A SCOTTISH council is placing an ‘amnesty’, similar to those usually offered for drugs or weapons, on the return of Zimmer frames.
Fife Council will turn a blind eye to those who have forgotten to return walking sticks, Zimmer frames and chair hoists.
160,000 pieces of assistive equipment are thought to be lying unused in homes across Fife.
The council are calling on owners who no longer need the equipment to return it to participating recycling centres so the equipment can be reused or recycled.
Those who return the equipment will not be fined or punished for keeping it longer than necessary.
A trial scheme for a similar project was run in Glenrothes last year and saw an 8% increase in the overall volume of equipment being returned and returned more quickly.
Councillor Andrew Rodger, who is chairing the scheme, said: “Each year we deliver over 78,000 pieces of equipment to people’s homes but over the years there has been a build up of equipment that has never been returned.
“We want to encourage as many people as possible to take items that are no longer needed to their nearest recycling centre.
“Equipment such as bath lifts, height adjustable seating, zimmer frames, shower chairs and kitchen trolleys can make a real difference to people’s lives.
“At the moment we know there is [sic] over 160,000 pieces of assistive equipment sitting in homes across Fife.”
Age UK have said the shortage of disability aids such as Zimmer frames is contributing towards a shortage of hospital beds.
The charity estimated that 41,000 hospital bed days each year were lost as doctors refused to discharge patients because of a lack of support at home.
A spokesman for the charity said: “Without care home places, home care packages or home adaptions, we are simply wasting precious NHS resources at a time when hospital services are already under great strain.”
A Zimmer frame costs around £30 to replace, whilst a pair of crutches costs upwards of £20.
This is not the first time a Zimmer frame amnesty has been implemented in the UK.
In 2004, a similar amnesty of walking aids was held at Leicester Royal Infirmary, and had to be extended after so few people returned the items.
In 2008, NHS Highland offered a plea for the return of assistive devices, as did NHS Cumbria in 2010.
Image: Anthony Crider