Disabled children in Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven are being forced to wait more than four months for a wheelchair from the NHS, figures reveal.

Charities have warned that substantial gaps in provision across England are leaving many disabled people without the wheelchairs they need, affecting their independence and leaving them in pain or discomfort.

Clinical Commissioning Groups in England are required to deliver wheelchairs to children within 18 weeks of referral in at least 92% of cases – a target that has been lowered from a previous threshold of 100%.

NHS guidance emphasises the "paramount importance" of the timescale from referral to delivery.

But NHS figures show that six children waited longer than the 18-week window in the NHS Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven CCG area between April and June.

In total, 20 had a wheelchair or other equipment prescribed and delivered to them in that time, meaning the CCG had a success rate of just 70%.

Warren Kirwan, head of communications at disability charity Scope, said: "Having the right wheelchair can be life-changing for disabled people, but many face an unfair postcode lottery to get one which meets their needs.

"Too many disabled people only get the most basic of chairs without the necessary adaptations, which can affect their independence and leave them in pain or discomfort.

"With wheelchairs sometimes costing in excess of £10,000, funding pressures need to be urgently addressed so disabled people aren’t stuck with unsuitable wheelchairs, or bearing the brunt of these huge costs themselves."

Of the 187 CCGs across England that submitted figures between April and June, fewer than half met that target, with more than 1,000 children forced to wait longer than 18 weeks.

Rates varied significantly across the country, with the target being missed for every patient in both Bromley and Kingston-Upon-Thames, the two worst-performing areas.

Rob Burley, from charity Muscular Dystrophy UK, said substantial gaps in services across the country were leaving disabled people without the basic equipment they need.

He said: "Wheelchairs are not a luxury, and having access to suitable equipment is vital.

"Too often, we hear stories from people who cannot leave their homes or are forced to fund expensive wheelchairs themselves.

"We must see an improvement in services, both nationally and locally.”

Children with a greater need face longer waits in Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven.

During the same three-month period, 24 children were assessed as having high needs after being referred to wheelchair services, meaning they were fully dependent on a chair for all their mobility needs.

But 38% of these children had to wait longer than eight weeks to be assessed, compared to 23% for children with a low or medium need.

A spokeswoman for NHS England said: "While around 85% of children and adults are getting a wheelchair within the 18 week target, some people may have complex conditions and may wait longer for specialist equipment.”