NHS wheelchairs

Hi. I just wanted to ask other peoples experience of NHS wheelchairs. I say NHS, but actually, mine is loaned to me by the red cross via the OT. This is the second that I have had and I suppose it makes me sound ungrateful, but although I am thankful for the chance to have use of the chairs, I havent actually managed to get much use from them so far. The first was a small wheeled version that required someone to push me and as I dont really have anyone close to do that, it didnt really come out of the shed very often, then last year I had another assessment from the OT and I mentioned the problem I had and the old chair was exchanged for a self propelled chair. I was so excited at the prospect of having some freedom, but at the same time nervous at the thought of venturing out alone. My first disappointment was with the weight of the chair, I m pretty sure I couldnt lift it and as I wasnt given any instructions with the chair I have put off using it because I was afraid of going out and making a complete ass of myself in public, my main concern being the getting up kerbs. So I tried to find out as much as I could, scouring the internet for advice on how to do this correctly and discovered that you need to do a ‘wheelie’ to have any success. Well, since my diagnosis of MS nearly a decade ago now, I have found walking any distance becoming a thing of the past and have become virtually housebound over the last few months. So, with rigid determination I decided I had better learn how to do the said wheelie if I ever wanted to escape these four wall ever again. I arranged things as best I could in my hallway to make room for this tricky manouvre, but try as I might, I couldnt get more than a few centimetres off the ground, so using my perching stool pushed myself up to balance on the two large wheels. So it seems, there is a point at the centre of gravity where you can balance and move without the two small wheels needing to be used, so I tried to find this point…only seconds later to go backwards and virtually knock myself out on the floor. On reflection, I didnt think I would be able to master the art of balancing on two wheels anyway. The chair itself weighs a ton, I weigh a ton and considering I am pension age now, I think it was a bit ambitious to say the least, but now I am back to square one, with added bruises. So really my question is, has anyone else mastered this ‘Wheelie’ in an NHS chair, or is it impossible. Any suggestions will be gratefully received and any advice as to what to try next appeciated.

I dont think trying to do wheelies is any good when using a w/c i have never tried a wheelie, and wouldnt attempt to either and you have to have good upper bpdy strength to self propel,i cant self propel it makes me ill if i try,

couldnt you get a mobility scooter, that would be much easier for you,if funds are a problem you could get the msscoiety to give you a grant for one,you can get a lightweight one for the flat and around the shops, or a more heavy duty one that you can do more on,you can get an assesment and try one at an assesment centre in your area,if you dont have an OT ask for one, as they help with things like this.

jaki xx

Your post makes me so cross. Not that you make me cross but the situation that you are in makes my blood boil.

It breaks my heart to think of you trying to use the bloody wheelchair in your hall. The very idea that you would be delivered an iron monster and just left to get on with it. GRRRRRRR

I agree with jakki a scooter would be much easier for you to use (and much less expensive than an electric chair) If you cannot fund one yourself the MS Society may be able to help. You could also look at www.turn2us.org.uk to see if there are any other charitable organizations that you could apply to.

Come the Spring I want you to be down the shops!



You need good upper body strength to manage a “wheelie”, I can’t do it for sure, I am unable to use a self propel chair anymore, so have a powerchair.

I would have a word with your OT and ask for a referral to the wheelchair services. This may be a wait mind, but once there, you can ask for a lighter chair, but also you will be given instructions on how to use it.

Alternatively, it maybe worth considering a scooter, much easier to learn how to use, and saves your energy as well.

Take care, hope this helps


I got referredl to my local NHS wheelchair service. There was a wait of about 6 weeks beofre they came and assessed me but it was worth the wait as they were caring, helpful, well informed and genuinely interested in what I would use the chair for and where I would go in it. I have a self propel one with handles so it can be pushed and it folds to go in the car. I admit it is a bit heavy to push myself very far in it. They would have given me vouchers to wards another one if I had opted for this- I know there are lighter ones out there and if I used it all the time I might have opted for this. If y ou get DLA, I think motability do scooters don’t they - I think the scooter option is a really good idea and when I have used one at shop mobility schemes, scooters have been brill and so much easier than wheelchair. GOod luck.

Well, I have to thank you all for your comments and advice. Yes, I think I will have to ask the OT if I could try something else, but I feel a bit uncomfortable asking her after all the trouble she went to to get me this one, especially as I havent really used it. Anyway, thank you for the suggestions, I think I will give up any ideas of learning to balance on two wheels, lol, keeping by balance on two legs is hard enough some days.

Kind regards to all

Hi, i find it surprising that no-one has mentioned an electric wheelchair for you!

