"Not allowed to take my wheelchair"

About: Ayr Hospital Scottish Ambulance Service / Emergency Ambulance

(as the patient),

I became unwell on monday evening, the overnight doctor service sent a doctor to my home, who decided I needed admitted to hospital.

when the ambulance arrived the crew refused to take my wheelchair in the ambulance telling me they were not allowed to. this stranded me at ayr hospital feeling very isolated and anxious.

today after being discharged from hospital my brother who does not live in ayr had to go to my home to retrieve my wheelchair before I could be discharged.

it would be helpful if the people who make these rules could realise how vulnerable and scared disabled people get and take their views into account

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Response from Pat O'Meara, National Head of Ambulance Control Services, Ambulance Control Centres, Scottish Ambulance Service

Dear Zodiac,

I was sorry to hear about your experience. We do not normally allow wheelchairs on to front line ambulances because there is no way of safely securing them and, in the event of an accident, they could cause injury to anyone in the back of the ambulance.

There is normally a way of getting around the problems caused when wheelchairs have been left at home. If you could contact me on 0141 810 6101, I can arrange to get more information to you about what happened on the evening in question and what we might be able to do if you need to go to hospital again.

I hope that you are recovering well.


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Response from Craig White, Divisional Clinical Lead, Directorate of Health Quality and Strategy, Scottish Government

picture of Craig White

Dear Zodiac and Pat,

Thanks both for taking the time to use Patient Opinion about this recent experience of care.

I would be really keen to hear about the learning that arises from review of this and would be grateful if this could be shared so that others who are reading this (like me!) know what the 'ways of getting round the problem' are - particularly if there is a way that the system can design a process that everyone who uses a wheelchair could benefit from?

A process that ensures wheelchairs are not posing a risk in moving ambulances (assuming the person is not travelling in the wheelchair) but that also ensures people don't feel the vulnerability and isolation described would be ideal?

Best wishes


Professor Craig A White

Divisional Clinical Lead, The Quality Unit

Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates

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Update posted by zodiac (the patient)

Professor White, there must be a way of securing a folded wheelchair, it is scary enough for disabled people to need to be taken to hospital by ambulance, without knowing they will be totally helpless when they get there.

Hopefully my unpleasant experience will help other people.

Response from Craig White, Divisional Clinical Lead, Directorate of Health Quality and Strategy, Scottish Government

picture of Craig White

I agree completely - there must be something that could be tested and/or implemented.

I'm looking forward to seeing what colleagues identify/share with us.

Craig W

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Response from Eunice Goodwin, Patient Feedback Manager for NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Quality Improvement and Governance Team, NHS Ayrshire and Arran

picture of Eunice Goodwin

Dear Zodiac, Pat and Craig,

I too appreciate this must make you feel vulnerable and I hope you are now feeling better.

I am not sure if I should be adding my thoughts to this but it seems to me that if wheelchairs are not suitable to travel inside the ambulance, I am sure some clever person could design an external attachment (with cover) so the wheel chair can be transported securely like a spare wheel on the back of a four by four. The downside of this idea is that it clearly would have a cost implication if it was to be an adaption to existing vehicles, but perhaps new vehicles could have this as standard. I appreciate this would not solve the issue for electric wheelchairs.

Just my thoughts,

Best wishes


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Response from Heather Kenney, Director of Strategy and Planning, Scottish Ambulance Service

Dear Zodiac

Thank you for sharing your experience. Scottish Ambulance Service are currently engaging with patients with a view to reviewing the way we support people with a disability when they need to go to hospital for either a planned appointment or in an emergency. I completely understand how your independence can be compromised when you do not have access to your wheelchair even if only for a day.

We are looking at this issue as part of our work to ensure our services are as person centred as possible. If you feel you would like to be involved in some focus group discussions to help us improve how we support those with a disability then please get in touch with me.

My e-mail address is heather.kenney@nhs.net

Best wishes

Heather Kenney

Director of Strategic Planning and Quality Improvement

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