Hospital mobility aids: What to do with your crutches, frames and other medical items after use?

Mobility aids, such as frames, can be returned to hospitals
Mobility aids, such as frames, can be returned to hospitals

Patients across Lancashire are being reassured that their old mobility aids are still reused by the NHS and they can be returned.

It follows an investigation by the Post into what happens to the crutches, walking frames and other items which maybe needed at home or used from our hospitals.

Kath Hulme contacted the Post and said: "I am disgusted about the money wasted by the NHS like everyone else. They won't accept mobility aids, that they provide, when no longer needed.

"For example walking frames, perching stools and commodes. Surely they can be sanitised and re-used. So much money could be saved and it's a no brainier surely."

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust explained how they accept returns of most things issued by Lancashire County Council to patients at hospital or home. But the biggest misconception is that it has to be returned, when in fact the items belong to the user once issued to them.

A spokesman said: "Equipment such as crutches, walking frames, perching stools, and commodes are prescribed to individual patients using a Lancashire County Council retail model procedure. The equipment then belongs to that person.

"We do take walking aids back from patients, such as crutches and zimmer frames, but items such as commodes are not able to be taken back due to infection prevention constraints in relation to cleaning of the equipment and ensuring they are suitable for re-issue to other patients.

"Patients may choose to recycle their equipment using other organisations."

The spokesman explained how the items can be returned to a number of places after use.

They said: "There are recycling organisations available if patients choose to do this. Walking aids can be returned to the physiotherapy department at Preston or Chorley Hospitals and other equipment, such as commodes, can be recycled at local council recycle centres or taken to charity shops."

When the walking aids are returned to the hospitals, they are checked to ensure they are not broken or showing any signs of wear and tear that would indicate a risk to subsequent patient use. Ferrules are replaced and the walking aids are then re-issued.

The spokesman added: "We only recycle the walking aids for the reasons explained above in terms of wear and tear / infection prevention"