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Recycling NHS dialysis equipment and drugs (even crutches!)

(20 Posts)
janipans Mon 01-Mar-21 11:37:38

The NHS is always bleating about needing more money, but they are so wasteful!
My DH is on dialysis. They changed the regime and as a result we have 30 boxes (in date) of dialysis fluids, 2 huge boxes of the plastic waste containers, 2 boxes of connectors and other bits and bobs all taking up a double wardrobe in our garage. Each fluid bag is in an airtight, sealed, thick plastic bag and there are 2 in a box. The people who deliver them wont take them back, neither will our hospital, The Consultant's advice was to empty them down the toilet!!! I would guess these would cost at least £10 a box, (probably more as they come in from Singapore!) Notwithstanding Covid they could be cleaned and re-used.
The same with all the drugs we have in our house and can no longer use (enough to kill a herd of elephants, nevermind one!) And how many other people are there in the same position - we can't be unique!
Anyway, if anyone knows of a way to recycle this stuff please message me.
(NB. the care the NHS give is 2nd to none - no criticism there - I just hate the waste!)

grandmajet Mon 01-Mar-21 12:46:19

I do agree, there is loads of waste and inefficiency.
I’ve had way too much to do with the nhs over the past 18 months, and agree that the care given by the nursing and auxiliary staff when I’ve been an in patient has been wonderful. However there have been many, many occasions where treatments have failed to correctly ordered, or authorisation has been omitted, a vital test being left off a blood form, scans not ordered in time for appointments, incorrect premeds given leading to treatment delays, long waits for drugs on discharges, twice leading to valuable injections being thrown away as they’d been too long out of the fridge. The nurses end up spending so much time just sorting out errors and omissions which eats into their time and morale. Like you Janipans, I am so grateful for the nhs and all it does for us, and I don’t know what the answer is.

Casdon Mon 01-Mar-21 13:49:28

Sooty to disagree on this, but Medicines and medical consumables are never recycled in the NHS because of the risk of them being contaminated. It’s not waste or inefficiency, it’s a deliberate policy.

Casdon Mon 01-Mar-21 13:50:57

Sorry, should have added, aids are recycled, so crutches, walking frames etc. that can be decontaminated and re-used should be returned to your local hospital.

Smileless2012 Mon 01-Mar-21 14:09:57

Putting the bags of dialysis fluid aside, why haven't they collected the plastic items that can easily be decontaminated? I agree janipans about the unnecessary waste.

Nannarose Mon 01-Mar-21 14:23:32

I do think this needs consideration. In the past we have been told that it cost more to decontaminate than to throw away, and that may need to be looked at again, considering not just the cost, but the cost to our planet.

Some things are extremely difficult to de-contaminate. Someone may be along to correct me, but I think that the prion diseases are very difficult to eliminate, and as people can carry those for years with no symptoms, I think they present a very real problem. Could we live with recycling and a tiny chance of catching a serious disease? That may be conversation we need to have.

One of the problems with re-using drugs is the chance of them being contaminated or muddled, deliberately or accidentally. Those of us who live in normally clean homes, and keep our drugs in their proper bottles in a medicine cabinet don't always realise how awkward some situations can be! Again, could you live with the small chance of a drug being contaminated in order to save waste? Or spend money on risk-assessing the homes they have come from?

I genuinely think we need to look at all of this, but it is not simple (nothing involving ill people ever is!) Crutches and similar easily cleaned items are usually collected now.

Peasblossom Mon 01-Mar-21 14:26:09

I suppose someone has costed it out at some point.

Just thinking about it you would need:

Some kind of administrator to receive and enter information on surplus supplies.
An office for them to work in and office equipment.
A phone line and stationary supplies

A collector of supplies
A van
Fuel costs

A storage space for collected supplies
A supply checker

A deliverer of checked supplies to point of need
Another van because you couldn’t put checked and unchecked supplies together.

A disposal unit for supplies that failed

All employment on costs such as pension, national insurance etc.

An additional workload to HR. Probably another person at least to handle the work generated by a number of supply personal.

Let’s suppose 1 team could make 8 pickups and checks in a day.

Would it be cost effective do you think?

