Personal wheelchair budgets rolled out in Leeds

A film highlighting a new approach to prescribing and funding wheelchairs in Leeds has just been launched.

The new approach, personal wheelchair budgets (PWBs), is  part of a national scheme that enables people to take charge of their own care by being able to control how their NHS funding is spent. An estimated 200,000 people are expected to access personal health budgets in the next five years.

PWBs have been trialed across a number of areas and were launched in Leeds in April 2018. The budgets can be used to buy personalised wheelchairs and mean that people have more freedom to choose the type of wheelchair and equipment they have. Specialist NHS staff provide guidance and support on the most appropriate equipment to meet their clinical needs. Since PWBs were launched, they have been offered to more than 1300 adults and children in the city.

To help people understand the process and to encourage different health and care organisations to work together to pool health budgets, NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT) have developed a film that features two people from Leeds who have benefitted from the scheme –

Ten year old Isabelle wanted to express her personal style and be able to get out and about with her family and friends without getting bogged down when going off road. She used her budget to get a chair with brightly flashing castors and easily removable mountain bike-style wheels.

According to Isabelle’s dad Steve, the new process meant that “Isabelle got to choose, which made her feel more independent because she had a say in the process. It’s made her feel like it is actually her chair.”

For Rob, being able to be at the eye level with other people while socialising or giving talks was important, as was being able to move his leg and foot position independently. With support from the specialist occupational therapists in the LTHT wheelchair service, he used his PWB to get a chair that met his social and personal needs, as well as his clinical requirements.

“For the first time, this process has allowed us all to look at my needs and what I want to achieve with absolute parity,” said Rob. “It’s enabled me to get a chair that does what I need it to do and gives me independence to do what I want to do.”

Paula Jackson, Highly Specialist Wheelchair Therapist at LTHT, said: “under the old scheme, people would get a wheelchair that met their clinical needs but their options for customising it were limited. Now, people with personal wheelchair budgets are an equal and active partner in their own health care and able to make their own informed choices to enable them to get a wheelchair that they want as well as need.”

Sinead Stanley, Commissioning Manager at NHS Leeds CCG, added: “Personal wheelchair budgets will enable us to give people the chance to completely reshape the personal and health support they get.

“This is a big change for everyone – people who use the service as well as those working in health and care – but the success we’ve already had with the wheelchair budgets shows what can be achieved when we work together to support patients.”