I agree that trying to do a wheelie is very dangerous and not a wise thing to attempt.

I recently got an electric wheelchair from wheelchair Servies (NHS). It has a kerb climber for use when you can`t find a lowered pavement edge.

I had a self propel chair and couldnt find the strength to push myself. I also had an indoor electric chair from NHS. my recent swap wasnt too long a wait…4 months.

ask for a re-assessment from Wheelchair Servies for an electric chair, eh?

luv Polx


I have an NHS Wheelchair that was supplied by the Wheelchair Assessment Centre in Norwich.

When I collected my Kushall K4 I was pretty excited as I had been using a very old and far too small wheelchair for quite sometime. When I collected the chair, it had basically been made to measure but it hadn’t been set up right for me. When I asked for it to be adjusted I was told to ring a number on the piece of paper I had just been given. This is the first time I had recieved an NHS wheelchair and just thought that I would be calling the reception at the Wheelchair Assessment Centre to get it booked in for adjustment. How wrong was I?!

The chairs are maintained and adjusted by an outside company that seem to know very little about wheelchairs! I managed to get a home appointment within days of recieving my new wheelchair. They adjusted certain bits but they couldn’t do what I needed them to do without an assessment from a Physiotherapist at the Wheelchair Assessment Centre in Norwich! I had just been there two days earlier when I collected the chair!

Back to the physiotherapist I went…oh yeah, this took a month becasue they are short staffed.

Eventaully, I had an appointment and was told I was allowed to have certain bits adjusted. The company came back out and did this, but by this time, my wheelchair had a fault which needed to be looked at by a physiotherapist! So…2 months of waiting for an appointment at the Wheelchair Assessment Centre my chair was nearly falling apart. I saw the physio who accused me of not looking after it properly, I had only been outside in it twice since new.

So, I am now using a wheelchair which cost the NHS £2000.00, but is a) not set up right b) has the wrong cushion, it is too soft and causes massive back pain c) Is actually too small for my legs d) Is so badly built that I keep trapping my fingers between the wheel and the sideguard e) the back won’t fold down because of a faulty mecanism…

I am so annoyed with the whole situation, I don’t know what to do next. I went to see my GP to ask whether he could speak directly to the Wheelchair Assessment Centre about my cushion issue. The physio did call me back within a day and we ordered a new air cushion but I can’t pick it up until 10th May as my physio is on Annual Leave and Training.

It seems to be an ongoing issue which is really doing my head in.

Does anyone have any suggestions of what I might be able to do to get what I need?


Hi, I was given an NHS manual wheelchair Action III. I had no idea how to use a wheelchair before and well, I learnt on my own, including wheelie to get on curbs. I never misused it and took care of it, including clean it regularly. However one time its footrest broke at a bit thats made of plastic. Now I feel so scared that it might break again. They did fix it within a day but still, leaves me scared and …is there any chance NHS would provide a better more durable model than Action III?

Jaki, a manual wheelchair user must learn to back wheel balance in order to get the best from their chair due to steps, bumps, ect. BUT, to do this one must have a well balanced, lightweight chair which fits them. And, when practicing back wheel balancing one must use a bike helmet-no I am not kidding. So, housewife 60 is really to be commended :slight_smile:

Unfortunately the concept of proper equipment for MSers is lost on the NHS, or so it seems. Or even the desire to tell someone who ISNT spinal cord injured and permanently in a chair how to actually use their equipment.

I used a voucher, had a consultation and was fitted for my chairs by a specialist dealer who, as it happens, is a full time wheelchair user. My chairs are expensive because they are bespoke but they improve my quality of life enormously thus it was worth the scrimping to purchase them.

The OT issued me a horrible generic chair-very heavy, too large and with a myriad of other problems which made it unsuitable. Also, the OT wanted me pushed by someone and did not even mention much less encourage, independence by self propelling.

Not good, eh WB? :wink: (our own wheelchair kamikaze)

If anyone wants to learn the ins and outs of how to use a manual wheelchair properly I can suggest a DVD from the Backup Trust called Wheelchair Skills (or something like that!) This is an invaluable resource and reasonably priced.

Good luck to housewife 60 :slight_smile:



I got some wheels recently from the Wheelchair Services - very nice but very slow. On the documentation that came with it, they stress you can’t do kerbs by yourself and they have also fitted anti-tip wheels on the back so there is little chance of me falling backwards. I have never done a wheelie in it and I don’t think I have the strength.

So yeah I’m housebound without a ‘pusher’ at the age of 42! Great fun this MS stuff isn’t it?