Smileless2012 Mon 01-Mar-21 14:26:53

You've made some good points Nannarose but with fluids kept in sealed, air tight, plastic bags there's no way they could be contaminated surely.

MissAdventure Mon 01-Mar-21 14:35:50

I've never known aids to be recycled.
The fact that in theory they are, isn't borne out by what actually happens.
Most things end up in people's sheds and garages.

EllanVannin Mon 01-Mar-21 14:40:43

Even overprescribed and sealed medications are disposed of.
How many phials of Pfizer have been dumped because of over-ordering when the storing of it comes into question ?
The wasteage must amount to millions.

Casdon Mon 01-Mar-21 14:43:34

They are recycled here MissAdventure, there’s a collection point at the hospital, and they also do an ‘amnesty’ each year for people to bring them back if they are hoarding them. Probably depends on local procedures I guess.

H1954 Mon 01-Mar-21 14:44:01

I know that some charities accept medication, dressing packs and equipment for overseas aid relief so you might be able to off load them to some good use.

MissAdventure Mon 01-Mar-21 14:46:54

Our collection point isn't at the hospital, and it's location is a closely guarded secret, it seems.

Nobody seems to know a phone number or address.

My neighbour has just been told to throw away the (many) aids her husband needed.

Casdon Mon 01-Mar-21 15:13:14

I agree that does seem very wasteful MissAdventure!

silverlining48 Mon 01-Mar-21 16:01:26

When this was managed in house by the nhs aids and other items were reused after cleaning and any repairs but this service was sold off to private companies who refuse to do this as its more profitable for them to keep issuing new.

We had about 15 sealed packs of 20 pads delivered after my dh prostate surgery. They were the wrong size and i rang them back immediately, but they refused to take them back, even as they came back the next day with the right size.
I contacted surgery and hospital, but no one would take them and was told to put them in the dustbin.
I was shocked at this waste so spent an afternoon rimging round and eventually the local hospice said they Would take them. Not everyone woukd have bothered. This is OUR money.

Nannarose Mon 01-Mar-21 16:47:28

Smileless2012 - I think Peasblossom makes the point.
I do think that there is a genuine conversation to be had, and maybe use of volunteers for some of the work. I suppose I just wanted to point out that it wasn't just thoughtlessness and wastefulness.
And I did work in a Trust that after complaints, took the issuing of aids back from the private company, and did collect them in, clean & sterilise them and re-use them.
We also had volunteers who cleaned and re-furbished children's physio equipment.

midgey Mon 01-Mar-21 16:52:35

It might be worth offering medicines and some equipment to your local vets practice. My practice took something’s when my husband died.
One of the reasons medication is not accepted is because you cannot guarantee some weirdo has not tampered with it, even when it appears sealed.

NanaandGrampy Mon 01-Mar-21 17:14:19

I agree with the comments about the lack of recycling.

I recently became insulin dependent and use a needle pen for injections. I finish one every 3 days and it goes in the sharps box to be disposed of.

The needles are separate so what goes in the box is a pen containing an empty insulin cartridge- all plastic.

Isn't it time more plants were being built that were capable of recycling products such as this?

Sarnia Mon 01-Mar-21 17:26:37

I recently retired from my NHS job as a ward clerk. One of my jobs was ordering stock and equipment. The difference in prices was staggering. As soon as NHS is on the order form the price sky rockets with some companies. I was asked to order 6 metal gestational wheels for the Maternity department. Our usual supplier wanted £49 each whereas Amazon were selling them for £9.99. I mentioned this to one of our Matrons but I was told to use our usual supplier as we didn't use Amazon. The NHS needs a thorough overhaul on its purchasing. They could save £millions.

janipans Tue 02-Mar-21 11:54:00

The comments from Peasblossom are all sound, except, that if there is enough of this type of potential recycling to be dealt with it could pay for the necessary facilities needed, (and provide jobs) . The stuff in my garage alone, must be worth at least £400!. We would not have considered recycling any of our plastics and cans etc in our youths - we had "dumps", not "recycling centres" yet nowadays,there are whole new industries based around recycling, and it is helping towards saving our planet!
Dialysis is an excessive user of non recyclable plastics, and it saves lives, but at a cost to the NHS and to the planet. The NHS should not be just throwing away these supplies willy nilly.