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BBC Wales's Social Affairs Correspondent Gail Foley
"The auditors say patients face long waits for equipment which is often not suitable"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 29 March, 2000, 05:29 GMT 06:29 UK
Equipment for the disabled criticised
Wheelchair user
High-quality equipment should be a priority, the report said
Equipment offered to elderly and disabled people in Wales has been criticised by the Audit Commission.

Figures show that it is a geographical lottery whether a person gets a hearing aid or not.

More than a third of wheelchair users were not given enough information or training to help them get the most from the equipment on offer, the report said.

Two million people in the UK have hearing aids provided by the NHS and a million more use wheelchairs, artificial limbs or orthopaedic shoes and callipers.

The auditors said these should provide a gateway to independence and dignity for many older or disabled people.

Inequality and inefficiency

But too often, the auditors said, patients had to wait a long time for equipment - an average of 19 weeks for a hearing aid.

And when it was provided, equipment like wheelchairs and other aids was sometimes unsuitable or poor quality.

The report concluded that the current organisation of services was a recipe for inequality and inefficiency.

It recommended that users should be consulted at all levels of health and social services activity, and that the quality of equipment should become a high priority.

The report has been welcomed by the lobby group, Disability Wales.

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See also:

08 Jun 99 | Health
Hearing services 'are grim'
03 Nov 99 | Health
Disability in depth
12 Jan 00 | Health
Guide dog taxi controversy
19 Nov 99 | Health
New hearing test unveiled
18 Feb 99 | Health
Deaf 'let down by GPs'
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