NHS Wheelchair Services are run by local health authorities. They allocate funds to the Wheelchair Service and Primary Care Trusts who are responsible for providing the service itself. Because each local authority runs the service independently it can vary between locations, but most services operate in the following ways:

  • You are referred to the local NHS Wheelchair Service
  • They make an assessment of your needs
  • They will discuss timescales and funding options with you
  • They provide the wheelchair, along with training in how it
  • They agree a maintenance and repair plan with you

Wheelchairs can be manual or powered, and they may also provide accessories such as cushions, armrests and trays.

Each service has its own eligibility criteria and the details of your referral will be reviewed to work out its priority. Factors taken into account include the nature and level of your disability or medical condition, your lifestyle and needs, and where and when you will use the wheelchair.

Your first step is to find someone who can refer you to the service. This might be a hospital, doctor, consultant or occupational therapist, or some services may operate a self-referral system. Once the referral has been made, you should expect an acknowledgment within a week.


Access to Work aims to provide advice and support to both you and your employer if your health or disability has an impact on the way you do your job.

You may be eligible for support from Access to Work if you’re:

  • in a paid job
    unemployed and about to start a job
    unemployed and about to start a work trial self-employed
  • And your disability or health condition stops you from being able to do parts of your job.

Visit the direct.gov website to see if you are eligible to apply for the scheme. If so, you can download a letter about the scheme to show potential employers.

Contact your regional Access to Work contact centre to find out if you are eligible. If so, you will be sent an application form to complete and return. An Access to Work adviser will then work with you and your employer to decide on the best solution to support you. This is generally done over the telephone, but may involve a visit if necessary. Once approval for the support has been given, it is your employer’s responsibility to arrange for the support and purchase any necessary equipment. They then claim the costs back through Access to Work.

Find out more about this scheme at www.direct.gov.uk



If you’re not eligible for any of the schemes above, you may be able to access financial support from a charity or voluntary organisation. Some charities, like Whizz-Kidz, even provide wheelchair skills training. Direct.gov provides a comprehensive list of charities providing support to disabled people.

Find out more about this scheme at www.direct.gov.uk

Charity Choice is the largest charity directory in the UK, with over 16,000 charities listed. They aim to make it easier to find and contact a wide range of charities, as well as further information about them.