Disabled children in Swindon are being forced to wait more than four months for a wheelchair from the NHS, new figures reveal.

Charities warned that major gaps in provision across England are leaving many disabled people without the wheelchairs they need which is affecting their independence and leaving them in pain or discomfort.

Clinical commissioning groups in England are required to deliver wheelchairs to children within 18 weeks of referral in at least 92 per cent of cases – a target that has been lowered from a previous threshold of 100 per cent.

But NHS figures show that 11 children waited longer than the 18-week window in the NHS Swindon CCG area between April and June.

In total, 31 children had a wheelchair or other equipment prescribed and delivered to them between April and June, meaning the CCG had a success rate of 65 per cent.

A Swindon CCG spokesman said: “We understand that providing children with a wheelchair that has been adapted to their specific needs is massively important to each child’s independence and overall quality of life.

“However, with nearly 200 children registered for a wheelchair in Swindon, all of whom have a range of differing needs and levels of mobility, it can be challenging to consistently deliver bespoke chairs within the target period, while working within the constraints of ongoing demand and limited resources.

“Of the 65 per cent of children who received a wheelchair between April and June, more than half were assessed as having either medium or high needs.

"It is pleasing to know that these children – whose need for a chair was particularly urgent – did not have to wait the full 18 weeks, with most devices delivered fewer than eight weeks from the date when a decision to prescribe was made.”

NHS guidance emphasises the “paramount importance” of the timescale from referral to delivery.

Warren Kirwan from disability charity Scope said: “Having the right wheelchair can be life-changing for disabled people, but many face an unfair postcode lottery to get one which meets their needs.

“Too many disabled people only get the most basic of chairs without the necessary adaptations, which can affect their independence and leave them in pain or discomfort.

“With wheelchairs sometimes costing in excess of £10,000, funding pressures need to be urgently addressed so disabled people aren’t stuck with unsuitable wheelchairs, or bearing the brunt of these huge costs themselves.”

Of the 187 CCGs across England that submitted figures between April and June, fewer than half met the 18 weeks target, with more than 1,000 children forced to wait longer than expected for a wheelchair.

Rates varied significantly across the country, with the target being missed for every patient in the two worst-performing areas, Bromley and Kingston-Upon-Thames.

Rob Burley from charity Muscular Dystrophy UK said substantial gaps in services across the country were leaving disabled people without the basic equipment they need.

He added: “Wheelchairs are not a luxury, and having access to suitable equipment is vital.

“Too often, we hear stories from people who cannot leave their homes or are forced to fund expensive wheelchairs themselves.

“We must see an improvement in services, both nationally and locally.”