Wheelchair Voucher Scheme
One way to get a wheelchair is through the National Health Service (NHS) Wheelchair Service. This includes an assessment to make sure your needs are met. Wheelchairs can be manual or powered.
The way Wheelchair Services are organised varies between locations according to your local health authority. This includes the 'eligibility criteria' used to decide what type of wheelchair to provide. You will be referred to a service by a hospital, doctor, consultant or occupational therapist or the service may operate a self-referral system.
The assessment of your needs will take into account:
- the nature and level of your disability or medical condition
- your lifestyle and needs, where and when you will use the wheelchair
- your ability to use any particular type of wheelchair
You can fund or part-fund a wheelchair using the voucher scheme. These are designed to increase the choice of wheelchairs available to you. Services decide locally whether to have a scheme and how that scheme is applied.
In services that operate a scheme, when you attend a clinic for an assessment of a wheelchair you may find there are three options:
You are provided with a wheelchair that will be supplied, repaired and maintained free of charge.
You choose an alternative to the type of wheelchair you are assessed as needing. This lets you to buy a wheelchair of a higher standard than that which the NHS Wheelchair Service supplies. The voucher reflects the value of the wheelchair originally recommended and you then pay the difference in cost.
The wheelchair will be repaired and maintained free of charge.
You have to choose a wheelchair from an 'approved supplier' who has to meet certain standards including quality of service.
This is similar to the partnership option but you own the wheelchair and are responsible for its repair and maintenance. However, the voucher you receive will include an amount towards the anticipated costs of repair and maintenance.
The voucher period is generally five years and you will not normally be entitled to a new voucher until this period has expired. However, if your needs change - making the wheelchair you have bought unsuitable - you will be eligible for a reassessment of your needs.
Contact your local health service for more information.