A disabled Oakham 14-year-old who cannot stand or walk unaided claims her “independence has been taken away” after the NHS refused to provide her with an electric wheelchair - for the second time.
Amy Rowlatt suffers from cerebral palsy and was told by the NHS in 2009 when she was aged five that she was not eligible for an electric wheelchair as she can ‘selfpropel’.
But after the Mercury ran the Get Amy Going Wheelchair Appeal to raise £3,500 to buy Amy an electric wheelchair, an anonymous donor wrote a cheque for the full amount and her parents Simon and Rachel were able to purchase her one. Reader donations took the total to more than £5,000 at the time with the extra money going towards an exercise trike for her.
Although the wheelchair lasted for about eight years, about six months ago Amy applied to the NHS for a new one as she had outgrown it and her family could no longer afford to maintain it after the device suffered series of electrical faults.
But Amy was left devastated after being told by the Leicester Specialist Mobility Centre, which is run by Blatchford, an organisation commissioned by Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group, that once again she does meet the criteria for an electric version as she can “self-propel independently around the house” and “wheelchairs are not provided for outdoor use”.
Now, Amy, who attends Catmose College in Oakham, has been forced to use a manual wheelchair which she finds hard to push herself and as a result has to rely on others to push her around.
A heartbroken Amy said tasks she was able to do when she had her electric wheelchair like navigating her school’s busy corridors, going on days out and visiting the park with her friends are very difficult and she feels like her “independence has been taken away”.
Her distraught mum Rachel, said: “I appreciate that the NHS cannot help everybody, but I do find it frustrating. If Amy could walk a little bit I could understand it but she cannot walk at all. Unfortunately Amy falls into that grey area.”
Rachel and Simon, who have three other children, are trying to raise the £8,450 they have been quoted to buy a new electric wheelchair and are planning to do fundraising such as car boot sales.
And the family are reluctantly appealing to readers to again make donations.
Rachel said: “I would appreciate any donation, even if it is something to sell in a car boot but I do not want people to think that I am begging. I feel absolutely awful that I am having to ask for help again. I feel as if I am having to beg and I shouldn’t.”
Amy is hopeful the funds can be raised and said that she will “cry” on the day she receives a new wheelchair.
Helen Clark, a spokesman for the Leicester Specialist Mobility Centre, said the service provided was determined on criteria set out by the NHS.
She said: “ Where individuals do not meet the criteria, we try to offer practical assistance such as providing information on charities that are known to assist with mobility equipment provision, such as outdoor powered wheelchairs.”
She said the organisation was unable to comment on individual cases.
If you wish to make a donation for Amy’s electric wheelchair visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/rachel-rowlattneetownsend-1