Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Wheelchair Leadership Alliance?

The Wheelchair Leadership Alliance is an advocate for wheelchair users, their carers and families and we provide a high profile and highly influential independent panel, chaired by Baroness Grey-Thomson, who have an acute understanding of the challenges and issues facing wheelchair users and wheelchair services. We are a commitment group that is working to encourage everyone involved in wheelchair service provision to work together to bring about positive and long lasting change, shaping NHS wheelchair services into a system that works better for all users and providers.

All Alliance members are volunteers in this task and finish commitment group and collectively we are made up of wheelchair users, carers, representatives from organisations who advocate on behalf of wheelchair users, providers, commissioners, manufacturers and clinicians. This provides a strong platform from which we can amplify patent and public voices in respect of wheelchair services and wheelchair provision.

Why was the Wheelchair Leadership Alliance formed?

During 2014-15, NHS England provided funding to support those with an interest in improving wheelchair provision and wheelchair services to work together to explore the most effective ways in which they could be improved.  Following the second National Wheelchair Summit in November 2014 which was sponsored by NHS England, a key outcome was the creation by the wheelchair community of a Wheelchair Alliance. The Alliance has been formed as an independent body that is seeking and helping to deliver positive change in wheelchair services based on the needs of wheelchair users. For 2015/16, NHS England has provided some additional funding in the short-term to support the Alliance.

How were members of the Wheelchair Leadership Alliance chosen?

Members of the Alliance were chosen through a fair and transparent process. Following the wheelchair summit in November 2014, people were invited to submit an expression of interest in becoming a member of the Alliance. A points system was developed to enable a shortlisting process to take place in a fair and equitable manner and to ensure that there was broad representation of interested parties across all stakeholder groups in the final Alliance group.

Alliance membership is a voluntary role requiring members to work with key stakeholders and the wider system to bring about positive and lasting change in wheelchair services. All Alliance members are committed to the development of a wheelchair charter and national campaign.

Terms of Reference for the group can be found here

How will the Wheelchair Leadership Alliance improve wheelchair services?

One of the first steps for the Alliance has been to draft a Wheelchair Charter which seeks to set out a small number of high level principles which articulate what great might look like in wheelchair services, in order that providers, users, commissioners and manufacturers can collectively aim for improvement. This is currently with summit attendees as a draft for consultation. The Alliance is anticipating publishing the Charter in July 2015.

The Alliance are planning to promote the Charter more widely through a national campaign, RIGHT CHAIR RIGHT TIME RIGHT NOW, which is likely to be launched in July 2015. The campaign will target two groups; those with the power to bring about change and those with the power to demand change. It will encourage organisations and individuals to pledge their support for delivery of the charter principles.

The work of the Alliance will complement existing system level improvement work being undertaken by other key stakeholders. This includes the work of NHS England which continues to focus on three key priority areas:

  • The development of a national data set for wheelchair services
  • The piloting of a tariff for wheelchair services
  • The development of resources to support commissioners of wheelchair services

You can find out more information about each under Areas of Work.

Why is the Alliance only concerned with services in England?

Since devolution in 1999, governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have had powers over the organisation and budgets of the National Health Service in their jurisdictions and can reorganise their NHS along the lines they feel appropriate.

The Wheelchair Improvement Programme is a piece of work being led by NHS England. The Alliance can only advocate for change on how services are delivered in England. However learning can, is and will be shared as appropriate.

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