Report reveals how physiotherapists can play a major role in saving NHS cash

Physiotherapists can play a significant role in making substantial financial savings by reducing waste and re-using equipment such as mobility aids, according to a new report.

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By looking at how hospitals deal with waste, the report Less waste more health: A health professionals guide to reducing waste, from the Royal College of Physicians, identifies how trusts can make sizable savings.

It features a series of case studies including the work of NHS West Suffolk, which launched a campaign encouraging local people to hand back NHS equipment they no longer required. In one month over 8,500 items were returned, including crutches (worth £12.70 per pair), commodes, adjustable wheeled frames and air mattresses (worth £1,650 per mattress).

Crutches, walking sticks and frames are listed in the NHS Sustainable Development Unit’s (SDU) top 20 priority items, which are thought to account for more than 70 per cent of the footprint of procured items, in terms of expenditures and carbon footprint. Due to the campaign the trust achieved a saving of £608,500 in one month. The report estimates that if all clinical commissioning groups achieved similar results £128 million worth of equipment could be recouped.

In addition, it recommends that all trusts should develop and promote facilities that allow the public to return medical equipment and to look for environmentally friendly product alternatives that don’t compromise patient care.

The SDU has also launched an award scheme to celebrate and share outstanding practices in health and social care that are improving health and the environment such as cutting carbon, air pollution and promoting green space.

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