HEALTH chiefs have been accused of delays over recycling mobility aids such as crutches, walking frames and wheelchairs

Darwen East’s Cllr Roy Davies has been campaigning for years for East Lancashire’s NHS bodies to ask patients to return these appliances for re-use by others when they have finished with them.

The Liberal Democrat is not satisfied by their claims there is nowhere to store the items and the cost of cleaning and decontaminating them is too great to make it value for money.

Now following the declaration of a ‘crutch amnesty’ by Health Minister Steve Barclay, Cllr Davies is stepping up his campaign.

He is arranging a meeting with senior staff at the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust and the Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group.

“There are some great examples of hospitals already re-using vital medical equipment – such as wheelchairs and walking aids – and we want to see more of this across the country.

“In too many instances however medical equipment is being used once and then thrown away at a time when the public is increasingly aware of the impact of waste on the environment.”

Cllr Davies said: “Many patients have to use mobility aids when they come out of hospital but after a few weeks no longer need them.

“I cannot see why the NHS locally cannot get them returned, cleaned up, sterilised and re-used.

“The hospital trust and CCGs have been dragging their feet on recycling these items.

“This would save money and reduce waste. I hope the managers will now take this issue seriously.”

A joint statement from the hospitals trust and the two CCGs said: “Items, such as walking frames and crutches, are of low value and as such it isn’t cost effective for the CCG to pay for these items to be collected and returned to the supplier, decontaminated and stored. It is more cost effective for the CCG to buy from new.”