Wheelchair Research Report 2023

The Value of a Wheelchair


The Wheelchair Alliance (the Alliance) commissioned a research report to identify the real value of providing the right wheelchair that truly meets the needs of the user to enable them to live the life they choose. The Value of a Wheelchair research was undertaken by two independent research organisations, Frontier Economics and Revealing Reality. It was grant funded by the Motability Foundation and published in December 2023.

The report follows on from the Wheelchair Alliance’s first report which was published in October 2022. This ‘state of the nation’ piece of research highlighted three key areas of concern:

  • that wheelchair services in England do not consistently work for service users,
  • that NHS provided wheelchair services should be subjected to more rigorous and mandated regulation and
  • that the true scale of demand is not known.

A position statement and priority actions were developed to address these challenges with action still needed to be taken to ensure equitable provision across England.

The Value of a Wheelchair report considered both quantitative data and in-depth interviews with wheelchair users across England. It unambiguously shows that the provision of a high quality wheelchair does not only have a significant beneficial impact on people’s lives but also leads to financial benefits for the NHS and society. It highlights that, using conservative assumptions, investment in wheelchair services could result in significant positive economic impact at a ratio of approximately £3 benefit across society for every £1 invested. The report stated that an annual increase of £22million pounds across wheelchair services, with wheelchairs users provided with the right high quality wheelchair realising a conservative annual total of 1% benefit, would result in a societal return of excess of £60 million. Should the annual total benefit be 5%, the same investment would realise benefits to society, including savings to the NHS, of in excess of £315 million pounds.

This report uses a social return on investment methodology however, the Alliance is aware that
‘‘wheelchair users aren’t economic units, and it is not about what a wheelchair user can provide to the economy – it should be about the individual first and foremost”
SM, November 2023

and the Alliance agrees that a follow up report considering the wheelchair users voice, the human impact of the right wheelchair should be the next step.