DOZENS of children and adults across the borough are being denied wheelchairs due to changes to eligibility criteria, a charity has claimed.

WeLoveCarers is preparing to fight the policy change that came into force last year, when the provider of the borough's wheelchair service - commissioned by Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group - changed.

Under the new criteria, people who are mobile enough to walk around their homes unaided, do not qualify for a wheelchair to use outside, according to Rachael Gardener, a founder of the Dudley based charity.

The 50-year-old, who is mum to twins Harry and Thomas, has been personally affected by the decision as both youngsters, who are 14, have profound disabilities and suffer from chronic lung disease as a result of being born premature.

Thomas is a full-time wheelchair user but Harry only requires one when he needs to walk long distances as his joints swell up and his legs give way.

Rachel, who lives in Stourbridge, said: "Harry has a wheelchair at the moment but he has outgrown it. We went for an assessment in April and we told we couldn't have another one.

"At the moment, we can get away with using it but for him, it isn't physically correct and there are a lot of other children in the borough that are going through the same - we've had families approaching us as a charity saying that they have been refused a chair.

"There have been 30 or 40 families impacted by this so far but not all of them have approached the CCG to ask for another chair as they are aware of the ruling."

She continued: "We've had a few meetings with the CCG and explained the issues but they said because of cuts, that's the line they are taking. We appreciate a lack of funding and cuts has a lot to do with the decision making but there wasn't a proper, fair consultation to start with - none of us knew anything about it."

In a bid to challenge the decision, the charity has started a CrowdJustice page - an online platform for financing legal fees through individual donations.

Supporters have raised almost £2,000, which will be used to fund a Certificate of Investigation into the legalities of this change in criteria and, if successful, it will look to generate more cash to apply for a judicial review.

Lifted Spirits - a support group that helps families of children with additional needs, run from Kingswinford Methodist Church - organised a sponsored walk at Baggeridge Country Park on Sunday to help boost the coffers.

Rachel said more than 100 concerned supporters attended the walk, adding: "They just want things put right for their children - and adults - who should be able to access what they should be rightfully entitled to."

Neill Bucktin, director of commissioning at Dudley CCG, said: “We believe that the concerns raised relate to the application of the eligibility criteria by two different service providers.

"Our policy has always sought to ensure that those people who are immobile have access to a wheelchair that meets their mobility needs and we are sorry to hear that these families do not feel we are currently doing that.

"Each person is assessed to understand their mobility needs once a referral to the service is made and the criteria applied fairly.

"Dudley CCG has met with WeLoveCarers previously and we will be offering another meeting to discuss these concerns whilst we reflect on the current policy and its implementation.”