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Patients will not be charged to use basic medical equipment

Leamington Editorial 28th Apr, 2014 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

PATIENTS will not be made to pay for vital medical equipment according to hospital chiefs.

South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) came under fire recently for suggesting patients could be charged to use essential items such as crutches, walking sticks, and neck braces – usually provided for free by the NHS.

At the latest patient and public participation group meeting, CCG leaders mooted the idea as a way of providing better ‘value for money’ and helping reduce their annual £421,000 orthotics bill.

Under the proposals, disabled patients and those recovering from an accident or operation would be asked to contribute towards the cost of devices vital to their mobility.

But earlier this week a spokeswoman for NHS South Warwickshire CCG, which is responsible for providing healthcare for some 270,000 people, insisted there were no plans to implement any changes.

She said: “Like all areas of the NHS and broader public sector, Clinical Commissioning Groups routinely and regularly assess contracts with providers to see where they can deliver better value for money and provide improved patient care.

“NHS South Warwickshire CCG encourages patients to share their views in open discussions at a very early stage so we can understand their thoughts and hear what should and should not be considered.

“The South Warwickshire CCG patient and public participation group is a sounding board for public opinion and the group is a valuable forum to hear these views.

“Suggestions made at this group are taken on board and contribute to our decision making.”

She added the group had recently discussed how to improve quality and value for money of the orthotics service.

“A number of avenues were discussed – in particular helpful comments about the equipment returns process and whether charging for equipment should be considered.

“This has not been discussed further within the CCG since the meeting and no proposals exist to develop this further.”

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