North West Assistive Technology (NWAT) is a regional service commissioned by NHS England to provide specialist Environmental Control and Computer Access equipment for adults and children with complex, physical disabilities and long-term medical conditions.

NWAT’s main aims are to enhance the quality of life for service users, with electronic equipment that can enable users to live with a degree of independence in the community.

Support we can provide includes:

  • Access:
    Access methods are the ways in which people control equipment. They can be very specific if the person has very limited mobility or complex disabilities. This could include making your own mobile phone, tablet, laptop or PC easier to use through your own accessibility settings, or specialist hardware and software.
  • Environmental Control (EC):
    Providing a system to support your independence in controlling your environment such as TV, landline phones, lamps and fans. 

The NWAT service is commissioned by NHS England and therefore individuals are NOT subject to means testing.  

We provide a community-based service, and all visits and assessments are carried out at the service users place of residence by a multi-disciplinary team, including an Occupational Therapist and Rehabilitation Engineer.

Any equipment loaned to the individual remains the property of NWAT and is for home use only.

In line with the NHS England Service Specification, assessments will be carried out by a multi-disciplinary team, including an Occupational Therapist and Rehabilitation Engineer.

The aim of the assessment is to identify:

  • The service user’s goals / needs and how technology might assist with this
  • To ensure the eligibility 
  • The access method needed to use the equipment 
  • Alternative ‘low-tech’ alternative solutions which may be available
  • If the client feels that assistive technology is the appropriate solution.


If assistive technology is to be provided, the team will agree:

  • The best way to implement the technology, including any training required
  • The programming / customisation of equipment required
  • The follow up required
  • The timescale for installation. Factors which influence this include progressive conditions, urgent social or medical needs, ongoing building work or a clients request to postpone.

Ongoing maintenance and support

All equipment is issued free of charge, on long-term loan for as long as it is required. To ensure the equipment continues to meet client needs, the team will:

  • Complete an annual service visit, including visual and functional inspection, battery replacement and PAT testing. The annual service visit will be completed at a mutually convenient time and date.
  • Respond to fault calls received via the helpline: 0151 529 2022 or e-mail 
  • Reprogramme equipment when, for example, the client has purchased a new television, or the client has requested that additional functions are added to their system
  • Review client needs and provide alternative solutions as appropriate. 

More information

Referral to NWAT should be made by health and social care professionals (such as your Occupational Therapist, Speech and Language Therapist, Physiotherapist etc.), charities and support workers.  

NWAT will also accept self-referrals, provided a named health and social care professional is included within the referral, should further clinical information be required. 

The team are happy to discuss individual situations with service users, family members and carers, as well as professionals, and provide advice about referrals or signposting to other organisations.

You can read the NHS England Service Specification here - D01/S/c NHS Standard Contract for Complex Disability Equipment: Environmental Controls (All Ages). 

The national standard around referral to treatment for the service is 18 weeks.  

Waiting times for assessment and installation vary due to demand. However, individuals with fast progressing conditions will be prioritised.

North West Assistive Technology is located on the ground floor.

What we are not commissioned to provide

  • We are not commissioned to provide Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), but work collaboratively with the Ace Centre in Oldham who have a contract for AAC provision for the North West from NHS England. People who have difficulty speaking can use AAC to communicate effectively.
  • We are not commissioned to provide commercially available solutions, such as smart speakers or smart home appliances; or to provide computer skills training. For this, as well as support for individuals who do not meet our service specification, we recommend contacting AbilityNet.
  • We are not commissioned to provide access to gaming. We recommend contacting charities such as Special Effect and/or Everyone Can.

Support outside of the home

  • NWAT equipment is for home use only. If you require equipment to support with environmental control/computer access at school, college or university, this support should be provided by them. If you require equipment to support with employment, contact Access to Work.
  • If you require support with bed or chair control, please note that this is the responsibility of the manufacturers. There are occasions where NWAT can support with this, however it can never be guaranteed due to both technical and safety measures.
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DOCX file icon NWAT referral form 18/10/2023 1.16 MB