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After finding that the Posture and Mobility Clinic in Greater Manchester was struggling to afford equipment and meet national waiting time targets, Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has removed shared wheelchairs from care homes for local residents.

Removing the shared wheelchair service, as well as ending automatic entitlement for the terminally ill and those with behavioural issues, is expected to save the local CCG almost £40,000.

However, Karen Hurley, Deputy Chief Officer of Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale CC has insisted that all of the ‘savings’ will be put back into the service.

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She told the Bury Times: “It’s not about finance, within the paper it talks about £37,000 in savings but, actually, that would be reinvested to ensure that the delivery of the service is of high quality and meets the needs of the individual being referred.”

Karen added that people requiring a wheelchair will be able to access one and that wheelchairs will not be taken from elderly care home residents who have one modified to their specifications.

Instead, shared wheelchairs which are used on an ‘as-and-when’ basis will be withdrawn and not replaced.

According to the local newspaper, a recent survey found that there are 286 wheelchairs booked out to care homes in Rochdale and Bury, but that under one fifth of these are fit for purpose, with the rest either in need of repair, broken, or lost.

The new system means that people who are terminally ill or have behavioural issues will now be assessed for a wheelchair on a needs-based criteria.

“There was agreement that within NHS policies there’s always consideration for exceptionality,” Karen stressed. “It wouldn’t be that individual can walk, they don’t need a wheelchair, they would be looking at the whole reason.”

Rochdale Council’s chief executive Steve Rumbelow added: “This is focused on improving the overall service that clearly requires some improvement.

“What we need to be assured of is that people in any circumstances that require a wheelchair, will get a wheelchair, and we’ve had the reassurance.”

The new system will be monitored and an update on how the service is performing will be provided in a year’s time.

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