AT FOUR years old, he’s too old to be in a pushchair.
But schoolboy Lucas Town may have to wait up to six months for a wheelchair because of NHS funding problems.
The disabled youngster – who has cerebral palsy – has been placed on a long waiting list by the Huddersfield’s NHS wheelchair service.
The service, run by Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, provides wheelchairs to patients with long-term needs.
But because there is “increased demand” and “too much pressure on the service,” patients are facing lengthy waits for the vital equipment they desperately need.
Lucas – who currently relies on a special buggy to get around – was told he would qualify for a wheelchair as he approached the age of five.
But with his fifth birthday fast approaching, he looks set to be stuck with the special pushchair he has outgrown.
Mum Gail, of Waterloo, said: “We don’t want him being classed as a baby so we are trying to get him this wheelchair to make him feel more grown up and independent.
“We don’t mind waiting a month or two but to be told it could be another six months is a long time.
“Having to wait for a wheelchair is so unfair, especially for elderly people who might be struggling to get out.
“Sometimes I just feel we are hitting our heads against a brick wall.”
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust admits its resources are stretched to the limit.
A basic wheelchair can cost up to £500 and many need adapting to suit individual patients.
A spokesman said: “There are resources which are under pressure at the moment as there are increased demands on the service.
“We are working to address this and are working hard to keep any delays to a minimum.
“We hope they will reduce as soon as possible.”
This isn’t the first fight which Lucas – who was born as a twin – has had to face.
The Rowley Lane Junior, Infant and Nursery School pupil beat meningitis after he was born 13 weeks prematurely back in February, 2007.
Sadly, the deadly illness claimed the life of his twin brother Reuben who died when he was just 12 days old.
Lucas survived and spent 15 weeks in the special care baby unit. Doctors believe a bleed on the brain caused him to develop cerebral palsy, which was diagnosed when he was a toddler.
The condition means he has high muscle tone in his legs, affecting his mobility.
He can only walk using a Kay walker – a special frame which he drags behind him using the strength in his arms.
Parents Gail and Martin carry out regular physio on the youngster to stretch his muscles.
Lucas has also recently undergone a treatment involving Botox injections into his calves to relax his muscles, followed by physiotherapy and then weeks with his legs in lightweight casts.
Gail said: “This is one treatment they use with cerebral palsy.
“He is such a brave boy. He is always so placid and laid back.
“Obviously he cannot do the rough and tumble things like other boys his age but other children just accept him and he accepts them.
“We just try to stay positive for him.”
To mark his courage, football fan Lucas got the chance to rub shoulders with Huddersfield Town’s terrier mascot Terry, players Alan Lee and Jamie McCombe and Town ambassador Andy Booth.
Lucas and his Town-mad parents met the stars at the recent home game against Walsall.
Huddersfield Town’s ambassador Andy Booth said: “It is fantastic that we were able to put a smile on young Lucas’s face last Saturday.
“He is brave young boy who has been through a lot in a very short space of time.”