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Wheelchair Raises A Furore

Wheelchair services of Scotland have demanded a commitment for more funding if talks were to be continued with the government. A recent review of the NHS Wheelchair// and Seating Service indicated that funding should be doubled to £30m a year. But the Scottish Executive has agreed a one-off payment of £1m only.

According to Lewis Macdonald, the Deputy Health Minister, the significance of short term funding should not be taken too lightly. Meanwhile BBC Scotland has come to understand that the service is not ready for any further talks unless extra funding has been promised.

Roseanne Urquhart, the chair of wheelchair users' umbrella group ReTSAG (Rehabilitation Technology Services Advisory Group) reiterated that ample funding is needed to improve the oldest fleet of wheelchairs in Western Europe. She called upon the Scottish Executive to work out the recommendations laid out by a review conducted last year along with NHS managers.

Managers suggest that the budget laid out by the executive will be adequate to give out the basic wheelchairs which are very heavy and unwieldy. “The basic wheelchair cost £120 and some of the powered ones cost more than £5,000”, says Dr Geoff Bardsley, the head of Tayside's Seating & Wheelchair Service. Andy Menzies of wheelchair services based in Inverness feels that extra £1m announced by the health minister could only have a short term benefit.

But the health minister responded to the arguments laid out against the short term funding by saying that short term intervention also would makes a real difference.


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