A woman has been left “stuck shuffling about on a Zimmer frame” after being refused a four-wheeled walking aid.

The local woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, took a fall on Christmas Day 2018 and as a result suffers from injuries that greatly affect her mobility.

“There was no alcohol involved but I have arthritis in my left knee and I went down with a bang,” shared the woman.

She continued: “I was getting sorer and I couldn’t get out of bed and my husband had to get me out of bed every morning. I then phoned the paramedics, they gave me gas and air and got me out of bed. That was January 10, I’d been suffering since Christmas Day.”

The woman was given an x-ray.

She said: “They found I had two broken vertebrate in my spine and my coccyx was just in pieces and I’d injured my hip. There isn’t surgery or anything they can do so they just let me home, they didn’t give me pain killers or anything.”

The woman explained that she got a Zimmer frame which she has been using since she was first diagnosed. The woman was visited by a physiotherapist every 10 days, and it was decided that she would be provided with a three-wheeled walking aid.

“I knew by the look of it I couldn’t use it,” said the woman. “The front wheel was all over the place, and I just could not use it, I was terrified of it so two weeks ago my physio came out again and they said, ‘oh yes you definitely need the four-wheeled one,’ and she filled in some forms, she was a lovely girl.”

“She told me I would have to wait two weeks before I’d get the four-wheeled one,” she added.

The woman commented that following her visit, the physiotherapist had reported to their superior that her condition had “deteriorated greatly.”

She decided to follow up with a phone call last Friday to see if there were any updates on when she would receive the four-wheeled walking aid. After talking to a physiotherapist, the woman was told she wouldn’t be provided with a four-wheeled walking aid because they “couldn’t afford” to buy her one.

The woman explained: “She told me that they couldn’t afford to buy me one. ‘You can only have a three-wheeled one,’ but I said I need a four-wheeled one because I can’t use the three-wheeled one. I fell again last week and she knew that.”

“The physio said, ‘no, you can’t have a four-wheeled one because we can’t afford it. Will you come in on Tuesday?’ and I said, ‘go in? What do you mean go in, I’m on a Zimmer frame that doesn’t fit in the car, I can’t use this three-wheeled one,’ and she said, ‘well I’m going on holidays on Wednesday,’” said the woman.

She continued: “I phoned on Monday morning and I got through to the head of physio, he’s based in Altnagelvin and he’s in support of the other physio 101 per cent.”

The woman added: “I’m 73 years of age and I’ve worked all my life and I’ve paid my national insurance and my stamp and they won’t spend, I think it’s about £50, on buying me a four-wheeled walker.”

Calling it a “dreadful situation,” the woman commented: “It makes me so mad. I am just stuck shuffling about on a Zimmer frame because they won’t buy me a four-wheeled walking aid.”

When asked how much it costs to provide a patient with a four-wheeled walking aid, the Western Health and Social Care Trust did not comment. When asked how much it costs to provide a patient with a three-wheeled walking aid, the Trust did not comment.

In response to the query as to why the Trust will not provide a patient with a four-wheeled walking aid after a physiotherapist has confirmed that the patient requires one, a spokeswoman for The Trust stated:

“Respecting patient/client confidentiality the Trust does not comment on individual cases. “

She continued: “The Community Physiotherapy team will perform a mobility assessment to ascertain a person’s level of clinical need. Based on those findings, if a walking aid is needed, it is provided in order to meet that person’s need in a safe and cost effective manner.”

“This process is applied across the Western Trust area,” the spokeswoman for The Trust concluded.