A growing concern looms large in the UK over access to mobility aids as a lack of supply leaves many elderly, ill and recuperating people trapped in their homes — and now they are faced with the bleak prospect of mobility aid centres closing all over the country.
The grim news comes after the British Red Cross announced in a report this summer that millions of people injured and unwell in the UK are not able to get access to even a wheelchair from medical services. This is due to an enormous lack of supply from the National Health Service.
The report estimated that around 3.8 million people are affected and unable to either get about their homes or leave them to go to shops or elsewhere. This is also because the health service generally provides mobility aids, including walking aids and other vital equipment, for long-term use and not for short periods.
“Worryingly, our research shows that often people aren’t even offered the option of borrowing a wheelchair,” said Red Cross chief executive Mike Adamson. “Instead of being able to socialise, get to appointments or to work, people are ending up trapped in their homes, becoming isolated and delaying their recovery.”
He added: “Every day we see the huge impact something as simple as a wheelchair can make to someone suffering with a broken limb, recovering from surgery or even during end-of-life care — getting out to see family and friends and even attending a family wedding, activities that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.” Owning a mobility aid is one thing and learning to use them another. You can learn this here now.
Walking Aids Shutdown
Now, as more people in the UK rely heavily on mobility aid centres operated by the Red Cross, there is widespread disbelief that they are closing down and, in doing so, shutting off a vital service the elderly and ill rely heavily upon. But the cash-strapped Red Cross, which assists with all manner of humanitarian disasters, has been forced to funnel the money elsewhere, leaving little to none for its expensive mobility aid centres.
The closures have been taking place since last year and are expected to continue until the end of 2018. And while some will remain open, residents in some counties are worried they may have to travel too far to get the walking aids and other necessary equipment they need. Others fear they simply might not be able to get to the out-of-town locations. Petitions have been launched, urging the Red Cross to rethink the mobility aid centre closures, in some cases with support from local politicians.
Plea to Stay Open
One such petition was launched in the town of Totton, Hampshire, near the southern coast of England, where eleven mobility aid centres are set to close. A local resident who signed the petition, Alex Nayler, said it was often near to impossible to get mobility equipment.
“The idea of a mobility aids centre is to assist those people most in need. I know personally how difficult it is to obtain such resources,” he wrote. “Being forced to travel to ‘selected destinations’ will instantly be out of reach for local residents affected by the change. Hampshire County Council has a duty of care for her residents. To allow closure is not the answer or a reasonable adjustment.”
The Red Cross said some mobility aid centres were close to each other — in some cases only three miles away — and that this did not make sense from a financial point of view. “This is a very inefficient and expensive way to operate. We cannot justify this expense to either our donors, our service users in other parts of the country or other local people who need our help,” said Red Cross official Geoff Cheshire.