A small win in the battle against waste in the NHS

The Health Minister has announced a welcome drive to get NHS equipment returned after use so it can be used again after cleaning, or recycled. Some NHS Trusts do this, and the Minister is now seeking to extend this to the whole English NHS. Readers of this site will know I have been pressing for this for some time, as an obvious way of saving money and cutting down on waste.


  1. Alan Jutson
    October 13, 2018

    A sensible and welcome common sense policy.

    Administrators looked amazed a couple of years ago when I took back some crutches that a Family member had been provided with after they had made their recovery.

    They did not have a system for recording or storing such items, so was told to just put them in a corner of reception.

    I only hope the overhead cost or organising such, is less than the cost of purchasing new.

    1. JoolsB
      October 13, 2018

      Me too. Broke my leg a few years back and they were gobsmacked when I took the crutches back. What a waste. Anyone with intelligence, which unfortunately rules out most of our politicians, would bring out a scheme where a refundable deposit is made to incentivise their return but that would be unthinkable to the socialists currently in Government.

  2. Duncan
    October 13, 2018

    Tinkering at the edges. Wholesale NHS reform involves a complete reconfiguration of its cost structure, its funding model, its culture and reforming of its antiquated working practices. This would involve a confrontation with the health unions and the medical establishment which not one single government is prepared to countenance. It’s far easier to throw cash at this bottomless, careless public sector employee-union vested interest

    At the end of the day, the political class sacrifice the interests of end-user and taxpayer on the altar of political convenience

    The massive waste will continue because waste is the driving force of ever-expanding budgets

    1. Timaction
      October 13, 2018

      Also how is the checking and recharging going for foreign Nationals? We are all witnessing the inaction when ever we receive health care. After 8 years of incompetent Governance the non Conservative, left wing, highest taxing, mass migration, pro EU, pc party has no excuse!

  3. bigneil
    October 13, 2018

    Not only waste in the NHS – have just opened a letter marked HS2. How much has all these letters cost – presumably taxpayer’s cash as usual. They want my comments on this absurd waste. I won’t send them as I would be arrested for the language. I assume a similar letter has been delivered to every house – -MORE waste. Just like the Brexit vote – any comments, especially from the working class, will be ignored.
    We don’t want to pay the EU – you’re having it.
    We don’t want mass immigration – you’re having it.
    We don’t want HS2 – you’re having it.

    Is this how democracy works?

    1. Lifelogic
      October 13, 2018

      HS2 wasted loads of my time and money too as I have a property that was initially threatened. No compensation was given for this another tax on me.

    2. Timaction
      October 13, 2018

      Indeed. The list is a lot longer and the same old legacies need to go and a new voting system brought about to see their long needed demise!

    3. Alan Jutson
      October 13, 2018


      No I have not received a letter, obviously do not know in what Region that you live, or if you will be affected.

      But a Family member is very near to the proposed route, and has not received a letter either.

      Tends to make you wonder who and why some have been chosen, unless its just the usual PR nonsense.

  4. Sir Joe Soap
    October 13, 2018

    Has been going on for years. Wheelchairs, bath aids, lots of equipment. Is traceability and a deposit scheme involved now?

  5. ian
    October 13, 2018

    Would it of matter to Brexit if Mrs Leadson had been elected as PM for the UK or Tory party or Mrs May. in my opinion no, you would still be where you are today, political wise. another false election in the Tory party.

  6. Nigel Gibney
    October 13, 2018

    Well done John, and thank you for taking action to reduce the cost of providing healthcare. It appalls me that it has taken long term effort by a senior member of parliament together with ministerial action, for NHS trusts to share such obvious cost reduction best practice. It suggests that cost reduction is not a high priority for the NHS.

    1. Lifelogic
      October 13, 2018

      Decent, safe and prompt health care is not a high priority for the NHS either.

  7. Lifelogic
    October 13, 2018

    Also if they are so concerned about energy use aluminium is very energy intensive to smelt plus there is all the plastic bits. Not that this governments green crap agenda is remotely consistent or rational. They seem quite happy to have companies making Rolls Royce Cars and the likes or flying first class round the world as much as they like. Prince Charles seem to spend over £1m a year on person travel then tells us we have x months to save the World (now expired I think). Doubtless a new deadline will come soon.

    But the NHS pisses money down the drain all over the place. Not their money so what do they care? Very poor management that does not really care much about money wasted nor the value if any delivered really. Why should they? The government does exactly the same all over the place in the state sector.

  8. Lifelogic
    October 13, 2018

    Loads of GPs being paid for non existent patients who have moved. This is very extensive I understand.

  9. Lifelogic
    October 13, 2018

    Of course the best way to save money would be to encourage far more people to go privately with tax incentives for private schemes and abolition of Hammond’s increased 12% Insurance Tax. Why should these people have to pay four times over. Once for others, then the tax and NI on the money they earn to pay their insurance than 12% IPT on top.

    Perhaps though at the same time make it so that the insurance has to pay the NHS if the patient does still use it for any reason. This would be win win for everyone and get far more money, doctors, nurses and such provision in to the industry.

