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

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Community equipment amnesty launched across North Yorkshire

Published on Feb 19, 2019

Local NHS and social care leaders are calling on people across North Yorkshire and York to return loaned equipment like walking frames, crutches, beds, mattresses and hoists when no longer needed.

Last year the NHS launched a national so-called “crutch amnesty” to deal with concerns that perfectly good medical equipment is going to waste. It’s thought that for every 50 pairs of crutches issued through the NHS, only 10 pairs are returned. With a pair of crutches typically costing around £12.50, the annual bill for crutches in the NHS is estimated to be around £3 million.

This is also costing the local health service tens of thousands of pounds – money that could be invested elsewhere.

On behalf of the NHS clinical commissioning groups in North Yorkshire and York (including NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG), Dr Charles Parker, Clinical Chair of NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We’re calling on people to return, recycle or request collection of unwanted equipment so it can be used again by someone else in need.

“It’s vital we manage local NHS resources and budgets responsibly and reducing waste plays a big part in that.”

Councillor Michael Harrison, Executive Member for Adult Services and Health Integration for North Yorkshire County Council said: “Health and social care equipment includes a range of products to assist independent living at home, including mobility and communication aids, shower chairs, perching stools, walking aids and pressure relieving mattresses/cushions.

“A lot of this equipment never finds its way back to the provider when it’s surplus to requirements. It’s quite likely it’s just been put in the garage or in the cupboard under the stairs and forgotten about once it’s served its purpose.”

Michaela Harris, Business Support Manager from Medequip Assistive Technology Ltd (Medequip) which provides the service said: “If our customers have equipment they no longer need, they can simply get in touch with us and we’ll pick the equipment up for free – just ring 01423 226240 or email

“Alternatively, surplus equipment can be returned to one of Medequip’s depot drop-off points in Scarborough or Knaresborough, or deposit it in one of three amnesty bins. There are currently two at York Hospital and one at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton. We’re looking at increasing the number of these bins across other North Yorkshire and York locations.”

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