Thousands of pounds worth of bath lifts, hoists and walking frames are lying abandoned in a council depot as Britain faces an ever-growing care crisis.
These photographs taken outside the building used by council-owned supplier Essex Cares Limited are likely to leave council bosses shamefaced.
It is believed they show around £180,000 worth of care equipment, including 90 beds thought to cost £600 each and nearly 100 hoists worth around £900 each.
Whistle blowers claim thousands of pounds of medical equipment is being put at risk because there are not enough agency staff to decontaminate the used devices for re-issue in Essex
The medical equipment is being stored in a council depot in Witham, Essex
Fifty toilet frames, 25 bath lifts and twelve walking frames have also been stacked away in the depot in Witham.
The equipment is returned to Essex Cares after use, and the company is meant to clean each item before handing them on to patients.
But a whistleblower told The Sun there were not enough staff to clean the equipment, and Essex County Council has been wasting money on new purchases.
The source told the newspaper: ‘The company used to decontaminate the items, refurbish them and send them out to a new customer within 24 hours.
‘But a shortage of agency staff has caused stock to pile up in the yard and bosses have been buying new stock to send out instead because it’s easier. Money is being wasted on new items as perfectly good stuff is left to rust.’
In 2015/2016 spending on adult social care was cut by 6.4 per cent across the country, compared to figures from 2009/10.
But these cuts have been made as Britain faces an ever-growing ageing population. The Institute for Public Policy Research estimates that the number of over-65s will increase by almost a third by 2030.
A spokesman for Essex Cares described the newspaper’s story as ‘extremely misleading’
The company claimed 90 per cent of the equipment was sent out to new patients
Witham MP Priti Patel said: ‘The care needs of elderly people across Essex must be met through the most efficient use of taxpayers’ money. If the equipment is there, get it out to those who need it.’
A spokesman for Essex Cares described the newspaper’s story as ‘extremely misleading’.
A statement said: ‘It is disappointing that a business which saves taxpayers money has been portrayed in this light.
‘Our staff collect, sort, clinically clean and redistribute thousands of items a month.
‘In June and July more than 5,400 items were put back into use, and more than 90 per cent of the equipment collected is reused.
‘The photos show the yard when sorting is taking place. The chairs, frames and hoists in our yard are moved indoors for refurbishment at the end of each day.
‘A fleet of 32 vans collects and delivers equipment and on average each item is turned around in four days.
‘When we refurbish and reuse items, we apply strict clinical safety criteria so there is no risk to users. When we recycle old equipment, all the money earned is ploughed back into new items, which helps keep the cost to taxpayers down.’
NHS SPENDS £21M – TO LEARN HOW TO SAVE CASH
Health bosses have spent up to £21million on management consultants – to tell them how to cut costs.
The Government was criticised for the ‘ludicrous waste’ of public money, with doctors and nurses saying the spending was difficult to justify in the wake of NHS staff shortages and pay freezes.
The Kent and Medway area alone paid £3.2 million to four firms.
Dr John Allingham, who works as a GP in Dover, said it was ‘an eye-watering amount of money’. He added: ‘It is difficult to justify how we can find cash for cake when so many people have no bread.’
The figures were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by GP magazine Pulse. It asked the NHS’s 44 Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) regions in England what they had spent on external consultants since March 2016. The 19 STPs which responded spent £9.17m. Pulse extrapolated the figures across all 44 and said the total spend could be up to £21.2m.
BMA chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘It is unacceptable millions of pounds are spent on consultancy fees for so-called ‘transformation plans’ that are ultimately designed as a cover to deliver £26 bn in cuts. This is a ludicrous waste of taxpayers’ money.’
An NHS England spokesman said: ‘Pulse Magazine have simply made up their headline of £21m. Even they admit the actual number reported is less than half of this.’