Patient confined to home until OTs allocate wheelchair

Partially sighted man faces housebound nine weeks

By Gemma Burns

A North Belfast man who has been confined to a wheelchair has hit out at the length of time he has to wait to see an occupational therapist. Cavehill man Malcolm McCormick has recently been discharged from hospital after being diagnosed with arthritis and gout in his leg, a situation that has left him wheelchair bound. The Evelyn Gardens, resident, who is also registered partially blind, has been confined to his flat because the wheelchair he was given by the hospital is too small for his needs.

Malcolm claimed that when he asked if he could be given a larger wheelchair that would allow him to get out and about he was told he would first have to be assessed by an Occupational Therapist but could face a wait of up to nine weeks.

Malcolm said he now faces weeks confined to his home until he is allocated a wheel chair that is suitable for his needs.

“My leg had all swollen up and they thought at first I might have a clot,” he said.

“Then they told me I have arthritis in the leg and gout, I haven’t been able to walk on it. The hospital lent me a wheelchair but it is too small for me and I don’t fit into it. My friend tried to take me out to the shops on Saturday and I couldn’t get into the chair.

“I’ve been told that it could be nine weeks before and Occupational Therapist comes out to assess me, but that means I am stuck here. It’s very upsetting because I will be housebound.”

Malcolm called on the Belfast Trust to offer him a chair more appropriate for his needs.

“I am registered partially sighted and find it hard getting around as it is. I just like getting out and about to the shops and I go to bingo once a week.

“It’s wee things like that that I will miss that is just hard to take. I just hope that they can get me a chair that fits me.”

A spokeswoman for Belfast Health Trust said they could not discuss individual cases but added, “The Occupational Therapy service deals with very complex issues, including major housing adaptations and wheelchair assessments.

“Although the nine week waiting period is within the current guidelines, we would be happy to meet with the patient to discuss his treatment.”

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