NHS England health minister Steve Barclay’s call to NHS staff to accept patients’ unwanted medical equipment and reuse it has sparked some interesting online debate amongst readers
While many trusts happily accept returns that are decontaminated, serviced and reused, others say this costs more than simply supplying new kit. Patients have been told that old, but perfectly serviceable, wheelchairs or walking aids can’t be reused due to fear of potential lawsuit in the event of ‘equipment failure’.
Perceived cost implications or fear of litigation are, of course, nonsense. Managers should consider wider issues before consigning equipment to the scrapheap. Some trusts work with charities that give meaningful employment to jobless people who refurbish kit for donation abroad, adding extra years of useful working life, reducing the burden on landfill and obviating the need to manufacture more ‘stuff’.
One reader says the NHS should follow the lead of Australia, where patients pay a refundable deposit and a nominal hire fee. She says the scheme achieves a 99 per cent returns rate. That idea may sound good but collecting cash and means testing – are pensioners and patients on benefit exempt from fees? – involves costly bureacracy. So come on NHS trusts across the land, welcome back those wheelchairs, zimmer frames and crutches. Remake, reuse or donate them; you know it makes sense.
- Mark Gould Acting editor Frontline firstname.lastname@example.org
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