52 people in Cork and Kerry waiting for wheelchairs due to Brexit and supply chain delays

52 people in Cork and Kerry waiting for wheelchairs due to Brexit and supply chain delays

wheelchair, generic, stock

MORE than 50 people are on waiting lists for wheelchairs across Cork and Kerry amid calls for greater funding and resourcing to ensure people are not left facing major delays.

Information obtained by The Echo shows that 52 people across Cork and Kerry are currently waiting on wheelchairs.

Cork Kerry Community Healthcare cited issues with Brexit and global supply chains as impacting the waiting times for specialised equipment. 

A spokesperson said the HSE is working with suppliers in a bid to reduce waiting times.

In at least one of those 52 cases currently on the waiting lists, there is a person in Kerry who has been waiting since May this year while at least one person in Cork City South has been waiting since July.

Some people have been on wheelchair waiting lists in North and West Cork since September.

In a statement to The Echo, Cork Kerry Community Healthcare said it is “currently reviewing the Aids and Appliances waitlist and are working towards allocating funding across the waitlist for a number of priorities”.

DELAYS

In 2019, Mallow teenager Liam Lynch was left hospitalised with painful, stage four pressure sores after delays in accessing a new power chair.

While Liam left hospital and completed his Junior Cert later that year, he is left with painful reminders of the sores that require daily dressing.

Liam Lynch.
Liam Lynch.

Speaking to The Echo in recent days, Liam’s mother Grainne called for more resources to address the Aids and Appliances to ensure a similar event does not occur again.

“More therapists are definitely needed but also most definitely more funding for the aids and appliances,” she said.

“These kids, young adults and adults need their equipment - otherwise why would they be applying for it?

“If we need a new car, shoes or whatever, we just go and buy it,” she added.

“People with disabilities are made to wait and, more often than not, with serious consequences”.

'EASILY AVOIDED'

Cork GP Dr Paul O’Sullivan explained that injuries such as Liam’s are avoidable and he echoed Ms Lynch’s calls for more resources and funding to ensure timely access to wheelchairs.

“Injuries like this could be easily avoided but can have long term effects as well as increased risk of patient picking up hospital infections such as MRSA if they have to be hospitalised,” he explained.

“Unfortunately, GPs on the ground feel the services involved in the assessment of wheeled aids such as wheelchairs are under resourced and understaffed, which leads to significant delays to have people fitted with the proper wheelchairs especially with children who grow out quite quickly.

“Better and more timely replacement of staffing vacancies of the professionals involved and more targeted funding is the answer,” he added.

STATEMENT

A spokesperson for Cork Kerry Community Healthcare said:

“Cork Kerry Community Healthcare understands the huge importance of aids and appliances such as wheelchairs to the people waiting for them.

“We prioritise applications for funding for such items in terms of clinical need, and the majority of people receive their equipment quite quickly.

“Unfortunately in some cases, people wait for longer than either they or we would like,” she added.

“In the case of some specialised equipment, waiting times are due to supply chain issues, which are outside of our control.

“Issues including Brexit, the ongoing pandemic and global supply issues mean that some suppliers face challenges with their supply chains and this can delay the delivery of some items even when funding is approved.

“We are working with suppliers as much as possible to reduce delays, but unfortunately supply chain issues are often out of our control.”

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