SCFT win national award for reuse

Reduce, reuse and recycle is a sustainability mantra, and the Sussex Rehabilitation Centre and Wheelchair Service have demonstrated the value of applying this to delivering healthcare in more ways than one…

SCFT win national award for reuse

Award winning attitude to sustainable healthcare

The Trust’s Wheelchair and Specialist Seating Service won at the NHS Sustainability Awards last Thursday, in the category for re-use.  The awards are open to NHS Trusts nationally and the team were up against some stiff competition so winning is definitely something to celebrate.

The team won with a great example of how you can re-use equipment to save money, reduce waste and improve the care we provide to our patients.  Over the past twelve months the service has refurbished 1,426 wheelchairs including basic and more complex manual and powered wheelchairs.  In 2019, the service saved an estimated £347,000 against the cost of buying new wheelchair stock.  Additionally the service re-use some of the wheelchair cushions which were issued to patients to help reduce the risk of pressure sores when using the wheelchairs.  In one year the service saved approximately £125,000 (excluding VAT) against the cost of purchasing new pressure cushions.

Recycling this equipment can benefit service users as it can reduce the time it takes to meet their needs, especially in the case of cushion recycling which the teams do on-site.

This also has associated benefits in terms of the reduced carbon footprint and environmental impacts associated with reducing new purchases of equipment, and keeping usable equipment in use for as long as is appropriate to minimise waste.

Thinking internationally

Not only are they re-using wheelchair equipment, the team runs alongside the prosthetic limb service, who donate unwanted prosthetic limbs and walking aids to a charity called Meththa, based in Sri Lanka.  The charity dismantles the old limbs and reuses the parts to manufacture new limbs for those in need and who would not get a prosthetic limb otherwise.

The service also donated a foam carving machine  which was no longer being used, costing approximately £10,000 new.  The foam carver is used to carve a support cushion which is moulded exactly to the contours of the person who needs it.  Rather than scrap it, it has been put to good use overseas.

Big congratulations to the team for their inspiring example of how we can make changes to the way we provide care that are good for the environment, save money and improve care.