Walking aid amnesty declared after NHS trust reveals expensive equipment loss

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A campaign has been launched for the return of walking aids and mobility equipment to a NHS trust in Warrington as part of plans to claw back money spent on the aids.

Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust announced an amnesty which is calling for former patients to return equipment who may have taken it home or not returned it.

The trust said that in the past year it has issued around 4,700 walking aids to patients with mobility issues at a cost of nearly £47,000.

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The trust hopes reclaiming equipment will cut waste and save money which will then be put back into the hospital’s services and facilities.

Julie Blackburn, team lead physiotherapist at Halton and Warrington Hospital, said the trust knows that returning crutches or other equipment is the last thing on anyone’s mind when they’re back on their feet again and getting better, according to a local newspaper.

But she added: “However, we feel it’s worth reminding people to just have a look around and ask them to hand crutches and metal sticks back in to the hospital if they are no longer needed.

Blackburn told the Runcorn and Widness World: “The amnesty will give people the chance to clear out the crutches that have been cluttering their home for months and will help replenish our stocks.”

In April thousands of units of mobility equipment were returned to NHS hospitals following an appeal calling for patients to return items.

Crutches, wheelchairs, walking frames, supportive seating and other aids worth hundreds of thousands of pounds poured back into hospitals after care providers around the country campaigned because of a shortage of expensive equipment which was leaving needy patients unaided.

In Liverpool, health bosses outlined how patients who fail to return equipment cost the local NHS £500,000 a year and as a result thousands of pieces of kit were promptly returned.

The Liverpool Echo reported that the volume of returns meant that the wheelchair loan service was saved. Other local services such as St Helens have already had to close following cut-backs.

A spokeswoman told the newspaper that more than 20,000 pieces of equipment had been returned since the amnesty began, saving the local NHS trust more than £300,000 so far.

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