HSE spending - Inefficiency still persists

The Health Service Executive is spending more than €68 million annually on mobility aids such as wheelchairs, crutches and walking frames. During 2009 the HSE spent almost €188,000 a day on such specialised equipment.

Once patients complete their recovery, many of those items could be recycled to other patients. But the Irish Medical Times reports that the HSE has rejected this suggestion due to fears of litigation, if the equipment has unknowingly become damaged, or if there are hygiene issues related to re-use. Surely a competent safety analyst could be employed to inspect the equipment and make sure that it is safe to be recycled within the system. This is all the more important in these straitened times, but the failure to recycle them in better times was just as wasteful.

In January of this year the HSE disclosed that it budgeted €20m to decontaminate medical items this year. There are still questions about the unnecessary purchase of new equipment, instead of recycling perfectly good items. Some HSE staff members have privately questioned variations in the cost of the mobility aides being purchased from the different companies selling those items. The efforts to economise by recycling have been an advance, but not enough has been done in this overall area and much more could be done to stop the waste and save millions.

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