Push to recycle wheelchairs and health equipment in Cork

Walking frames and orthopaedic chairs among items being returned to HSE in south

The HSE South has mounted a two-day campaign aimed at encouraging people to bring back equipment no longer being used so it can be cleaned and reissued to other patients. Photograph: Getty Images

The HSE South has mounted a two-day campaign aimed at encouraging people to bring back equipment no longer being used so it can be cleaned and reissued to other patients. Photograph: Getty Images

Sat, Jul 27, 2013, 08:29

Wheelchairs, walking frames and orthopaedic chairs are among the items being retrieved from dusty attics and returned to the Health Service Executive in Cork as a drive to recycle healthcare equipment gets under way.

The HSE South has mounted a two-day campaign aimed at encouraging people to bring back equipment such as nebulisers and commodes, which are no longer being used, so they can be cleaned and reissued to other patients.

The cost-saving drive is expected to increase the HSE’s existing stock of aids and appliances and reduce the need for the purchase of new equipment.

The HSE South spends over €3.5 million per annum on aids and appliances in Cork city and county.

Among those who arrived at the HSE store in Doughcloyne Industrial Estate on Sarsfield Road, Cork on Friday was Neil Bowen, from Ballincollig, Co Cork, who was returning equipment which belonged to his late mother-in-law, who died four years ago and who had been incapacitated for a number of years.

Bowen said he was “absolutely delighted” to return his carload, which included two commodes, a wheelchair, two electric backs for beds and two walking frames. “We’ve been trying to return it ever since [her death] and it has been refused every-time,” said Bowen.

“It’s all stuff that could be definitely recycled and reused,” he said. “If this had not happened we would have been putting all of that into a skip [which would have been] a total waste of public money,” he said.

Rosarie O’Donovan from Beaumont, Cork, was dropping back a walking frame belonging to her mother-in-law. She said her mother-in-law has two walking frames and only needed one.

“It was just hanging in the garage so it’s good to be able to return it,” said O’Donovan. “Hopefully it’s be of some use to someone else,” she said.

While walking frames are welcome, a HSE spokesman said it was not accepting crutches for health and safety reasons as “the integrity of crutches can’t be guaranteed after a single use”. He added the healthcare equipment can be returned all year round to the store in Doughcloyne Industrial Estate.

Meanwhile, Robert Broderick, from Douglas, Co Cork was dropping back a walking frame on wheels and an exercise chair, which belonged to his late wife, Mary, who died in March. “The stuff was just sitting in my attic until I saw it in the paper and I thought was was a great idea to be able to bring it back,” said Broderick.

“These things cost a lot of money... in these times of cash shortages it’s great to be able to hand back these things and see them recycled.”

General manager with HSE Cork South Gabrielle O’Keeffe said it was hard to estimate how much money would be saved until the equipment had been assessed.

A HSE employee who did not wish to be named said it was a “great” idea and that there were long waiting lists at the moment for equipment for people with major disabilities.