Medequip Amnesty BIn
Medequip started installing Amnesty BIns in North Yorkshire in 2019

Continuing its efforts to encourage recycling and reusing of community equipment, Medequip has installed a new ‘amnesty bin’ in Harrogate to  to make it easier for people to return loaned equipment.

The bin has been set up at a household waste recycling centre in Harrogate and follows talks between Medequip and Yorwaste, the organisation that manages the area’s centres.

Responsible for issuing community equipment on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council and the CCGs in the county, the new amnesty bin joins three amnesty bins already at York Hospital and Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.

In addition, the community equipment services provider is planning to install a further depository at one of the household waste recycling centres in Scarborough.

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Darren Clark, North Yorkshire Operations Manager for Medequip, commented: “It’s not as simple as knowing where the equipment is originally deployed – equipment may be lost, passed on to another family member or even put away in a loft.

“We realise we need to get the message across to people that it is important to return these items, but we also recognise that we have to make it easier for people to arrange collection or to return the equipment to an accessible location.”

In 2019, a BBC report highlighted the extent to which equipment was failing to reissued by local authorities, CCGs and community equipment services, with a particular focus on lower-cost equipment such as crutches and walking frames.

In 2017/18, out of three and a half million items that were loaned to patients, just two million were returned, with the rest largely going to landfill or finding their way to the back of people’s cupboards.

Medequip’s amnesty bins are part of the company’s ‘Return, Reuse, Recycle’ campaign which it first initiated with West Suffolk NHS back in 2017.

Speaking with Medequip’s Business Support Manager Michaela Harris last year, she explained the community equipment provision process in more detail, including managing the human element inherent with issuing equipment.

Adopting Medequip’s recycling campaign, North Yorkshire County Council and clinical commissioning groups in York and North Yorkshire are hoping to see recycling rates increase significantly as a result of the initiative.

Dr Charles Parker, the Clinical Chair Elect for North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Increasing the number of places where people can deposit unwanted equipment like crutches and walking frames is a huge positive.

“Much of the equipment that’s returned is in a good condition and can be cleaned, serviced then reissued to someone else in need. The objective is to continue to deliver cost-effective, efficient and safe community equipment solutions which help the NHS budget go further.”

To further encourage people to return and recycle aids, all equipment delivered by Medequip in the area is accompanied by a leaflet with full details on how to return the items, as well as every item carrying a barcode label which also features a collection telephone number and a unique identifying code.

Cllr Michael Harrison, North Yorkshire County Council’s Executive Member for Health and Adult Services, said: “The county council, in conjunction with our CCG partners, are always looking for opportunities to encourage and enable people who have been issued with equipment to be able to return this for recycling, repair or disposal.

“As such we have been keen to promote the ‘Return Recycle Reuse’ campaign in conjunction with CCG colleagues and our integrated equipment provider, Medequip, and prevent equipment being discarded or left unused.”

In addition to the amnesty bins, equipment can be returned to designated Medequip drop off points in the region as well.

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