Thousands of disabled children are being forced to wait months for a wheelchair amid “alarming” NHS failures, charities have warned.New figures reveal more than 5,000 cases in which those suffering from spinal injuries and other life-changing disabilities were left without the right equipment for months.Four years ago the NHS signed a wheelchair charter which promised that access and provision should be equal for all “irrespective of age or postcode”.But the new analysis shows one in five children in need of a wheelchair are waiting more than 18 weeks for it, with a postcode lottery in provision across the country.In some parts of the country less than one in three children in need of the equipment received it within this time. And the figures show waiting times lengthened for children with the highest needs, and those requiring specialist chairs.Campaigners said the failings meant children were being left stuck at home, unable to go to school – and in some cases forced into respite care because parents could not cope.Dave Bracher, campaigns manager at the Spinal Injuries Association, said: “These alarming statistics show a continued widespread postcode lottery that is affecting some of the most vulnerable disabled children in society, including those with spinal cord injuries.“These delays inevitably affect a child’s rehabilitation and daily life – such as attending school, contributing to family, and being with friends and therefore has significant long term consequences”. If a child doesn’t have the right chair it means they cannot go to schoolDame Tanni Grey-Thompson Around 82 per cent of eligible children received a wheelchair within 18 weeks in 2017-18, against a target of 92 per cent, according to the recently published official data. This was a slight improvement from 81 per cent in the previous year, but far off a target of 100 per cent set for next March. Children with high or specialist needs waited longer for wheelchairs in 2017-18 then they did in the year prior, the analysis by Health Service Journal shows.More than 4,200 children, two fifths of all those with high needs requiring wheelchairs, had to wait more than nine weeks in 2017-18 to receive their wheelchair once their needs had been assessed – a rise of around 6 per cent in a year.Children in Darlington, Rotherham, Portsmouth, South Lincolnshire, West Hampshire, Southampton, and West Suffolk were among those suffering the longest delays. These delays inevitably affect a child’s rehabilitation and daily lifeDave Bracher, Spinal Injuries Association Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, the former Paralympian who campaigned for NHS England to adopt the wheelchair charter, said major improvements were needed.She said: “If a child doesn’t have the right chair it means they cannot go to school, it means children are harder to handle for parents, it means potentially more respite care.”A spokeswoman for NHS Clinical Commissioners said its guidance had sought to improve outcomes for patients needing wheelchairs “within the current financial context and demand pressures they are facing”.The CCGs with the worst delays said they were working with providers to improve performance. An NHS England spokesman said: “The new target has been introduced to drive improvements in access to and availability of wheelchairs for children across every part of the country, however there will be cases for example where children chose bespoke wheelchairs which may take longer to arrive.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.