Hospital missing 80 wheelchairs

MORE than 80 wheelchairs worth £16,000 have gone missing from a Suffolk hospital.The wheelchairs have disappeared in recent months from the West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, where an amnesty is now being held in the hope some may be returned.

MORE than 80 wheelchairs worth £16,000 have gone missing from a Suffolk hospital.

The wheelchairs have disappeared in recent months from the West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, where an amnesty is now being held in the hope some may be returned.

Even though they are clearly marked with the name of the hospital trust, portering supervisor Jim Pretty said people have been caught trying to put them in the backs of cars and others have been dumped in a skip.

He said: "We have introduced new wheelchairs which are rigid and bright orange with poles attached to them.


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"These new wheelchairs are great because people are less likely to take them away and not bring them back because they cannot be folded and are fairly conspicuous.

"However, our older wheelchairs are foldable and more than 80 of those have gone missing."

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He added: "We occasionally hear of kids who steal them and they occasionally turn up in shopping precincts and we have caught other people jumping up and down on them to get them to fold up so they can put them in their cars."

However, Mr Pretty said not all of the wheelchairs have necessarily been stolen and they may have been taken home by patients "unwittingly".

He said: "It may be that patients or their families have taken them and forgotten to bring them back.

"Perhaps they are a bit uncomfortable with the thought of bringing them into the hospital because they are embarrassed about the length of time they have had them at home.

"Or message is don't be embarrassed. Just drop them into the main reception of the hospital and no questions will be asked.

"If they are unable to bring them back because of transport difficulties then just give me a ring and I will come and collect them."

The loss of wheelchairs at the West Suffolk Hospital is not being treated as a criminal matter, and the unit is willing to put people in touch with other agencies who can provide wheelchairs for patients who may need to use one at home.

Mr Pretty added: "I am also keeping my fingers crossed that if people see one of our wheelchairs anywhere other than in the hospital they will return it during amnesty week.

"We recently found some wheelchairs belonging to the hospital in a skip, which is a real waste."

Wheelchair amnesty week at the West Suffolk Hospital runs from May 23 until May 30.

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