Whizz-Kidz’ Kidz Board assembled in Hull Kingston Communications Stadium today, Friday 17 April, to put the spotlight on Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson MP on issues affecting young disabled people.
Nine young wheelchair-users put their questions to Mr Johnson, including Whizz-Kidz Ambassador Summer Almond who asked:
“Does the 18 week waiting limit for hospital treatment apply to wheelchair services as I have had to wait many months for an assessment?”
Alan confirmed that wheelchair services do not come within the government’s 18 week target for treatment, but suggested that the Board should keep campaigning on the issue as it will help it become an increased priority with local Primary Care Trusts, and the NHS framework generally.
During an in-depth question and answer session, Alan highlighted the work the Government has already achieved through programmes such as Aiming High for Disabled Children and the recently published Child Health Strategy. He then went on to say that because of decentralisation of Government, money for local health services like wheelchair provision cannot be ring-fenced.
Alan assured the whizz-kidz Board that he was working closely with Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, to ensure all primary care trusts in England understood that the recently announced additional funds need to reach disabled children’s services.
Chair of Kidz Board, Jamie Green, added:
“It was great to meet Alan today and he seemed really keen to hear our views and about our experiences of using local wheelchair services. Hopefully he will take on board what the young people said today and that this will go a long way to improving the situation in ways that mean real change for young disabled people everywhere.”
The Kidz Board also leads the charity’s Ambassador Network, which gives young wheelchair-users up to the age of 25 the opportunity to campaign locally and nationally on issues they feel strongly about, and promotes peer-to-peer learning and development. It also offers bespoke training and work-placements to empower disabled young people with the confidence and independence to prepare for further education and employment.
Whizz-Kidz has recently been awarded £2.8 million in lottery funding to help support and develop its young Ambassador Network across England over the next five years.
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