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Recycling campaign success: Suffolk people return vital NHS and social care equipment

A campaign aimed at encouraging people in Suffolk to hand back items of community equipment they no longer require has been a huge success.

Organisers extended special thanks to the voluntary sector in Suffolk for its part supporting the campaign and returning equipment.

The month-long amnesty led to the return of more than 8,500 items, ranging from crutches and commodes to adjustable wheeled frames and air mattresses.

It proved so successful that the waste-busting work is now being extended in the hope of retrieving even more discarded equipment. The campaign, which was launched on March 1, triggered a 10 per cent increase in the number of items returned to local NHS services compared to the previous month.

It unearthed a small mountain of items with an estimated value of more than £800,000 and everything collected will either be sterilised and re-used or recycled if it’s beyond repair.

Local NHS and social care services lose thousands of pounds each year as a result of patients hanging on to medical equipment when they no longer have any use for it.

More often than not these items can be repaired and re-used, supporting other patients in their recovery and helping them to live independently.

Gylda Nunn, integrated therapies manager at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is a really positive response. It means we are saving our local NHS and social care services vital funds and is also beneficial for the environment. The return and re-use of community equipment enables us to improve our support for those in need, helping them to stay living at home for longer and preventing hospital admission. It can also facilitate a patient’s return home after a stay in hospital by providing equipment to support their recovery after operations or illness, or their longer term health needs.”

Dr Ed Garratt, Chief Officer of the NHS West Suffolk and NHS Ipswich & East Suffolk clinical commissioning groups, was also delighted by the response to the amnesty.

He added: “The amnesty helped to focus people’s attention on what equipment they might have in their homes. Reducing waste is a very important part of our drive to deliver an efficient NHS which is better equipped to meet the long-term needs of its patients. This response proves people were eager to help their local NHS. I’d like to thank everyone involved – including councillors, care home staff, the hospices and voluntary sector.

“We know there are even more unused items out there – I would urge anyone holding onto items they no longer need to contact Medequip as soon as possible.”

People with equipment to return can visit equipment supplier Medequip collection depots in Bury St Edmunds, Beccles and Ipswich. They can also call Medequip on 01473 351805 or email [email protected] to arrange for collection.

In addition, Suffolk County Council can now take collection of community equipment items at three of its household waste recycling centres at Bury, Foxhall and Lowestoft.

Steve Palfrey, Head of Waste at Suffolk County Council, said: “This is a great campaign to reuse specialist equipment and the response from Suffolk residents has been fantastic. Reuse is a key part of our service, and many people are used to bringing reusable items to their Household Waste Recycling Centres, so we are delighted be able to give people three more locations in the county to return their used items to the NHS and social care services.”

Paul C Smith, Contract Manager, FCC Environment, said: “FCC Environment, which operates Suffolk’s Household Waste Recycling Centres on behalf of the council, is delighted to have been able to support this campaign which is a positive step in the right direction. Anything that triggers an increase in the number of items returned to local NHS services is a good thing.”