Community equipment provider to address returns dilemma with North Yorkshire CCGs
Following last year’s NHS national “crutch amnesty” campaign to encourage a return of loaned medical equipment, NHS clinical commissioning groups in North Yorkshire and York are working alongside Medequip and calling on residents to return loaned mobility equipment.
Aiming to see the return of equipment to the region’s community equipment provider Medequip, the new community equipment amnesty will seek to cut local health service costs by tens of thousands of pounds.
Speaking with THIIS, Michaela Harris, Business Support Manager for Medequip, explained why there a high degree of equipment not being returned after it is surplus to requirements: “The shortfall is due to a variety of reasons, primarily centred around lack of knowledge.
“Information provided to users on how to return items may be mislaid, the equipment may be shared with friends and relatives, donated to charity shops, put away and forgotten or even in some cases sold on.”
It is thought that only one in every five pairs of crutches are returned after they are surplus to use, potentially costing the NHS an estimated £3million annually.
Speaking on behalf of the NHS CCGs in North Yorkshire and York, Dr Charles Parker, Clinical Chair of NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group, commented: “It’s vital we manage local NHS resources and budgets responsibly and reducing waste plays a big part in that.”
Highlighting that the equipment loaned to the community includes mobility and communication aids, shower chairs, perching stools, walking aids and pressure relieving mattresses/cushion, Councillor Michael Harrison, Executive Member for Adult Services and Health Integration for North Yorkshire County Council, said: “A lot of this equipment never finds its way back to the provider when it’s surplus to requirements. It’s quite likely it’s just been put in the garage or in the cupboard under the stairs and forgotten about once it’s served its purpose.”
Noting that Medequip collects 77 percent of all equipment issued to users, with 91 percent of collected items being successfully recycled after decontamination and operational checks, Michaela explained the steps the organisation is taking to increase the number of returns.
“Working with the Commissioning Team in North Yorkshire we have formed a Communications Group, which has produced a social media toolkit comprising artwork for Facebook and Twitter as well as NHS and Social Services websites. We have also undertaken media initiatives to increase awareness of our efforts,” she explained.
“Along with our Commissioners, we have developed a 25-point collection plan designed to maximise collections and touch points to encourage returns from the general public.”
In addition, Medequip will pick up equipment for free from customers that have equipment they no longer need and have established depot drop-off points in Scarborough and Knaresborough, as well as three amnesty bins – two at York Hospital and one at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton.
The initiative is one of a growing number of projects encouraging residents in the community to return equipment that is no longer needed. Recently, NRS Healthcare, Herefordshire Council and Wye Valley NHS Trust launched its collaborative ‘Hand it Back’ campaign, calling for the return of unwanted medical equipment.