Charities urge one stop for disability assessment

The RNIB and RNID have joined forces with the British Red Cross to look into creating a single point of contact for disabled people during the disability assessment process.

The charities want to change the situation in which each individual disability is separately assessed, despite the fact that at least a third of people with sight problems have an additional disability or health problem.

The consortium, which was set up to integrate equipment services and target public money more effectively, has taken over the running of the NHS equipment trading website www. The site helps health professionals buy equipment that has become superfluous elsewhere.

The consortium paid the Department of Health £1 for the rights to run the site after a tendering process. It hopes that subscriptions will help it to become self-funding.

Lesley-Anne Alexander, chief executive at the RNIB, said she wanted an "end to the postcode lottery" that Community Equipment Services had become.

"Current statutory services are failing blind and partially sighted people by not providing equipment vital for everyday independent living," she said.

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