An NHS trust accused of wasting walking aids and commodes has said it is facing a number of challenges preventing it from recycling equipment, including manufacturing warranties which do not permit the reuse of certain items.
NHS Ayrshire and Arran is said to be throwing away a ‘mountain’ of apparently reusable equipment on a regular basis and wasting taxpayers’ money.
The Daily Record quoted ‘a source’ close to Ayr Hospital, who claimed to have seen stacks of walking aids and piles of commodes, worth up to £100 each, being dumped each week.
They told the newspaper that there are “mountains of zimmers and commodes” and that the “sheer waste of it is staggering”.
The source said: “I totally get that commodes have to be thrown out due to cross-contamination and to combat any viruses which could enter the hospital but even they can be adapted, disinfected and have new pails attached to them to prolong them.
“But with zimmers the waste is unbelievable. They are used for people in hospital and patients with mobility problems.
“They are given them when they are discharged and they are then handed back but it seems to me they are used only once, returned then discarded.
“You’d really need to see the waste for yourself to understand how big a problem it is.”
But John Wright, director for corporate support services, said that the NHS trust is working hard on sustainability and that NHS Ayrshire and Arran was the best performing board in Scotland at meeting UN sustainability goals in 2018/19.
Mr Wright said: “Wherever possible we aim to reduce reuse and recycle. However, occasionally when furniture or equipment is damaged it is not economical or safe to remain in use and as a result it is disposed of. We do repair and reuse furniture where we can.
“We are currently rolling out a system where staff register surplus equipment online, enabling other departments to use it if required. Within this process other health boards, public bodies and charities are also offered the equipment before it is disposed of as waste.”
He added: “At this time the manufacturer’s warranty does not permit the reuse of walking aids as it only covers the use of one person.
“This is a national issue and options are being considered for remanufacturing these items to keep them in use without disposing of them as waste.”