Publish date: 11 August 2022

Patients visiting the emergency department at University College Hospital or the Grafton Way Building are now able to return their crutches to UCLH if they are no longer needed.


Historically, walking aids were considered a single-use item by suppliers, but with a carbon footprint of between three and eight kilograms for each crutch, it was clear that a new process was required to support the Trust in its mission to become a net zero organisation by 2031. These have now been re-categorised so they can be re-used.

As well as saving both money and carbon emissions, reusing walking aids will hopefully discourage patients from passing them on to friends or family. This will mean that all walking aids issued by UCLH will be checked before being reused and those that are deemed unsafe will be removed from circulation.

Patients can use this tool Recycling Locator tool | WRAP to find their nearest drop off location if the filter is set for walking aids.

At UCLH they can be dropped off in a box that is in the Grafton Way Building or alternatively, they can also be dropped at the Emergency Department.

Boosting return and reuse will help improve access for patients, reduce carbon emissions and save money. Over the next three years the NHS could reduce its carbon emissions by 7.4kt, equivalent to 281,397 car trips from London to Bristol. Hospitals can save up to £46,000 a year by receiving returned walking aids to be cleaned and refurbished for use by future patients.

If the trial is successful, UCLH will look at rolling out the scheme to other departments and expanding the range of walking aids in the scheme to include wheeled walkers and walking sticks.

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