Wheelchair Alliance Wheelchair Users How to get a wheelchair

Useful information for wheelchair users

How to Access a Wheelchair

Figuring out where the money is coming from to pay for your wheelchair can be worrying and confusing.

Will you have to pay for your wheelchair, or will it be fully funded by the NHS?

The answer is there are several ways you can get a wheelchair in England, depending on your individual circumstances and location.

Visit our FAQ resources to find out more about the different options available to make your decision less daunting.


How do you get a wheelchair assessment?

If you struggle to walk or are disabled, you may be able to get a wheelchair from the NHS. The information in this section explains who can refer you for a wheelchair, the existence of eligibility criteria and the importance of assessment by experts. Poorly fitting wheelchairs can cause serious problems but getting the right wheelchair can enable and give you more independence and comfort.

What options are there to pay for my wheelchair?

There are several ways a wheelchair may be funded. You may have one on loan, you may be provided with a Personal Wheelchair Budget, you may get some additional funding from a charity or you may choose to buy your own wheelchair.

 Many people choose to get a wheelchair fully funded through the NHS. If you do this, the wheelchair will not belong to you. Technically, you will be borrowing it from the NHS. Your GP or other health professional will refer you to the local wheelchair service for an assessment. Unfortunately, there are waiting lists for NHS provided wheelchairs, so you might have to wait a few weeks for your assessment.  There is a target that the majority of wheelchairs should be provided within 18 weeks of the wheelchair service receiving the referral.

Your NHS wheelchair service will talk to you about Personal Wheelchair Budgets and will guide you through the options and funding available to you, so you make the right choice for you. 

Access to Work

The Access to Work scheme provides grants to help you pay for equipment needed for you to work. The scheme can help if you have just started a new job, need help getting to job interviews, or if you’re self-employed. 

Charity support

If you need additional help to fund a wheelchair, reach out to charities that are linked to your condition or situation. They may have grants available to fund either part or all of the cost of a wheelchair.

Motability Scheme

If you’re looking for a powered, electric wheelchair or mobility scooter, the Motability Scheme can help you. They have advice on their website for choosing a wheelchair and also offer grants to help fund your electric wheelchair.

Membership to The Wheelchair Alliance for Wheelchair Users is Free

The Wheelchair Alliance was created to represent the rights of wheelchair users. It's mission is to ensure everybody who needs a wheelchair to live their lives to the full, have access to one, and importantly the correct type to suit their needs.

If you are a wheelchair user, membership to the Wheelchair Alliance is free. So, join the Alliance and help us to support our mission. As a member you will also have access to the following benefits:

  • Access to online resources
  • The opportunity to take part in research
  • The opportunity to co-produce innovation
  • Receive a quarterly newsletter
  • You can support with developing information
  • You can support in lobbying for change

Are there any other costs associated with a wheelchair?

Standard wear and tear is expected with your wheelchair and if your wheelchair is on loan from the NHS through a notional or notional plus PWB (you can find more information in this section) you will be advised when your wheelchair is due for a maintenance check or who to contact if a repair is needed. If you have received a budget for additional features, it is important that you ask your wheelchair service whether repair and maintenance of the additions are covered – this may be unlikely.

It is therefore important to think about insurance, whether you use a manual or powered wheelchair, especially if you self-fund your wheelchair. In these circumstances, you own it, so you’ll need to budget for routine servicing and maintenance too. 

Insurance will help cover the cost of repairs, which is especially important if you have a specialised wheelchair for sport or if you have purchased your own wheelchair, rather than one on loan from the NHS. 

Wheelchair insurance policies all differ, so do your research carefully. In particular, you may want to check if your policy covers theft, accidental damage, or your transport back home if your wheelchair breaks down. 

We have captured and answered some of the most frequently asked questions by wheelchair users. If you have ideas for other FAQs or see out of date information, please let us know.

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