A mobility repair service in Belfast has been criticised by a powerchair user, who had to call 999 when his product broke, because the service’s trust did not offer emergency call-outs in public areas.
Daniel O’Neill became stranded in the city centre when a castor broke off his powerchair and it hit a railing. But he was told by Belfast Health Trust’s approved breakdown service that it was unable to assist in a public place.
According to BBC Radio Ulster, the service told Mr O’Neill that it does not offer call-outs or breakdowns.
“They said that they don’t do breakdown service outside of the home – you have to bring your chair back to your residential address and then they will come out and repair it,” he told the Nolan Show.
“I told them that I was stranded and had no way of getting home, and they said that that was the policy of the Belfast Trust – they stopped the emergency call-outs.
“They only have a call-out service from 9am until 5pm, five days a week, so then I had to ring the fire brigade and the fire brigade came.”
A spokesperson for the Belfast Trust said it acknowledges Mr O’Neill’s situation would have been a “difficult” one.
“However the approved repairer service is not funded by Health and Social Care Trusts to provide an on-call repair service.
“Service users are advised of this at occupational health assessment and we discuss the importance of having contingency arrangements in place in the event of such an incident.
“The contingency arrangements are risk assessed whenever an occupational therapist supplies their client with a wheelchair.
“The approved repairer will always endeavour if possible to schedule a field service technician to call at short notice to attend to a repair request at the service user’s home address.”