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Exeter City Council has reported an “equipment amnesty” due to supply chain pressures, which has led to a shortage of vital products like mobility and toileting aids, hoists and hospital beds that help vulnerable people in Devon to live independently at home.

Now, Millbrook Healthcare, which provides healthcare services on behalf of the NHS and local authorities, is offering free collection of essential mobility aids from people’s homes across Devon for people who no longer need these items.

According to the council, continued high levels of coronavirus cases worldwide have been causing disruption to outbound supplies, especially from Asia where many independent living equipment items are manufactured and shipped from.

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The world’s third and fifth largest ports in China were under COVID-19 lockdowns in June and global economists predict that the continued constraints on key shipping routes – that are leading to delays of four to six weeks – will continue into 2022.

In addition, recent lockdowns and COVID-19 risks mean manufacturing factories are working on reduced capacity, increasing supplier lead-in times on many equipment lines.

The combination of issues mean that community equipment stocks in Devon stores are low on some items of independent living equipment, the local authority highlights, including four-wheeled walking frames and raised toilet seats, and Devon County Council and NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are acting early now to mitigate the risk of running out of stock.

Mobility manufacturers have also reported similar problems and are bracing themselves for more delays in stock being delivered from overseas suppliers with the global container shipping crisis set to continue until March 2022.

“We deliberately built our stocks up last year, but conditions right now are very challenging,” said Glen Baxter, from Millbrook Healthcare, which provides community equipment to people on behalf of Devon County Council and NHS Devon CCG.

With no sign of the situation improving soon, Millbrook Healthcare, Devon County Council and NHS Devon CCG are asking people who no longer need their community equipment to return it free of charge.

The authorities ran the amnesty for the first time last year, which resulted in hundreds of items being returned, refurbished, sterilised and put back into use in the community.

“We were delighted by the response last year,” continued Glen. “Because we were able to put back into circulation items that were no longer being used, we were able to continue to provide the vital equipment that people needed in the timescales required. We want to do the same again now.”

Supply pressures are affecting the availability of four-wheeled walking frames and toileting equipment in particular to Devon. Other equipment used in high volumes includes hospital beds, clinical mattresses, pressure cushions and hoists.

Wheelchairs however, are not part of the amnesty, because these are not provided by the community equipment service that Millbrook delivers.

Collection of the equipment from people’s homes is free and Millbrook staff will collect the items from the property.

Glen added: “Our drivers will do their best, but we’ll need to prioritise collections depending on what items are in highest demand, and any staffing pressures created by the pandemic. We thank people in advance for their understanding and patience, and assure people we will be in touch to arrange collection of their items over the coming weeks.”

The amnesty will run from the 9th-30th August. People should call 0330 124 8214 to arrange a collection.

Councillor James McInnes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for adult social care and health, said: “We were pleasantly surprised at the level of response we received to last year’s amnesty, with hundreds of items if not more collected from people’s homes across Devon.

“We’re hoping to achieve that again while we’re experiencing these problems in the supply chain, but there are also good environmental reasons too as to why we’re keen to re-use equipment where we can. If the equipment amnesty is successful, we’ll be considering whether to hold it regularly as a matter of routine.”

Millbrook Healthcare already operates a re-use service throughout the year, collecting items of higher value and equipment that people are able to leave at council-run household waste recycling centres for collection by Millbrook. What can be re-used is refurbished and put back into the system, and items that can’t because they don’t meet UK safety standards are recycled or given to charity as overseas aid.

In April, the outsourced provider took over the contract for Worcestershire’s Promoting Independent Living Service to deliver the home improvement agency for the six district councils in Worcestershire.

As part of the contract, the firm provides a minor adaptations and handyperson service aimed at preventing falls at home, which will include installing facilities such as rails, ramps, half steps and fixed toilet frames to make it easier for its customers to move around their homes safely.

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https://i2.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/crutches.jpg?fit=1000%2C702&ssl=1https://i2.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/crutches.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Sarah SarsbyGovernment & Local AuthoritiesNewsroomNHSSector NewsDevon County Council,equipment amnesty,Exeter City Council,independent living equipment,Millbrook Healthcare,Mobility aids,NHS Devon CCG,NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group,toileting aidsExeter City Council has reported an “equipment amnesty” due to supply chain pressures, which has led to a shortage of vital products like mobility and toileting aids, hoists and hospital beds that help vulnerable people in Devon to live independently at home. Now, Millbrook Healthcare, which provides healthcare services on...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals