Nearly £40,000 of savings made from ‘wheelchair cuts’ in Rochdale will be put straight back into improving the service, a local CCG has insisted.
The group’s plans removed shared wheelchairs from care homes and end automatic entitlement for terminally ill people have been approved by councillors and health officials and are expected to make £37,000 of savings.
While some locals expressed concerns over the proposals, Rochdale’s commissioners insisted that the savings will be used to improve the service and help it to buy equipment and meet waiting time targets, according to a local newspaper.
Karen Hurley, deputy chief officer of Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale CCG, told the Bury Times that while savings will technically be made, the money will be reinvested to ensure the quality of the service.
She wanted to allay the concerns of some locals that people could be left without a wheelchair and said that no one who needed one would be left without.
Ms Hurley confirmed that wheelchairs will not be taken from care home residents if their equipment is modified to their specific needs. Instead, shared chairs used occasionally will be removed.
Terminally ill patients will now be assessed for a wheelchair under a new system rather than automatically given one.
A large number of wheelchairs in the region are in a poor state of repair and potentially pose a risk to patients and the service is struggling to meet waiting time targets.
Ms Hurley told the Bury Times: “There was agreement that within NHS policies there’s always consideration for exceptionality.
“It wouldn’t be that individual can walk, they don’t need a wheelchair, they would be looking at the whole reason.”
Meanwhile, Rochdale council’s chief executive, Steve Rumbelow, said: “This is focused on improving the overall service that clearly requires some improvement.
“What we need to be assured of is that people in any circumstances that require a wheelchair, will get a wheelchair, and we’ve had the reassurance.”