Suffolk ‘equipment amnesty’ held up as national example for saving NHS waste and cash

Matthew Hicks, the new leader of the Conservative group at Suffok County Council. Picture: SARAH LU

Matthew Hicks, the new leader of the Conservative group at Suffok County Council. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The NHS could recoup £128 million worth of medical equipment if chiefs follow the lead of those in Suffolk, a new report states.

Dr Ed Garratt from Suffolk CCGs. Picture: BEN CARMICHAEL/JOHNSTON PRESS

Dr Ed Garratt from Suffolk CCGs. Picture: BEN CARMICHAEL/JOHNSTON PRESS - Credit: Archant

The study by Royal College of Physicians (RCP) looks at how waste can be reduced in the health service and celebrates a campaign held in the county.

NHS property including crutches, walking sticks, frames and air mattresses can be loaned to patients – but they are not always returned after use.

In March 2017, an “equipment amnesty” was launched in Suffolk asking people to hand back any kit they no longer needed.

Over the course of just one month, residents returned 8,500 items of equipment – worth a total of £608,500.


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The report authors estimate if all clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) across England achieved similar results then £128m of equipment could be recouped.

Air mattresses can cost £1,650 and a pair of crutches are around £12.70 a pair.

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Not only can money be saved if kit is returned and then reused or recycled, the RCP says this will help reduce the NHS’s carbon footprint.

The amnesty was led by Suffolk’s NHS CCGs with support from Suffolk County Council and Medequip, as well as Ipswich and West Suffolk hospitals.

Dr Ed Garratt, chief officer of the Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk CCGs, said: “It’s certainly pleasing that the equipment amnesty has been nationally recognised as a positive example of reducing waste and saving money in the NHS.

“We worked with hospitals, community health services and the county’s equipment provider to make it a success.

“The campaign is not over and we would still encourage people to return NHS equipment they no longer need as it can be recycled or reused, which is good for the NHS and the environment.”

SCC backed the amnesty by offering people the chance to return items to the authority’s recycling centres at Bury St Edmunds, Lowestoft and Ipswich.

Matthew Hicks, cabinet member for Environment, said: “It is really pleasing to see that the residents of Suffolk have been very supportive of this campaign.”

One of the recommendations listed in the RCP report calls on all trusts to develop and promote facilities that allow the public to return medical equipment no longer required.

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