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Help council health store by recycling its equipment
Thursday 8th May, 2014

Wigan Borough health care providers and residents can help Wigan Council save money by returning equipment it has loaned to them for free.

The council’s Integrated Community Equipment Service (ICES) loans out over 20,000 pieces of equipment each year such as specialist beds, mattresses, commodes and a host of aids for daily living to people with various health issues or disabilities. Unfortunately about a quarter of the equipment is not returned, costing the council and the taxpayer thousands of pounds.

The store, which is funded by the council’s adult social care and health service and Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Trust, aims to provide the equipment to improve the quality of life of users and means they can live independently in their homes after they have been discharged from hospital. It also helps to prevent them from being admitted to hospital in the future.

The majority of equipment is issued after an assessment with a professional health worker and is only intended to be handed to the user it was given to. It’s thought that it is not being returned because it is being used or given to other people, or mistakenly handed into charity shops and hospices.

Those who qualify have the equipment they need loaned to them, for as little as a three month period. They are then reassessed after this period on whether they still need it. If users are told they no longer need it, they, a family member or their carer, should tell the service straight away so that arrangements can be made to collect it so it can be recycled. Collection normally takes place between three and five working days.

Due to equipment not being returned, the store has to regularly order more equipment and chase up where it has actually got to. As well as costing the council money, this also means that patients who are now need the equipment may have to wait longer to receive it, which can have an impact on their health.

Handing the equipment back to the service also plays a part of The Deal, the informal contract between the council and borough residents, as it means residents are recycling, which helps to save the council money. All equipment is thoroughly checked and decontaminated after it has been returned, and if it is in reusable condition, it is then recycled for others who urgently need it.

Paul Beardsmore, ICES manager at Wigan Council, said: “The ICES work extremely hard to provide residents with health issues a fast and efficient service. However, we face challenges daily on being able to provide the equipment within the time frame provided, as there is a lack of awareness that once the equipment is no longer needed, it should be handed back to us. It is vital we increase the return rate of the equipment to allow us to deliver to even more people.

“If we can increase the amount of equipment being returned, it will help us to further improve the high standard of service we already provide, but also save a lot of money, which ties in to The Deal. If residents return more, it will help to improve the speed of delivery from our service.”

If you, a family member or a patient has been using the equipment but now no longer needs it, you can contact the store on 01942 737777. You can also hand it straight to them, by visiting the store at Martland Mill Lane, Wigan, WN5 0LZ.

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