MP demands deadlines in wheelchair provision

An urgent review should be carried out to ensure people with neuromuscular conditions get rapid access to the wheelchairs and other equipment they need, MP Rachael Maskell has said.


Long waiting periods for wheelchairs and other equipment can compromise musculoskeletal and respiratory function

The evidence for physiotherapy

  • Musculoskeletal disorders

The member for York Central, who has 20 years’ experience as a physiotherapist in the NHS, asked life sciences minister George Freeman to introduce ‘waiting time markers’ from 1 April 2016.

She was speaking during a debate on specialist neuromuscular care and treatments in Westminster Hall, London, on 15 December.

‘If someone is measured for a chair, they need that chair, but people are waiting month upon month before their chair arrives,’ she said.

‘While they are waiting, they will be positioned inappropriately and might not even have enough support for their frame. That can exacerbate pain, as well as compromise a patient’s musculoskeletal situation and, dangerously, their respiratory function.’

People faced long waits for appropriate equipment because of under-resourcing and poor prioritisation, said Ms Maskell. She added that outsourcing of services was making the situation worse.

A multidisciplinary team was essential for delivering services, she said. But professionals might not have the specific skills to deal with the more than 60 syndromes associated with neuromuscular disorders.

She called on the minister, who has special responsibility for medical technology, to develop online training for physiotherapists to enable them to provide optimum treatment.

‘[Neuromuscular] disorders often require a global view that enables recruitment from around the world to participate in webinars, to examine case studies and academic papers,’ she said.

‘We need to take medical training to another level.’

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