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Patients shape new wheelchair service

Patient power is the driving force behind a new three year, £4.5 million wheelchair services contract serving more than 8,000 patients with mobility needs in North Kirklees Greater Huddersfield and Calderdale.

The service specification tender document was based on the experience and needs of service users given during discussions about how a new service could deliver better quality services for patients.

Chair of NHS North Kirklees CCG, Dr David Kelly said: “We held a number of discussion events with service users so they could tell us what they wanted from the service within the available budget. The messages they gave us were very clear and we were able to build a new service specification for a ‘one stop shop’ service which we believe will bring huge improvements for people with mobility needs and their carers.

“Putting patients at the heart of service planning and delivery is exactly what we promised we would do when we were established and this is the first major contract that has been designed by patients for patients.”

The contract to provide the service from October 1, 2014, was won by Opcare Ltd – one of the UK’s largest prosthetic, orthotic and wheelchair service providers. Opcare will retain a base at The Lodge, Lockwood, Huddersfield but will offer community-based clinics on a weekly or fortnightly basis to bring services closer to patients’ homes. In North Kirklees this will be the Eddercliffe Centre in Liversedge.

The other big changes will be:

  • Shorter waiting times because the referral, assessment and equipment provision and repairs service will be seamless
  • Therapists and rehabilitation staff who will visit at home, at work or at school –to increase convenience for patients
  • A returns and repairs drop off point for equipment with an on-site workshop which has stocks of spares

All existing service staff wishing to transfer have been offered roles within the Opcare structure, and those who have chosen to transfer are keen to push the service forward through the new structure.

Speaking for Opcare Ltd, Hayley Munro, Bid and Project Manager, said: “We are very pleased to be able to provide a new wheelchair service for people in Calderdale, Greater Huddersfield and North Kirklees and hope the transition to our service will be fairly smooth. We have kept the contact number patients are familiar with along with the service base, but the similarity ends there: we will be describing and explaining our services to patients as we come into contact with them and look forward to hearing their feedback on it,

“Patient experience is at the heart of our plans for improvements and whilst some of these may take time to come to fruition, we are hopeful that they will start to see improvements very quickly and are keen to create a patients’ forum so we can gather their views and look to continually improve the service we provide.”

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