Unused hospital wheelchairs help landmine victims

From left:  Leon Rouse, Gavin Lee and Elliot Arnold EMN-190516-114435001
From left: Leon Rouse, Gavin Lee and Elliot Arnold EMN-190516-114435001

Old wheelchairs no longer required by hospital patients are to be sent to Africa to help children and adults who have had limbs blown off by landmines.

Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is preparing to transport 34 wheelchairs, once destined for recycling as scrap metal, to Disabled Equipment Sent Overseas (DESO).

Environmental Support Officer Gavin Lee discovered the charity’s work as he searched for a solution to prevent still usable equipment being sent for scrap metal.

He said: “I’m always looking for ways of saving waste in the NHS and I knew there had to be a better way of recycling these so they can actually be used to help people.

“We are so lucky to have the NHS so when we need equipment like crutches and zimmer frames to help us walk or wheelchairs when we can’t, we get them.

“People in developing countries who are born with disabilities or lose a limb through standing on a landmine have to crawl about on their stomachs or shuffle on their backsides because they do not have access to the equipment that can help them.

“I just thought we could help them.”

The charity, based in Kent, was set up by Mavis and Eddie Hyde to collect and recycle equipment which would be disposed of unnecessarily in the UK but could still help disabled people in Ghana.

Gavin, who has worked for the trust for two years, is also sourcing crutches and walking frames which are no longer required by the NHS to add to the collection.

He said: “We’re currently working out the logistics of getting the equipment down to the charity but I hope to take it to them in the next few weeks.”