HC Deb 23 June 2003 vol 407 c583W
Mrs. Calton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many children under five years old have powered wheelchairs provided by the NHS; and if he will make a statement. [120737]

Dr. Ladyman

Information on the number of individuals who currently have electrically powered wheelchairs which have been provided by the National Health Service is not held centrally.

Information is available on the number of electrically powered indoor-outdoor chairs issued each year, but this is not broken down by age.

England 1997–98 1998–99 1999–2000 2000–01
Number of powered wheelchairs issued 4,464 4,033 3,388 3,2791
1 Incomplete figure (one return missing)

Bob Russell

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how much has been allocated for the provision of wheelchairs in each of the last five financial years for which figures are available; and how much has been allocated for the current financial year; [120355]

(2) what requirement is placed on (a) strategic health authorities, (b) hospital trusts and (c) primary care trusts to provide wheelchairs; and if he will make a statement; [120356]

(3) what the maximum waiting period is for the provision of a wheelchair to an NHS patient who requires one. [120357]

Mr. Hutton

Figures on waiting periods for people requiring wheelchairs are not collected centrally.

Figures on funding for wheelchair services are not held centrally. Funding for wheelchair services is part of health authority general allocations. It is for health authorities in partnership with primary care groups/ trusts and other local stakeholders to determine how best to use their funds to meet national and local priorities for improving health, tackling health inequalities and modernising services.

Section 29 of the National Health Service Act 1997 (NHSA) places a duty on all health authorities to make arrangements with appropriate practitioners to provide medical services for people in their catchment areas (this became the responsibility of primary care trusts as a result of section 2 of the Health Act 1999).

The National Health Service (General Medical Services) Regulations 1992 Schedule 2, paragraph 43 sets out general practitioners' duties to prescribe items, including wheelchairs for permanent use.

In practice, it is the 151 NHS Wheelchair Services which actually arrange for the provision of wheelchairs in England.