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Thanks to the innovative skills of two specialist NHS Forth Valley physiotherapists, 846 walking aids have been returned to NHS Forth Valley in the past 7 months representing a saving of more than £6,500 against the cost of buying replacements.

The walking aid recycling scheme, which was set up initially in Falkirk, has been so successful it is now being rolled out to the Stirling area and there are also plans to extend it to Clackmannanshire.

NHS Forth Valley physiotherapists, Nicola Blair and Aileen Kelly, identified there was no clear pathway for patients to return walking aids once they no longer required them. This was frustrating for patients, their families and for local NHS staff, with walking aids frequently discarded in clinical areas causing clutter, congestion and, in some cases, a health and safety risk.

Many others ended up in landfill sites adding to the burden of waste. Through working in partnership with the Joint Loan Equipment Service (JLES) Falkirk Council and its network of recycling centres in the Falkirk area, a number of new drop-off points were created where patients could return walking aids they no longer required for recycling. Items returned have included zimmer frames, pulpit walkers, gutter frames, elbow crutches and walking sticks.

JLES then organise the collection, safety inspection, decontamination, refurbishment and return of suitable walking aids via NHS Forth Valley’s Central Services Department (CSD) so that they can be safely reused for other patients.

Both Nicola and Aileen say they’re extremely grateful to Falkirk Council and their staff on the ground at the recycling centres for their efforts, which have avoided an environmental impact of 5260 kg of carbon dioxide emissions.

Nicola Blair, Highly Specialist Physiotherapist, NHS Forth Valley, said: “We really appreciate the support of colleagues in local councils who have helped us get this recycling scheme off the ground. It’s great to see so many walking aids being returned and reused as this not only avoids waste but also helps save much needed NHS fund.”

Both Kinneil Kerse and Roughmute along with the JLES are supporting the walking aid recycling project in Falkirk.