Disabled people in the East Riding of Yorkshire are being forced to wait more than four months for a wheelchair from the NHS, figures reveal.
Charities have warned that substantial gaps in provision across England are leaving many disabled people without the wheelchairs they need, affecting their independence and even leaving them in pain or discomfort.
Clinical Commissioning Groups in England are required to deliver wheelchairs to patients within 18 weeks of a referral, with NHS guidance stressing the “paramount importance” of the timescale from referral to delivery.
But NHS figures show that 17 people waited longer than the 18-week window in the NHS East Riding of Yorkshire CCG area between April and June.
In total, 73 had a wheelchair or other equipment prescribed and delivered to them in that time, meaning the CCG had a success rate of just 77%.
Rob Burley, from charity Muscular Dystrophy UK, said substantial gaps in services across the country were leaving disabled people without the basic equipment they need.
He said: “Wheelchairs are not a luxury, and having access to suitable equipment is vital.
“Too often, we hear stories from people who cannot leave their homes or are forced to fund expensive wheelchairs themselves.”
Patients with a greater need face longer waits in the East Riding of Yorkshire.
During the same three-month period, 43 adult patients were assessed as having high needs after being referred to wheelchair services, meaning they were fully dependent on a chair for all their mobility needs. But 16% of them had to wait longer than eight weeks to be assessed, compared to 3% for those with a low or medium need.
A spokeswoman for NHS England said: “While around 85% of children and adults are getting a wheelchair within the 18 week target, some people may have complex conditions and may wait longer for specialist equipment.”