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Broken chair has left me stranded

PUBLISHED: 08:02 08 March 2012

Janet Grace has been trapped in her home for more than a week. Photo: Dieter Perry

Janet Grace has been trapped in her home for more than a week. Photo: Dieter Perry

Dieter Perry

»A woman paralysed in an operation has been left trapped ­upstairs in her home for more than nine days because her health ­provider has failed to fix her broken wheelchair.

Janet Grace, 51, who is crippled from the waist down and on one side, needs an electric wheelchair to collect her from the bottom of her stair lift at her home in New Orleans Walk, Hornsey Rise.

But since she was given a new chair in November, it has had ­several breakdowns and the most recent malfunction has left her stranded in her bedroom, unable to cook or socialise with friends, since February 27.

‘Independent’

The mother-of-two, who is able to operate a manual chair to get to the top of her stairs with the use of her one functioning arm and a slight movement in her left foot, said: “I’m very independent; I cook for myself, get out and about and I try to do as much as possible.

“But this has just left me stuck upstairs, having to cancel everything I was going to do and sitting here relying on takeaways and my carers when I should be able to get downstairs and cook for myself.”

Ms Grace, who was paralysed when surgery for decompression of the spine in 1999 went wrong, added: “It’s so demoralising, I’m really stressed out and I’ve had my independence taken away from me. I’m quite vocal and have been on the phone trying to lodge complaints but everyday it’s a battle, I feel like a second-class citizen.”

When the wheelchair broke last week a mechanic said it needed a new motor on the left. It took a week to arrive and, when it was fitted on Monday, Ms Grace was told it also needed a new motor on the right, which is out of stock.

Even when the chair is repaired, the former social worker said she no longer feels safe in her home or out and about due to fears it will break again.

A spokeswoman for Camden Provider Services, which falls under the umbrella of the Camden and North West London (CNWL) NHS Foundation Trust and supplies the chair, said it had been in close ­contact with the patient.

But she declined to comment on the case due to “patient confidentiality”. She added: “The welfare of our patients is and continues to be our top priority.”

Ms Grace is pursuing legal action after the hospital operation.


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