS has issued a 19-page letter to all the heads of all NHS Trusts, Clinical Commissioning Groups and Councils, outlining prioritisation measures within community health services throughout the pandemic.

Released on the 19th March and updated on the 2nd April, the letter advises providers of community services on how they can release and redeploy resources to support the COVID-19 preparedness and response.

Advertisement | Continue story below

According to the letter, the current priorities for providers of community services are supporting home discharge of patients from acute & community beds and ensure patients cared for at home receive urgent care when they need it.

Use of digital technology to provide advice and support patients is also identified as a priority, as well as the need to prioritise support for high-risk individuals advised to self-isolate for 12 weeks.

Detailing the various services provided in the community and the steps commissioners should take to free resources, the letter recommends that work deemed medium and lower priority relating to ‘wheelchairs, orthotics and prosthetics and equipment’ services for children and young people should be stopped.

Outlining more details, the letter suggests that the use of private providers/shops should also be considered for the supply of vital equipment. With so many mobility retail stores currently temporarily closed in response to the lockdown measures, there is a chance service users may struggle to find the support needed from the private market.

Recently, a British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) working group of leading Wheelchair Services providers launched an online map for service users, highlighting the services that are still operating to ensure wheelchair users’ needs can be met during the crisis.

Discussing the NHS guidance, CECOPS Chief Executive Brian Donnelly told THIIS: “This is alarming; it goes completely in the face of the Prevention agenda. What about safeguarding with regards to neglect? This could apply to 2-4 million people in the UK.

“There is a fine line between Medium Risk and High Risk. Interventions are made to prevent conditions worsening and escalating to admissions etc. What about Falls prevention, pressure, posture? There needs to be a clear definition of what medium and low risk really means.”

The same guidance is also outlined for assistive technology services for adults and older people, with the letter highlighting that CCGs should also consider linking with acute vascular services in regards to amputation and supporting discharge.

“Service users could be reaping the results of this long after COVID-19,” added Brian.

The independent, user-led standards and accreditation body for assistive technology services, CECOPS works with over 200 services across the UK to promote and maintain high standards of provision and best practice through its code of practice.

Having heard Brian’s concerns, Sarah Clayton, CEO of Simple Stuff Works, added: “We support people with complex learning disabilities, a group who already experience chronic health inequality. We urgently need to find alternative ways to support efficient, effective equipment provision if we are not to see a devastating deterioration in people’s health during this time.

“The vulnerable nature of many of the individuals we support means that as they will currently be shielding, they will not be able to access anything like traditional service models for some time – our fear is that their condition will deteriorate and we will see secondary complications and deaths as a result.”

CECOPS is hosting a webinar on the 29th April 2020 from 1.30pm to 3pm, discussing how COVID-19 is affecting Wheelchair Provision with leading experts in the field – register in advance for the webinar here.

https://i1.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/wheelchair-provision-concerns.jpg?fit=900%2C600&ssl=1https://i1.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/wheelchair-provision-concerns.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Calvin BarnettCoronavirus NewsCOVID-19 Sector NewsGovernment & LegislationNewsroomNHSSector NewsThird SectorBHTA,Brian Donnelly,British Healthcare Trades Association,CCGs,CECOPS,clinical commissioning groups,NHS England,NHS Improvement,prioritisation,Sarah Clayton,Simple Stuff Works,Wheelchair ServicesBrian Donnelly, Chief Executive Officer of CECOPS, the standards and accreditation body for assistive technology services, has warned of potential problems relating to service provision outlined in a recent NHS England and NHS Improvement letter. With health and social care services undergoing pressure as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak,...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals