Hospital replaces wheelchair fleet as patients fail to return equipment

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NHS trusts across the country are increasingly having to fork out for new mobility aids and equipment as patients fail to return them when they no longer require them.

A hospital in Kent has been forced to replace its fleet of wheelchairs and introduce new systems to try and deter patients from keeping equipment.

But Virgin Care, which helps to run the hospital, said its supply of wheelchairs was unaffected.

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Gravesham Community Hospital purchased five new wheelchairs after the previous chairs were not returned despite being fitted with vertical poles to make it difficult to get them into cars.

The hospital has now introduced a chaining and signing in and out system as part of its measures to keep important equipment within the hospital.

Loss of equipment is a problem across the NHS with many hospitals struggling to replace simple mobility items like crutches. Some trusts are calling for patients to leave equipment at hospitals.

A hospital in the North West of England recently issued a plea to former patients urging them to return mobility aids which are no longer in use in an effort to save the foundation thousands of pounds.

In one year Warrington and Halton Hospital NHS Foundation Trust issued almost 4,700 walking aids at a cost of nearly £47,000.

But 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 the NHS 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.

Tags : equipmenthospitalNHSvirgin careWheelchair
Joe Peskett

The author Joe Peskett

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