NHS to reuse more medical equipment

Department of Health and Social Care | October 2018 |NHS to reuse more medical equipment

As part of the NHS plan to reduce waste, medical equipment such as nearly-new crutches and wheelchairs currently left unused in patients’ homes are going to be reused, where it is safe to do so. Health Minister Steve Barclay is encouraging  NHS staff to accept unwanted equipment that patients no longer need and reuse it.

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Some hospitals are already re purposing equipment through innovative schemes:

  • Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust – runs a scheme to reuse returned walking aids, such as frames and crutches. Returned items are examined, decontaminated and reused or recycled. Last year 21% of crutches and 61% of frames were returned. This saw over 2,000 pieces of equipment reused and generated savings of over £25,000
  • Airedale NHS Foundation Trust – a project run by the trust and shared across local areas has seen over 800 wheelchairs recycled by the charities for use overseas, including in Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and the Pacific
  • University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust – a scheme to change the types of container it used for ‘sharps’, moving from disposable containers to long-span bins which last for 10 years, helping to save around £20,000 per year

Health Minister Steve Barclay said:

“There are some great examples of hospitals already reusing vital medical equipment ‒ such as wheelchairs and walking aids ‒ and we want to see more of this across the country. In too many instances, however, medical equipment is being used once and then thrown away at a time when the public is increasingly aware of the impact of waste on the environment.

Patients should be able to return the countless pairs of perfectly good crutches sitting unused in the corner of living rooms across the country and know they will be put to good use helping others, either in the NHS or elsewhere through charity donations.” (Source: Department of Health and Social Care)

Full details are available from the Department of Health and Social Care

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