Ministers have announced that £2 million will be provided to install over 100 ‘Changing Places’ toilets in NHS hospitals throughout England. There are currently only around 30 to 40 Changing Places on the NHS England estate, and this investment will enable Trusts to greatly increase accessibility.
People with disabilities and their carers say suitable changing places in public can be life changing and allow them to go out in the public without fear or stress. Changing Places toilets are larger than standard disabled toilets and have extra equipment like adult-sized changing benches and hoists.
Winchester & Chandler’s Ford MP Steve Brine, who recently teamed up with Winchester Science Centre and the family of a young boy living locally with cerebral palsy, said;
“Finn and his family really brought this issue alive for me and I was keen to ensure their voice was heard inside Government. I am delighted at this announcement because Changing Places toilets make a huge difference to the lives of disabled people. This is not just about their dignity, as a lack of correct toilet facilities limit their social, cultural, health and educational options. There are over a quarter of a million severely disabled people who require a Changing Places toilet, and this investment will go a long way to giving them better quality of life.”
Catherine Woodhead, Chief Executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, which co-chairs the Changing Places Consortium, said: “We are delighted that the Department of Health and Social Care and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government are committed to making Changing Places toilets more widely available.
“Having access to Changing Places toilets increases independence and improves quality of life, and by investing in facilities we can tackle the exclusion many disabled people face on a daily basis.”
The announcement follows a recent £2 million investment by the Department for Transport to increase Changing Places facilities in motorway service stations, as well as news that Ministers will launch a consultation this year on proposals that the essential facilities are included in all new large publicly-accessible buildings and significant redevelopments. Currently, building regulations guidance only recommends Changing Places toilets are provided.
Steve Brine added; “While the number of the facilities has increased from 140 in 2007 to more than 1,200 today, the government is determined to go even further to improve disabled people’s quality of life. We’ve a long way to go but this investment for the NHS, along with some £70,000 for an online map of the UK that helps carers and disabled people find Changing Places toilets, is a great start to the new year.”
Pictured; Steve Brine MP at Winchester Science Centre with Finn, mum Jenny and big Sister Olivia.