    Win, win for all but alas we have the dire Hammond and May socialist in charge who clearly want dire state monopolies in health, housing, education, employment systems and all the rest.

  10. Lifelogic
    October 13, 2018

    Why do we worship the dire NHS it is totally irrational? It is better than no health care system at all I agree, but that is not the real choice.


  11. Adam
    October 13, 2018

    Waste should be reduced where worthwhile. Retrieval of some equipment is often not.

    A contracted employee driving a van from place to place collecting pairs of aluminium elbow crutches would find their cost @ only £12 a pair hard to beat. Cleaning, recycling & recording return to stock add to the concealed cost of chasing waste beyond reach. Some returns would, however, save higher values.

    1. Lifelogic
      October 13, 2018

      Sometimes it would indeed not be worthwhile but often it is. Certainly worth recycling the aluminium where it is not.

      About one third of the cost of aluminium is the cost of electricity required to smelt it.

    2. sm
      October 14, 2018

      Adam, if there were repository sites at, for example, major hospitals, health clinics and perhaps even Town Halls, much used equipment could be brought back by family members/friends or volunteers.

      For an item as big as a bed, say, a contractor would have been required to bring the aid to the patient in the first place, so presumably could be used for its collection as part of ongoing contract?

      And regarding hygiene, I’d like to think that the NHS has general cleansing facilities that would be able to cope with crutches, WC supports, wheelchairs etc – presumably they know how to clean the complexities of ambulance interiors, so it isn’t rocket science!

  12. Anonymous
    October 13, 2018

    Plus the NHS will be getting all that money from the sugar tax. Goody.

    A) Is anyone fooled ?

    B) Those that might be fooled will be wondering why normal weighted people have to be penalised along with those who are overweight.

    Let’s have Corbyn. Get it done with.

    1. Lifelogic
      October 13, 2018

      Also all carbs rice, potatoes, pasta, bread …… turns rapidly into loads of glucose sugar in the body anyway. Lots of tropical and dried fruits are stuffed with sugar too. So why just tax sugar drinks?

      Then at the same time they spend tax payers money on pushing people to eat more fruit.

      Another tax and waste of time and money for everyone involved. More parasitic pointless jobs we have to carry.

    2. Anonymous
      October 13, 2018

      C) Those who are overweight may be feeling victimised nonetheless.

      A pasty tax.

      Of medical equipment such as crutches etc. What is the arrangement with the suppliers/manufacturers ? Is it really about MRSA ?

  13. ian wragg
    October 13, 2018

    Has Brussels agreed to this John . Was it one of the things Treacherous May discussed with Barnier and Merkel last week.
    What about an article informing of Germany cutting down swathes of forest to make way for opencasting Lignite, the dirtiest fuel in the world whilst we shutdown perfectly good coal stations to comply with the large Combustion directive which G is exempted from.

    1. ian wragg
      October 13, 2018


  14. Nig l
    October 13, 2018

    Well done a small victory. Can you ask the Minister what the arrangements are to charge overseas visitors. Do Trusts insist payment is made before patients leave or insurance confirmed with the Provider. How much is collected and how much is written off? Is best practice shared across all the Trusts?

    A large Trust south of London has no ‘same every time system’ letting people leave without paying and the person responsible for collection tells me the classic excuse is ‘I thought my insurance covered it’ and when they go back to their own country, it is very rare that that they cough up (no pun intended!)

    Also how much is written off from UK patients often due to inept invoicing?

    I think you will find a lot more money than a few crutches etc however welcome.

    Reply I have asked them to tighten up on charging overseas visitors.

  15. mancunius
    October 13, 2018

    The NHS is clearly either unwilling or incapable of charging back the costs of treatment to those who have entered the country to gain free medical care they have no right to.
    This lack of vigilance is costing the taxpayer thousands of pounds per patient.

    £15 for a pair of unreturned crutches may indeed mount up, but is not in the same category…

  16. hefner
    October 13, 2018

    I am breathlessly looking forward to a future post by John telling us how science works.

    1. Lifelogic
      October 13, 2018

      Real science, or the use of bogus science in politics and religion?

      1. hefner
        October 14, 2018

        Let John answer that one.

    2. libertarian
      October 14, 2018


      Another obtuse, pointless post from you.

      Are you trying to imply that JR doesn’t know why used medical aids aren’t re-used?

      In which case you’re wrong and you need to learn some science yourself.

