Dozens of people who need a wheelchair in Gloucestershire had to wait over four months to get one from the NHS, new figures show.

Charities have reported more calls from patients struggling and said more needs to be done to ensure people living with a muscle-weakening condition have the equipment to meet their needs.

There is a target in place for patients to be assessed and wheelchairs to be delivered to them within 18 weeks of a referral, but thousands of patients across England were forced to wait for longer.

NHS England figures show 38 out of 138 new and re-referred patients did not receive a wheelchair in Gloucestershire within the target time between April and June this year. Of those, seven were children aged under 19.

It meant only 73% received equipment within 18 weeks or less.

Across England, there was a slight improvement from last year's figures, with 82% of children and 86% of adults having received wheelchairs within 18 weeks or less. The numbers stood at 80% and 85%, respectively, during the same period of 2022.

There were 83 adults and children assessed as high need patients in Gloucestershire, who are fully dependent on a wheelchair for all mobility needs.

Of those, 32 waited longer than four months to receive the equipment. This was more than the same three-month period last year, when 16 experienced the delay.

Neeru Naik, deputy director of care, campaigns and support at Muscular Dystrophy UK said: “The figures highlight that more needs to be done to support people like the 110,000 adults and children in the UK living with a muscle wasting and weakening condition to ensure that they have the correct equipment.

For example, appropriate wheelchairs, with moulded seats and risers to meet the needs of those with muscle wasting conditions is still difficult to access. The charity’s free helpline has seen an increase in calls from those who are struggling to access appropriate equipment.”

In Gloucestershire, none of the people assessed as special need patients, who are also fully dependent on a wheelchair, were affected by the over four-month wait.

The NHS Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board had a budget of over £1 million and 2,544 adults and children registered with the service as of June.

Sarah Pugh, CEO at Whizz Kidz said: “We are not aware of any wheelchair service getting an inflation matching increase in funding even though inflation has been significant across all services.

“We fear that the inconsistencies in services will only get worse without a step change in understanding how to fund services effectively.”

She added the cost-of-living crisis has made it 20% more expensive for the charity to provide children with wheelchairs.

An NHS England spokesperson said: “While local NHS systems are responsible for commissioning wheelchair services for their area, the NHS has introduced a Personal Wheelchair Budgets to give people greater choice and control over acquiring the equipment they need, and latest figures show an improvement in number of people receiving the equipment they need within 18 weeks, which is in line with pre-pandemic performance.”