New community equipment ‘amnesty bin’

A new ‘amnesty bin’ to make it easier for people to return on loan community equipment like walking frames and crutches has been installed at a household waste recycling centre in Harrogate.

It follows talks between Medequip Assistive Technology Ltd – which issues community equipment to patients on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council and clinical commissioning groups in the county – and Yorwaste which manages the area’s household waste recycling centres.

In addition to the new amnesty bin at Harrogate’s Penny Pot Lane recycling centre and three amnesty bins at York Hospital and Friarage Hospital in Northallerton there are plans for a further depository at one of the household waste recycling centres in Scarborough.

Medequip’s North Yorkshire Operations Manager, Darren Clark, said: “It’s not as simple as knowing where the equipment is originally deployed – equipment may be lost, passed on to another family member or even put away in a loft.

“We realise we need to get the message across to people that it is important to return these items, but we also recognise that we have to make it easier for people to arrange collection or to return the equipment to an accessible location.”

Community equipment like walking frames, sticks, crutches and other daily living aids costs the NHS and local authorities millions of pounds every year. Unfortunately, a lot of this equipment never finds its way back to the issuing authority, where it can be cleaned and safely reused.

A Return, Reuse, Recycle campaign originally instigated by Medequip in partnership with West Suffolk NHS back in 2017 has been taken up by North Yorkshire County Council and clinical commissioning groups in York and North Yorkshire. The county council and local NHS are hoping to see recycling rates increase significantly as a result of this initiative.

Dr Charles Parker, the clinical chair elect for North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Increasing the number of places where people can deposit unwanted equipment like crutches and walking frames is a huge positive.

“Much of the equipment that’s returned is in a good condition and can be cleaned, serviced then reissued to someone else in need. The objective is to continue to deliver cost-effective, efficient and safe community equipment solutions which help the NHS budget go further.”

Cllr Michael Harrison, North Yorkshire County Council’s Executive Member for Health and Adult Services, said: “The county council, in conjunction with our CCG partners, are always looking for opportunities to encourage and enable people who have been issued with equipment to be able to return this for recycling, repair or disposal.

“As such we have been keen to promote the ‘Return Recycle Reuse’ campaign in conjunction with CCG colleagues and our integrated equipment provider, Medequip, and prevent equipment being discarded or left unused.”

All equipment delivered by Medequip on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council and clinical commissioning groups in York and North Yorkshire is accompanied by a leaflet with full details on how to return the items once they are no longer required, and every item carries a barcode label which also features a collection telephone number and a unique identifying code.

In addition to the amnesty bins, equipment can be returned to Medequip’s drop off points at Dunslow Court in Eastfield, near Scarborough and Manse Lane in Knaresborough.

Alternatively, Medequip will pick up some loan items for free – call 01423 226240 or email