      If you are trying to say something else, find a student to help you construct a sensible post

  17. ian
    October 13, 2018

    I would keep HS2 but make changes to it. Sack the HS2 board and hand over to network rail, restrict the line to 180 MPH and treat it like any other train line in England using new train engines that do 165 MPH or more and make it compatible with most of the train system already in England to save money, time from London to Birmingham under 50 minutes, 260 MPH is fantasy land for 100 miles of track, I would not build the line further than Sheffield and Warrington with branch off to Liverpool and Manchester so people can go to work in London from these cities on direct line with no stops in one hour and 20 minutes also direct line from place like Derby in one hour and 5 minutes to London you can have the train stop at other station on the way but will take up time on the journey and what platform capacity will be at Euston station to handle all the train coming in around the same time, I do not know.
    With the leftover money if any I would build a robot electric goods trailers to run on the same route with a max speed of 45 MPH, cheap to build, just a flatbed with balloon wheels which will not need tarmac or concrete to run on, just good hard surface with tank track laid so it can carry on it way in any weather, link up to the HS2 flatbed electric line which the train is using, one side of the train going one way the other side going the other way with every 20 miles a tunnel so they can change to the other side of the train if needed and no need to go into long tunnels with the train they can go over the top and have their own tunnel if needed to go under road in the way, companies can have their own trailers built some with batteries and build spurs off of the route to get their trailers to their distribution centres while other business can use network rail trailers which can go into all major city on the route or distribution centres not far off of the city centres. they could run on farmers road, cross fields and over the pennies with 4 by 4 and batteries.

    Could take 50% of the lorry traffic off motorways and A road up and down the country, big saving on fuel, no driver, instead they sit a control centre and make the repair to the track, hardly ever come into contact with a passenger car road, if at all, more room on motorways and A roads and less crashis with lorries with cars, less pollution, network rail can charge money for companies use their own trailers for small fee and other can use network rail trailers on the routes at set price only and gov can charge a fee like a lorry now to all private companies using the system with their trailers.
    London to Birmingham 2 hour 10 minutes no traffic jams and runs 24/7 non stop with big saving for companies at minumum cost to the gov.

  18. agricola
    October 13, 2018

    About time too, long overdue. Many consumables unused could also be returned, and if not used by the NHS shipped out as a form of overseas aid.

  19. Steve
    October 14, 2018

    Meanwhile, BBC reports that there is to be a crackdown on prescription fraud in England.

    It also says that free prescriptions in Wales are saving the Welsh NHS money.

    Well perhaps if prescriptions were free in England then there would be no fraud issue.

  20. hans christian ivers
    October 14, 2018


    Great contribution

  21. Cheshire Girl
    October 14, 2018

    Thats a great idea. Another thing (but not quite the same) when I told my Surgery that I had a large bag of unused medication and dressings for my Husband, who died in June, they regretfully said they were unable to take it. However, I was told that one of the Doctors at the practice had organised a collection three times a year, and these unused items were to be sent out to Africa, where they are sorely needed.

    I am wondering if others do this. There must be tons of unused medications that are not able to be handed back to the NHS, but at least they are not wasted. I was told that even opened part boxes of medications were accepted. Im sure they are carefully checked, and any unsuitable items are disposed of.

    1. fedupsoutherner
      October 14, 2018

      Cheshire Girl

      Yes, our surgery here in Scotland does it too. It all goes to Africa even if medicines still have the seal intact. Add that to the foreign aid bill and it goes up even further. Still, as you say, better it is being used.

  22. Remington Norman
    October 14, 2018

    Waste is built into the NHS system. There is no incentive to economise. Procurement is inefficent and results in such as £2600 being paid for 120 Melatonin caps which can be bought over the counter for less and £1. No-one is held to account for such egregious waste.

  23. Ron Olden
    October 15, 2018

    I don’t doubt that this is a good thing, but what sort of organisation is it, where the Government Minister or a Member of Parliament has to take upon himself to think of things like this?

    The way things are going Matthew Hancock will have to go round the hospitals reminding them to empty the bedpans.

    The NHS is the fifth largest employer in the World and employs vast armies of managers. and so called ‘Committed Health Professionals’.

    Can’t they think of things like this?

    Last week Singleton Hospital in Swansea was ordered by a court to pay £18 Million damages to a boy whose life has been blighted owing to the gross negligence of their bone idle nurses and doctors at the time he was born in 2010.

    Have any of those staff been disciplined? Have any of them been sacked? Have any of them been required to contribute towards the cost of the damages?

    No. They’ve had pay rises and carried on accruing their fat cat pensions.

    Meanwhile the hospital now requires extra money from the Taxpayer to avoid the patients ‘having to pay for their mistake’

    The NHS disgusts me. Yet politicians worship it and keep handing over incomprehensibly large sums of other people’s cash to it.

  24. Peter D Gardner
    October 15, 2018

    All the problems in the NHS stem from its socialist philosophy and especially its mantra of free at the point of delivery which means its services are not individually valued. In Australia many physical aids are hired, not lent, and a deposit is required. they are rarely lost. it really is very simple. Minimum £20 deposit, more for more expensive items, and weekly rent and nothing would disappear.

    1. Al
      October 21, 2018

      “All the problems in the NHS stem from its socialist philosophy and especially its mantra of free at the point of delivery which means its services are not individually valued. ”

      Perhaps more from organisation or the lack of. If they can’t charge overseas patients correctly, I have my suspicions that any deposit scheme would be similarly managed, as well as dissuading the poorest (for whom £20 is a sizeable part of their weekly income after bills and rent) from seeking medical treatment.

  25. adam
    October 15, 2018

    we need to modernise the BMA

    science should be at the centre of the BMA, not medicine

    its still in the middle ages in many way and that is the ultimate waste

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