• Floyd Slaski

How to save lives from NHS waste

I stumbled across a charity video from the US showing how surplus medical supplies can be collected and shipped to countries in desperate need. Waste is reduced and lives are saved - sounds like a win win? 

The organisation is Doc2Doc, whose mission is to establish sustainable healthcare around the world.

Are there any organisations in the UK doing this? 

A bit of web searching revealed... yes, a student run charity called MEDAID based in Edinburgh "collects unwanted medical equipment from large teaching hospitals, checks its viability and sends the equipment out to developing countries where resources are severely limited."  Every year hundreds of students and humanitarian health workers load up their suitcases with unwanted medical supplies to "dispatch the equipment straight to the healthcare settings that need it the most".

So not shipping containers full, but a worthy and inspiring model. Are other Universities aware of this? MEDAID confirmed to me that they are not aware of any similar organisations in the UK - they suggested I contact other student associations to find out.

It would also be interesting to hear from large acute hospitals regarding the viability of collating unused supplies on a large scale. The NHS Sustainable Development Unit does not seem to cover this issue in any of its areas of focus, but I did uncover evidence that NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde had an agreement to ship surplus equipment to Africa via a charity called the Malawi Initiative.

If it can be done in the US on a shipping container scale it seems logical that it could be done in the UK with population density more than 7 times than that of the states.  ABBC report from 2011 reports on a scheme by Aid to Hospitals Worldwide, but the charity no longer exists. 

The World Health Organisation has a list of charities working on surplus supplies and refurbished equipment to countries in need.

Seems like I'm going to need to investigate this a little more. Any feedback and ideas welcome. Please contact hal@floydslaski.co.uk

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