A tweet containing several images which appear to show “tens of thousands of pounds” worth of wheelchairs dumped into skips and left abandoned in an estate has prompted outrage on the social media site.

The series of images, tweeted by user Samantha Bowen, shows a significant number of manual wheelchairs and powerchairs carelessly discarded in what appears to be an industrial estate. The manual wheelchairs seem to have been thrown into a green skip while the powerchairs are lined up beside it, unprotected from the elements. A third image shows a Millbrook Healthcare van parked beside the skip.

Bowen’s tweet highlights the significant wait that children with complex needs face in receiving a wheelchair from Millbrook Healthcare, the company accused of dumping the wheelchairs. Many users also questioned why the chairs had been left in the skip when they could have been donated.

Both the BBC and Disability News Service have previously reported that Millbrook faced legal action from a number of service users groups regarding the company’s service, with complaints including significant delays to the delivery of equipment and poor service. The same issue was also highlighted by UNITE columnist Sarah Brisdion, who was faced with significant wait times in procuring a wheelchair for her son Hadley.

A spokesperson representing NHS Thanet Clinical Commissioning Group and Millbrook Healthcare said: “We are always mindful of the need to retrieve, recycle and re-use wheelchairs and their parts; however, we need to balance this with quality, cost-effectiveness and, most importantly, service user safety.

“Some items of returned equipment, even though they might appear usable at first sight, may have underlying faults that would make them unsafe and put a user at risk. In these cases, it can cost more to refurbish the equipment and make it safe, than to replace it. However, scrapping equipment is a very last resort.

“No equipment is sent for scrapping without first having been thoroughly inspected by a fully qualified wheelchair engineer, and any safe and re-usable parts and accessories removed for recycling. Where equipment can’t be re-used, Millbrook Healthcare has an arrangement with a number of charities, to whom they donate safe equipment, for further use.

We encourage all members of the public who have equipment that is no longer required to contact Millbrook Healthcare for collection, or return them to designated locations around Kent and Medway from where they will be collected, so they can be assessed, recycled and re-issued whenever possible”.

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Source: Twitter – Samantha Bowen
Image: Flickr/Alex Luyckx


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