Patient charity, Healthwatch Kirklees, has had an ‘overwhelming’ response to its mobility equipment amnesty, which saw more than 230 items, worth thousands of pounds, returned within just one month.
The charity had issued a plea for patients to return the much-needed equipment in February, including wheelchairs, crutches and walking aids, to be recycled and reissued
Rory Deighton, director at Healthwatch Kirklees, said that the watchdog discovered that actually Kirklees Council and provider Medequip are “very good at recycling equipment”.
“We’ve learned that for some items like crutches, people need somewhere to drop them off because it’s just not economical for the council to collect them.”
Healthwatch adviser, Clare Costello, said: “We get loads of calls from people saying that they’d struggled to return NHS equipment to the right place. Often people didn’t know where to take it or they were told they’d taken the equipment to the wrong place or even that they didn’t need to return the equipment they no longer needed.”
“People love the NHS. They know the financial pressure that the council and NHS are under and wanted to make a contribution. Recycling old equipment seemed to be a good way to do it.”
She continued: “Our long term aim is to produce a clearer guidance so that people can return and recycle unwanted equipment. We think this will take a couple of months to do, as we have to work with lots of partners to make it work for everyone.
“This really is about recognising that people want to make a positive contribution to our NHS, and our community by recycling more. We’ve been overwhelmed and inspired by people’s responses, and the conversations we’ve had on people’s doorsteps.”
Georgia Greasley, operations manager for Medequip, said that the firm collects recycle and reuse over 25,000 items of equipment each year.
“We are delighted to work with Healthwatch to make people more aware of how to return equipment appropriately. We have invested in amnesty bins at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Eddercliffe Health Centre and distributed leaflets to GP surgeries across Kirklees to encourage returns.
“Every delivery we make includes an information card on how to request equipment collection when it is no longer needed.”