NHS repair centre found to frequently sell expensive mobility equipment for scrap when it could be repaired
NHS WestMARC in Scotland has been found to routinely scrap expensive wheelchairs that could easily be repaired and reused.
As seen in the Sunday Post, mobility products worth thousands of pounds at Scotland’s biggest NHS repair centre is being sold for scrap by NHS bosses.
The centre receives many broken wheelchairs (both powered and manual) and is meant to repair and return them to patients.
However, the newspaper has reported that seemingly usable mobility aids are frequently scrapped, with some of the binned wheelchairs being manufactured in as early as 2015 and 2016.
In one day in April, 35 electric wheelchairs were taken to the local Clydeside Auto Recyclers scrapyard in a single day.
An insider at NHS WestMARC said: “The waste is incredible. Powered and manual wheelchairs are routinely dumped for no reason other than no one is willing to fix them.
“There was a guy on site who fixed electric wheelchairs but he left two years ago and has never been replaced. None of the other staff are willing to do it.
“Many of the wheelchair faults are minor – things like they need a new arm rest or foot plate or maybe a new battery.”
Instead of spending a bit of money and time fixing the mobility devices, they are just thrown out, added the insider.
“I’ve seen some thrown out for just being dirty because they have been sitting in someone’s garage unused,” they continued.
In spite of this, the NHS confirmed wheelchairs are only scrapped when they are beyond economical repair.
Scottish Conservative Shadow Health Secretary Miles Briggs commented: “There’s clearly an issue here which needs to be investigated urgently.
“The NHS is strapped for cash and simply can’t afford to throw out anything which is still of use, especially valuable wheelchairs.”
According to the Sunday Post, the NHS refused to say how much it sold the wheelchairs for.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which runs WestMARC, has said: “Wheelchairs are only recycled when they are beyond economical repair, unsafe for our patients or have excessive levels of contamination.
“Wheelchairs are reviewed in batches and recycled in batches if repair isn’t viable.”