Trust admits plan to slash wheelchair budget

The Western Trust was planning to axe its budget for wheelchair provision.

The Western Trust was planning to axe its budget for wheelchair provision.

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The Western Trust has confirmed they were planning to slash the budget for wheelchair provision.

The shock admission came after a trade union official revealed the plans at a meeting in Derry this week.

The move would have seen people with mobility problems and physical disabilities denied access to a wheelchair.

A spokesperson for the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) told the Journal that the move was one of a number of proposals which was approved by the Department of Health.

She added however that the Trust has now been able to source alternative money to “largely offset” the funding cut for wheelchairs.

Joe McCusker, regional organiser from UNISON, told a meeting to discuss a response to a programme of government cuts across various sectors at the Maldron Hotel in Derry on Wednesday night:

“I met with the Western Trust in relation to their current cuts. Some of the things you don’t know, which they told me, was they have a budget for wheelchairs; wheelchair users, and what they are going to try and do is curtail that budget.”

Responding to this, a spokeswoman for the Western Trust confirmed: “The Trust had during October 2014 included within its cost containment action plan, a measure to reduce expenditure within its budget for wheelchair provision.

“This measure was included within the Trusts proposals which were scrutinised and approved by our Commissioner the Health and Social Care Board and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.”

She added: “The Trust can report that the full impact of this measure has now largely been offset through the application of funding the Trust has identified from an alternative source.”

Mr McCusker meanwhile further claimed that the Western Trust would begin the process of outsourcing a contract for £13.2m for home care services to the private sector within weeks.