Consumer research for older and disabled people

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NHS Wheelchair Services

Wheelchair services

Many people will get a powered wheelchair - often called an 'EPIOC' for Electrically Powered Indoor / Outdoor Chair - on loan from the NHS:

  • in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland called the NHS Wheelchair Service
  • in Wales called the Artificial Limb and Appliance Service.

These services have their own rules, which mean they may:

  • not supply a powered wheelchair to everyone who wants one
  • supply a powered wheelchair but without all the features you want.

Wheelchairs provided by the NHS remain the property of the NHS which means they are responsible for maintenance and repairs.

Find your local service: Wheelchair Manager's Forum.

Referrals

You need to be referred by:

  • your GP
  • a specialist unit
  • locally approved referring professionals.

The service will assess your needs, taking into account your home environment, your lifestyle and your abilities.

Who qualifies for an NHS powered wheelchair?

Each service has their own criteria for supply.
Generally they won’t supply a powered wheelchair if you:

  • can walk - even if only a little
  • can use a manual wheelchair independently
  • would, for any reason, not use a powered wheelchair in your home

The NHS:

  • will not supply a powered wheelchair to be used outdoors only
  • may also cap the cost of individual chairs, or supply chairs only from a limited list, which may prevent you from getting the chair you want
  • will only supply features that meet their assessment of your clinical need, which means they won’t pay for extra features like seat raising, sit to stand etc.

Wheelchair voucher scheme

If the NHS is unable to provide the equipment you want, you may be offered a voucher - an EPIOC voucher - for the value of the equipment that meets their assessment of your needs. You can then top this voucher up with money from somewhere else to get the powered wheelchair you want.

TIP:

Wheelchairs that are provided by the NHS remain the property of the NHS, which means they are responsible for maintenance and repairs. However, if you buy a wheelchair using a voucher, it belongs to you, so you will have to make your own arrangements and pay for any maintenance.

Research the costs of future spares and maintenance before you accept a voucher.

Last updated: April 2015


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