Fareham and Gosport, South Eastern Hampshire and Portsmouth CCGs are working together to review the local NHS wheelchair service. A key part of this work was asking users and carers, including children and their parents, for their experiences of accessing the wheelchair service.
Over 80 people shared their experience using a survey and their feedback has highlighted a number of areas that require considerable improvement. There were three key themes:
We have considered the feedback in these areas carefully and determined how we can make improvements for when the new service starts in April 2014.
Many users found that the referral process was less than clear and that they were not kept informed of the progress; often having to chase to find out what was happening. We will require assurance that the future wheelchair provider will set up a referral process that keeps the user/carer informed in relation to the progress of their referral. We have also set out the need for providers to complete any necessary forms on behalf of the user/carer based upon information within the system, rather than simply returning the referral as ‘incomplete’ and adding a delay into the process.
Many respondents raised the issue of accessibility, highlighting the difficulty for users and carers to access the service. We have asked the future service provider to ensure that the geographical spread of the service takes account of all users and to explore the use of innovative solutions in terms of location such as a mobile assessment service and the use of schools, health centres, community centres and GP practices. For children’s services, we have also specified the need to continue delivering an assessment service for children with special needs in a range of schools i.e. including children other that the school’s own pupils.
We have also specified the need to have weekend and evening availability, to maximise accessibility.
This was a key area, with respondents raising concerns about delays in the referral process, together with delays in subsequently getting their wheelchairs. Providers will be required to adhere to specific waiting times that are set out in detail within the revised service specification. These include the need to acknowledge the referral to both the referrer and user/carer within five working days, together with the following specific targets for each priority group:
The service must be available seven days a week and the target for assessment is five working days
The service must be available for four days a week or more and the target for assessment is 10 working days
The service must be available for a minimum of three times a week and the target for assessment is 10 working days.
Providers are required to hold stock of standard wheelchairs with delivery of these within two working days, with non-stock wheelchairs to be delivered within 15 working days and specialist (bespoke) wheelchairs to be delivered within 40 working days.