New figures released by the BBC to mark the NHS’ 70th year have shown how much assistive equipment is in circulation in Wales, which has a population of just over 3m people.
The data showed there are 3,500 artificial limb users and 7,000 people using orthopaedic aids ranging from lumber supports, leg braces to collars.
Meanwhile, there are 70,000 wheelchair users in Wales who are currently supplied by a mixture of in-house local authority providers and private contractors.
Most recently, Medequip announced a partnership with manufacturer Cefndy Healthcare at a depot in Newport to expand its coverage in Wales. The provider said it is keen to roll this model out more widely.
The data also showed that there is an equipment crisis among some NHS trusts in desperate need where users are not returning items.
In one centre in Cardiff 10,000 walking aids are provided a year but 40% are not returned. It included 3,147 walking frames and 1,780 walking sticks in the last year.
The centre is requesting that unused items be returned and has declared an amnesty saying that refurbishing crutches and walking frames can save the NHS £20,000 per year.
Similar amnesties have been springing up across the country as trusts look to claw back equipment as budgets are cut and fewer aids can be bought in.
Some authorities have seen their amnesties take off with patient charity, Healthwatch Kirklees, saying it had an ‘overwhelming’ response to its mobility equipment amnesty, which saw more than 230 items, worth thousands of pounds, returned within just one month.