The mum of a disabled teen has given up hope of her getting an NHS funded wheelchair in time for two overseas trips.
The Examiner reported last month how a 14-year-old girl was set to miss out on the holiday of a lifetime because she could not get a new wheelchair.
The girl, who suffers with cerebral palsy, has been waiting since May for a larger manual chair but has been left in limbo amid the privatisation of Huddersfield and Calderdale’s wheelchair service.
The Examiner can now reveal the hospital trust did bid to renew its contract but lost out to private firm Opcare, which undercut it by several million pounds over the course of the three year deal.
The service was supposed to hand over on September 1 but health chiefs at the CCG extended the hospital trust’s contract by one month to “allow for a smooth transition” of services.
The lack of chair is threatening the girls’s place on the ‘Dreamflights’ scheme in October - a holiday provided by a charity that sends disabled youngsters to Florida.
Three weeks on and the Huddersfield-based family, who don’t want to be identified, say they have been told they are not priority as their daughter is not terminally ill.
And they say there is no indication of if they will ever be dealt with as the service, run by Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, won’t tell them how far down the waiting list they are.
The girl’s mother said the delays and the lack of information were infuriating.
“We’re still no nearer than before,” she said. “Jason McCartney MP has got involved and he can’t get an answer either. Time is ticking on, and she’s also due to go on a school trip to the war memorial in Belgium on September 25.There’s no way she can at the moment.”
The family has now decided to pay for a private assessment and chair at a cost of between £2,000 to £3,000.
“Hopefully they’ll be able to rush one through for her,” said the woman.
“My mum is going to have lend us the money, which she shouldn’t have to do. She hasn’t got thousands of pounds.
“There’s no guarantee we’ll be able to claim the money back, I may have to take legal action.”
Following last month’s story The Examiner was contacted with several offers of wheelchair donations, which it passed on to the family.
The mum said she really appreciated the offers but could not take them up as her daughter needed a bespoke chair.
She added: “It’s really kind of people but it’s not going to help because of her postural problems.”
Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) put the wheelchair service out to tender last year.
Assistant Divisional Director for Medicine at the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, Saj Azeb, said: “We cannot comment on individual patients, but we are aware of the concerns regarding the assessment process. All patients are assessed against clear clinical criteria and individual needs. We then prioritise those requiring a chair most urgently in line with the funding we have available.”
The Trust said clinical priorities included those patients at end of life, those suffering pressure ulcers, and those requiring a chair in order to be able to go home from hospital.
Carol McKenna, Chief Officer of Greater Huddersfield CCG, said: “Like most contracts, the wheelchair services contract is costed on assumed demand and paid in monthly instalments. CHFT is being paid an additional amount to provide the service across Calderdale, Greater Huddersfield and North Kirklees for an extra month until the new contractor takes over on October 1.
“We cannot comment on conversations between service user and provider but as commissioners, are assured that Trust is doing the best it can to meet patient needs fairly and appropriately.”
Rory Deighton, Director of patients’ group, Healthwatch Kirklees, said: “The next few years will see unprecedented change in Kirklees Health and Social Care services. Ensuring that new services are commissioned in ways that ensure that patients do not experience long waiting times, and understand exactly what is happening to their care, will be a big challenge going forwards.”