Kiri is a digital journalist for bayofplentytimes.co.nz.

$8000 of wheelchairs and frames missing in Tauranga

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People are not returning crutches, wheelchairs and other mobility aids, costing Tauranga Hospital thousands of dollars.
People are not returning crutches, wheelchairs and other mobility aids, costing Tauranga Hospital thousands of dollars.

Thousands are being spent on replacing walking frames, crutches and wheelchairs missing from Tauranga Hospital, and health authorities have concerns the lost gear could have health implications for patients.

The absence of the mobility aids, which also include shower stools and toilet frames, has prompted the Bay of Plenty District Health Board to plead for their return.

People are not returning crutches, wheelchairs and other mobility aids, costing Tauranga Hospital thousands of dollars.
People are not returning crutches, wheelchairs and other mobility aids, costing Tauranga Hospital thousands of dollars.

Crutches and walking frames were the most common items to go walkabout but over-toilet frames and wheelchairs were also high on the list.

Physiotherapy team leader Martin Kidd told the Bay of Plenty Times about $8000 had been spent on mobility aids in the first eight months of this financial year.

"We estimate that 70 per cent of this was being spent on replacing items," he said.

"As an example, we estimate that about 24 walking frames have had to be replaced."

It costs $200 to replace a walking frame. A pair of aluminium crutches cost $79, a wheelchair $500 and shower stool $95.

Mr Kidd said the loss of the equipment, loaned out to people to aid their recovery, was having health implications for other patients.

"If we don't have the equipment, people in need don't get the support they require when they require it, which delays their recovery or being able to return home," he said.

"In the last eight months we have issued 741 walking frames, which is about three a day. So you can see how that can soon become a problem if they are not returned.

"For the last two weeks we have run very low on crutches for inpatients and Rehabilitation Equipment Services has run out of walking frames to issue in the community."

Mr Kidd said the return of equipment requests were being met with varying degrees of success.

"It's not a good use of our health resources to be buying new equipment when there is so much equipment in the community which is not being used," he said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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