Managing wheelchairs

Marc Yerrel

Marc Yerrell, deputy manager for support services in Milton Keynes Hospital, is a Change Day champion who has led two successful campaigns to make a change for the better. Yesterday we shared Marc’s story of how recycling had led to savings of £20,000 for the hospital. Today Marc tells us about the wheelchair scheme he introduced to ensure that wheelchairs are in the right place at the time they are needed. Hospitals can be vast places with miles of corridors, so the availability of a wheelchair can be a welcome sight for patients - even if they don’t normally need one.

Wheelchairs are used extensively when patients are moved from wards to other departments for diagnostic tests, scans, and new mums. Therefore it is essential that they are in the right place at the time they are needed.

This is not always the case. This was a situation noticed by Marc Yerrell, previously a supervisor for the support team and now I am a deputy manager for support services in Milton Keynes Hospital. He knew that wheelchairs not being available where they needed to be created problems for patients and staff, and did nothing to enhance the efficiency of the hospital.

He set about solving the problem by installing a ‘trolley bank’ system for the wheelchairs. These banks were strategically placed throughout the hospital in places they were most likely to be needed. Wheelchairs can be removed from the ‘bank’ by inserting a £1 coin or a ‘trolley’ token in the lock. The £1 is returned when the wheelchair is replaced. This also adds to the security of the chairs.

The system is known throughout the hospital so when members of staff notice stock being low, they inform the support team so wheelchairs are moved to where they are needed.

Thanks to our wheelchair management policy which includes the locking mechanisms and multiple wheelchair return points, finding a chair at Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has never been easier. Previously visitors and patients could wait for up to 30 minutes for a wheelchair to be returned but this is a thing of the past – they are readily available all over the trust.

Stocks of the wheelchairs are being boosted through wheelchair sponsorship by local companies, which is another of Marc’s initiatives. "Since launching the wheelchair scheme we managed to get a wheelchair sponsor on board – local taxi firm Skyline. In exchange for a generous donation to the hospital charity, Skyline advertising plaques appear on the back of most wheelchairs."

All money raised from the scheme is ploughed back in to the hospital and reinvested for things like more wheelchairs.

Patient feedback for the wheelchair banks has been very positive, as they have access to a wheelchair as and when they are ‘wheely’ needed.
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