Anger at NHS waste

Karen Goodwill of Blackpool
Karen Goodwill of Blackpool
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A DAUGHTER has hit out at Blackpool NHS bosses for wasting public money after the support equipment given to her ailing father was thrown away – rather than re-used by other patients.

A DAUGHTER has hit out at Blackpool NHS bosses for wasting public money after the support equipment given to her ailing father was thrown away – rather than re-used by other patients.

Karen Goodwill, of Clifton Drive, South Shore, says the walking frames and support handles should have been cleaned for re-use by other patients – especially at a time when the health service is struggling with Government cutbacks to its budget.

Mrs Goodwill says her father Ken Pevie barely used some of the equipment before he died but she has been told by health chiefs it is too expensive for the authorities to have them cleaned to be used by others.

Instead, the walking frames and support handles were collected by Blackpool Council’s Tower Recycling Service – the company the NHS uses to dispose of the items.

Mrs Goodwill, 55, said: “My dad’s stuff was worth more than £1,000.

“He had a wheelchair, perching stools, tri-walker, bed rail, support handles. He only used his wheelchair once.

“There are people on waiting lists for this stuff, why can’t it just be cleaned and then passed to other patients?

“Why do they allow this to lie in a heap when there are all these cuts and the NHS is in a state?”

Blackpool Council says it has a contract with Blackpool NHS to collect and recycle medical equipment such as commodes and bath lifts. Between 50 and 100 collections are carried out each month and around 90 per cent of the equipment is recycled.

Coun Fred Jackson, with responsibility for refuse collection, disposal and recycling, said: “The Primary Care Trust notifies the Blackpool Council’s Tower Recycling Service when a resident passes away so the team can go out and collect any medical equipment to bring back to the depot.

“Each case is different depending on the individual and the legislation in place which surrounds the re-use of medical equipment.

Depot

“If items can be re-used for the same purpose we will store in a secure depot until needed by the PCT. Some items can’t be re-used but we can deconstruct and recycle the parts.

“If an item can’t be re-used or recycled it is sprayed down and disposed of securely.”

Blackpool Victoria Hospital says it is leading the way with re-using equipment to keep costs down.

Nick Lane, lead therapist at the hospital, said they spend £60,000 a year on walking aids for patients – but had 200 walking aids returned to them last month, meaning a saving of £3,000.

He said: “We want to re-use as much of that equipment as is physically possible.

“If people bring them back, we don’t have to buy new stock – the money saved could add up to employing another nurse.

“We ask anyone who has had walking aids issued by us to return them if they are in good condition.

“We then decontaminate them on site so they can be re-used.”

An NHS Blackpool spokesman added: “Ninety per cent of items collected are recycled and as few as possible disposed of. There are certain items which, due to risk of infection, cannot be reused. In these instances it is far more cost effective to replace rather than put the items through an expensive decontamination process which may require for them to be taken apart and rebuilt.”