Wheelchair Service Campaign to Improve Service/ Replace Provider

Breaking News:  This campaign has led to a review of the Kent & Medway Wheelchair Service (provided by Millbrook Healthcare) by the Medway Council Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee.  This review is now published in the public domain and can be viewed in full HERE.

The review finds evidence that the wheelchair service is unsatisfactory and action is urgently needed to improve the service.  However, the HOSC has decided against terminating the existing contract with Millbrook Healthcare, citing that this could only lead to a worse service over the next 12 months.  Instead it has decided to set-up a Service User Improvement Group, as stated below:

<We are working with representatives of Kent and Medway’s physical disability and wheelchair user groups to agree a date in early September for a facilitated workshop together. This is to agree terms of reference for the Service User Improvement Group, to firm up the work plan and how this will be delivered. It is agreed already that the Service User Improvement Group will help to review Millbrook Healthcare’s Improvement Plan to ensure it is sufficiently robust. The Group will also work with the CCG and Millbrook Healthcare to monitor delivery of this plan. The Improvement Plan we have received from Millbrook Healthcare provides a trajectory and key actions to deliver service recovery including the repairs backlog. With support from the Service User Improvement Group, this improvement plan will be extended to include a wider range of work programmes to deliver service excellence.>

Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham & Aylesford and Minister for Sport & Civil Society says, "As the Chair of Medway Physical Disability Board I am firmly of the view that they [Millbrook Healthcare] are utterly useless and unable to run the [wheelchair] service. I have made these views known on a number of occasions".

KENT WHEELCHAIR USERS AND THEIR FAMILIES DEMAND ACTION:   In an open letter to all the Clinical Commissioning Groups in Kent four organisations representing wheelchair users and their families across the country are calling for the contract to provide wheelchairs to be taken away from Millbrook Healthcare immediately. Click HERE to see the BBC interview given by Wayne Wilsdon & Prof. Mike Oliver to the BBC on 30 July.

The Kent Physical Disability Forum, Freedom for Wheels, the Centre for Independent Living, Kent (CiLK), and the Kent Wheelchair User Group, along with members of the Medway Physical Disability Partnership Board state that they have no confidence that Thanet CCG are a fit and proper lead organisation to oversee the contract. 
These organisations have been inundated with complaints from wheelchair users across the county and have met with both Millbrook Healthcare and Thanet CCG, who are managing the contract, to express the concerns that have been reported to them.  Now an Open Letter has been written demanding that the current wheelchair service providers, Millbrook Healthcare, be relieved of this contract, click HERE to see the press release. 

A senior clinician in the field writes: "I agree with the campaigners and none of my patients are satisfied with Millbrook Healthcare's wheelchair service. They have a long waiting list and they have the culture of passing the buck. Very poor service to say the least".

Campaigners were particularly aggrieved to learn that the CCGs had agreed to pump additional funds to Millbrook Healthcare, as this appears to be rewarding failure.  For an independent review of the situation please see this HSJ report.

Medway Neurological Network fully supports this campaign and requests YOUR recent experience of using the Wheelchair Service, good or bad, so that we can help provide evidence for the campaign. Please send a brief outline of your exprience to: 

On-Going Campaigns

1.  Medway Neurological Hub

➢ A one-stop centre for all with neurological conditions, to include: Neurologists/ GPs/ Nurses, neuro-trained for assessment/ referral/ signposting 
 ➢ Treatments, e.g. neuro-physiotherapy, speech therapy, counselling, dietary advice etc. 
 ➢ Therapies, e.g. Pilates, Exercise, Singing, possibly hydro-therapy 
 ➢ Neurological charities to provide information & support 
 ➢ Could be incorporated into Medway Model.  

This Hub has been proposed at a number of meetings with the Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (MCCG), and we have been assured that the proposal is on the radar.  It chimes with the MCCG policy of using hubs in the Medway Model and also chimes with the need to reduce out-patient care at Medway Maritime Hospital in order to free-up parking for the proposed new Urgent Care centre. 

2.   Prescription Charges:  MNN has been campaigning for free prescriptions for those of working age who have long-term conditions. There is a national campaign for this, and locally MNN has sent letters to our 3 Medway MPs. We have outlined the case and asked them for their support. Click HERE for an example of one of our letters.
3.  Passport for Leisure: Medway Council opporates a scheme which allowes discounted prices to all Medway Council leisure centres at specific times. However, it has been pointed out that people with fluctuating neurological conditions may not be able to attend at these times, and hence will not be able to claim a discount. We are campaiging for un-restricted access for those with fluctuating long-term condition. The issue has been raised with Medway Council and has been bought to the attention of our local MPs.  Thus far we have met with little success, but the campaign continues! 

4.  Bus Passes:  Medway Council opperates locally a national scheme to provide those eligible with a Disabled Bus Pass. However, the same rules apply with the use of the pass as a pass issued in respect of age. The main concern is that a bus pass issued to a Working Aged disabled person cannot be used before 09:30! We have drawn the Council's attention to the fact that London Transport does allow unrestricted use of their disabled bus pass and has repeatedly asked Medway Council to follow suit. Thus far we have not been successful, but the campaign continues! 

5.  Hospital Automatic Doors:  The exterior doors into the Brown Zone of Medway Maritime Hospital are currently manual, and this entrance is the one used by patients attending the Neurology Department.  Many patients have complained that they have had trouble entering through this door, as they may be using crutches, rollators or be in wheelchairs or on scooters.  They have had to suffer the indignity of having to wait for an ablebodied person to open the door for them; hardly independent living.  The Medway Foundation Trust has been asked to install automatic or push-button doors to the Brown Zone on a number of occasions, but reason/ excuses have been numerous.  No money/ different priorities top the list, but also the MFT says that it is having trouble with its existing automatic/ push-button doors and wants to get this sorted first and it has also cited security concerns in the event of a lock-down.  A minor victory is that the entrance button/ speaker intercom from the corridor into the Neurology Department has been lowered, such that it can be operated from a wheelchair or scooter.  This campain continues.

6.   Personal Independence Payments (PIPs): MNN is campaigning that criteria for this benefit be changed such that those with fluctuating (neurological) conditions and/ or mental health issues should qualify for PIP.  We are also campaigning that those diagnosed with a neurological condition that is progressive and/ or a condition for which there is no cure should not have to endure regular PIP re-assessments. Phil Bungay helped take this campaign to Downing Street on 8 March 2018, and Isabelle Miller has tweeted Phil delivering his PIP message, click HERE to see the video.

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Last Update: 17 October 2018, MJN
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