Providers of mobility equipment in the Scottish Borders have reportedly been left £34,000 short after more than 1,000 aids handed out into the community in the last five years have not been returned.
An appeal has been launched for the equipment to be returned after a freedom-of-information request revealed that the number of NHS aids going missing increased from 155 (worth £5,200) in 2013 to 273 (worth £9,300) in 2016.
The figures show that more than 25% of money spent on mobility aids in the last year went towards equipment that would not be returned, compared with 16% in 2013.
The appeal, led by council-owned social care provider SB Cares, hopes to claw back unused equipment so it can be provided to others.
An array of aids are being sought after including walking aids and frames, bathing aids, hoists, bath lifts, adapted chairs, height-adjustable seating systems, shower stools, commodes, bed-rails and wheelchairs.
Any returned equipment will be assessed and potentially recycled and reissued into the community.
Sandra Pratt, the partnership’s interim chief officer for health and social care integration, told The Southern Reporter: “Being able to recycle equipment in this way is a sensible and efficient way for us to respond to the needs of our clients and patients, and I would encourage everyone to play their part and get in touch with SB Cares so that we can arrange for items to be returned.”
Meanwhile, SB Cares managing director Philip Barr, said: “Our team do everything they can to ensure that unused items are returned to us, but this is an opportunity for the community to help us to help others.
“Every item of equipment we receive will be assessed and, wherever possible, put back into use to help someone else stay able, supported and independent.”
There are growing concerns around the country where NHS-supplied mobility equipment is not being returned to a service whose resources are already thinly stretched.