Hi Marty

Agree, MS sucks.

Hey, we each do what is best for us regarding our MS because it affects us all differently.

I am sorry you are not able to get out nor able to propel. If your equipment is no longer fit for purpose such as you not being able to propel, it is your right to be reassessed EVEN if officially as per documentation it isn’t time.

I hope you call your GP, get them to refer you to OT because you are unable to use your chair and you need an urgent referral for re evaluation.

Good luck and keep at them until you get the proper equipment.

Happy holidays.


I had the wheelchair OT come to the house to measure me and was duly supplied with Gertie who is made to measure and suitably padded.

I always use her in shopping centres etc that are flat,but she is so heavy I have tried and tried to do wheelies with no movement off the floor at all.

Hubby can do a quick off the floor but not enough to mount a kerb whereas my 20yr old son can do anything in wheelie mode.

I would love to have the strength and confidence to master it, but having tried to push myself to the end of the road in it I realise our pavements round here have so many slopes/potholes and tree roots growing under them I can’t push myself outside far enough to need the wheelie anyway so scooter it will have to be.

Luckily for me the repairs company are the ones we used at my care home (they were there every week) so I have no problems asking for repairs.

So housewife 60 do you have an ms nurse who could contact wheelchair services for you and back up your need for an electric chair as the manual one is not fit for purpose?


The resurrection of this post has made my blood boil all over again!

As regular readers know I blew my overdraft on an electric chair because wheelchair services would only give me an indoor electric chair and a self propel for outside.

The rules for getting an indoor/outdoor electric chair are usually that you need the chair full time. This is a silly rule. Lots of people can shuffle about inside their own homes but it doesn’t mean that they are able to self propel. Fatigue is not taken into account – and it should be.

I admire those who can, but for the vast majority of people with MS (who need a wheelchair ) the strength and energy required to be independent in a self propelling chair is just not there. The idea of MSers slogging themselves up and down kerbs and along uneven pavements is just laughable.
Without my electric chair I am stuck at home. I have a scooter but I can’t take it on the bus or in a taxi.

As soon as I got my chair life changed for me beyond all recognition. I joined things, I go on the Access bus every week and I feel a part of the community not somebody watching through the window.


“I admire those who can, but for the vast majority of people with MS (who need a wheelchair ) the strength and energy required to be independent in a self propelling chair is just not there. The idea of MSers slogging themselves up and down kerbs and along uneven pavements is just laughable.”

Jane, that is oh so true.


I would hazard a guess that people who use manual wheelchairs do not choose to go up and down kerbs or travel on uneven pavement, I sure don’t because it can be downright dangerous.

But, for me acquiring a skill which allows me some control has been invaluable. For instance when some thoughtless idiot parks across the dropped kerb, or some shop has a small step rather than a ramp, or an elevator stops inches short of the floor so getting out will not be level, or when workmen put cables where I need to go, or there is a hosepipe/branch on the pavement…


I’m 29 and had to hire a wheelchair from the nhs wheelchair service earlier this year while I waited for an assessment after a referral from my amazing ms nurse. A few weeks later I gained confidence moving around in the wheelchair, eventually managed to do wheelies and find my balance. I did tip back a few times, but the arm of the couch was behind me and it was always a soft landing.

It’s been about 5 months since my assessment and I now have a Kuschall k4, im really happy with it, its lightweight, small and quick. A few weeks later realised the footplate was not right for me, so I called the NHS wheelchair hotline and logged a call. New parts were ordered and everything was sorted within 8 weeks. I am so impressed with my wheelchair and my experience with the wheelchair service.

I can do wheelies no problem and I have some garden slabs stacked up on my living room floor to practice going up and down which mimic a small kerb (no joke!) - im getting good at it but doing it in the real world is a tad harder.

Stormagedden, I also came across a local wheelchair skills course run by the Backup Trust which looked ideal, but I wasn’t eligible as you need a referral from the spinal cord injury unit, but I didn’t know about the DVD, so thanks for mentioning that. I have watched some videos on youtube but think I’ll get that DVD :slight_smile:

I would recommend a referral to the nhs wheelchair service or reporting any problems back to them if your unhappy with the solution, hope you get things sorted.

Glad to help :slight_smile: I was disappointed to learn that Back Up trust cannot offer courses to people with other disabilities but this has to do with funding and the almighty £ rather than lack of caring on the part of the organisation.

Kushall make a very good product. You have a top end, quite awesome chair :slight_smile: And you are one of the only people I have ever heard of (who is not spinal cord injured) to be treated with such respect by the NHS.

Enjoy the DVD and enjoy your freedom.