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Posted by Philip Patston on 7 December 2009, 5:52 pm in , ,

Ministry of Health funding: so close and yet so far

Recently (well, over 12 months ago actually) I applied for Ministry of Health funding for an "innovative lightweight power add-on system for manual wheelchairs", called e-Fix, and a hoist to be able to get my chair independently in and out of my car. In November my application for the e-Fix was assessed at Priority 1 (and funding was released), but the hoist was assessed at Priority 2 (without a funding release date), which leaves me in a rather untenable situation.

With the e-Fix attached to the chair I am unable to get the wheelchair in and out of the car without the hoist because of the weight. This means I am unable to access work independently, which involves running workshops, speaking about diversity, entertaining and attending meetings throughout Auckland and often Northland and Waikato.

I am unable to propel a manual wheelchair, so am unable to engage in work in public without the assistance of a support worker, which leaves me dependant and unable to be autonomous.

When the e-Fix is delivered this coming Friday 11 December I will have to make the following choice: Either leave it unattached, dormant in my house until the hoist is funded, and not be able to independently access work or social activities in the community – or leave it attached to my chair, meaning I will be unable to get the chair into my car and therefore unable to access work or social activities in the community at all.

Neither of these options support the spirit and the objectives of the NZ Disability Strategy. Nor do they seem to reflect a responsible use of the public money already invested in my wheelchair and the e-Fix system (approx $26,000).

I have requested that the priority assessment of the hoist (approx $8,000) be reviewed in light of these unique circumstances, and that funding be released as soon as possible to ensure that the full value of the equipment is realised.

Watch this space.