PROVIDERS of crutches, wheelchairs and other medical equipment have joined forces with recycling centres in North Yorkshire to try and ensure vital items are returned and saved for future use.

Every year millions of pounds-worth of equipment is lost to the NHS, often because patients are not sure what to do with it.

Now Medequip, which gives out community equipment to patients on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council and clinical commissioning groups, are setting up new drop off bins and working with recycling centres.

There will be new amnesty bins at Harrogate’s Penny Pot Lane recycling centre, alongside new bins at York Hospital and the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, with moves to set up another reclamation site at Scarborough recycling centre.

Darren Clark Medequip’s North Yorkshire operations manager, 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 we have to make it easier for people to arrange collection or to return the equipment to an accessible location.”

He said community equipment like walking frames, sticks, crutches and other daily living aids costs the NHS and local authorities millions of pounds every year but unfortunately a lot of it never finds its way back to where it was distributed from, where it can be cleaned and safely reused.

A Return, Reuse, Recycle campaign is now being backed by North Yorkshire’s county council and CCG.

Dr Charles Parker, clinical chair elect for North Yorkshire 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, 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 campaign and prevent equipment being discarded or left unused.”

All equipment has a bar code label and a collection telephone number when it is given out.

As well as the new amnesty bins and recycling centres Medequip has drop off points in Scarborough and Knaresborough. In some cases they can also pick up equipment free, contact 01423 226240 or email