A BILL by Helensburgh’s MSP aiming to make it easier for people to get access to a free wheelchair has taken a step closer to being enshrined in law.

Jackie Baillie proposed a member’s bill to ensure people in need of a wheelchair for short-term use can get one on the NHS, something only received by patients who will require the aid for six months or more.

As part of the process, a 12-week public consultation must be undertaken.

Ms Baillie claims thousands of patients of the NHS are left having to pay for a wheelchair for short term use or relying on charities for help.

READ MORE: Helensburgh MSP seeks change in wheelchair access legislation

The MSP also states that some people are forced to stay in hospital despite being fit to leave if they have no wheelchair to use - an issue commonly referred to as “bed-blocking”.

Last year, the BBC reported that almost 500,000 bed days were lost in Scotland in 2017 as a result of delayed discharges from hospitals.

This week, the period for Ms Baillie’s bill ended, with 92 people coming forward to share their views.

More than two thirds of the responses received as part of the consultation were “fully in favour” of the move, according to the MSP.

Ms Baillie said: “I am delighted to have received such positive feedback on the first step of my proposed bill to give wheelchairs to those who need one.

“I was disappointed to learn that there currently isn’t the funding and facilities available to provide wheelchairs for everyone in need of one on the NHS.

“I am so grateful for organisations such as the British Red Cross which does a fantastic job of providing wheelchairs but they do not operate in every part of Scotland.

READ MORE: Helensburgh Red Cross centre to close at the end of the year

“So for those who can’t afford to buy their own wheelchair, having access to one is a real postcode lottery.

“I look forward to the next steps of my bill and hope that soon, everyone who needs a wheelchair will have one, regardless of their location or financial situation.”