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Family faces more than £4,000 bill for broken-down wheelchair

A family is facing a bill for thousands of pounds to buy a severely disabled man a new wheelchair after his old one broke down.

Dawn Downing’s son, Ellis, 24, suffers from cerebral palsy, epilepsy and spastic quadriplegia and is wheelchair-bound, unable to communicate with people apart from various mannerisms and sounds.

Ellis first started using a motorised wheelchair when he attended Fountaindale School in Mansfield, and Dawn said it improved his mobility and brought him out of his shell.

PHIL, Ellis and Dawn Downing. (28081666)
PHIL, Ellis and Dawn Downing. (28081666)

But as he grew and his needs became more complex, he needed a more high-tech wheelchair, which was paid for by grants from charities.

The wheelchair was useful for his needs because not only did it enable him to move to a standing position to stretch his legs, but also to be eye-level with others.

But now, the chair has broken down and will cost more than £4,000 to repair, so he has had to revert to the use of his previous chair, which he has outgrown and does not support him as well as the other one.

His family have been told that a replacement wheelchair would cost £30,000, and he would be ineligible for this particular wheelchair on the NHS, because to receive a wheelchair such as one that goes indoors and outdoors, he would need to pass a road safety check.

But his family said he would not be suitable for such a test because Ellis can’t go outside on his own as he does not have full use of both his arms and his visibility is limited.

The family said that they were also told that a manual wheelchair would be sufficient enough for his needs.

Dawn, who is also disabled, said: “It has been very hard for all of us. We have had to save for years and to fundraise to pay for our new van, which cost £40,000, so I don’t know where we can get this money from.”

A spokesman for the NHS Newark and Sherwood Clinical Commissioning Group encouraged Ellis to contact Blatchford, who provide wheelchair assessment services in Newark.

A GoFundMe page has been set up so well-wishers can help to contribute towards Ellis’ new chair.

Anyone wanting to make a contribution sohould visit the page at www.gofundme.com/f/ellisdowning wheelchair

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