WHEELCHAIRS are being counted at the Royal Bolton Hospital as part of an audit to improve access for patients.

The Bolton NHS Foundation Trust is tracing all wheelchairs to assess the level of demand at the hospital site.

So far, 43 have been counted but trust bosses admit it is difficult to work out an exact total because wheelchairs are moved around from ward to ward.

There are 24 pool wheelchairs which belong to the trust used by porters, patients, customer care staff and ambulance crews.

Seven are in A&E plus 11 coin-operated wheelchairs in the main entrance.

The trust also has a bariatric wheelchair for obese patients.

Heather Edwards, head of communications at the trust, said: “The idea of the audit is to assess whether we have enough to meet demand on the site.

“Obviously, as more of our services move into the community, the demand will change so it is quite difficult to assess.”

The audit was prompted by the trust’s board of directors who expressed concerns about patient access to wheelchairs.

Jack Firth, chairman of Healthwatch Bolton, said: “While no patients have come to us with any complaints about the wheelchairs, the trust needs to ensure an appropriate system is in place so that everyone has access to wheelchairs.

“I imagine it is difficult to count them because people move them about once they’ve used them.”