A man who had both his legs amputated says he’s being denied a powered wheelchair because he “isn’t handicapped enough”.
Andrew Walsh is currently waiting for kidney and pancreas transplants – and says without an electric wheelchair he is effectively housebound.
In August last year, the 51-year-old had both his legs amputated due to blood circulation issues as a result of his diabetes.
Andrew, from Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute, is not strong enough to operate a manual wheelchair without the help of his sister, Esther Jones.
But after receiving his operation, he applied for an electric wheelchair from WestMARC rehabilitation centre at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.
However, Andrew was devastated to hear his application was declined because he did not meet the criteria.
He said: “How handicapped do I need to be? I only want it for my independence.
“I have lost hope now that I am ever going to get one, so we are just trying to highlight how they are treating people.
“At the first meeting I had only been in the room five minutes when she decided I didn’t meet the criteria.
“At a second meeting I was told I was going to get one, but then I hadn’t heard back in a month and a half, so I phoned the lady dealing with it.
“But they just kept telling me she wasn’t available, that she was busy or that she wasn’t in.
“Then we said that we were going to go to the paper, and she phoned me back five minutes later.”
Andrew and Esther claim they were told at a meeting, for a second time, that he did meet the criteria for an electric wheelchair – but that last Friday he got yet another letter saying he had been unsuccessful.
He added: “If they told me in the first place I wasn’t getting it then that would have been it.
“But they have built my hopes up and then I have been told I’m not getting it.”
Esther recently met local MSP Jackie Ballie hoping she can make a difference for Andrew’s appeal.
Jackie said: “I was shocked to hear about Mr Walsh’s story.
“He is a double amputee with other underlying health conditions, yet he has been refused an electric wheelchair three times. This makes little sense.
“He relies on friends and family to enable him to get out of the house as he is unable to use his existing manual wheelchair for any length of time, or on uneven terrain.
“I have written to West-MARC to ask them to review Mr Walsh’s case.”
Andrew also goes to hospital three times a week for kidney dialysis.
Andrew explained: “I live in Craigendoran.
“So for them to say I can get into the town is ridiculous. I rely on my sister to help me.
“My wife is a pensioner, so I can’t expect her to do everything for me.
“The powered wheelchair would make my life a hell of a lot easier.”
Esther added: “He depends on me but he’s 51 years old, so he wants to do things for himself.
“He can’t go anywhere on his own, but they’re not interested in helping him.”
A spokeswoman from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “WestMARC provides powered wheelchairs to people who meet the nationally agreed eligibility criteria used across NHS Scotland.
“Mr Walsh was assessed by WestMARC staff and deemed to not meet the criteria.
“He appealed this decision and was seen by the lead therapist who also found he did not meet the criteria.
“Mr Walsh took up the option of a further appeal and an opinion was sought from another wheelchair service, the SMART centre in Edinburgh, which also found that he did not meet the criteria.
“We remain committed to providing the best service for Mr Walsh’s needs and continue to review his situation on an ongoing basis.”
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