Community Equipment Amnesty Re-Launched by Health Trust
A campaign to encourage patients to return all NHS loaned community equipment has been re-launched by Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust.
The community equipment amnesty was launched by the Trust last year in an effort to recover items such as wheelchairs, hospital beds and walking aids once they were no longer needed.
During the four-month long amnesty between September 2016 and January 2017, 14,700 items were returned, resulting in a saving of around £200,000 to the Trust. The annual impact of the programme has saved around £600,000 over the past year.
Many of the returned items were recycled, making more equipment available to support discharge for patients from hospital to community settings.
Staff at the Trust also told of some of the more unusual incidents uncovered during the amnesty. One included a hoist being used as a clothes horse and a £5,000 motorised wheelchair being damaged beyond repair after it was left outside in a back garden.
The initiative is part of a drive to reduce wastage within the service and improve sustainability.
The Trust loans NHS equipment to support patients across Liverpool on the understanding that they will be returned so they can be cleaned, recycled and reused.
Although the Trust's previous amnesty programme has had a significant beneficial impact on the level of spend, a number of items are still not returned each year. It is estimated that not returning items of NHS community equipment costs the local NHS over £500,000 every single year, which is money that could instead be re-invested into supporting other patients.
Some examples of how much money could be saved by returning unused items of community equipment include:
- Each manual wheelchair returned saves the NHS at least £135
- Each walking aid returned saves the NHS approximately £90
As part of the re-launch, people receiving community equipment will be given a free fridge magnet reminding them to return the items and detailing how they can arrange free collection or drop-off.
Allan Rimmer, Service Lead for the Community Equipment Service said:
"We made the decision to re-launch our Community Equipment Amnesty following the success of the campaign last year.
"As part of this latest campaign, we'll be handing out fridge magnets so our patients and their families have an easily accessible and very visual reminder to return items that are no longer needed and the ways they can do this."
"Everyone will be aware of the financial pressures currently facing the NHS, and the Community Equipment Amnesty is one way that our team felt we could help save some money locally.
"We want to encourage everyone in the local community who has community equipment on loan from the NHS which they no longer use or need to return it to us as soon as possible."
Common examples of NHS equipment that often get forgotten and left unreturned include: manual wheelchairs, walking aids, supportive seating and specialist mattresses or cushions.