An enhanced wheelchair service for adults and children across Hertfordshire started on 1st October bringing new benefits such as greater convenience and choice for customers.
Millbrook Healthcare, which has been running the service for the last 18 months, will run the service for the next five years after being awarded the contract by Herts Valleys and East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Groups.
The new contract will build on the success of the current service that provides wheelchair equipment and services including assessments, adaptations and repairs of wheelchairs from fully accessible premises in Welwyn Garden City. This integrated service has cut the time it takes for people to get their wheelchair following their assessment, with just over a third of customers getting a ‘chair in a day’.
Wheelchair users and their carers have been involved in developing the new service which is designed to make life easier for them and make sure their health needs are fully met.
The service is piloting some satellite and drop-in clinics that will offer some appointments locally and as well as outreach appointments in places like schools and rehabilitation units to reach people where they already are. These innovations reflect a local health service commitment to provide care close to home where possible, though people will still have their main appointments in Welwyn Garden City. Weekly evening and Saturday morning clinics are also being trialled.
Kumara Moorthy, a member of the wheelchair users group involved shaping the service, says: “I welcome the fact that wheelchair users and carers have been involved throughout this open and transparent process – from making suggestions that helped shape the requirements for the new service to interviewing bidders. It should help to make sure that we end up with a service that’s truly focused on meeting the needs and enhancing the experience of customers.”
Dr Nicolas Small, Chair of Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group and medical lead for the new wheelchair service says, “This new contract will build on the improvements in the service that the interim contract is already delivering and will bring some additional benefits to our customers. We hugely appreciate the input from some of our local wheelchair users during the procurement which has ensured that their views and priorities have played a big part in our decision-making.”
Dr Hari Pathmanathan, a Hertfordshire GP and Chair of East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Wheelchairs provided and maintained in Hertfordshire are an essential part of daily life for almost one in every hundred of our county’s residents. Wheelchair users, their families and carers all contributed to the development of the new service, which should help to ensure that their needs are met even more effectively in future.”
Philip Campling, Millbrook Healthcare MD said: “The Millbrook team is excited to be given the opportunity to continue work with our health partners to develop wheelchair services across Hertfordshire. Our new model will bring a number of new features improving access to services and delivering better health outcomes.”
For more information and contact details of the service, visit Hertfordshire Wheelchair Service