Free The Wheelchair One: Getting Our Act Together

I can’t tell you how humbling it is that six people are now writing to Nicola Sturgeon about my situation regarding a replacement powered chair.  I’ve seen one letter.  One is being written by someone I know virtually – how’s that for kindness?


Their commitment and activism has given me confidence.  There is more to be done.  I can’t beg, frankly my knees are shot and you’d need a fork lift to get me up again (or several awfully strong people with a sense of mischief).  I can ask you to think about what you would like to happen if you were in my shoes?


If you have a spare half an hour and would like to write to The First Minister this is what needs to be covered:


Re: Rev Dr Jane Wallman-Girdlestone’s fight to have the guidelines for Wheelchair Services in Scotland re-examined


  • Jane has been turned down for a powered chair by NHS Highland on the grounds that she does not fulfil the criteria for one.
  • She is registered partially-sighted and she has some mobility away from a powered chair when she is not in the midst of a flare up,
  • Jane has had two guide dogs and is now at the top of the list to be trained as the first powered chair guide dog user in Scotland.
  • She’s been assessed by Guide Dogs and they are eager to train a dual dog with Dogs for the Disabled who will not only assist Jane’s mobility and independence but also help with simple household tasks.
  • Jane cannot walk far enough to train as a walking guide dog user.
  • She can’t work a guide dog and use a manual chair as she needs one free hand to work the dog.
  • In England and Wales, NHS Trusts have provided powered chairs for people in Jane’s situation.  Including people who have not had a guide dog or powered chair before.
  • In these situations they have encouraged Guide Dogs to take on all aspects of training.
  • The current guidelines take no account of people with additional needs, nor do they show an awareness of the ways in which people with complex disabilities can improve their independence.
  • This is discriminatory.


Even if you don’t have the time or the inclination to write yourself, you might want to mention this to friends, share on your timeline, or re-tweet.  I’d appreciate any of these.


Changes in this area  of blinkered thinking will help people who are outside the guidelines to be assessed according to their needs and encourage NHS Boards to make creative patient-centred choices.  In the long run, this will save money.


I’m hugely grateful to you for reading this.  I’ll keep you posted and thank you.  Taking the time to read is encouragement in itself.  We can’t all write, wave placards or get hot under the collar.


If all else fails I’ll do a sit in a The Scottish Parliament – but I need to do a recce first.  Have they got an all accessible loo?  Do they have nice sandwiches and coffee?  How big does my placard need to be?


Is it better to sing a protest song, ‘We Shall Overcome’ or have a loud hailer?  Now there’s a thought.  If I did a sit in on the pavement without a wheelchair, I’d have uniformed police officers moving me on.  That could be fun.  My mind is wondering… This may not be a good sign!


Thank you!





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