'My son has been waiting three weeks to get his wheelchair fixed... I'm too angry for words'
The mother of a man with cerebral palsy who cannot walk has spoken of her anger and frustration at having to wait for weeks to have his specialised wheelchair fixed.
Ben Patton (25) – who has a metal rod in his spine – is being forced to sit in a broken wheelchair despite the repair being classed as urgent by health officials.
Ben's wheelchair is key to his quality of life.
The Carrickfergus family has faced weeks of delays in getting the repair carried out by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.
A cable allowing the specialist wheelchair to tilt to a suitable position for Ben broke on October 11.
His mother Beryl Patton (52) is angry it has taken so long for a replacement parts, understood to have been ordered from Dublin, to arrive
A spokeswoman for the Northern Trust confirmed the regional repair service ordered the spare parts from company Tools For Living on October 14.
Mrs Patton was finally told the parts were received by a regional repairer on October 29 but the wheelchair would not be fixed until today – three weeks after the fault occurred. Mrs Patton said she was shocked at how long the process had taken.
"Ben cannot walk or sit unaided," she explained.
"I am just so furious, I can't put it in to words how angry I am."
The mother-of-two said the cable was vital to adjust the position of the seat so Ben, who also has the top part of his hip bone (femur) removed, remains comfortable.
The trust has since apologised to the Patton family and said work is ongoing to improve response times. Due to insurance restrictions, the broken chair also meant Ben was unable to travel to his day centre.
"We were able to take him but he likes the journey on the bus with his friends – that is part of his day, so he is missing out," said Mrs Patton.
The trust said as Ben's wheelchair was specialised the parts had to be specifically ordered from the supplier, which increased the time it took to have this wheelchair repaired.
A spokeswoman for the trust said: "Whilst Ben was still able to use his wheelchair during this time the trust apologises for any distress this delay has caused Ben and his mother, and work is ongoing at a regional level between the trust and the regional wheelchair centre to improve response times for such repairs."
October 11: Cable operating tilt n' space mechanism on Ben's IBIS wheelchair breaks.
October 14: The regional repair service orders replacement parts from a Dublin company.
October 29: Parts are received by the repairer.
November 1: Technician scheduled to carry out repairs.