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'I'm being driven crazy by wait for a wheelchair'.

Byline: NICK LAVIGUEUR nick@examiner.co.uk @grecian9

A DISABLED woman who has been told she could be paralysed if she falls at home has been left waiting a year for the wheelchair she needs.

Amanda Gillson, 51, from Huddersfield, has been badly let down by the private health firm brought in by NHS health chiefs.

Amid horrendous delays for wheelchairs from the NHS provider, officials from the GP-led Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Group (GHCCG) took the decision to hand over the PS4.5m contract to Oxfordshire based Opcare.

The company was given a three-year deal in October 2014 amid a promise to radically improve the service.

But in 2015 the Examiner revealed a disabled teenager from Huddersfield had waited nine months for the chair she needed.

At the time, Opcare said it had made "significant progress" in slashing the waiting lists, while Greater Huddersfield CCG said it was happy with the improvements Opcare had made.

Two years on and Mrs Gillson has revealed her battle to get a chair or any kind of answers from Opcare has been driving her crazy.

The Bradley woman, who has a neurological degenerative condition and spinal deterioration, requested a new electric chair in May 2016.

She had an assessment in August which confirmed the type of electric chair she needed.

But almost 10 months on and she is still waiting for action and says she is repeatedly fobbed off by Opcare staff.

The Examiner also struggled to get answers from the local branch of Opcare, who refused to give out a phone number of where to make a media inquiry.

Mrs Gillson is currently waiting for an operation on her neck and her ability to move around her home is deteriorating month by month.

She has told Opcare that her condition is worsening but has still received no update on what it plans to do.

She said: "The spinal surgeon at Leeds General is now of the opinion that if I fall or have an accident I could be paralysed.

"I have told Opcare that my current personal chair is no longer safe.

"I cannot go and buy a chair because it needs to be adapted and I cannot use my Motability to hire one because it needs adapting.

"My hands are tied - I have to wait. I understand that there is a procedure and waiting lists, all due to lack of funding, however this is not my concern."

Both Opcare and GHCCG said they could not comment on individual cases.

Paul Robinson, a director at Opcare, said: "Since commencing the contract, the rate of delivery of equipment by Opcare has been higher than was the case historically. However, referral numbers have increased and we are working with the CCG to address this."

Penny Woodhead, Greater Huddersfield CCG's head of quality, said: "The CCG is aware of the challenges faced by the service provider due to the increase in referrals to the service, and the complexities of some of those individual cases.

"We are working closely with Opcare to look at the waiting times for equipment and find ways to minimise delays. "If anyone waiting for equipment has any concerns we would ask them to contact the CCG in the first instance via email to ContactUs@greaterhuddersfieldccg.nhs.uk or by calling 01484 464222."

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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jun 2, 2017
Words:551
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